Ignore Check Engine light at your peril!!

When people had reported the Check Engine light (MIL) on with an EVAP code (P045x; P145x), I had been advising people to avoid the hassle and expense
of getting it fixed, if they didn't have a smog check to pass.
This is a potentially /expensive/ mistake.
My attention has been called to TSB A03-001, which covers just about all models from '98 and up. It seems that corrosion in the EVAP system can result in an electrical short that can damage the ECM.
I have just witnessed my first instance of exactly this having occurred. A lady with her '99 Accord is now facing a repair bill of $1,560, part of which is replacement of the ECM. She ignored the MIL and kept driving, luckily not having done this because of anything I told her, but just because she didn't feel like getting it looked at.
Upshot: If the MIL comes on, and the codes have anything to do with EVAP (anything like P045x or P145x), DON'T IGNORE IT! GET IT FIXED, or have the EVAP electrically unplugged from its power source!
--
Tegger

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On 05/13/2011 04:42 AM, Tegger wrote:

i don't buy this. the ecm is protected against over-voltage and dead shorts on all inputs and outputs. a fried solenoid is either doing open circuit or dead short - neither are going to harm the ecm, it will simply throw a code.
i think any shop saying the ecm needs to be replaced is taking her for a very expensive ride.
and this code is usually fixed by simply replacing the gas cap.
--
nomina rutrum rutrum

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Well, now, you're assuming Honda didn't screw something up in the design or manufacture of the ECMs from '98 on up.
Right now, that's a HUGE assumption. Let's see, it was the '98 model V6 four speed transmissions that started the whole "Honda can't build a transmission to save its life, makes Chrysler look like geniuses" thing that went on for 7 years and across two different models of transmission.
I'm with you that a properly designed and built ECM is protected, but a shitty piece that saved somebody a half a penny per unit? That would be Honda, from '98 on up.
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On 05/13/2011 11:05 AM, Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

if there is any issue, and i assign a very low probability to that, it's hardware non-conformance, not design.
regarding the transmissions - i don't think there's much wrong with the mechanical design per se, but i think the bean counters royally misunderestimated the effects of their manufacturing execution.
i believe the problem is that they switched from carburized to flame hardened gears - the latter being much cheaper to make. but these cheaper gears are also incapable of making the same hardness on the running surfaces, thus they spall, resultant swarf clogs the cooler channels, and then the hydraulics fail. spalling of these gears is a known issue, so i don't believe this was an engineering oversight, purely a financial decision. and one i suspect that ties in to another classic bean counter hot button - that of cars "lasting too long" - because their customer service on the problem has been so bad and ties in with a fundamental shift in honda attitude.
back in the day, honda's management understood that customers were loyal because they were happy with the fact that their old honda had never let them down. these days, business management schools don't teach about the value of brand loyalty, just about how to calculate increased profit if turnover can be increased by reducing vehicle lifespan. thus the literalistic bean counter has a double incentive to mandate a known defective transmission - cheaper to build, doesn't last, make the vehicle uneconomic to repair by shafting the customer on the price of the new transmission and by keeping spare parts off the market, so they get to sell another vehicle. they think.
gross miscalculation. just like when they stiffed the previously die-hard "enthusiast" market with the macpherson civics. even if they fix their mistakes today, it'll take a decade, if ever, before they get brand loyalty back. and if kia/hyundai ever release a hatch with wishbones and engine options, they never will.
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That's the polite way of saying that they ignored the engineering recommendations when it came to the manufacturing part of the process--and no doubt because it saved them a buck or two per unit.
Making a mistake is one thing; what counts is how you recover from that mistake.
Honda didn't recover from that mistake. Instead, they stuck their heads in the sand for years and tried to ignore it.

I'm sure the engineers specified a material with a certain hardness such that it behaved a certain way over time, and the beancounters--having at the time just recently been given free reign to "make us more money"--felt comfortable ignoring those engineering specifications. I'm sure the beancounters discovered the magic "will it last 3 years through the warranty?" specification that saved them a buck or two per unit, and went with that.
And in the end, their choice has cost them dearly.
Honda engineers are (or used to be, anyway) brilliant. Ignore them at your own peril.

yep.
What's the Genesis coupe like?
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On 05/14/2011 08:02 AM, Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

to be fair, engineers and bean counter work hand in hand - and always have. from an engineer's perspective, there's not much technical challenge in making something that works - the challenge is making it CHEAP but still able to survive the design objectives. if that design objective includes a "bathtub curve", i.e. life limitation, the tech challenge becomes significant and you have to throw substantial r&d at it.
it's ironic that saving money costs more don't you think?

i don't think it was a mistake - i think it was a business decision. mistakes get recalled and properly fixed. this has been an exercise in "customer re-education", i.e. trying to get honda customers to align their expectations with detroit customers. afterall, detroit customers /expect/ their transmission to fail after a while - they've been brainwashed into thinking it's an ok routine maintenance item, and they open their wallets accordingly. if honda can realign their customer expectations to match detroit, honda think they can tap into the millions of dollars a year detroit makes selling "routine" transmission replacement. and honda are trying to take it a step further by emulating bmw, and keeping replacement parts off the market. you can't buy a honda transmission now - you can only exchange it, which keeps aftermarket rebuilders out of the game, stops rebuilders improving the build and re-selling transmissions that last properly.

it's a little too large for my taste, and coming in at $22k base with macpherson struts, it's not there for anyone wanting to have fun - it smells of drivers in their 50's who can't afford a bmw.
the old civic/crx concept put honda well and truly on the map and worked for drivers of all ages. cheap to get into, cheap to run, highly reliable, and even though it wasn't particularly powerful in stock config, fun to drive. but because the basic platform was good, and because more powerful engine options were bolt-in's, the civic platform dominated the enthusiast market for nearly two decades and thus generated huge brand loyalty when their drivers graduated to newer/bigger/more profitable models. when honda dumped wishbones, you couldn't make the civic platform a decent handling car even if you wanted to, power then became the differentiator - and subaru [and mitsubishi] ate their lunch.
honda seem finally to have paid a little attention with the crz, but it's pretty freakin' bland frankly. it's much too expensive, doesn't handle, and shows they're still not getting what was a real simple formula - buy a base civic for $13k. put $10k into engine/suspension/brake improvements, and for $23k, you have a car that handles, goes, and more importantly ensures you and your family buy another of the same brand. [recognition of this is where the toyota "scion" brand originated.] today, you spend $23k on a honda and you have nothing and there's nothing you can do with it even if you wanted to. who is going to be loyal to that?
honda's only relief is that hyundai/kia don't seem to get it either. they day they do, it's game over. subaru, mitsubishi and toyota will all eat it too.
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give me a Fit Si.
It's more fun to drive a slow car fast...
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On 05/14/2011 10:59 AM, Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

macpherson front and torsion beam rear won't /allow/ you to drive it fast dude. and the si has the same output as the base, only it's heavier with all the accessories...
i'm hanging on to my 89 civic hatches for my fun wheels for the time being.
http://www.indyscca.org/SoloFiles/SoloResults/2011/FunEvent/2011_indy_fun_event_040311_raw.htm
couple in the top 10, with some serious dough placing well behind...
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Wait--are you saying there is a Fit Si?
Not sport edition--actual Si, like I mentioned the other day. Put the Civic motor into it, do up a proper suspension and wheels/tires, pretty up the interior...make it true to the Si vision--the small car with the big (relatively speaking) motor and a good suspension.
That car, the one I want, doesn't exist. You're right.
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On 05/14/2011 12:41 PM, Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

right, there isn't one.

they'd have to do the suspension. the current config on the fit is pretty much useless for anything but driving in a straight line. they should do what vw have been doing - put a decent multi-link rear on the gti while the base models get the cheaper trailing torsion beam crap.

honda have lost the plot. toyota get it. the scion models are what they use to build their niche. but toyota are cheap and they think cars should handle like buicks. honda used to be freakin' awesome and they made cheap cars that had the potential to behave like a real car should. but these days, they have their heads so far up their ass with their copycatting of detroit big trucks, huge heavy sedans, and planned "downstream revenue" [built-in transmission failures], they've completely lost sight of what allowed them to break into the u.s. market in the first place.
if they don't have the gonads to face their incompetence directly, they should do what toyota have done: launch a separate brand, populate it with a few models that are CHEAP TO GET INTO, that allow multiple bolt-in engine configurations, and that have decent wishbone suspension that has the necessary intrinsics to be tunable. if they had a motor option that could compete with the wrx or the evo, especially if with a 4wd config, suddenly they'd be every nippon fanboi's wet dream.*
"win on sunday, sell on monday." the old cars sales adage. tried and true.
* have you seen the prices of 4wd civic wagons lately? have you seen their insane fanatical following among the "2ner" crowd? unbe-freakin'-lievable!
--
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Easily doable--but they'd have to bring back all the real engineers who retired.
NSX, S2000, CVCC...lotsa talent wandered through the Honda halls back in the day.
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<replying to Elmo>
They assuredly did not. Even the NHTSA does not generally act until they receive at least 1,000 complaints. Anything below that number tends to fall into the "white noise" category, where it is difficult to determine patterns.
Honda waited until they were certain they had a systemic issue, then went -- expensively -- all-out to find a solution. I have personally corresponded with, and advised, numerous owners who had got stuck with the defective transmissions. Just about all of them have had Honda pick up the entire tab for the replacement, and some have struck a deal where Honda paid for the parts and they paid the labor. In most cases, Honda did not argue at all: when the dealership made the "goodwill" out-of- warranty request, Honda agreed immediately.
My observation is that Honda has been very generous with automatic- transmission warranty-repairs. This fiasco has been horrendously expensive for Honda, and has resulted in great damage to their reputation. It is not an experience they can afford to repeat.
Almost all of the people I corresponded with had taken their cars to independent garages or a transmission shop, and were shocked when told how much it would cost to fix their transmissions. None were aware of the various recalls and TSBs, and none of the garages seem to have been aware of them either.
I am happy to be able to say that I have helped many owners to save a huge amount of money simply by being able to inform them about the known problems, the recalls, the TSBs, and Honda's "goodwill" warranty; it's a good feeling.

<repying to jim>
Honda's automatic-transmission woes had nothing to do with the bean counters. They had to do with poor design, and poor quality-control.
Honda has suffered mightily from their laxity, and has since corrected the problem entirely. The 2005+ automatics have stellar reliability records, and are probably the very best they've ever made.
--
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On 05/14/2011 04:32 PM, Tegger wrote:

they are very much in the minority. nobody i've met who has had honda transmission problems before i know them has been able to get theirs replaced for free. typical charges are $3.5k to $4.5k. and a wagon-load of resentment and brand hostility.

i can't believe it wasn't a deliberate decision.
1. no engineer, unless they're a truly appallingly incompetent fraud, would make a mistake on materials spec this bad. especially when they had all the prior bullet-proof honda transmissions, including the three-shaft designs, to reach to for example.
2. it's a beancounter's ongoing deliberate decision to continue to keep parts off the market [and] by offering transmissions on an exchange-only basis.
3. it's a beancounter's deliberate decision to make the same problem appear across multiple different models/transmissions at the same time. the accord transmission has no parts commonality with the civic, and has a dramatically different load profile, yet they both had problems in the same kind of mileage profiles. odyssey and pilot? same again.
no dude, it was, and from #2, remains, a policy decision.

honda thinking they could regularly shaft their customers just like detroit does got them into this situation. they probably even anticipated some backlash and ran the numbers accordingly. but their mistake was not understanding the /degree/ of backlash they'd get from their customers and how much they'd screw up their reputation and goodwill. in that regard, it truly was a monumental goat fuck. and they deserve every little bit of it. and continue to deserve it for as long as they continue to withhold parts and blow smoke up people's asses.
--
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wrote:

In my case, it's up to 2010.
<snip>

Acura is just a marketing arm for certain Honda products. Honda V6 automatics are identical whether installed in Acura- or Honda-branded vehicles.
Most mechanical TSBs for Acura products are word-for-word identical to Honda TSBs. The only real differences between Acura and Honda are in trim and comfort/convenience equipment, and that's usually where you find TSBs unique to each brand.
<more snippage>
I understand your position, and I'm sorry you had the experiences you did. But all I can relate is what I have seen and been party to.
--
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On 05/15/2011 02:37 PM, Tegger wrote:

elmo's story is far from unique. friends of mine, both honda and acura branded vehicles, have had this treatment for accords, tl's and civics when all these transmissions have prematurely failed. since you're putting yourself forward as honda's representative on tha interwebs, are you sure you're not being astroturfed with "genuine" consumer testimonials that are actually being generated by honda's p.r. agency?
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Not in this case! American Honda very specifically says so in TSB A03-011.
Quote: "The EVAP bypass solenoid valve can fail due to corrosion. The solenoid valve may get water inside. If the water contains road salt, the solenoid windings could corrode, causing the valve to fail. In a few rare instances, the corrosion could be severe enough to cause an internal short in the solenoid valve, which could damage the ECM/PCM. If this happens, both the bypass solenoid valve and the ECM/PCM would need to be replaced. Vehicles driven in the Northeastern part of the U.S. are more likely to have this problem because of the salting of roads during the winter months. Vehicles driven where salt is not used on the roads are much less likely to have this problem."
They say "a few rare cases". Well this was one of them.

In this case, it can indeed kill the ECM.
--
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Sorry, typo. The correct TSB number is A03-001.
--
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On 05/13/2011 03:19 PM, Tegger wrote:

i don't disbelieve the existence of the tsb, but several of my friends are embedded systems engineers. the probability of failure for an engine module like this, being as survival of dead shorts and open circuits - the two outcomes of solenoid failure - is built in from day one, is next to zero. far smaller than the likelihood of misdiagnosis and resorting to "we can't figure out why the code keeps setting so it's got to be the computer".
just like the diagnosis in tsb 97-025, they blame the thermostat because whoever wrote it didn't bother to do two fundamental things:
1. understand the computer logic that goes into energizing the lockup solenoid - several conditions need to be met - one of them being that the gear selector switch is making contact.
2. deal with the logic of this being an issue only on one of their automatics, not all the vehicles with this exact same thermostat. the transmission selector switch is the only differentiator between the conventional auto, the cvt auto, and the stick. if it really was the thermostat, /all/ vehicles would be affected. fix the switch and the problem disappears immediately and permanently, even with what was previously a "defective" thermostat.
getting back to this case, i have one of these accords. i have experience with this exact issue, and i'm telling you for fact - the code sets each time the gas cap loosens. why it loosens, i don't know, but it does. fix the cap, and your codes disappear - no broken or leaking solenoid, and no new ecm.
--
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