DIY Honda Auto Repair and Maintenance

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How to read OBD1 Diagnostic Codes on a 1993 Honda Accord

April 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

On my way to work the other day, my car began to behave erratically. When taking off from a stop sign, the transmission seemed to have a problem engaging, it needed higher rpms than usual to get going.  The experience was similar to what you would experience with low transmission fluid.  Shortly there after, I noticed another hiccup in the transmission and saw the “D” and “3” positions light up simultaneiously on the console. I pulled over and checked my fluid – I had plenty of transmission fluid.  I’ve been experiencing electrical issues lately, so I assumed it could easily be related to that.

After driving a bit further at a high rate of speed, I felt the transmission become sluggish briefly. I had enough at this point and decided that I wouldn’t drive it in to work not wanting to risk getting stuck somewhere with a broken car, I drove around a bit more near home without incident and eventually returned home.

I really don’t know really anthing about work, so I decided I’d start doing a bit of research before just taking the car in. The first thing I decided to do was to get the OBD1 codes from the car. This post will explain just how I did that.

The OBD1 connector is located behind the passenger side kick panel in front of the door, underneath the dash. The panel is pretty snug – it is held in by at least three clips and tucked under the trim that runs along the bottom of the door frame.  I removed this panel by getting the panel tip out from underneath the doorframe trim and then getting my hands behind the panel near the clips and pulling it straight out.  My clips were metal and it required a pretty good bit of force. If there is a better way, leave a comment.

After you have the kick panel off, you will see a black plastic tube holding cables running up along the door frame. I found my ODB1 connector taped to this tube with blue electrical tape. The connector has two wires going into it and nothing connected to it.

OBD1 Connector Location

OBD1 Connector Location

Using a spare paperclip I had in my car, I jumped the two wires by inserting the two ends of the paperclip into the two connection points of the connector.

Jumping the OBD1 connector with a paperclip

Jumping the OBD1 connector with a paperclip

After doing this, I turned the ignition to the on position, but did not start the car.  The indicators on the dash displayed codes by flashing several times.  It is a good idea to have a pencil and paper handy in the event you are given several codes.  A long flash represents a value of 10, short quick flashes represent values of 1.  There is a pause between the different codes that are presented.  Once all of the codes are displayed, it repeats them again.  The two indicators that will display codes are the Check Engine Light, which will send codes from the ECU (Engine Control Unit – The main computer for the car) and the Gear Shift “D” (Drive) indicator showing TCU (Transmission Control Unit) codes.  Once I had all of my codes written down I began research on the problems my car was experiencing using both the internet and my well worn Haynes 1993 Accord Repair Manual.

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