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MASTER TECH, Honda Service Technician
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 5753
Experience:  28 years of Honda training and a master Honda tech
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1992 Honda Accord: intermittent starting..Most times it..starts fine

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Have a 1992 Honda Accord, and have intermittent starting problem. Most times it starts fine, but occassionally it will not start. It turns over but will not start. On one occasion, we tried to diagnose if electric problem or fuel problem by removing sparkplug wire to see if there was electric spark, and there was and the engine fired up and ran on 3 cylinders fine. There does not seem to be a pattern, but several times after setting for about an hour after driving, it will not start. It seems that if the battery is low (starting to turn over slower) then it will not start, but if fully charged it will most likely start. If there is a pattern it might be that after parking for about an hour it will not start. Maybe related to heat soak into electric components... like the distributor. Have recently replaced distributor cap, rotor, plugs, and wiring. Would igniter (ignition module) cause this kind of problem? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
hello welcome to the site.
this can be related to 2 items
1 could be a faulty main fuel relay
2 a faulty igniter. how ever on the igniter the car will run for a few mins and then stall can you tell me when you changed the cap and rotor did notice the color of the igniter ?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Cap and rotor replaced 4 months ago. Don't recall seeing any discoloration of ignitor. It does not stall after running. The problem is strictly related to starting.   Incidentally, also replaced the fuel filter about the same time as the distributor cap and rotor, plugs and wiring were replaced back in May. That was done when had a misfiring problem that turned out to be oil leakage into the sparkplug cavities. This was previous problem that was helped by you folks back in May. Replaced the valve cover and sparkplug hole seals and has been running fine until the last week when this starting problem started. I do see some slight oil wetting around plugs which is disappointing since just replace the seals. I don't think this has anything to do with the starting problem though.
the igniter will cause a no start issue. is it a black OKI or a tan/brown NEC ?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't know. I'm not where the car is right now. I'll have to check and let you know later. What's the significance? And, would a faulty ignitor sometimes work and sometimes not? How can this be?
its a thermal issue when the igniter gets hot it will not start ,
also the main fuel relay is the same thing also the solder joints on the relay board stop making contact after the interior temps rise and then will not make contact and not start until it cools down.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks... I can understand the thermal issue, but it's not easy to understand why one of the times it would not start after setting for several days and the battery was getting weak, so put the charger on overnight and tried the next day with fully charged battery, and at first it would not start, and then when we pulled the one plug wire to check ignition spark it fired up.
What else can I tell you? Can you give me ideas to look at to solve this problem? I won't be able to get to the car until tomorrow.
this sure sounds like a igniter i used to get cars in for no start and crank is over and nothing then pull one plug wire to check for spark and bam the car starts.
please tell me the color of the igniter if its black replace it with a factory part not a parts store item or you will be in the same spot again.
i seen this a lot in the early 90's and their was a service bulletin for this problem and the fix install a new updated igniter
hello any news yet ?
MASTER TECH and 3 other Honda Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Since last discussion early September haven't had any problems with starting... so have not been looking for help. The weather has cooled a little here in Seattle area, so may have had an effect. No problems until about 2 weeks ago. Two times now in the last couple of weeks the car has stopped while waiting at an intersection for light to change and would not restart until got a battery jump and then started right up. In both cases the battery still seemed to be strong, but as soon as battery was jumped the car did start and continued to run. Very strange. Now I think we need to get down to fixing the problem. Since we were not having any problem, have not even looked in the distributor yet. Does this still sound like an igniter problem to you? What do you think??? Go, and buy new igniter?... and do you think it is necessary to get a new heat sink as well? What can go wrong with the heat sink plate?
the heat sink should be fine.
since this is a intermittent problem and has only done it 2 times on the last few weeks it tough to say 100% yes or no on this.
the key is to test when failed. how ever i have seen some ignition items start after a sudden burst of energy like a jump start.
look in side the distributor and tell me if the igniter is a black OKI or brown NEC
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I'm not where the car is right now. Probably not be able to find out the igniter color until tomorrow at the earliest. I think I asked before, but what difference does it make which igniter it is? The way it acts, it just has to be electrical. Is there anything else that could act this way except for the igniter?
This sounds like a thermal issue and this sounds like a bad icm.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Just replaced the igniter. Car started right up. Took it for a drive and it died again. Still have the same problem. Runs good sometime, but after driving for several miles, it just dies. What now??????
when it dies can you confirm spark at the spark plug or fuel at the fuel rail ?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
No, I have not. It has not happened where it is convenient to do that. So, far it has been along side the freeway or in traffic, and not very easy to start analyzing. It would be a good idea to make sure there is spark, but so far can't duplicate problem at home. In the meantime, do you have any ideas? The weather is around freezing this week. Do you think it still might be a thermal issue? If so, which component, now that the igniter doesn't seem to be the problem? I hate to just start replacing parts. Coils are pretty pricey... ~$100.

the ignition coils are not intermittent like a icm will be.

the main fuel relay will also do this.

how long does the car set before restarting ?

you can actually remove the main fuel relay and open it up and look at the solder joints.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

The last few times (over the last couple of weeks) it has been cold... and once the car stalls it has to set maybe 10 minutes and then will re-start. However it is acting differently now than it did last September when it was much warmer. In the summer it would not start after having set for maybe 30 minutes or longer, and now it re-starts after a much shorter time. Also, in the summer the situation was that it would be running fine and then when it was shutdown, it would not re-start for some time... and now it only has been stalling when it was being driven.

I have not looked for the main fuel relay yet. Can you give me a clue exactly where it is located. I am not where the car is right now and don't have access to a manual. Tomorrow would be the soonest I can get the time to look at it further.


I have been thinking when all this started to happen... It was after the car had started to run a little rough last spring. What we found was oil had leaked into the sparkplug chambers and had soaked the wiring and plugs heavily. So, replaced the rocker cover gaskets and replaced the sparkplugs, sparkplug wiring (incl the coil connecting wire), and rotor (the cap looked very good so did not replace). Before this the car had never had the stall problem. After replacing these parts, the car ran perfectly for about 4-5 months and then started to experience this re-start and stall problem. Don't know if there is any connection... but perhaps. Any help is appreciated.

thanks for that vital info.

lets take the main fuel relay out and inspect it for any bad solder joints.

the fact you had problems in the warmer months and the time it takes to cool down.

click here for main fuel relay testing.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Took your advice and removed the main fuel relay. There is a great website... , which greatly helped locate, remove, and replace the relay easily. It also had good suggestion regarding changing the reinstallation slightly to get better air circulation to help the thermal issue. When we opened up the relay to look at the solder joints, it was not at all obvious that there were any bad joints or not. They all looked pretty good... no cracks or bad soldering or anything out of the ordinary. But, since we had it all apart and nothing to lose, we essentially remelted each solder joint with a touch of solder anyway. Didn't seem that we did anything much, however reinstalled and fired up the car, and so far we have had no problem. Took a few short drives to gain confidence that it would not quit as it had been doing before. Runs great!! It would seem that the re-solder job may have done the trick... unbelievable. Time will tell. The weather is still on the cool side... and will be until Spring. I want to thank you for all your help and suggestions.

yea the honda web site digitized the manual and the pictures are bad on some .

the funny thing is we had 2 RL's come in today and had bad main fuel relays and its about 50 deg's.

don't see that to much but every day we see new stuff as the cars get older.

sounds like your on your way to some trouble free driving.



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