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  • May 24, 2008, 04:13 PM
    1992 civic cuts out while driving and starts after a little while then cuts out
    I have a 1992 civic and recently it just started cutting out while driving. The first day I was ready to get onto the freeway and it just cut out. It started again after a while and was okay getting home. It ran a little rough but made it home. The next day it was fine on the way to work but coming back I had the same problem. Just recently, I took it out for a drive to check the main relay. When coming home, the car stopped. I cranked the car but it wouldn't start. Then it finally started. I drove for 2-3 minutes and it stopped again. Then it wouldn't start again. I had to get it towed but while I was waiting for the tow truck the car started again, I left it idling and after 2-3 minutes it just cut out. When the tow truck left, the car started again right away (10 minute ride)

    I haven't driven the car since but every time I try to start it, it starts right up. I had a mechanically inclined buddy of mine check the plugs and wires, he stated they seem fine. I had the distributer replaced (brand new) less then 3 months ago along with the timing belt and water pump. I checked the main relay and it looks brand new. I have had the car for 3 years and didn't replace the relay... could a new looking still be dead? Could the relay be the problem?

    I can hear the fuel pump whirl each time I start the car so I am hoping that this is not the problem although my mechanic seems to think this is the problem when I described the problem to him over the phone.

    Please help... I will be very grateful
    I just don't want to spend a lot of money on the car, but I can't afford another if I choose to get rid of it.
  • May 24, 2008, 05:35 PM
    If the distributor, including ignitor and coil, are new, the main relay is the most likely culprit. To save money, you can try resoldering the relay. Many do this successfully. Personally, I would install a new one. Consider drilling a number of small ventilation holes in the cover.

    Should the problem persist, after resoldering/replacing the main relay, perform the K-Test on the ECM, particularly when the intermittent problem appears.
  • May 24, 2008, 10:12 PM
    Thank-you for your answer. I will purchase a new main relay and install it. I have been hearing clicking noises on and off before this problem occurred so it could be the problem. The only other question I have is that if a main relay looks new, can it still be faulty? The soldering looks fine, but I will still try this out.

    Could the fuel pump be the problem or is this not even a possibility?
  • May 25, 2008, 04:57 AM
    It's not the main relay. I can feel it clicking the three necessary times. Now there is a puddle of oil underneath my car and the car does not properly go into gear (car is automatic). If it is something big, I will have to get rid of the car. I don't want to take it to a mechanic and pay $50-$100 dollars just to find out that it is something big. But if it is something small, I don't want to give up the car.
  • May 25, 2008, 06:28 AM
    Almost all main relays will work okay when cold. The problem comes when they heat up--then they become intermittent. Most people can't can't tell if a solder joint is cold or not, unless they look very carefully. On the surface, most failing main relays look great.
  • May 28, 2008, 06:33 PM
    Okay I will buy a main relay and replace it to see if it is the problem. Do you think this could possibly be the ECM? I think if it was the ECM, the car wouldn't start.. correct?

    So if the main relay is cold you will hear the 3 clicks and once it is hot, you won't hear them (or at least not all three)... correct? As you can probably tell, I am not that mechanically inclined but I want to be. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank-you for all of your help and assistance... greatly appreciated.
  • May 29, 2008, 06:02 AM
    I don't think the problem is with the ECM. Hopefully, the new distributor was from Honda, because many people on this site have had problems with aftermarket distributors. If replacing the main relay doesn't solve the problem, I'm inclined to suspect the distributor--have the Ignition Control Module (ICM)and coil tested/replaced. Many auto parts stores can test these components for free.

    Be sure to reset the ECM, by disconnecting the negative battery cable or removing the 7.5 A Backup Fuse in the under-hood fuse box, for 10 seconds.

    Most ignition problems with Hondas involve main relays; distributors (particularly the ICM and coil); and ECMs. I'm inclined to suspect the main relay and possibly the ICM, particularly if the distributor was not a genuine Honda part. If the distributor housing, ICM, and coil are genuine Honda, then they are probably fine and it's just the main relay.
  • May 29, 2008, 06:39 PM
    I believe the distributor was "aftermarket". I heard ticking noises when I got my timing belt replaced and I had to take it in 3 times to get adjusted in order to ensure that it works properly.

    The ticking was still coming from time to time. Could this have been the main relay struggling and then it finally kicked out? If it is the distributor, I am going to try and take it back to my mechanic as there was a year warranty on it... but I will probably have to fight to get it done.

    What do you think about 2002 Cavaliers? 75,000 miles on it.
  • May 30, 2008, 07:28 AM
    Cavaliers are okay. Gas mileage has been disappointing, on those I've driven. Most modern-day cars are pretty good, if they've been properly maintained.
  • May 31, 2008, 06:27 AM
    I haven't been having the problem as of late. The car starts up right away and the main relay is giving the three necessary clicks. I do hear ticking once in a while but nothing else. Should I replace the main relay?
  • May 31, 2008, 06:45 AM
    I would replace or resolder it.
  • May 31, 2008, 08:20 AM
    Tx is giving you good answers... I would resolder all points on the main relay... even when it looks good... I do not know much about Cavaliers.. but I like Honda. Other possible places to look. The ignition coil first (specially if was not original replacement) and ICM (check them when you are sure that the main relay is good).

    If the car starts up fine and shuts off after a while... it is most probabaly.. the MAIN RELAY.
  • Jun 29, 2008, 10:26 AM
    The problem occurred again, while I was driving. The service engine soon light came on and the engine coasted. I tried to start the car but it wouldn't. I was getting the three clicks from the main relay so I don't think that is the problem. The ironic thing is that the noise that comes on (three beeps) after the key is clicked in the II position was missing. The car was turning over but not starting. I pushed it for a bit, got in and then after a bit the car started and I drove it home.
  • Jun 29, 2008, 12:57 PM
    Listen to this story... : I used to have starting problems for years... I was not well experienced... and I guess the mechanics do bad diagnostics... for example.. the first time he changed my battery (new one.. the spark plugs... it seemed to work fine.. but later.. same problem.. occasional starting problem.. It never cut off while driving.. just when starting.. even I got my starter refurbished... seemed fine.. but the problem kept on from time to time.. and stayed for years... then one day after warming up.. it cut off in the driveway... and could not start at all... I tried till the battery was dead.
    a- I changed the spark plugs again and the wires and the rotor cap (I think that was not necessary at all.. since I had the original wires and the plugs were normal).
    b- I resoldered the main relay... and did not work...
    (* important notice.. I had a symptom that is suspicious being idle when I depress the brakes I noticed that the engine noise changes a little bit *).. . I did all checks provided by tx.. I had no spark at all..
    c- It did not start till changing the coil and the ICM. I changed the coil first (brand new from Honda).. could not start neither.. so when I changed the ICM (I bought one from Honda.. they told me it was better than the old one, old=OKI brand).. it started immediateley... Of course.. when the battery dies you recharge it.. and do not replace it... it is normal that when you have a starting problem that is dies out.

    Conclusion : I think from the very beginning I had the COIL and the ICM bad, weak and about to fail. All other replacements were not necessary at all. The coil showed some hardly visible signs of insulation breakdown (tiny black small dots) and it looks perfect when you measure its resistance (probably, it could do the job.. not sure). So the day the ICM finally died it lost the spark. By the way the ICM can give good resistance tests.. I guess mine had an open circuit on one pin. In my opionion if you have had the above symptom between **.. then your ICM is failing gradually... it could work for years ahead... but when it dies you lose spark and nothing can restart your car unless you change it.

    If you miss some clicks.. check the fuses... all above applies when all of your fuses are fine... and when the check engine light does not stay on.
  • Jun 29, 2008, 08:47 PM
    Have you checked the fuel injectors or the O2 Sensor? That might be the culprit

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