Stalling Honda!

Hello, and thank you for having a look at this posting. I’ll do my best to be detailed.

The car is a 1998 Honda Civic LX, automatic, that I purchased in 2006 as the 3rd (I think) owner, at 107K miles. Its past medical history when I bought it showed no major accidents or trauma that I could find out about. It is curreltly at 138K miles, and has a periodic issue of simply shutting off. Its as if I just turned off the engine, but the battery still powers the radio, wipers, and hazard lights (thank heavens - this has happened in the middle of traffic!). I can be accelerating or decelerating and it happens. When it does, I pull to the side if I can (loss of power stearing), turn off everything, put it in park, cross my fingers, and turn the key again. Sometimes it starts back up and keeps going. Other times it takes a number of starts for the engine to keep running. It turns over fine, but simply won’t stay on. The only other accessory noise, which I don’t believe to be connected, is a low frequency rattle when the car is idling in gear. That noise happens all the time, independent of the stalling. Its mainly just a sudden shutting off of the engine. It sometimes seems that it will happen more often when the car is cool, but weather does not seem to play a role. It can stall five times, and then I can successfully (and maybe foolishly) drive it 250 miles without incident. It has even tried to stall but then caught itself and kept running before shutting down.

It “feels” like a loose electrical connection of some sort.

I have changed the timing belt (at 120K), and I had some routine maintenance done about 2 years ago, just tune-up type stuff. Regular oil changes, new muffler (actually two) in the past 3 years.

That’s about all I can think of. If there’s any other info I can provide, please let me know.

Many thanks!!


There are a number of possibilities but the first one I would consider is the ignition switch. Many Hondas of this era were subject to a switch Recall and this means if the Recall is open on this car it can be done by the Honda dealer for free.
Call the dealer service department and give them the VIN. They should be able to tell you in a minute if it’s open or not.
Even if the vehicle is not covered by the Recall a switch problem is still very possible. (There’s a lot of politics involved with vehicle Recalls)

Other possibilities could be a failed igniter, failing main relay, or failing fuel pump.

The rattling could be a loose heat shield. This is a common problem with many cars and has no bearing on the car quitting, etc. It’s an aggravation and is usually very easily fixed. Hope that helps.

that is extremely helpful. i’ll call the dealership tomorrow.

thank you,



Not sure if you’ll see this, but I called Honda today and the ignition switch is in fact on recall. Made an appointment to have it fixed for free.

I appreciate the help very much.