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Thread: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

  1. #1
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    87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    We got a 1987 Accord LXi hatchback with an automatic several months ago. When we bought it it would just randomly die. Thinking this was just a faulty main fuel relay we bought the car.

    What we have replaced:

    Main fuel relay
    Ignition switch
    Distributor
    coolant temp sensor
    Fuel filter
    plug wires, plugs, air filter
    drive belts (squealed like crazy when we bought it)
    set timing


    The issue with the car:

    It will randomly stall. This seems to be 100% random. Sometimes it will die 10 seconds after starting it, sometimes it will run for 5 minutes then die, other times you can drive it around for 40 minutes without any issues. It will die at idle, it will die when coasting, it will die holding a constant speed. The only consistent thing is when it dies if you floor the gas pedal quick enough it will sputter back to life and cut in and out several times before returning to normal. It dies regardless of engine temp and outside weather. When it dies sometimes you can just start it back up, other times you have to turn the key to the off position then start it. We have filled the fuel tank twice since buying the car, so bad gas is not the issue. When the car is not stalling out it seems to run just fine.

    I can not get the ECU to throw any codes, all you do is turn the key to the on position right? In the past I have got it to blink some codes that I did not understand by rapidly turning the key on then off. The PGM-FI light on the dash does not come on when you turn the key on, the bulb may just be burn out?

    Any ideas? We have taken it to two different shops since we have owned it and neither one of them could figure it out. The first shop redid some wiring for the ecu that they thought might be bad. The second shop replaced the distributor, set the timing, and changed the coolant temp sensor. Neither shop charged us for anything except the distributor which we provided. The other stuff on the list I did in the garage. We are tired of throwing parts at it.

    Car has 150k miles on it and does not smoke, the exhaust does smell a little rich though. Only thing that is not stock on the car I can find is an aftermarket radio, all of the electrical stuff in the car works fine, the only other issue I can find with the car is sometimes the seat belt light on the dash will not turn off if you start the car with the door open, if the car should have those automatic seat belts that slide along the door they do not work. Also I don't think the AC works, but that is probably normal on a 28 year old car.
    Last edited by baritone mike; 05-06-2015 at 09:25 PM.



  2. #2


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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Quote Originally Posted by baritone mike View Post
    We got a 1987 Accord LXi hatchback with an automatic several months ago. When we bought it it would just randomly die. Thinking this was just a faulty main fuel relay we bought the car.

    What we have replaced:

    Main fuel relay
    Ignition switch
    Distributor
    coolant temp sensor
    Fuel filter
    plug wires, plugs, air filter
    drive belts (squealed like crazy when we bought it)
    set timing


    The issue with the car:

    It will randomly stall. This seems to be 100% random. Sometimes it will die 10 seconds after starting it, sometimes it will run for 5 minutes then die, other times you can drive it around for 40 minutes without any issues. It will die at idle, it will die when coasting, it will die holding a constant speed. The only consistent thing is when it dies if you floor the gas pedal quick enough it will sputter back to life and cut in and out several times before returning to normal. It dies regardless of engine temp and outside weather. When it dies sometimes you can just start it back up, other times you have to turn the key to the off position then start it. We have filled the fuel tank twice since buying the car, so bad gas is not the issue. When the car is not stalling out it seems to run just fine.

    I can not get the ECU to throw any codes, all you do is turn the key to the on position right? In the past I have got it to blink some codes that I did not understand by rapidly turning the key on then off. The PGM-FI light on the dash does not come on when you turn the key on, the bulb may just be burn out?

    Any ideas? We have taken it to two different shops since we have owned it and neither one of them could figure it out. The first shop redid some wiring for the ecu that they thought might be bad. The second shop replaced the distributor, set the timing, and changed the coolant temp sensor. Neither shop charged us for anything except the distributor which we provided. The other stuff on the list I did in the garage. We are tired of throwing parts at it.

    Car has 150k miles on it and does not smoke, the exhaust does smell a little rich though. Only thing that is not stock on the car I can find is an aftermarket radio, all of the electrical stuff in the car works fine, the only other issue I can find with the car is sometimes the seat belt light on the dash will not turn off if you start the car with the door open, if the car should have those automatic seat belts that slide along the door they do not work. Also I don't think the AC works, but that is probably normal on a 28 year old car.
    Well you need to verify if its spark related or fuel related.

    Spark you can check quick with a timing light. hook it up and crank it look for the light going on and of.

    Fuel you can install a pressure gauge on the fuel filter port.

    Those are two quick easy ones to get you going.

    Checking your grounds,charging system etc would not hurt.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

    Oldblueaccord <<< MY YOUTUBE PAGE!

  3. #3
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    The charging system is working fine, 14.3V across the battery with the car running.

    I will have to buy a fuel pressure gauge and then I will check that.

  4. #4
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    So it is not fuel related. I hooked up a fuel pressure gauge to it today, the gauge holds steady at 35 psi with the car running and when it dies the pressure does not change.

  5. #5

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    I would start by testing the coil and ICM, then checking the condition of the cap and rotor. Download the shop manual for instructions on testing (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vtyhl48z5...udl0xk_Oa?dl=0).
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 240k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  6. #6
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Snooz View Post
    I would start by testing the coil and ICM, then checking the condition of the cap and rotor. Download the shop manual for instructions on testing (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vtyhl48z5...udl0xk_Oa?dl=0).
    The ICM is brand new, the distributor is also brand new, so coil, cap and rotor were replaced less than 10 miles ago.

  7. #7


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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Quote Originally Posted by baritone mike View Post
    The ICM is brand new, the distributor is also brand new, so coil, cap and rotor were replaced less than 10 miles ago.
    Its rare any car part is "brand new" any more. The distributor is remanufactured. Test of electrical components can be questionable.

    Keeping fuel pressure makes me think the Main relay and fuel system are ok. Possible injectors are not firing but i would follow the no spark check.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

    Oldblueaccord <<< MY YOUTUBE PAGE!

  8. #8

    conozo's Avatar
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Almost sounds like a short or more likely a wire break to me and maybe even to the distributor. Are all your fuses the correct sizes, does your engine wiring harness have any chewed up sections on it.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

  9. #9
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Nothing looks chewed up, and the only fuse that is incorrectly sized that I have noticed is the radio fuse under the dash. It is labeled as a 15A on the fuse diagram but has a 25A fuse in it. I just attributed this to the after market radio.

  10. #10
    LX User ryan427's Avatar
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Quote Originally Posted by baritone mike View Post
    Nothing looks chewed up, and the only fuse that is incorrectly sized that I have noticed is the radio fuse under the dash. It is labeled as a 15A on the fuse diagram but has a 25A fuse in it. I just attributed this to the after market radio.
    Mike, had the same problem on another car. Turned out to be the fuel pump. It eventually died. After replacement, it never stalled again even after 5 years of driving. Testing yielded no issues so it was just luck for us. The pump can be accessed pretty easily from the top. Procedure is in the manual.

    Hope this helps.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    89 Accord LX
    270k miles
    We've nicknamed it "The Time Machine"

  11. #11
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Put a different ECU in it today, and that fixed the problem. Fired right up, ran a little better, and never died.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  12. #12
    LX User ryan427's Avatar
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    Wow! What tests did you perform to come to this conclusion? Nice job.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    89 Accord LX
    270k miles
    We've nicknamed it "The Time Machine"

  13. #13
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    Re: 87 LXi automatic, dies randomly

    The fact that we could not get it to reliably throw a trouble code was a red flag, sometimes it would do nothing, other times it would flash forever and it even stayed solid a couple times. We also found that if you unplug one of the wiring looms running to the ecu the car would start up and run after dieing and would not die after that.

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