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Views: 1,306  ·  Replies: 18 
> Mystery Check Engine Light, The Ephemeral Enigma
THE_HONDA_CG2
  Posted: Sep 21 2015, 07:14 PM


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If you're facebook friends with me then you might have seen a post a couple months ago where I was talking about my car stalling out while going highway speeds.

If you're not facebook friends with me then here is the sparknotes version: my Accord light came on one day and the engine would randomly stall out while traveling around 70+mph. I could tell it was stalling because the car would jerk and then start slowing down. At the same time the revs would drop dangerously low (like <1000rpm). It was really scary because if never happened just once. What I usually did was let off the gas then try accelerating again to get the revs back up then it would jerk again and the revs would fall again. It made drives nerve-wracking and almost impossible. I noticed that it would only happen when I drove long distances (20+ miles in one setting). I also saw that it help the engine if I would pull over after the first couple of instances to just let the engine cool a little bit before getting back on the road.

A couple of weeks of this happening on my long drives to and from work/school, I saw the check engine light come on. When my dad and I read the code, the OBDII reader came back with a catalytic converter failure code. A little research determined that the engine stalling at high speeds was a result of the exhaust system not exiting air properly and causing it to get backed up and choking up the engine causing it to shut off. Or at least that's what my hypothesis was.

My dad and I determined that it was a hazard for me to bring the car to work because of the stalling problem so we left it at home. I moved out and life happened and stuff then when I came back last weekend, my dad demanded his car back and told me the check engine light for the Accord went away by itself. So what am I to do? I can't protest with a car that says that there is nothing wrong with it, but I'm still a little wary.

So my question is, can a check engine light spontaneously go away? Is my Accord ok to drive? These past couple of drives I've had with it, it feels healthy to me, it just doesn't haul as much ass as I remember (and that's saying something because I'm coming out of driving an Avalon for a month and a half). But bottom line it isn't stalling when I drive to and from work/grocery shopping.

TL;DR my car is haunted and I'm wondering if it is try to kill me by tricking me into thinking that there is nothing wrong with it when in fact there could be a massive failure of a critical component of the vehicle.

Thanks for reading and your help guys! smile.gif
The Sixth Element
Posted: Sep 21 2015, 08:31 PM


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QUOTE (THE_HONDA_CG2 @ 1 hour, 16 minutes ago)
If you're facebook friends with me then you might have seen a post a couple months ago where I was talking about my car stalling out while going highway speeds.

If you're not facebook friends with me then here is the sparknotes version: my Accord light came on one day and the engine would randomly stall out while traveling around 70+mph. I could tell it was stalling because the car would jerk and then start slowing down. At the same time the revs would drop dangerously low (like <1000rpm). It was really scary because if never happened just once. What I usually did was let off the gas then try accelerating again to get the revs back up then it would jerk again and the revs would fall again. It made drives nerve-wracking and almost impossible. I noticed that it would only happen when I drove long distances (20+ miles in one setting). I also saw that it help the engine if I would pull over after the first couple of instances to just let the engine cool a little bit before getting back on the road.

A couple of weeks of this happening on my long drives to and from work/school, I saw the check engine light come on. When my dad and I read the code, the OBDII reader came back with a catalytic converter failure code. A little research determined that the engine stalling at high speeds was a result of the exhaust system not exiting air properly and causing it to get backed up and choking up the engine causing it to shut off. Or at least that's what my hypothesis was.

My dad and I determined that it was a hazard for me to bring the car to work because of the stalling problem so we left it at home. I moved out and life happened and stuff then when I came back last weekend, my dad demanded his car back and told me the check engine light for the Accord went away by itself. So what am I to do? I can't protest with a car that says that there is nothing wrong with it, but I'm still a little wary.

So my question is, can a check engine light spontaneously go away? Is my Accord ok to drive? These past couple of drives I've had with it, it feels healthy to me, it just doesn't haul as much ass as I remember (and that's saying something because I'm coming out of driving an Avalon for a month and a half). But bottom line it isn't stalling when I drive to and from work/grocery shopping.

TL;DR my car is haunted and I'm wondering if it is try to kill me by tricking me into thinking that there is nothing wrong with it when in fact there could be a massive failure of a critical component of the vehicle.

Thanks for reading and your help guys! smile.gif

Have you gone to an ASE certified technician and got a Vehicle Diagnosis? They would give you a detailed analysis to your car. Also, a car CANNOT spontaneously remove its Check Engine light. If you remove the codes then the Check Engine light would not come up until a few miles. I would say that the fuel pump would be a problem but that problem would appear at a low to mid speed. Take this advice from a learning technician/mechanic. I may be wrong but I'm going through textbook knowledge and other people's experience. I hope you can fix your Accord and not be haunted. I'm not a good Exorcist. laugh2.gif
Spaz
Posted: Sep 22 2015, 09:57 AM


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ASE Certified, lol. Just like a diploma, paper doesn't mean shit in real-world application. When I worked parts counter there were a couple guys who were ASE P2 who didn't know half what I do... I just never bothered to go get certified because I saw nothing to gain from it.

That aside, it doesn't sound like it's stalling... Nor does it sound like engine at all, to be honest. If the car jerks and then drops down to idle, the engine is still running, it's just not driving the wheels. That sounds almost like trans or torque converter to me, where either the trans is jumping into neutral (called false neutral) or the converter is going full slip.

I admittedly don't know much about slushbox autos but that's my guess from what you've said.
Nomake Wan
Posted: Sep 22 2015, 10:25 AM


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A car can 'spontaneously' remove its check engine light if there is a failure of power to the system (erases volatile memory), or if the computer stores non-critical codes and displays only active ones. Both are perfectly valid, and I gotta admit I get a chuckle out of the textbook sometimes. laugh2.gif

You say you could 'tell' it stalled because of slowing down. Did you actually hear the engine cut out? Just because it's at low RPMs doesn't necessarily mean it's stalled, as Spaz pointed out. That being said there is a huge difference between 'I lose power at highway speed' and 'my engine shuts off spontaneously'. If there is a complete loss of the engine, that's a very different issue from 'my car refuses to drive at 70 MPH but still runs'.
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THE_HONDA_CG2
  Posted: Sep 22 2015, 08:07 PM


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I could hear the engine struggling to run explaining the low revs. I guess it isn't really stalling, but I did feel the power steering cut out. I have no idea what was happening to the car but its ok now. So I dunno, I just wanted to quell my curiosities.
Nomake Wan
Posted: Sep 22 2015, 10:23 PM


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That's actually a very different and very important symptom, that being the power steering cutting out. I'm assuming here that your power steering pump is belt-driven like on most cars and not electric like on Priuses, so that means if your power steering cuts out it's because the engine is no longer spinning. Or you just lost the pump/belt/rack but those things don't magically come back to life afterwards.

I will disagree with Spaz on the transmission though. I thought about it while driving to work and realized that if it was a transmission issue on a slushbox it wouldn't cause the car's engine to crap out at highway speed and respond strangely to pedal inputs, especially if it was the transmission going into neutral. You would gradually slow, yes, but the engine would be freewheeling. It does bring up the question of the throttle position sensor working correctly, though.

If it's working now, keep driving it until it doesn't. Listen for any strange sounds, keep track of anything out of the ordinary. If you wanna be really paranoid, pull the battery cables off and let the car sit for 10-15 minutes to reset the computer system. It will drive a little funny for a few days as it re-learns your driving habits and the state of the car's mechanicals, but you'd be back to a clean slate memory-wise.
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xiao
Posted: Sep 22 2015, 11:58 PM


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QUOTE (The Sixth Element @ Sep 21 2015, 10:31 PM)
Have you gone to an ASE certified technician...

Like Spaz mentioned, preaching and practicing are 2 different things...

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Spaz
Posted: Sep 23 2015, 09:37 AM


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Well, if you release the throttle normally at 70mph, the revs don't drop because the car is still "in gear", or rather, the torque converter is still engaged to a degree. If the revs are dropping to idle, you're seeing a situation where whatever problem you have at the engine is causing the car to disengage the converter, which would still technically be considered a false neutral.

The question now, is what do the ECU and TCU use to determine whether or not the converter should be disengaged? I'd assume that both throttle position, MAF, and MAP sensors are on that list, as they're used to determine engine load, and could cause running issues as well if they were to hiccup or fail.

Just some thinking out loud at this point I guess but brainstorming never hurts.

This post has been edited by Spaz on Sep 23 2015, 09:38 AM
Nomake Wan
Posted: Sep 23 2015, 10:35 AM


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I see what you mean, in that if the transmission is in gear then the transmission side at 70 MPH would be imparting torque to the engine side. I'm not sure exactly how much force that would amount to, but it wouldn't be completely insignificant. Good point.
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THE_HONDA_CG2
  Posted: Sep 23 2015, 07:16 PM


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Yeah, I think I'll just continue to drive the car the way I do since nothing seems to be wrong with it now. I'm tempted to pull the battery cables off, but I don't want to brick the car because if it goes then I have nothing to drive myself to work with. I'll keep an eye on the engine sounds and behavior. All in all, I'm glad to have my Accord back. I finally look cool in the parking lot again. laugh2.gif
The Sixth Element
Posted: Sep 23 2015, 08:21 PM


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QUOTE (xiao_la @ Yesterday, 11:58 PM)
Like Spaz mentioned, preaching and practicing are 2 different things...

https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5682/21620283...6975fbd47_k.jpg

tongue.gif

Nice joke laugh2.gif , but I'm actually learning the basics (a way to put my foot in the door) so I can get a job easily. I know there are scumbags that don't do their jobs but I'm not those guys even if the customer doesn't know a single thing about their car.
Nomake Wan
Posted: Sep 23 2015, 09:17 PM


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QUOTE (THE_HONDA_CG2 @ 2 hours, 0 minutes ago)
Yeah, I think I'll just continue to drive the car the way I do since nothing seems to be wrong with it now. I'm tempted to pull the battery cables off, but I don't want to brick the car because if it goes then I have nothing to drive myself to work with. I'll keep an eye on the engine sounds and behavior. All in all, I'm glad to have my Accord back. I finally look cool in the parking lot again. laugh2.gif

If removing the battery cables bricked the car, there would be millions of recalls and billions of dollars in lawsuits. Fortunately only VW is affected by fuckery of that magnitude. awesome.gif

Feel free to reset the engine computer. It won't brick it, it'll just drive 'peppy' for a while as it learns to compensate for the current engine conditions. I also wouldn't try to smog it for at least a week of regular driving.
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Spaz
Posted: Sep 25 2015, 01:31 PM


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QUOTE (Nomake Wan @ Yesterday, 12:17 AM)
Fortunately only VW is affected by fuckery of that magnitude. awesome.gif

The EPA is one with the fuckery, VW just found an alternative solution. laugh2.gif
THE_HONDA_CG2
  Posted: Sep 30 2015, 04:56 PM


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Update: Check engine light came back on yesterday while I was driving to a professional development summit. Nothing seems wrong with the car, its still healthy but we will see about that when I have to drive home Friday night.
Nomake Wan
Posted: Sep 30 2015, 09:48 PM


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Pull the codes as soon as you can. Most gas stations and smaller service centers will do it for you for free.
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THE_HONDA_CG2
  Posted: Oct 27 2015, 06:23 PM


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Check engine light came on a couple days ago. I took out my OBD2 reader and looked at the code. This is what I pulled up. The car feels healthy so I'm not too worried but I feel like this might be a recurring thing... Any advice?

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This post has been edited by THE_HONDA_CG2 on Oct 27 2015, 06:26 PM
Nomake Wan
Posted: Oct 27 2015, 09:21 PM


ShiMACHaze
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Bad cat. If the cat is relatively new then either the cat was bad to begin with or your engine is running so far out of spec that it's fouling the cat. Since there are no other codes I doubt it's the latter, so I'm gonna go with a simple bad cat causing the sensors to freak out. Though it could be a sensor defect too, you'd probably need a multimeter to figure that one out (as well as the factory diagnostic guide to tell you what the normal readings are, and a way to know that those readings match the chemical content of the gas coming out).

Is the car coming up for smog? If so, you've got no choice but to replace the cat or it'll fail (thanks, OBDII!). If not, keep driving and ignore it until it is.
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Spaz
Posted: Oct 28 2015, 09:45 AM


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Most of the time that code indicates a rear O2 sensor that's reading poorly. Could be a bad cat, but it's statistically less likely unless as N1 stated the engine is running poorly enough to kill it.
THE_HONDA_CG2
  Posted: Oct 28 2015, 08:32 PM


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My car passed smog over the summer. It passed smog so good that it passed for another car before passing itself. derp.gif

I guess I'll read up more on the O2 sensor problem and maybe look into getting that replaced. I know on the Avalon a code sure bad O2 sensors continually pops up even though my dad replaced every single O2 sensor on the car. Its gown to the point where he keeps spare O2 sensors in the trunk just innate he feels like changing it out again. laugh.gif

I don't remember what the code number was exactly on the Avalon, but it was something like engine running too lean.

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