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Jim Grant's Tech Tips

88 Honda Accord: The "Honda Disease"
Q: Recently, my nephew sent me a copy of one of your articles which appeared in a New Hampshire newspaper. The question posed, dealt with someone who had purchased a used 1988 Honda Accord and described a problem of a loss of power, bucking etc. in cold wet weather. I could not believe my eyes. I felt as if I had written the question. I too have experienced this loss of power, bucking etc. in cold wet weather, with my 1988 Honda Accord and have not been able to solve the problem for years. Not to mention the fact that I come from a long line of Honda owners. My sisters, father and nephew have all owned Honda Accords and all have experienced what we now refer to as the "Honda disease".

We have all independently attempted to come up with the answer to this seemingly unanswerable question. I contacted Honda directly and was informed that the problem was with the fuel pump. We now know that the fuel pump was not the problem. My mechanic also has another customer (also a 1988 Accord) who has the same problem. She too changed her fuel pump among other things, only to discover on the next cold wet day that this was not the solution to her/our problem. She eventually sold her Honda. I, on the other hand, like my Honda (on dry days that is) and can not afford to buy a new car. I also hesitate to put more money into "potential" solutions. My mechanic suggests that the solution may be in changing the ignitor, however he cautioned me that this may not be the answer and can be a little costly.

I have chosen to hold off on that idea. I would however be interested to hear if your reader tried your solution (replace the TAC system) and if you have truly come up with the answer. I'm sure you can understand my hesitation. Your explanation sounds logical and would explain why my car will return to normal if I pull over and turn off the engine for a few minutes. I am then able to resume driving. It is frustrating however when I have to do this two or three times during my commute.

Would you be willing to give me some feedback on this? I would love to hear from you or your reader as to the success of replacing the TAC system.

A: To refresh our readers: The TAC system is a Thermostatic Air Cleaner which is simply a heating system for the air entering the air cleaner of the engine. This is necessary, as carburetors are fussy and operate best in a controlled environment, warm and dry.

Now to answer our reader’s question. Diagnosis of the TAC system takes only a matter of minutes and it does not have to be cold, rainy or snowing.

Of the components that are essential to TAC operation, it is the diaphragm of the vacuum motor at the inlet of the air cleaner that fails most often, rendering it inoperative. But don’t just go slapping another vacuum motor on, prove its defective first!

As for my success: Replacing a defective vacuum motor provides pleasing results, but only if the component is defective. If replacement is required use Honda parts, they cost under $30; and fit and performance far exceeds aftermarket replacement type parts.

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