Question about 1988 Honda Accord 4 Door

1 Answer

Won't start @ times.

Very infrequently (about 3 times in the last 1000 miles), it won't start.  It cranks, but won't fire.  This usually happens after the 1st start of the day.  It runs about 10-15 minutes, I turn it off for about 5-10 minutes, and then it just cranks.  After 5-10 minutes it will start & run fine.  It doesn't misfire and there are no codes set.  The check engine light doesn't come on.  This is a 1988 Honda Accord LXI cpe with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Posted by Mike Ward on

  • 2 more comments 
  • Mike Ward
    Mike Ward Mar 15, 2009

    While the module (ignitor) is the obvious solution, I haven't changed it because every module I have seen fail on other vehicles had a different failure pattern.  Either they failed when it was in hot weather, or they completely failed and wouldn't allow the vehicle to restart in 5-10 minutes.  I sincerely appreciate your help & suggestion, but I'd like to be able to diagnose this accurately instead of just replacing parts.  Unfortunately (or is it fortunately), the symptom is only temporary when it happens.  That's why I was wondering if anyone has had the exact type of failure.  

  • Mike Ward
    Mike Ward Mar 15, 2009

    It's fuel injected.  The fact that it runs perfectly immediately after it starts makes me think it's fuel related.  Otherwise, I would expect it to sputter from excess fuel in the cylinders if it was the ignition that cut off during the cranking.  Your thoughts??

  • Mike Ward
    Mike Ward Mar 15, 2009

    If you can post the bulletins you mentioned, I would appreciate it.
    Thanks.

  • Mike Ward
    Mike Ward Mar 15, 2009

    I appreciate your help, but do not understand your comments regarding a bad review.


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1 Answer

Dave C

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Sounds like an ignition module problem. Not to hard to change, they are inside the distributorWon't start @ times. - 2d5b6c4.jpg.

Posted on Mar 14, 2009

  • 2 more comments 
  • Dave  C
    Dave C Mar 15, 2009

    OK, but clarify a couple things please, is it fuel injected? In '88 it could be either. I know the LX was not, and the EXi was, not sure with the LXi? Also, mileage? The reason I suggested the ignition module, is that Honda has a published bulletin identifying this exact problem and depending on what color it is (?), you could go into a Honda service dept. and get this done for free! This was years ago, I doubt they would do it now I will dig up the bulletin and post it here as a jpeg later today.
    As far as "diagnosing this accurately", this is as good as it gets. When you have a published bulletin describing an intermittent problem that can be attributed to at least five distinct components, this where you start. You could spend the rest of this year and hours of frustration trying to pinpoint this problem when the factory service manual says: "substitute known good part" These modules are available on Ebay for $25. shipped. For me, 25 bucks is not the "obvious solution", it's a damn good shot. If the car is fuel injected, there is another published bulletin on the fuel injection relay. The solder joints on the back of the pc board go bad and can be resoldered but you have to pop the cover off the relay and know how to solder. I would suggest buying one of these if you can't do this, but again, this involves spending money, maybe 40 bucks. This relay when faulty will exhibit the exact same problem! It is located under the drivers side dashboard, it's about 1"x1"x2" and says "Mitsuba" on it. These are a very common problem! There is a couple inductive pick-ups inside the ditributor that are very common failure items. I suppose you could take these out, hook them up to an ohmmeter and heat cycle them with a heat gun and wait for a failure. Again, these fail in exactly the same way! There is an ignition coil inside the distributor, it fails in the exact same way. The computer is getting old and the solder joints have no doubt fatigued, it will fail in the exact same way. There is also a bearing in the distributor, google: "honda red death".

    Now, as a professional that has been doing this for 30 years, here is the obvious solution:

    Replace the complete distributor assembly with a new one, not a rebuilt. Both are available in the aftermarket.

    Replace the PGMFI relay (fuel injection relay)


    Hopefully this was more than just a "nice try"




















    , for years you used to be able to go into a dealership and Honda would replace these for free! I will dig up the bulletin later today

  • Dave  C
    Dave C Mar 15, 2009

    On fuel injected cars, the injection pulse is triggered by the ignition system. If you lose ignition, you lose the signal to the injector and it doesn't open. There isn't even any residual in the intake as it is dry, the injectors fire directly into the ports.

  • Dave  C
    Dave C Mar 15, 2009

    The only way I can pull text out of my data base is to screen capture it and save it as a jpeg, so I cropped these down to the meat and potatoes as this site restricts file sizes.
    Just a tip for future reference, there are some really bright minds that are on this site wanting to help you out. However, they have some pride, and if they click on your posting, and see that you've given someone a crappy rating before you have given them a chance to finish, let alone help resolve your problem, they will pass right on by. They won't want their score pulled down. If you don't like a comment from someone, fine, just don't rate it until your problem is resolved or that person is proven wrong. At this point, I would suggest reposting this problem in a day or two and I promise I won't contribute.


  • Dave  C
    Dave C Mar 15, 2009

    Do see my user name, rank and rating? It was higher before I helped you. You said thanks for trying, which means all this information that I gave you was not helpful. If you had not rated me or simply rated this information as helpful. My rating would not have changed. I know that this seems incredibly childish, but the people that contribute here are not paid and it is a bit of a game. I'm off work with an injury right now and just doing this to kill time. I really couldn't care less what you think of my advice, but others will shy away when they see you jump the gun and leave lousy feedback.

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