Is my gas-line freezing? Or is it something else?


I have a car problem I was hoping you could help me with. I live in Chicago, so it gets cold, and when it gets really cold, my '96 Honda Accord doesn’t start.

The problem started about 3 years ago, and I blame myself: I left the car on a cold morning with not much gas, and when I came back in the evening, it wouldn’t start. The AAA guy who came to check out my car said the battery was fine, but that I was low on gas. We put gas in, and it still wouldn’t start. He suggested I wait for a warm day, but in Chicago… I tried it on a warmer day, and it wouldn’t start–just making that hissing/chugging sound–so I had the car towed to a garage, where they thawed it out and filled it up and said it was just that the gas-line was frozen. So I kept the gas tank full, put in some Heat, and the next morning, still it wouldn’t start.

Since then, when it gets cold–and I mean, in the single digits or below–my car sometimes doesn’t start. I’ve had my battery replaced since this problem started, and the problem remains. Is there anything else I can do besides trying to keep the gas-tank full and use Heat? Or is this just the way my car is now?

What exactly did they “thaw”? Gas should NEVER freeze unless it’s from a questionable source, a low quality gas station. Hissing could be fan spinning creating that sound or sometimes the MAF sensor can make a hissing noise when disconnected or it could be anywhere in the vacuum systems. I had a Idle Air (component-I’m so sorry I cannot remember the name. it was like Idle Air Control valve or something) go out on my wife’s truck and it wouldn’t start unless you have your accerlerator pounded to the floor. It’s a part of the vacuum system.

I hope I’m making sense. I’m tired and waiting on the sheets to dry. :slight_smile: Let us know if you discover something else. Good luck, friend.


Gas line freezeup really isn’t an issue on modern cars with modern fuels. In addition to the 10% grain alcohol (ethanol) used in most places today, the gas line is a high pressure closed-system supply all the way from the pump to the injectors. There are no low pressure spots in the system anymore.

However, it is possible that the fuel pump is dying, and/or the line drainng back into the tank, and the pump is having difficulty getting the line pressurized in the morning.

It’s also possible that you have an ignition system problem, something causing a weak spark.

Or perhaps the temp sensor is bad and the ECU doesn’t know the engine is still cold.

You really need to get this to a shop with better diagnostic skills.

Thanks for the advice, JPKansas–and don’t worry, it made sense to me. It’s warm enough today to start it up and get it checked out. Take care,

Thanks for the response, the same mountainbike–I wasn’t sure if maybe being from '96, my car no longer counted as modern! As I said to JPKansas above, Chicago was above freezing today (woot!), so I’ll get me to a shop. Thanks again. yours,

The Honda’s of your vintage have a problem with the main fuel pump relay failing when there’s an extreme temperature change in the interior. Most people relate this problem to when the interior of the vehicle gets very hot. But this problem can also occur with the relay if the interior gets very cold.

The main fuel pump relay is located above the drivers left knee, behind the dash.