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Old 16 Dec 2010, 08:35 pm
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Houston, Texas
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Default Emissions / Tune up / Maintenance

Two years ago my step daughter's grandmother bought her a loaded 2005 Honda Accord EX Coupe (yea, I asked if she would adopt me too). It has the V-6 (3.0l, I think), the automatic transmission, and all the options. Right now it has 102,000 miles on the odometer. The oil has been changed religiously and the normal (minor) maintenance has been done regularly. The only modification to the drive train has been the addition of a cold air intake (I have no idea what brand, step-daughter did it without me knowing). For the last 4 months, the car has sat in the garage, being started for a few minutes every week or so - don't ask why - long story.

We recently moved to Houston, and unlike where we used to live, emissions testing is part of the annual inspection. Herein lies the problem. We can't get the thing to pass the first step - diagnostics.

The first try the "Catalyst" read "not ready", as did the "Evap", otherwise things looked fine - no errors on the computer. But here in Houston, one failure is fine, but two will make you fail the overall test.

After taking it to another inspection station myself the result was the same. I was told that since the car had sat idle for so long, the computer needed to re-set itself. I drove the car for an hour straight in mixed traffic, and brought it back - it still didn't pass.

The guy told me a marginal battery could cause the problem, and he noticed the negative battery cable had corrosion under the insulation. I took the car home, put a new battery in it, and replaced the negative cable. I filled it up with premium and a bottle of fuel injector cleaner, and drove it to work myself for the first part of this week to again re-set the computer. Since changing the battery and cable I have put right at 100 miles on the car and received a ticket fr an expired inspection sticker in the process.

We took it back this afternoon - it showed the same errors, with the same problems. The guy said the car needed a major tune up and service. He listed a whole list of things that needed to be done, including the timing belt and so forth. After spending the last 2 hours searching the internet, I have come up with well over $500 worth of parts, and that is not including the labor involved. My step-daughter is (obviously) upset, and I'm not exactly happy about this either. Which leads me to my questions.

I'm not an expert mechanic by any stretch, but I can hold my own and I'm not afraid to get dirty. My biggest problem is that with newer cars I am way over my head when it comes to the diagnostics.

My first question is does anyone have a better idea what may be going on with this car. It starts easily, runs strong, idles smoothly, shifts well, and doesn't do anything unexpected either in the city or on the highway. It isn't burning any oil, or leaking any fluid from anywhere.

My second question is how difficult is this work to do yourself?

Lastly, where can I find the information (i.e. how-to) to do this work myself. $500 in part is steep enough, I don't want to pay someone $50 an hour (or more) if this is something I can do myself.

Any help would really be appreciated. Thanks!
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