Mystery deaths

My oartner’s 1995 Honda Odyssey has taken to dying without notice. The first time she had stopped at a store, came out, and the car turned over but wouldn’t start. So she left it until the next morning. When she tried to start it everything was fine. She drove the 2 miles home, and the car died in the street in front of the house. It was towed to our mechanic, and he can’t figure it out. He says he has only had to replace one Honda fuel pump ever, so he thinks it’s not that. He can’t get it to die at his shop. His latest idea is a bad distributor.

Any thoughts?

There’s not enough info known to even make much of a guess.
Fuel pump, distributor, coil, ignition switch, pump relay, ECM, etc, etc. It could be any one or none of those.

What nees to be done is to determine if the problem is related to a lack of spark or lack of fuel.
This could be done by allowing the vehicles to sit and idle until it croaks.
At this point, it should be a simple matter test for a lack of spark or lack of fuel pressure.

Once that’s known the guessing becomes much easier.
Usually (but not always) sputtering before dying points to a fuel system problem. Instantly dying often points to electrical. (dist., coil, ignition switch, etc.)

You did not state how many miles on the vehicle but it could very well be a failing fuel pump. This is especially true if the fuel filter has not been changed on a regular basis. It is common for an engine to run fine with a partially clogged filter. However, the clogged filter puts a lot of strain on the fuel pump and can shorten it’s life. Hope that helps.

Go with an ignition switch. The ignition switch has a limited life in Hondas.

…especially if she is one of those women who hang a large number of keys, fobs, charms, doo-dads, and other extraneous nonsense on their key rings.

More than the weight of…let’s say about 5 or 6 keys…can be enough to wear out the ignition switch over a period of a few years.

I believe he is picking the distributor because he has seen so many problems with the ignition parts inside of them, not a bad guess but just as guess none the less.

Yes, the ignition switch is a cheaper guess than the distributor, or, the PGM-FI relay. The problem of checking/testing components and circuits with an intermittent malfunction is that, when you check those things, they won’t reveal a discrepancy; so, they will check/test OK. You have to “find them in the act”, so to speak. That’s why the guesses at the most likely culprits.

ok4450, thanks for the excellent analysis. Since there was no sputtering, electrical seems most likely. I think that’s what our mechanic is thinking, too. He has serviced this car its whole life, and it now has 220,000 miles on it. The ignition switch is a good guess–maybe we’ll find out Tuesday. Thanks again.

Thanks, I suspect you might be right. Maybe we’ll find out Tuesday.

No more than 6 keys, but also the remote door opener, a tiny flashlight, and, possibly most important, the 220,000 miles, which means a lot of use for the ignition switch. We’ll fnd out Tuesday, we hope. Thanks.