Replacing Honda Computer

We have a 1999 Honda Accord with 65K miles on it. We got it from my mother who did all maintenance and repair vigilantly at the dealer. It runs like it is new- except the check engine light came on recently. So we took it to the dealer and they say we need to replace the computer to the tune of $1300. Apparently there is nothing wrong with the car except the computer that is supposed to diagnose what is wrong. Has anyone had this problem before? What happens if you just don’t replace the computer? That’s an awful lot of money to spend on a car that runs fine. Thoughts?

I’d get a second opinon on the diagnosis. Computers, especially Honda computers, practically never go bad. I read somewhere once that something like 95% of the supposedly bad computers that get sent back to Honda for repair turn out to be fine. A lot of times, a lazy or inexperianced tech will just assume it’s the computer if it’s not the first most obvious thing the Check Engine Light code would indicate. If there’s an independent honda specialist in town, I’d take it there. If not, you’re still probably better off at a regular independent repair shop-- they’re cheaper and usually at least as good as the dealer.

Also, if it does turn out to be bad, an independent garage would probably be able to source out a used part for a fraction of the price. Computers are parts that are generally okay to buy used because, see above, they’re almost never bad.

Don’t buy that diagnosis at this point. I’m skeptical. Computer failure is a rare thing to happen and should go to the bottom of the list for things to check.
Drop by a local auto parts house such as AutoZone, Advance, Checkers, etc. and have them pull the codes.

They will do this for you absolutely free. Post any results back here for further discussion.

A repair you really should consider is the timing belt/water pump. The car only has 65k miles but if it has the original belt that means the belt is 9 years old.
Rubber rots and in a nano-second it can break and leave you up the creek.

Just something to check. It may still be covered under the Honda emissions warrenty if the problem causes the car to fail emissions.

Believe it or not my son’s 96 Acura (Honda) was recalled as a result of action by EPA emissions. It only covered 96, 97, and 98 but extended the warrenty to 150,000 and 14 years. Plus they changed the computer, plugs, rotor, wires, and an oil and filter change for nothing, and it had over 100K on it.

I’ll second all the people that don’t think it’s the computer. And if it IS the computer, go get one from a junkyard yourself. I can usually get ECU’s for around $25.

Actually, Honda computers DO go bad. My 2000 Honda Accord had an SRS computer (air bag) that croaked. The dealer wanted $600 to fix it but I found a junk yard in Iowa that sold me a matching unit for $125 and I put it in myself. It worked fine, especially when my wife took on a Chevy Suburban head on at 45 mph. Both bags deployed and she lived. Considering the impact the fact that all she got was bruises with NO internal injuries was a testament to modern car technology.

Wow… that’s a story you should bring up during the “should I fix my airbags?” threads!