2003 Accord Missing on All Cylinders

Hi,
I have a 2003 Accord EX 4-cyl with M/T that is on its 6th tank of gas, ever. Yes, it has only 2000 miles on it. I bought it two months ago with 200 miles on the clock.
Two days ago, on the way home from work, the car started missing, badly. It feels a lot like a drenched ignition system. Clearly, one or more cylinders is not firing. I had a prior Accord that munched its own distributor, and this car is behaving a lot like that one.
I dropped by the dealer today. He dumped the codes and said, "you're missing, really badly, on all cylinders". ( I resisted the urge to invoke the name of Sherlock) He didn't have time to work on it today, but guessed it was "fuel". I went and pulled the plugs. They all looked fine, maybe a little carbon buildup on #3 and #4. So I cleaned and gapped them all. I put them back and, "no help".
I've heard that the O2 sensor and the EGR valve are common problems on the 03 Accord. But the dealer said they would have thrown a code if they were bad.
I'm thinking, cuz the car was sold to me with 3-year-old gas, that I may have a gunked up fuel filter. That would certainly explain missing on all cylinders and no other codes.
Anybody got any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
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Ari Rankum wrote:

I think you're probably on the right track. 3-year-old gas can clog up nearly everything in the fuel system. The lines, the injectors, the filter, etc. I'd still like to see what everyone else thinks, but old gasoline is almost always bad news.
Jon
P.S. You may want to flush the fuel tank, and then run a can of SeaFoam through it with premium grade gas and see if that helps. I know it couldn't hurt. ;-)
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BigJon wrote:

Thanks, Jon. I picked up a can of SeaFoam on the way back from the dealer - so we're on the same track. I may have substantially gunked up the fuel filter with the first batch of gas. But I think what is in the tank now is okay. I was half-way through a tank of Costco gas on Friday when this started. I topped up the tank today and threw in a whole pint of SeaFoam. I was going to replace the fuel filter tomorrow (if I can figure out where that lives on an 03 Accord) and run some of the SeaFoam gas through the injectors.
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Ari Rankum wrote:

I think the only fuel filter is not easily replaceable and is in the tank.
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On 6/9/2007 9:11 PM Ari Rankum spake these words of knowledge:

So you ran 4 - 5 tanks through here before the problem showed up?

My 2003 Accord 4-cyl (AT) did need one of the two O2 sensors (the rear one) replaced, at only 60-some thousand miles, but as the dealer said to you, I got a code which indicated that.

I would surely agree, but I wonder why the effects wouldn't materialize until you had gone through 4 - 5 tanksful.
Wish I could be more help; I highly recommend the Helms manual for the car.
Dave Kelsen
--
Our next president should be fluent in at least one language.

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Ari Rankum wrote:

The problem turned out to be a single failed "coil pack" - those things that sit on top of the spark plugs in place of a coil and distributor and ignition wire. Only 100 bucks to replace (the cost of three rotors, distributor caps, sets of plugs, and sets of ignition wires). Progress, got to love it.
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Thanks for the feedback, Ari. It will help us with the next guy. :-)
Was the original diagnosis of "... all cylinders" in error, or did the one failed pack actually affect more than the one cylinder?
Mike
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Michael Pardee wrote:

the codes, and both said mis-fires on all cylinders. I was really dubious when the tech told me it was just one coil pack. The tech admitted to being somewhat dubious himself. We jointly came up with some half-baked theory about a crankshaft sensor and O2 sensor and ECU all correcting for each other and causing other misses. I agree - it sounded like total crap, but we did both believe the one failed coil pack was at least part of the problem. So we ordered it from another dealer.
Unfortunately, the coil pack didn't arrive until after all the techs had left for the day. So, when I came to get my car, there was my car with a bad coil pack and a shiny box with my name on it. With only a little persistence, I was able to get someone in the service department to give me a 10mm socket wrench, and I installed the new coil pack right there in the rain. Fortunately, the techs had cleared the check engine code before they left for the day, and the one bad coil pack fixed the whole deal - all cylinders firing as normal.
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Ari Rankum wrote:

how did you know which cylinder to put it on?
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jim beam wrote:

Heh. Another good question. I pulled the cover off and stared at the coil packs and had the same thought. Panic set in for milliseconds until I saw the "X" drawn across the top of one of them in what looked like white chalk. Phew.
They were able to narrow it down with the car running by swapping the coil pack around and determining by process of elimination. They did me the favor of marking it before buttoning the car back up.
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Ari Rankum wrote:

good!
still confusing though - if it was just one coil, you should have gotten a code for misfire on just that one cylinder, not all of them. can you see if the crankshaft sensor/sender wheel is clean and in good condition? that's the sensor that triggers the code from what i understand.
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Ari Rankum wrote:

I've seen old gasoline turn to a horrible sludge varnish yuck mix. Open up the gas cap and have a sniff. Does it smell simply horrible? When fuel goes really bad it takes on a terrible smell.
If you do have fuel gone bad then it is probably going to mean dropping the fuel tank to clean it out as well as purging all the lines and perhaps the injectors. The job could run into the thousands of dollars at today's shop rates.
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John Horner wrote:

forget it. just run fresh gas and injector cleaner for a month.
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I had a similar problem with a 91 accord. Don't waste your money with fuel injector cleaners, gas line cleaners etc. The cheapest and the best solution for varnish buildup and gumming due to old fuel is automotive acetone. I poured in 100ML per 50L of fuel. The problem disappeared by the time a tank was half empty. Never had a problem after that.
Good luck.
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wrote:

what is "automotive" acetone?
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It is 100% pure acetone. Some people suggest using a nail polish remover (acetone based). Don't use this as it contains a color additive in most cases that under heat creates a thin film (a coating which reduces a flow-through diameter of the hole). In Canada one can purchase automotive acetone in Canadian tire. The label on the can is "Automotive Acetone".
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