98 Accord Dies - Ignition Switch or Distributer Module?

Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
12,886
Location
Los Gatos, CA
1998 Accord LX 2.3L, 143K. Engine runs fine except dies unexpectedly. Restarts immeadiately or sometimes have to wait 10 minutes. Never fails to restart.

I believe it is the ignition switch or distributer module.
I have not personally experienced the problem as it is not my car. I think the dash lights go out until the key is moved (switch).
Having to wait seems to point to overheated module.

Is there an easy test? I can try to jiggle the key to test the ignition switch.

Distributer: Replace module or just get a $100 distributer from Amazon, etc?
Switch: Please recommend a brand besides Honda...

Your thoughts? Thanks in advance.
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2007
Messages
2,147
Location
TX, USA
Did you check the obvious like load test the battery, load test the alternator, make sure the terminals/connectors are all good, starter?
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
734
Location
st louis, mo
I don't know if recalls go away like that.


I had a 98 Accord that I bought in around 2009 I think. Shortly after I bought it, it died on the freeway. I replaced the switch and it was good for another 120k+ miles. Funny thing was, it had apparently already had the recall performed.
 

JeffKeryk

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
12,886
Location
Los Gatos, CA
I don't know if recalls go away like that.


I had a 98 Accord that I bought in around 2009 I think. Shortly after I bought it, it died on the freeway. I replaced the switch and it was good for another 120k+ miles. Funny thing was, it had apparently already had the recall performed.
I was thinking the same thing. My parents bought the Accord new; I have been the only one who ever serviced it. It was well taken care of; always garaged and lived in sunny Silicon Valley. It had about 85K miles when I gave it to a friend (almost 2 years ago) who is a single Mom. Of course now it has dents... Ha!

By the way, the Honda.com website has a recall lookup. Easy peasey. I will get the vin from Cindy tomorrow and plug it in. There is also a Honda number posted that you can call for help.

Again, thanks for the tip. I wish there was an easy way to test the distributer vs ignition switch...
I could replace both for about $150, so it ain't the end of the world.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Messages
2,843
Location
Athens, GA
The ignition switch is not hard to swap and is about $30. As much as I hate the parts cannon approach, it would probably be worth the money to start there if it has never been replaced. They do tend to fail over time and its usually worth replacing them for peace of mind. It's one of the parts I had just replaced when my wife's 2000 Accord got clobbered by the box truck.
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2015
Messages
4,472
Location
USA
While it won't start, pull the brake handle up and watch the brake warning light on the dash. It should be on while cranking. I know on a Civic it is the same circuit as the ignition. May be different on Accord. If the light is out you're not getting power from the switch. If it is on you should check that the distributor is (not) making sparks, and check for power going into the distributor.

All of this of course has to be done while it will not start. Troubleshooting intermittent problems that rarely occur is very difficult, and if it is someone else's car that you just want to work, a little parts-cannoning isn't necessarily bad.

Avoid the Chinese knockoff new distributors, they don't last very long.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2006
Messages
512
Location
757 Virginia, USA
I'd start with replacing the igniter module instead of the entire distributor. Aftermarket igniter modules are inexpensive online and easy to replace.

Accord Igniter

If you choose this approach, take a photo of the wire terminal locations so you can keep them straight. It only take about 20 minutes to change it out with common tools. Also, check the condition of the insulation of the wires since the distributor is 23 years old.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2015
Messages
97
Location
Cal
1998 Accord LX 2.3L, 143K. Engine runs fine except dies unexpectedly. Restarts immeadiately or sometimes have to wait 10 minutes. Never fails to restart.

I believe it is the ignition switch or distributer module.
I have not personally experienced the problem as it is not my car. I think the dash lights go out until the key is moved (switch).
Having to wait seems to point to overheated module.

Is there an easy test? I can try to jiggle the key to test the ignition switch.

Distributer: Replace module or just get a $100 distributer from Amazon, etc?
Switch: Please recommend a brand besides Honda...

Your thoughts? Thanks in advance.
I had a 1990 Civic that did something similar. If I shut it off it wouldn’t start right away, but always would after a short time. It was the main relay.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
734
Location
st louis, mo
When the switch on my was bad, you could make it act up by wiggling the key slightly.

I have heard main relays are a common failure... I took my Accord from 175 to 295k miles and never had a main relay problem.
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2004
Messages
9,805
Location
California
Igniters rarely ever fail - but they also fail under load or when it gets hot because semiconductors. See if the ignition switch is still covered under recall(and legally the DMV can hold registration for that fact). If that passes, refer to Honda’s documentation for testing the coil and igniter.

might be a good time to check valve clearance and plugs/wires.
 
Joined
Dec 19, 2013
Messages
7,015
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
When the switch on my was bad, you could make it act up by wiggling the key slightly.

I have heard main relays are a common failure... I took my Accord from 175 to 295k miles and never had a main relay problem.
Very common back when the Fuel Pump Relay & PFI Relay were both made together.....Soldered to a common board. I never replaced them, Just reflowed the solder with a pinch of good ole lead solder.
 
Top