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96 EX won't start...Argh!!!


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HI Gang,


Well, about 2-3 weeks ago, I suddenly began to get this cough or hick-up in the engine while idling and accelerating so I replaced my distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs and spark plug wires with OEM parts. While doing so, I found that the seal for the cap was worn & broken. After I installed the new parts and did a test drive, there was no more cough or hick-up WOOHOO....as I continues to drive for last 2-3 weeks with no problems, I assumed the problem was fixed. HOWEVER...


Today I went to start the car and it sounded strong REV REV REV REV...but didn't start. DANG! I went under the hood and saw that 2 of the spark wires were actually disconnected from the plugs or at least lose. SO, I went one by one made sure each spark plug itself was secured tightly (but not too tight) and I reconnected each spark plug wire...There that should do it! NOPE...same thing... strong REV REV REV REV...but didn't start. DANG! 2x


If anyone has any ideas, I'd truly appreciate your input.




FWIW, I don't smell gas or anything unusual and I also recently replaced the battery, front brake pads & rotors, brake master cylinder, radiator & hoses, heater hoses and muffler and only did so because the car has been running so strongly with only a minor oil leak.

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Strong rev as in stronger than normal or does it sound normal?

Sorry, It sounds normal (I meant strong as in "healthy" or "not weak") but typically on the 1st MAYBE 2nd rev, it would start...Now it just keeps revving, if that's a word ;)

I typed "revving" with 2 "v"'s but it looks like "rewing" with a "w". CUTE! :)

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OK , So I triple checked all plug, wire and battery connections and it still did not start so unless these new Honda parts are faulty or I'm missing something, it's got nothing to do with these areas.


disconnect the fuel line and turn the key, does fuel come out?


Forgive my ignorance but I've never really messed with anything regarding the fuel line or fuel filter & I don't really know how to do this or if I have the right tools and/or pressure gauges needed to disconnect & reconnect the fuel line. I have the 96-98 Honda Service Manual, if someone can point me the right direction.

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AAA guy just came out and tested battery OK...

Checked connections OK


He says "Sounds like the fuel pump" so I asked him how do you know if it's the fuel filter or fuel pump? So he started banging on the fuel tank underneath the car and tells me to try & start it. At first it sounded a little better like it was almost gonna start but it went right back to REV REV REV....& didn't start now just sounds the same.


My guy at dealership says it sounds Relay in fuse box under dash but I'm not really sure what he's talking about.


Any thoughts?

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get in the car with it very quiet, and door closed, turn the key to the on position, when the check engine like turns off you should here a click, and during that time you should hear the fuel pump. let me know if you don't here either of them... the click is the main relay and the fuel pump is well, the fuel pump.

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The sound you are listening for is the fuel pump will run for about two seconds to prime the lines. It sounds like a small electric motor that is 6 feet away from you and several layers of steel - a faint hummmm.

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AAA guy said that's why he thought it was the fuel pump because he didn't hear it but my mechanic says the Distributor is shot....GEEZ!!! I ask if maybe I did something wrong recently replacing the spark plugs, wires, dist cap & rotor but he said "no, it's normal wear & tear, these go all the time especially at 163,000".


I may have made a mistake keeping this car; it's got 163,000 on it BUT it has been running GREAT other than a slight oil leak. However, in the past few years (especially the last 3,000 miles since the battery went in 7/10), I've had to replace the following (I used all OEM parts btw except the tires):


02/29/2008 New Tires (P+L) $323

05/29/2009 New Reg/Motor Assy front pass window (P) $178.99 (Ultimately not needed & problem still persists but non-returnable so I have it as spare)

01/12/2010 New Muffler (P + L) $42.40

070/9/2010 New Battery (P) $54.65

07/16/2010 New Radiator (cracked) & Hoses, Front Brake Pads & Rotors (P) $480.08

08/25/2010 New Heater Hoses (P) $24.49

08/26/2010 New Front Brake Pads & Rotors, New Heater Hoses (L) $200.00

10/15/2010 New Brake Master Cylinder (P+L) $250.02

12/21/2010 New Spark Plugs, Wires, Dist Cap & Rotor (P+L) $118.51

SUB TOTAL $1,672.14

+ Current Needs:

New Distributor (P + L ) $339.00

+ Other known issues:

Exhaust Pipe section that connects to muffler $60

New Paint Job...Small rust spots around car. $?

Electric Wire repair/replacement for front pass power window $?

TOTAL = $2,071.14 +


I guess I'm past the point of no return now and ...knock wood...it lasts a while longer without anything else going wrong.


What would you do, keep the car or sell it?

And how difficult is replacing the distributor?

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Asking if we would keep the car is a loaded question. Most of the people here are, at worst, fair mechanics so the same list of repairs for us would be much less. You certainly should look into doing repairs yourself. A $15 Chilton car manual and a $100 Craftsman tool kit will get you a long way. Like you said, the car has 163k on it. Why spend $350 on a new distributor? Check your local junkyards or craigslist and see if you can get a used one for much less if you want to do it yourself. A while back I bought a pair of complete used engines for $200 and each one had it's distributor in a separate box. So they were basically free. You just have to know where to look.

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