My 1986 Honda

I have a 1986 Honda Accord Hatchback Lxi, 180,000 miles, automatic, one owner, always excellent care (very recently new spark plugs, new air filter, new oil and filter, and several years ago new Pirelli tires). Lately, while driving, it intermittently loses power, like it’s going to stall, but never does. I accelerate to recover. Years ago I used to hear about vapor lock. Last week I took it to a Honda dealer. They had no diagnostic machines for “old” cars and had no clue what was causing this. Most of the time, the car drives beautifully, but it’s scary thinking it’s going to quit and I’ll be stranded on the side of the road.

Regarding your car’s mechanical problem, you have provided us with no usable data. The situation cannot be reproduced at will. Even an earnest mechanic can do not much more than replace a few parts in the ignition and fuel systems and verify some electrical connections, but it is only guesswork. Costly, but it may even work.

I offer a different approach. In some states your car is, by law, old enough to qualify as an antique auto. You must assume that some day it will indeed quit and leave you stranded by the side of the road. It has a hundred elderly components – hoses, belts, veeblefetzers – that can fail at any time. You have to be prepared. Cellphone, credit card, rations, should be with you at all times.

During your taxi ride home, do not think about bad luck or have any other bad thoughts. Think cheerfully only of all the money you have saved over the years by maintaining a single car for over a quarter of a century. Well done.

Old car? Take it to and old mechanic. Guys at the dealer are experts in computer diagnostics, of which your car has none. Probably needs an adjustment to the fuel injection system or a good throttle body cleaning. Maybe a fuel system problem?

How many years ago did you get those tires? If more than ten years, you may want to replace them whether or not they are worn out. Tires can dry rot and fail catastrophically, which is dangerous to say the least.

Any car, theoretically, can leave you stranded on the side of the road, even a new one. This rarely actually happens though. Even if it does, everybody has a cell phone these days.

Is this fuel injected or carbureted? Vapor lock usually doesn’t happen until you shut off the engine and the fuel boils. This is unlikely to be the cause of your problem. Other fuel delivery issues could be. Let an experienced mechanic look at it.