94 Accord LX concerns

This car still runs great with 240 K miles in it but recently I had some bad episodes which makes me wonder.
The first episode was about a month ago when I was driving at night in
a heavy downpour and I ran into a deep puddle that I could not see in time. The puddle may have been about axle deep at its deepest point and the engine suddenly stopped. When the car itself stopped rolling it was still in the puddle but in only about ankle deep at that point. Fortunately my electric circuits seemed to be OK as I was able to use the emergency flashers. As I was ready to phone for some help, I decided to see if I could start it. Well, the starter seemed to have plenty of power and after several cranking attempts I was able to restart the engine and except the initial spongy brakes everything seemed to be fine.
I still have no idea what caused the engine cutoff: water getting to the ignition circuits or perhaps into the air intake? I always thought Honda's electric circuits were pretty well insulated from moisture, with tight rubber boots, etc. But maybe somebody has a better insight into this.
The second episode was about 10 days ago when the normally 30 minute home commute turned into 4 hours because of a snow storm hitting my area just at the afternoon commute time. At the end of four hours I could not even make the last two miles on the side streets so I had to leave my car overnight at a supermarket parking lot for two days till the side streets were good enough to drive it home. Later that day I drove the car on the freeway and I noticed that the temp. guage was moving really fast to the top that I never noticed before. So I quickly pulled off at the nearest exit and checked my coolant at a gas station. Sure enough, the radiator was almost empty as I could pour about 3 quarts of antifreeze mixture into it. Since then I've been watching any leaks in the cooling system but could not notice any and its level has been holding in the radiator after several days. I still wonder though if I was driving with low coolant level and high engine temp during some of that long 4 hour commute but I was just not looking at the guage. The car is still running fine but again it makes me wonder.
It makes me wonder especially as I noticed the unusually heavy fogging in my car after the engine warms up and especially when I turn on the heater. I get a lot of condensation on the cold windows, even on the rear window. The condensation does not seem to be pure water but feels slick like the antifreeze. What is puzzling about it though that I don't seem to be losing any coolant as far as I can see in its level visible in the radiator opening. I also see no drips on my garage floor. It's a real mistery to me.
I am taking my car to a shop next week but would appreciate hearing any insights from those of you having had more experience with cars than I've had.
Thanks for reading this long post,
JP
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Pilots speak of the engine being "auto-rough in clouds." I think the same thing is bedeviling you. Your anxiety level is higher and things that you normally wouldn't give a thought to are on your mind.
The first experience - stalling in deep water - is puzzling. Why the engine stalled I don't know, but you should be aware the ECU can get wet when the car is in water above the floorboards for a while. Vague, I know, but different cars have different leakage rates. As long as your "check engine" light hasn't been coming on and the engine runs normally you've probably been on the side of the angels there.
The overheating is always a concern, since serious overheating can warp the cylinder head and cause persistent overheating and loss of coolant. It's safe to say you lost coolant at some point - you had to refill - but when was the last time you checked the coolant level before this? It may have dropped over the course of months or even years. Since the coolant isn't disappearing now the other worries, like the condensation, really aren't significant. Even when the heater core leaks the condensation is water (the glycol is actually cooled by the fractional distillation of the water in the mix). It's also hard to miss the sweet antifreeze smell of a leaking radiator core.
If the coolant hasn't actually been changed recently, this is as good time as any. It should be refilled with genuine Honda premix. Replacing the thermostat with a Honda thermostat isn't a bad idea while that is being done. And just to cover another very important routine as long as your awareness is elevated: is the timing belt due for replacement? Your owner's manual will tell you how often it's due, and letting it go can cost you the engine.
Mike
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On Sat, 20 Jan 2007 23:28:25 -0700, "Michael Pardee" wrote:

I hope you're right but what is ECU? Last time I checked it was some European currency or something. ;-)

You are asking all the right questions. That coolant was probably getting to a dangerously low level even before that long commute episode. Why do I think that? It is because when I think back now, the radiator fan used to kick in after I stopped the car even after relatively short drives and during cold weather. Now that I filled it up with coolant, I don't see the electric fan starting up after getting home in cold weather. Before this episode I thought it was normal for the fan to kick in after getting to my garage, so I din't pay much attention to the other factors, such as outside temperature or how long the drive was. Now I notice it.

I have been taking my car to a pretty good independent shop specializing in all kinds of Japanese cars but I never thought of insisting on genuine Honda antifreeze premix or thermostat. The only thing I insist is Honda premium ATF and Castrol 5-30W oil. As the car has been running pretty well, I figured I did not need more than that.
Timing belt replacement is called for every 90 K miles which I have followed religiously. My next one is due after 30 K more miles.
JP
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Control Unit. Honda tucked it under the driver's seat for you (I believe that's where it is in the '94 Accord) because they needed someplace to put it. If it gets wet it is usually ruined, and that is the main reason for having to replace the ECU. The symptoms range from running very badly to not running at all, so you're in good shape on that.

That's really good to hear. I always get a sinking feeling when somebody posts about their engine suddenly misbehaving or quitting and then they reveal the timing belt is the original.
The Honda coolant is not as critical as the power steering fluid or the ATF, but it's pretty cheap insurance against water pump seal trouble. Being premixed, there is also no concern about it being diluted with tap water, which is a very bad idea. Aftermarket thermostats, on the other hand, have earned a reputation for flaky operation. I gave up on them about a decade ago.
Mike
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Michael Pardee wrote:

If that version of Accord is like the 1990-93, the ECU is under the front passenger side foot well, accessible by removing the carpet.
The 1986-89 Accord has the ECU under the driver's seat.
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On Sun, 21 Jan 2007 07:28:50 -0700, "Michael Pardee" wrote:

Well, I'm afraid I did not have a choice at the time when I found my radiator almost empty and use tap water to mix with the Prestone antifreeze as premixed one was not available. I'm taking the car in to my mechanic for 240 K scheduled maintenance (same as 60 K) and tell him to drain the cooling system and refill it with premixed coolant. As he deals with all kinds of Japanese cars, not just Honda, I am making sure he is going to use Honda brand ATF which I bought yesterday at a nearby Honda dealer's part store. I also bought new spark plugs there and oil filter. As before I'll have him use the Castrol 5-30 oil that I provide as he normally uses Chevron brand.
From the answers so far I have not seen many that addressed the possible source of coolant vapor getting into the passenger compartment and condensating on the cold windows. My first thought was a heater core leak but that does not explain how the vapor gets in with the heat turned off. I figure it must be a very small leak if it does not create noticeable drop in coolant level or drips under the engine. I'll see what the mechanic might find tomorrow but if he suggest replacing the heater core I would hesitate to take that route due to the big labor involved with it. In that case I might try first to put that "Liquid Aluminum" radiator silant powder into the coolant and see if that helps. On the other hand some of you would probably say that it could hurt more than help. Any thoughts about it?
JP
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John Paul wrote:

it's relatively uncommon for heater cores to leak since they're not as exposed to damage. if your condensation /smells/ of coolant, then it may be leaking, if it doesn't, then it's not. weather has been very cold of late and windows will definitely fog up more.
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jim beam wrote: it's relatively uncommon for heater cores to leak since they're not as

------------------------------- Yep. John Paul, turn OFF the recirculator or you'll pump the moisture from your floor mats onto the inside of your windows. Outside air is bone dry, you want that instead. You'd know all about this if you knew anybody who owned a Hyundai PONY. Steam bath on wheels. :-(
'Curly'
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On Sun, 21 Jan 2007 17:19:35 -0700, motsco_ wrote:

I never use recirculated air except with A/C on. But then in the Seattle area you seldom need A/C.
JP
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You sure it's not 90k miles and six years, whichever comes first? And possibly shorter for severe conditions? That's what it is for a lot of early 1990s Hondas.
Do you have the owner's manual? It will state the exact TB replacement frequency.
Though your car's symptoms do not sound like TB problems.
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Just located the maintenance schedule via Autozone.com's excerpts from the /94 Accord factory service manual. It's 90k miles/6 years for normal service, and 60k miles (no time limit) for severe service.
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John Paul wrote:

Filling the rad isn't enough. There's a reserve bottle that needs to be filled to MAX, since you've got lots of air in your cooling system. Fill it to MAX again in a day or two since it will go low as air is displaced from the heater / block / rad. No tap water. This is in your owner's manual.
'Curly'
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On Sun, 21 Jan 2007 09:44:38 -0700, motsco_ wrote:

Is it? I also have the official Honda Service Manual and I only see a strong recommendation for using Honda's own coolant (that is to be expected, right?) but nothing specific against tap water unless I missed it. Besides, not all tap water is loaded with minerals. Some are quite soft.
JP
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John Paul wrote:

"soft" means it doesn't calcine, not that it's not loaded with minerals. minerals increase the ability of the coolant to electrolyze all the dissimilar metals in the coolant circuit.
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On Thu, 25 Jan 2007 22:03:56 -0800, jim beam wrote:

You are probably right technically speaking. What I meant with "soft" was a general low level of all minerals, not just calcium.
Be as it may, I just doscovered that something happened to the rear window defogger switch on the instrument panel while it was in the shop. Its indicator light is not working, thus I don't know when it's on and when it's off. The defogger itself seems to work though as I notice the drying along the heating wires in the rear window when I press it and the window has condensation, so perhaps its the bulbs in the switch. The two fuses are OK in the left kick panel. I popped out the defogger switch from the instrument panel to check on the bulbs but it has such a short wiring harness that makes it hard to pull out the switch far enough to even separate it from the connector. Perhaps some wire got pulled out from the connector while the mechanic was pulling it out for attaching it to the switch. That would be pretty bad! I don't know why Honda makes these wiring harnesses such a tight fit. I might have to remove some of the instrument panel to get to the back of that darn defogger switch. I know, it's the mechanic's job to fix it but I don't want to leave the car there for another day if I can help it.
JP
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