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Questions and Answers

Honda Accord Idle Fluctuation

Q. I have a 1986 Honda Accord LXi with the same problem as everyone else. Bouncing Idle. As you the know the LXi is the fuel injected engine. The Idle bounces about 1,000 rpm. I'd like to fix it myself but cannot find ACCURATE information. It has been to the dealer a number of times with no results. I think this is what happens.

Honda Accord Idle Fluctuation

Almost nobody, including Honda certified technicians know how to fix this problem, whether it's simple or complicated. Almost all of them that I've heard of just turn the idle up so that the engine won't shut off when the idle bounces to the low end. I hear this all the time. I've also read every web post and car site I can find. They indicate the same experience as me. So I'm seeking expert advice such as yours.

Some technicians say a vacuum leak. Others refer to Air Intake Temperature sensors. Some say "burp" the engine block. I've heard of choke related problems. But this is what I'm curious about. This problem I've heard of over and over. This EXACT problem. So I'm curious if there is an EXACT answer. I don't mean to tie you down and I know some problems can show the same symptoms. But I do find it odd that this exact problem is exhibited through so many vehicles without an answer.

This is the most frustrating mechanical problem I've encountered. Weather is not a factor. Engine temperature is not a factor either. Up and down, up and down. So that's it. Thank you for any response as you probably get more email than I can imagine.

Sincerely,
J.C.

A. There are many things that can effect idle quality. Vacuum leaks comes to mind first of all. A sensor that is sending out a fluctuating signal can do it also. But the cure to many idle problems is simply to clean the throttle chamber and Idle Control Solenoid Valve (ICSV). I have fixed many idle speed problems this way. In fact it is the first thing I do when I have this type of complaint. If it still has the idle problem, the ICSV is simple enough to check.

First of all, nine volts or more should be present between the black/yellow (+) terminal and green/black (-) terminal of the valve leads while solenoid valve is being activated.

  1. Disconnect idle control solenoid valve electrical connector.
  2. Disconnect upper hose to solenoid valve from manifold and apply vacuum to hose. Valve should hold vacuum.
  3. Continue applying vacuum to hose and briefly energize valve by connecting battery positive terminal to the black/yellow wire terminal and negative battery terminal to the green/black wire terminal. Valve should not hold vacuum when energized.
  4. If idle control solenoid valve fails to perform as outlined, valve is defective.

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