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Is my mechanic legit?

I own a 1999 Honda CRV for seven years. It’s a great running car with 160,000 miles. It was tuned up two months ago and it cost me $450. My mechanic said it would be good for another 150,000 miles! Two days ago I was on my way to work when it started surging, then almost dieing, then surging… when I pulled into the driveway of my work it killed! A friend looked at it and started it and it started. He told me to fill it with gas, it was low, and to put a can of heet in it. I did. I drove it the next day and it ran ok, then yesterday on my way to work again, it did the same thing and died! I got it started again and drove it right to my mechanic. He claims he can find nothing wrong with it! I know something about cars, I took auto mechanics in high school. Although that was MANY years ago engines are still similar… I think it’s either a loose spark plug wire or bad fuel pump (which my mechanic replaced both when he did my tune up)… What is wrong with my car? Why can’t my mechanic figure it out? He said, “You know, it is an old car…” I see many CRV’s the same year on the road so don’t give me that crap. Anyone can help??? I’d appreciate it!

I think you may be overstating your case just a wee bit, no? I mean your car is 14 years old w/160K miles on the meter. True, it’s a well designed car, but it’s going to have a few problems now and then. And I don’t think your mechanic meant that with this recent tune-up, you’re good for another 150K without any further problems. He meant that in his opinion your car is in good condition and may well go another 150K if the routine maintenance schedule is observed, and you’re willing to live with the odds and ends that go wrong with, well let’s just say " well established" cars.

There’s a least a dozen things that could easily cause the symptom you report. Water in the gas would be high on the list. There could still be water remaining in the tank, which would explain the problem recurring. Or it could be some gadget that has broken or is stuck, like the EGR valve, or a vacuum device starting to leak. Is this the first time you’ve used that particular gas station? Is the check engine light on? Have you had the pending codes read out? If so, post the codes and the experts here will offer a diagnosis.

That seems to have covered it all quite well, CSJ. Cars leave the show room and stall on the way home. It’s just the way things work.

Even the most thorough of tune-ups and opinions does not guarantee a problem free ride; especially on a 13 year old car with 160k miles on it. Mechanics are not psychics and a car can quit at any time for any one of a number of unforeseeable problems.

That being said, you need to consider the ignition switch Recall that is out on these cars. This problem can cause intermittent stalling and so on. Any Honda dealer will do this repair for you free of charge if it has not been done previously. The Recall ID is 2631 if my memory has not slipped.

Blame the car … not the mechanic. Cars that age (& miles) can develop problems. BTW; is your engine light on / has anyone checked for trouble codes?
Best of Luck.


First, I don’t think you got a new fuel pump as part of a $450 tune up. Perhaps you got a new fuel filter, but a fuel pump job on its own would be in the $400-500 range. It is also very rare top replace a fuel pump as part of a tune up, you replace a fuel pump when it quits working.

It is hard to diagnose a problem when a car is presented running fine, even if it had a problem a day or so ago. If you think a plug wire is loose, that is an easy fix - check the wires and see. A fuel pump can go bad intermittently so I’d not rule out a bad fuel pump yet. Did your mechanic hook up a diagnostic code reader? If so, and there are no stored fault codes there isn’t much he can say until the problem recurs.

You might be best taking the CRV to a Honda dealer. They have more experience with that specific car and might be better able to diagnose your problem from the few clues you have so far.

Just call Honda and see if your vehicle is still eligible for the ignition switch recall. If it is, that should be your next step.
The service bulletin is 02-031, dated September 24, 2002. Google it, then call Honda to check. Make sure you have your VIN in front of you when you call.