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01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
11-26-2013, 06:56 PM (This post was last modified: 11-26-2013 07:04 PM by sean.ritt.)
Post: #1
01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
2001 Honda Accord, LX, 3.0L V6, roughly 130,000 miles, Houston, Texas.

My car is having a problem of rough idling and misfiring when I first start driving it after starting. It started about 4 days ago when a cold front came through. I'm not sure if the temperature/ moisture is related.

When I first start the car and start driving for the first few minutes, at slow speeds, the acceleration will be unresponsive and the rpm will drop before all the sudden "catching" for lack of a better word then the car leaps forward for a few seconds then it happens again. The problem seems to go away after a few minutes but starts over whenever I restart the car. Even if only off for a short time.

The check engine light came on so I went to autozone and used one of their comp scanners which gave me codes for Random Misfire, Misfire cylinders 3,5, and 6, as wells as 02 sensor bank 1 sensor 1. I just had that specific 02 sensor replace 2 months ago to pass inspection, I also replaced the spark plugs at this time.

So its misfiring obviously, but from my few days of research I have come up with a few possible causes...

1) Spark Plugs/ wires
2) Ignition coil pack/s
3) Distributor
4) Throttle body
5) Fuel filter
6) Fuel pump/ fuel injector
7) Temp sensor

So my questions are...

1) Is there any possible cause I am missing?
2) Is there any way to cross some of these off my list rather than just replacing parts and hoping for the best?
3) If I take it to a mechanic will he have ways of figuring out which of these is the problem or will he just do trial and error as I would?
4) I am a vendor and must drive for work, so I have been driving it for the past 4 days going slow at first and letting it warm up before getting on the freeway or anything, am I causing more damage to my car by doing this?

Thank you in advance for any helpful information you may be able to offer in this matter.

sean.ritt
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11-26-2013, 08:38 PM (This post was last modified: 11-26-2013 08:39 PM by Rupe.)
Post: #2
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
At that mileage and age I would start with basics. IOW, if not done recently a full tune with filters is in order. This will be your base line and also allow you to look closely at other things while working. At least you can focus fewer problems at that point.

You could also try the "rain test" and soak the engine with a garden hose to see if it's worse when wet. This is kinda like shooting from the hip and may cause you grief if you get the wrong things wet. You may also be able to see spark jumping with the hood open in a dark area. (bad cap, wires, coil)

Yes, this is a process of elimination but you may stumble on the fix if you persist.

BTW, the O2 code may just be from poor running and might go away one the problem is fixed.

Garner, do you have anything to add here?
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11-27-2013, 12:13 AM
Post: #3
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
The only thing that I might add to the mix is if you know somebody who is good with a Full Function scanner. They might be able to look at the Temperature Sensor readings, 02 sensor, etc., and be able to pinpoint something? Other than that I think you pretty much covered everything.

Just curious, how “cold” is a “cold front” in Huston, TX?

Thanks for using the forum,
Garner

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11-27-2013, 12:20 AM (This post was last modified: 11-27-2013 12:22 AM by Rupe.)
Post: #4
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
More thoughts:

Random or multi-cyl misfire is typically either a coil, worn dist, or failing fuel pump. IOW, something common to ALL cyls. This is where a good tune up with new ignition parts will help narrow things down. While you are changing the cap & rotor is when you will check for wear in the dist shaft or anything else, such as debris indicating something else is worn in there. If it has a vac advance or mechanical weights you can scope that out too.

The reason I can't get any more specific at the moment is because anything over 100k miles is prime time for a full tune anyway and anything over 130k is near time for the life span of a fuel pump.

BTW, you failed to mention if you feel a solid skip in the engine or if it's just lack of power. Also consider that if this has been running bad for any length of time you may have a clogged cat converter on your hands. We can talk more about that if you can give us more info. Typically there's an odd rattle under the car or a "whooshing" sound to the tail pipe on acceleration, although you may not hear it from inside the car. IOW, you may need a helper to listen from outside while you drive by them.

Edited to add: I think a cold front down there is 50 degrees and rain. (I have a buddy near there)
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11-27-2013, 01:09 AM
Post: #5
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
I live about 15 minutes southeast of houston and to me a cold front is anything 40 or below with wind and rain, but by the gracious good lord he raised a damn yankee here. Im originally from close to pittsburgh pa
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11-27-2013, 05:07 AM
Post: #6
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
Thanks for the info guys.

@Rupe- I'm not sure what a solid skip feels like and it is hard to describe via text what the car is doing. When I accelerate out of my parking lot in the morning the car begins to respond then hesitates. If i keep my foot on the gas pedal I see the tachometer fall to about .3/.4 and feel about a second of nothing before it will surge forward. In my novice mind I imagine a piece of gunk causing a blockage then working out. Which would be great if it only happened once or a few times, but its happening consistently which leads me to believe its systemic problem that wont just work itself out. If this occurs at night I see my headlights visible dim when it occurs. I do not hear any rattling or whooshing, but I am inside the car. I will have to get a friend to listen tomorrow.

Would it be advised to do a full tune-up myself, or take it to a shop? If I should do it myself to look closely at other things while working, what all is included in a full tune up?

@Garner- What is a Full Function scanner as opposed to regular comp scanning tool which give the P... codes?

I realize these are some seriously basic questions, what can I say, I'm just learning.

Also by cold front I mean under 50 degrees F and long periods of rain. It is 43 degrees F as I write this. However as a Houstonian, I consider below 70 degrees F to be sweater time Tongue
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11-27-2013, 11:18 AM
Post: #7
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
A full function scanner can show “Live Data” depending on what sensors are available. Someone who knows what they are doing can look at what “Engine Temperature” the computer is “seeing,” “O2 Sensor” readings, “MAP,” “MAF,” etc., and sometimes put that information into a picture of what’s happening. Something like if the engine is really 50 degrees when you start it but the computer is seeing 200 degrees & the O2 sensor is lean. The computer isn’t compensating for the cold engine.

But as Rupe said; if it hasn’t ever had a tune up, it is due. A fresh fuel filter, air filter, spark plug wires, cap, & rotor (if it has a distributor), PCV valve, & a good look around while doing it. Look for damaged wires, vacuum lines, corroded ground wires, & leaks.

Only you can decide “who” should do it. We don’t know your skill level, what tools you have, what working conditions you have, or how much time you have.

Under 70 is sweater time? I want to come to Texas. I just looked at my thermometer INSIDE, with the heat turned ON, and I only have 69! Outside, 28 & freezing rain.

Thanks for using the forum,
Garner

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11-27-2013, 11:29 AM (This post was last modified: 11-27-2013 11:36 AM by Rupe.)
Post: #8
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
By "solid skip" I mean you can feel the engine shudder or like driving on cobble stones kind of vibration. The fact that you see the lights dim for a moment could be a couple of things. The first is that the engine is about to stall. (very low RPM for a moment) The second might be the engine is moving around (worn mounts?) and this is causing a tug / pull on a wiring harness.

What Garner is talking about is the typical scanner only gives the code. A full function scanner can also bring up live data from the various sensors while driving. Someone who is both familiar with the car and good at reading the info can be a valuable source to tap and possible save you a bundle versus throwing parts at it till you find the one that does the trick.

Again, starting with basics: If the car is due for a full tune up you might as well eliminate that as a source of issues before going the next step. A full tune will include air and fuel filters, plugs, cap, rotor, wires, and possibly an ignition coil. Personally I'd go with OEM parts. The price will hurt up front (versus discounted parts) but for most people it's something you only want to do once and not have to fool with it again in 6 months when the cheap part fails. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself then ask around for a trustworthy shop then explain what's going on. From personal experience I'd use a shop that is familiar with this car rather than a general repair facility. They may charge more per hour but there's a good chance they will solve the problem in half the time.

Let us know how things work out for you.

Edited to add: I see Garner beat me to the punch line while I was refilling my morning cup. Looks like we have covered the basics to help you decide what's next.

Oh, raining and 60 here in Ct but the temps will drop line a rock tonight. Expecting mid 20's and windy after the rain is done. One thing about New England is if you don't like the weather, wait a minute and it will change!
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12-03-2013, 07:21 PM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2013 07:24 PM by sean.ritt.)
Post: #9
RE: 01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
Update:

Alright so as suggested I got a tune up. During which the mechanic changed the spark plugs checked the fuel injectors and made sure the ignition coils were sparking. He also changed the air filter and cleaned the throttle body. He cleared the codes at that time.

Unfortunately this did not fix the problem and the check engine light came back on. I had ordered my own CAN OBDII scanner off of amazon which luckily arrived that day so I scanned the codes again. This time it was showing P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P0305, P0306. Which is a misfire in every individual cylinder and a random misfire code. Shit I thought. I took it back to the mechanic just to discuss what else could be the problem and he seemed just as stumped as I. We sat and theorized a bit. So since this misfire is not constant he said it could be that one of the ignition coils is failing as in, is working sometimes but not all the time. Also in the theorizing he sort of threw out the idea of a loose timing belt. I asked him how much one of those would be to replace since my car is 130k plus, I bought it at 115K, and I have no idea when/ if at all the timing belt was last replaced. It would be around 600 bucks so I'd prefer not to do that as a means of trouble shooting.

So at this point I use my scanner to clear the codes again. The next day (today) the light come back showing P1399 (another misfire code), and a P0505 code (Idle Air Control Valve Malfunction)

Ok so I do some googling and find out there's a way to test if your ignition coils are working yourself (at least at the time of the test) which is, with the engine on, you unplug each of the coils to see if the engine starts to rattle. I performed the test and all coils seemed to be working.

So now I look into this P0505 code, which is new to me, and find this website http://ericthecarguy.com/29-obd-codes/ob...tion-honda

"For the driver, a P0505 code will usually mean that the engine becomes hard to start, runs roughly, or idles erratically. The engine may also shut off (choke out or stall) at stop lights after being driven to temperature (e.g. only after the vehicle has "warmed up")."

Sounds pretty close to what I'm experiencing here. Except I experience the 'chocking' at low temperatures.

So the website says "Occasionally, the valve itself may be blocked or stuck and require replacement. Whatever the issue, a simple diagnostic of the wiring harness and circuit is usually all that's required to locate the problem."

Soooooo... I youtube it and find out the valve is easily removed and can just be cleaned out with carb cleaner, so I will be doing that tomorrow, hopefully putting me one step closer to cracking this nut.

New questions:

1) Would a Idle Air Control Valve malfunction cause misfiring?

2) If so and simply cleaning out the valve doesn't work and there may be a short (which in theory would go along with the problem starting during a "cold front" ((heavy rain))) would just replacing this 'wiring harness thing' solve the problem? Also... what is a wiring harness and are they easy to replace?

3) During this investigation I have become concerned about my timing belt just as a matter of routine maintenance. I never gave it much thought before. But given the high cost of replacing it, I am wondering if there is an inexpensive way to see if it does indeed need to be replace? I think replacing it on my own is above my skill level at this point.

Any thoughts, comments, answers ,etc. are greatly appreciated.

Thanks guys.

sean.ritt
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12-04-2013, 12:03 PM (This post was last modified: 12-04-2013 12:04 PM by Garner.)
Post: #10
01 Honda Accord... need help diagnosing
OK, I have a couple of questions about your “Tune Up.” You didn’t mention a “Gas Filter” or a “PCV” in the list. Lack of proper fuel pressure can cause a lot of problems. Many times a simple fuel filter can fix that. PCV valves are overlooked way to much as they are tied into the vacuum system. A vacuum leak can cause problems. So I would probably make sure that those two things were changed before jumping into anything as big as the timing belt. Also, did anyone check for vacuum leaks? At 130,000 miles vacuum lines can become an issue.

Many vehicles do have a recommended change interval for the timing belt. This is especially important if you have an “Interference” engine. That is one where the pistons can hit the valves if the timing belt breaks. If yours is an interference engine & the belt has never been changed you probably should consider having it done.

Here are a couple of links that you can check out for more information about the IAC. One of them even mentions that Honda had a Service Bulletin for some makes.

http://www.obd-codes.com/p0505

http://engine-codes.com/p0505_honda.html

Please keep us posted.

Thanks for using the forum,
Garner

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