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Unhappy Honda

Disclaimer: I don’t know much about cars…

I have an Automatic 93 Honda Accord with 163,000 miles. A week ago a new phenomena started whereby in order to start the car, I have to rev the gas at the same time I am turning the key in the ignition. If I don’t rev the engine doesn’t catch. Then, moving from Park to Drive, the whole engine shakes and groans as it’s moving through 1st & 2nd gear and finally settles out at 3rd gear. However, if I do not have sufficient gas going as I move from P to D, the engine cuts out and I have to start all over again. Additionally, as I am driving (now in 3rd gear and “smooth”) the engine will have spurts where the car will “shoot” forward and then settle back out. Recently I had the spark plugs replaced when there was a similar phenomena (but not as pronounced) and this seemed to settle for a few days and now the whole engine is in overdrive (rhetorically speaking). Someone mentioned perhaps its a blown head gasket but that doesn’t really make sense to me. But again, I don’t know that much about cars. Please, please, please respond with any advice!

This could be a number of things. Do you have a check engine light glowing in the dashboard? It should come on for two seconds when you start the car and then go out. If it isn’t doing this, then you have a computer problem. If its on all the time, then you will have to have a mechanic read the code(s). It is not OBDII compatible so AutoZone will not be able to read them for you.

If the check engine light is working correctly, I would get the fuel pressure checked, but first, instead of pumping the gas pedal while trying to start, do this in sequence, turn the key to the run position for two seconds, then put the gas pedal to the floor and hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds, with out letting up on the gas, turn the key to start. If the engine starts right up and runs smooth, you probably have a bad fuel pressure regulator, which will show up as high pressure on the pressure check.

If that doesn’t work, I suspect that a fuel pressure check will reveal low pressure and that could be due to a bad fuel pump or clogged fuel filter. At this age, you might want to replace both if the problem is low fuel pressure.

The next thing I would suspect would be the center shaft bearing in the distributor. You would need a mechanic who knows how to check these as randomly throwing in a distributor is expensive if that doesn’t cure the problem.

Another source could be a dirty Mass Airflow Sensor, stuck IAC, bad Throttle Position Sensor, stuck EGR valve, bad oxygen sensor or clogged cat. None of those should cause all your problems though and most of them should give you a check engine light.

Blown head gasket doesn’t make sense to me either, unless there are other symptoms you haven’t mentioned or noticed yet.