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Matt, Engineer
Category: Transmissions
Satisfied Customers: 21871
Experience:  Mechanical Engineer BEng Hons22 years experience in car engine industry, 10 years in formula 1
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2004 Honda Insight with auto trans. Engine dies abruptly

Customer Question

2004 Honda Insight with auto trans.
Engine dies abruptly when Reverse or Drive is selected.
Submitted: 1 year ago via
Category: Transmissions
Expert:  ebrock63 replied 1 year ago.


I am sorry that you have not been helped yet. I just came online and saw your question

Ok, the problem is that the torque converter has failed and is stuck in lockup and will need to be replaced. You need to check with the previous owner to see if the torque converter was replaced when the transmission was replaced, and if so, where it was bought at and the warranty on it as it will need to be replaced

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, this car does not have a torque converter.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm a transmission tech. It's not in the trans.
Expert:  Matt replied 1 year ago.


OK another expert here

if the engine is dying as you put in into drive then its quite possible the engine isn't measuring airflow correctly

This could be an airleak after the airflow meter, any air dragged in here isn't 'seen' by the ECU and so not compensated for and can lean the engine out and can also allow the engine to rev up when not desired causing rough running.

As its a mechanical fault it tends not to turn on the fault light and you can sometimes hear a 'hissing' noise with the engine running.

Check the hose clips for tightness and inspect the trunking for any cracks or splits and also all the vacuum system, the small bore pipes and fittings for cracks and missing parts.

The best way to locate a leak is to have the engine running and warm and then spray lighter gas /propane around each joint in turn. If the engine rev's up you've found your leak.

Now you might think that spraying lighter gas around a hot engine isn’t wise, however the flash /ignition point of gas is about 400°C so you need a naked flame or spark to set it off and I’ve used this method for many years without incident.

Work your way through each possible joint one at a time and you should find it. I use a slightly flattened piece of brake pipe and some rubber hose from the can of lighter gas to provide a spraying 'wand' and allow a direct blast of gas into each area, especially those difficult to reach with large implements.

It’s also worth getting the fuel pressure checked as if this is low due to a blocked filter or faulty regulator or even a poorly pump will all result in insufficient fuel being delivered to the engine

Might also be worth cleaning out the idle speed control motor / valve as these get clogged up with carbon and some brake cleaner washed through helps free things off.

Might also be worth checking the wiring and connector to the airflow meter for any signs of corrosion or damage. you can do a quick fault find if you unplug the meter and run the engine without it.

if the engine condition is the same then chances are the meter or the connection to it is faulty

Air leaks are very temperature dependent as gaps can open or close up as things expand with heat, so the weather and engine temperature can effect them.

This leads them to be quite intermittent in the case of mild leaks

its also worth cleaning the airflow meter by removing it from the car and spraying the exposed sensor wires inside the tube with a brake or switch cleaner - ensure that the cleaner is one of the old fashioned, non Eco type that does not leave a residue

On no account touch the sensor wires with anything physical as they are extremely fragile

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
None of that stuff. The engine dies abruptly. I have seen this problem on CVTs when the start Clutch solenoid is Cross connected with the pressure control solenoid. It kills the engine like it had a conventional lock up torque converter malfunction.
It gives me the idea that the Trans Module is applying the start clutch or activating the drive or driven pulleys solenoids.
Expert:  Matt replied 1 year ago.

OK thanks for the information

I'd agree for it to suddenly die then either the engien isn't making sufficent torque or the clutch is let in too aburptly

what happens if you try a 'neutral drop' ie rev the engine to about 2,000rpm and let pop it into drive (I'm assuming that this is a CVT model)

if the car then pulls away (alibiet with a bit of a clang) then I'd agree the clutch management is probably off

1st thing I'd try is adjusting the neutral safety switch ( which I think is on the transmisson)

also is the 'auto idle stop' light illuminated? as this prevents an engine start

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's a CVT. It'll kill the engine at any rpm. you can't even drive it for 10 feet.
Expert:  Matt replied 1 year ago.


I think that that you need an Insight specialist as these are pretty rare cars

can you tell me your wherabouts and I'll try to locate one