DIY Honda Auto Repair and Maintenance

Honda Auto Repair and Maintenance

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Main Relay Causing Starting and Stalling Issues on a 1993 Honda Accord

January 3rd, 2009 · 35 Comments

On my way to work a few days ago my 93 Honda Accord quit running twice.  The first time I was able to pull off the freeway and get the car to start again using some starting fluid.  The second time I didn’t make it off the freeway, nor was I able to restart it so easily. 

My car has stalled while travelling only once before, about a month ago under similar conditions.  It seems to happen when I let off the accelerator to slow down for traffic ahead.  To make matters worse, my car has been having starting issues for the past few years.  If the first attempt doesn’t start the car, it will not usually start for 5 to 10 minutes.  After being temporarily stranded a few times and at the suggestion of a AAA service driver, I purchased the starting fluid.

The starting fluid came in handy the first time my car stalled that day.  I loosened the air filter and sprayed some fluid in the intake and then went around and start the car again.  It worked pretty good and I was shortly on my way.  So much for the restarting difficulties.  I stayed off of the freeway for a while in-case the stalling problem returned, eventually I got back on the freeway and not long afterwards my car stalled again under similar circumstances.  This time I did not make it off the freeway.  I pulled off into the shoulder lane partially in the grass.  I tried starting it again with the starting fluid, it would turn over and start to run, but once the fluid was burned up the engine would stop.  I tried this several times, but could not keep the car running.  

I decided I wasn’t going to make it to work that day.  Eventually a tow truck driver came and as we were about to tow my car to a shop I half-heartedly tried starting it one more the car once more, it started right up.  I agreed to go back to his shop anyways so they could look at it to see if they could find a problem.  It would be $75 for the shop to look at it, which would take about an hour.  If I had some work done, that charge would be applied to the bill.  

Unfortunately, the mechanic couldn’t connect to my car with his code reader; on this car you need to use a jumper wire to jump the service connections, then you count the flashes on the service engine light to get the code.  My service engine light wasn’t coming on anyways, so we ended up talking and speculating on some potential causes of the problem.  They only charged $30 instead of the $75 since they couldn’t do much for me and it didn’t take to long, the information I got was good information even if it didn’t solve my problem.   Starting issues are either fuel, fire (spark) or air issues.  Due to the special circumstances we assumed there may be a fuel pump problem.  I drove home without a problem.

When I came home I started doing some Internet research on the fuel pump and replacing it.  Replacing the fuel pump on a 93 Honda Accord turns out to be a little bigger job that I wanted since the gas tank has to be taken off.  While researching this, I noticed some information on problems with the Main Relay.  Having hairline fractures in the solder joints seems to cause a variety of odd starting behaviors.  Since my car has been having odd starting behavior for some time, I decided to investigate this further.  

After searching for a while in the car and on the Internet,  I eventually found the Main Relay above the cruise control box, and took it out.  After opening the relay, I saw the hairline fractures on three of the solder joints.  I got my soldering iron and a magnifying glass and started repairing them (This site has excellent information on this issue and the solution: http://techauto.awardspace.com/mainrelaydefine.html).

Cruise Control Box on a 93 Honda Accord

Cruise Control Box on a 93 Honda Accord

Main Relay on a 93 Honda Accord

Main Relay on a 93 Honda Accord

I reassembled all the parts and gave it a try.  The soldering job wasn’t pretty but it worked and the car has been starting very reliably since performing this fairly easy job.  So yes, there definitely was a fuel issue, caused by an electrical issue.   However, I am not sure if this is the cause of the stalling issue.  Nevertheless, fixing those solder joints definitely solved my starting problems.   I’ll be doing some tune up work and replacing the fuel filter just to be sure, I hope I don’t have to replace the fuel pump.  If I do, at least I can blog about it.

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Tags: 93 Honda Accord · Auto Maintenance

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