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CarJunky AutoAdvice

'98 Civic - Hesitating on acceleration

Showing 9 out of 9 Posts
Question From ptno1 on '98 Civic - Hesitating on acceleration

Civic DX Coupe
115,000 Miles

Sorry if i have the wrong forum. I wasnt sure if this is an Engine or Tranny problem. I would lean more towards engine though. I'll start off by saying that my engine light has been on for a good 6 months probably. I had it taken to a mechanic i know and he ran the computer test, told me that the 02 sensor needed replacing, said it would probably run $150 for part/labor. I have NOT gotten that done yet, he told me it wouldnt affect my car except for some worse gas mileage. And I havent noticed any problems with the car since he told me this. Not sure if that has anything to do with my current problem.

The current issue started in the past week, it is happening a few times a day maybe, but not all the time. What happens is that the car is hesitating to go, when i hit the accelerator sometimes. It seems to happen mostly when i am starting to accelerate after a stop. Such as coming to a stop sign, stopping (or more likely coming to a rolling stop), then tapping lightly on the gas as i normally would. It will just sit there and the wheels dont try to spin, i'm pretty sure the engine is responding tho. Usually its only 2-3 seconds at the most. Then it will ride normally after that. Also, i have Not noticed it when i am just driving along without stopping. Such as on the highway. Like i said, mostly when i'm coming off a stop sign. Or if i'm coasting down the local roads at like i dunno 15 mph, and i have my foot off the gas. Then i try to give it a little tap to speed up a bit and it doesnt want to respond. When it does this, i pull my foot back off the accelerator and pause a second then try again, and usually it will work the next time.

I should mention that i have not replaced my timing belt. I got the car at 53,000 miles and havent done much to it except for maintenance type stuff. I think the serpentine belt was changed a few years ago. Also had some trouble with the exhaust, resonator pipe, at one point because it was cracking and had that replaced. Just reading around the web for opinions, i am getting a lot of different possibilities. Ranging from, needing a tune up, timing belt, water pump, spark plugs, or simply a bad tank of gas. I am still running on the same tank of gas since i noticed the problem. I will probably have to fill up in the next day or two. So i will try getting gas at a different station. My friend suggested maybe using the fuel injector cleaner as well. That a good idea?

I'll probably take it to the mechanic next week to at least get the 02 sensor done, but just wanted to post on here, see if the experts had any advice for me before i do anything. Thanks a million,


Response From americanmusclegurl

wow that sounds like a whole lot of problems,but what you should try is going to any battery store ..and get eaither a whole new cord system for your battery.or u can go to the store to buy a terminal cleaner .your battery terminals are most likly dirty and have corosin on the battery terminals .. i have an old camero that used to do that exact thing.my radio would shut off .. my car would trip out anything that was electrical .so my advice is to use coke,or go get a terminal cleaner for your battery that should fix your problem unless it is your wires :)

Response From ptno1

thanks :)

replaced the terminal with a new one, and so far the car has been fine - its been 4 days with no probs (crossing fingers) will update if anything further happens. thanks to all

Response From Tom Greenleaf

Welcome to the site - this spot is fine.

This o2 sensor may be causing a richer or leaner mixture - neither are efficient and both scenarios will harm the cat converter putting it in this scence too as a possibility.

All the suggestions you had were fine and I agree with except why for the water pump??

This car would be about due for the SECOND timing belt job at 115k and you don't know if it had the first. Watch out for that - some engines will self destruct if it breaks!

I agree with periodic use of fuel injector cleaner as prevention more than a cure also.

It's high time if this car is worth a damn to do all the maintenance that is overdo - replace that o2 sensor and if it can't run smoothly find out fast so it doesn't just trash it again,


Response From ptno1

Well i got a new tank of gas last week, and things had seemed better overall (less hesitating) - up until this morning. I drove a few miles to the deli to get breakfast. When leaving, pulling out of my parking spot. I put the car in reverse, tapped the gas to get it moving and it just stalled. I started up again. Kept driving. About 1 or 2 blocks. Came to a red light and it stalled again as i was stopping. Started again, and made it to work - only another block away. Its rainy this morning but i doubt that has anything to do with it. My friend told me again to put Fuel injector cleaner in the tank and fill up on 93 gas. But you were saying that this method is more of a prevention thing than to fix the problem right?

Does this info tell u anything more about what it could be. Being a short holiday week, i dont think i can get it to the mechanic until Monday...

Thanks so much for the reply.

Response From Tom Greenleaf

You already have the "check engine" light and now it's probably got more to tell you. Get that O2 fixed as you are just lining up a much more expensive repair.

Don't wait for injector cleaner to "fix" this after this much time. As said that's better at prevention than fixing a problem and IF it was going to fix it, it would ina tankful.

The gas advertises use of cleaners in some brands of fuel but you about know it isn't enough. Here (Massachusetts) claims right at the pumps that fuel may contain up to 10% ethanol which isn't a good fuel IMO for older vehicles vs non ethanol diluted fuel which is really what it is - again IMO.

Get another reading (free at some parts outlets and other places) and get that taken care of. May be tough to get done before this long weekend for many,


Response From ptno1 Top Rated Answer

Thanks for the replys Tom, been very helpful!

So i got my O2 sensor replaced, and for the next 2-3 weeks the car ran fine, didnt stall on me at all, and no noticeable hesitiation. A week or so ago, it started having trouble again. The car has stalled on me a few times over the past week or so. However, the Check Engine light is NOT on.

One thing i didnt mention the last time, was that i had my battery replaced around August this year. The problem was, the car was not starting. And when i did get it started off of a jump-start, it stalled out again, a few minutes later while driving. So yeah, i had the battery replaced at that time, and the mechanic mentioned to me that i should also replace one of the cables (i think he said the positive cable) that runs to the battery. I believe he said there was some corrosion there.

One other thing to note, when first starting the car, it makes a bit of a scratchy noise at the top of the engine start (when i'm turning the key). Like just before the car starts. Basically it doesnt sound 'clean' at the end of the sound when your car starts. It was doing that before i replaced the O2 sensor, but i never mentioned it for some reason.

So my question now is, do you think the battery cable could be causing stalls as well? If not what else could it be? The altenator, cat converter, the computer? I'm pretty clueless when it comes to this stuff. Appreciate any suggestions.

Response From Jeff Norfolk

Bad battery connectiona can cause a whole host of problems. The "scratching noise" you are hearing at start up could be a the poor connection you mentioned. (sparks due to poor connection)

Response From ptno1

thanks for the advice jeff!

Well todays driving, the car was very hesitant. It didnt stall but if felt like it wanted to a few times. One time, it felt like it was about to stall but i hit the gas hard enough to keep it going, and the radio went off. like the power just cut off. then it came back on. and so it went back off and on, a couple more times in a matter of seconds. i just kept driving, it never stalled, and was ok the rest of the way home... i didnt notice any of the dashboard lights go off, tho it was daytime and happended so quickly, so its hard to say.

this is making me feel more and more like its an electrical problem, like you said something with the battery. I am going to try and change out the the battery Positive cable. I looked under the hood. it is just 1 nut (attching to the engine) and 1 screw (which is screwed down in the fuse box). I'm pretty sure i can handle this. u think i should change the negative cable while im at it?