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Old May 3rd, 2013, 08:06 PM   #1
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03 Accord V6 6MT: Lots of fun problems. Need help :/

I have here list of issues with my Accord, and I'm hoping to get some insight into what exactly is wrong. I'm thinking some issues might be related.

To start, I've owned this Accord for almost 6 years now, and it's got about 140k on the odometer. I moved to MD last summer and took the car in for MD inspection at a dealership. I realize going to a dealership was a bad idea, but I figured I'd be OK since I've never had a single problem with the Accord. They quoted me at over $3,000 worth of repairs just to pass inspection.

Problem 1 - Suspension: The Honda dealership said the front lower ball joints have excessive play and the front lower compliance bushings are split. When I got the car back, having not gotten any of the repairs done, I noticed that I could feel every tiny bump in the road (Problem 2). I'm almost 100% sure I did not have this issue prior to taking the car in for inspection...which leads me to believe that it's somehow related to the ball joints and/or compliance bushings. I have a slow leak in both front tires, so I initially suspected the bumpy ride was due to that. But I came to find that the tire pressure was right where it needs to be, yet I the issue remained. I don't hear any unusual noises when I turn, brake, or accelerate. Its just a very rough ride...everything in my car is shaking loose lol. It is also important to note that the tires have uneven wear. The outside edges are more worn than the inside, and it appears the exterior outside edge may actually be more worn than the interior outside edge. I realize low tire pressure could be cause for this. But does excessive wear on the exterior outside edge indicate any particular problem?

Problem 3 - Engine Mount: I took the Accord in for a recall on the power steering hose a month or so ago, and I was told of a few more issues. They said the front engine mount is broken. I have been searching online about the suspension issue, and I've found a few people mention that a bad engine mount can be cause for excessive and unusual noises and bumps. So I was wondering if it could be the engine mount causing the problem.

Problem 4 - Oil leak: When I bought the car, I found out that the car was going through oil. It wasn't much at first, just needed a quart between oil changes. I checked the driveway for oil for several days and found nothing...never saw any oily spots underneath when changing the oil either, so I figured the missing oil was leaking into the engine and being burned off. I later heard that its common for Hondas to have leaky valve seals, which from what i understand causes some oil to burn off. I chalked it up as not being a major issue and just made sure to keep oil in the trunk. Now it's gotten to the point that I go through a quart every 800-1000 miles. And unfortunately I don't stay on top of checking the level, so I only put oil in when it fails to start on the first crank lol. During my last trip to the dealership for the recall, they also noted that there was oil leaking at the rear of the motor. They suspected it was the rear main seal. They said they have to pull the tranny just to diagnose it, which sounds like a load of BS to me. I tried looking around behind the motor from the top and saw no oil residue. Its probably also worth noting that I spilled a pretty large amount of oil (~1 cups worth probably) on the engine while trying to refill the oil from a 5 quart jug with no funnel. I was filling it in the front of the motor, obviously, but I was thinking maybe there's some way some leaked to the back of the motor? This happened only a few days before bringing in for the recall. Are there any common oil leak/burn problems I should look out for on these accords?

I was going to run outside and try to see if I can see any of the above mentioned issues, but the sun has set. I'll have to do it in the morning. In the mean time, is there anything I should look out for, common problems, etc? Any particular diagnosis methods to try? I am fairly mechanically minded, but I don't really have the tools to do much now. I live in an apartment, on a hill, and am not allowed to "work on my car" on the property. I also really only have basic tools - screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, pliers, etc. I don't even have a jack outside of what comes with the car.

edit: Just to add a bit more... when I idle, the RPMs oscillate up and down a couple hundred RPMs. This has been an ongoing problem for years. I have a high output alternator for my stereo amplifiers. It has a smaller pulley and likely puts an increased strain on the motor. My battery light flicks on and off, which I believe to be from the voltage regulator in the aftermarket alternator (no voltage dips though). I've never once in my life seen an oil light come on, even 2+ quarts low. I assumed the 03 accord didn't have an oil light. I've read oild leaks can be due to high pressures in the engine resulting from a bad PCV valve. It seems to only be an issue with the 4cyl. though. Anyone hear about this issue on the V6?
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Old May 3rd, 2013, 09:24 PM   #2
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Compliance bushings cracking is a common problem on many cars. You may also have worn/leaking struts, loose inner/outer tie rods, ball joints, etc. Alignment is very likely out of specifications, but any worn parts would need to be replaced before bringing the alignment back to specs. Tires are wearing for a reason. You'd have to verify yourself or watch someone check the suspension to find out exactly what's needed

Front mount on the V6 goes bad a lot, from what I've read. Bad mounts can cause noises, vibrations, vehicle drifts

As for the leaks, thoroughly degrease the top and bottom of the engine and after a few days, crawl underneath and check to see if there's any oil. It's possible the rear main could be leaking (my 03 at 128k miles was seeping). The transmission has to be removed to replace the seal. The PCV valve is easy to change and inexpensive

A set of ramps will let you check/work on your car anywhere
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Old May 4th, 2013, 03:11 PM   #3
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Compliance bushings cracking is a common problem on many cars. You may also have worn/leaking struts, loose inner/outer tie rods, ball joints, etc. Alignment is very likely out of specifications, but any worn parts would need to be replaced before bringing the alignment back to specs. Tires are wearing for a reason. You'd have to verify yourself or watch someone check the suspension to find out exactly what's needed

Front mount on the V6 goes bad a lot, from what I've read. Bad mounts can cause noises, vibrations, vehicle drifts

As for the leaks, thoroughly degrease the top and bottom of the engine and after a few days, crawl underneath and check to see if there's any oil. It's possible the rear main could be leaking (my 03 at 128k miles was seeping). The transmission has to be removed to replace the seal. The PCV valve is easy to change and inexpensive

A set of ramps will let you check/work on your car anywhere
I've always avoided ramps with this car cause (a) it sits so low to the ground I don't think I could clear them, and (b) I'm scared sh*tless of running off the ramps since its got so much torque in first lol.

I just went out to try to diagnose some of the issues just now. I did not jack up the car, which I realize would have helped a lot. I was feeling around behind the tires. The front lower ball joints don't seem to be deteriorated. They were a bit mushy (not firm), but so were the front upper ball joints. I didn't feel and cracks, abrasions, grease, etc. on them. I really couldn't see the compliance bushing very well...too much crap around them. I probably should find a place to jack this thing up so I can try prying on these components. But honestly, clearly SOMETHING is wrong with the suspension if the ride is so rough, so I'm thinking maybe I should just go ahead and replace them. Is it worth it to replace the upper ball joints or any other components while I'm at it (from a financial perspective)? If they already have the control arms off the car, the additional labor shouldn't be too much, right?

As for the engine mount. I really couldn't see it from the top. I found the side mount, and it seemed to be functioning as intended (I know the dealership said it was the front). I tried putting the car into gear and letting out on the clutch to see if the engine would rotate. I really didn't see much motion, in 1st or reverse. There was a very tiny movement, but it probably was within tolerance. I've had mounts go bad on other cars, and the engine freaking jumps up like 6 inches sometimes (ford taurus comes to mind). I guess that doesn't necessarily mean the mount isn't bad though. Again, this is looking like another thing I'm going to have to run by a mechanic.

I checked again for oil leaks (without getting under the car). I've again found nothing. No visible oil on the engine from the top, except where I spilled the oil by the filler cap. I wasn't seeing anything from the view in the wheel wells. And I backed the car up and saw nothing in the parking spot. I usually park in 1 of 4 spots in front of my building. The other three had cars in them, but the one I was in didn't seem to indicate any oil had been on the asphalt any time recently. I doubt I could afford any sort of repair for a leak besides simply replacing the PCV valve. So I think I will just go ahead and do that and pray that is the reason for this issue!
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Old May 4th, 2013, 05:17 PM   #4
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I bet it's your tires causing the rough ride. And the fact that your car is low. That ****s up the geometry of the suspension and can cause your suspension components to prematurely wear.
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Old May 4th, 2013, 10:52 PM   #5
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I bet it's your tires causing the rough ride. And the fact that your car is low. That ****s up the geometry of the suspension and can cause your suspension components to prematurely wear.
lol I've taken my tires pretty far before finally replacing them, and i've never had this bad of ride from some worn out tires. I've taken tires to the point where there is zero noticeable tread left and the steel belt is starting to show! Thjat was an older junker car though. And when I said my car is low, I just meant that it sits low on the ground...for a car lol It's not lowered or anything. Its dead stock. I'm not into that whole racing/ show car scene.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 01:35 PM   #6
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Front control arm bushings are common to fail. They will cause groans and moans with low speed turning or parking. Also they can cause uneven tire wear.

Possible cause of rpm going up and down at idle,... mine does it whenever the cooling fans and or the ac cycles on and off.

However I have noticed lately the rpm's sometimes will dip down too low and cause roughness to idle???

Anyone else have this?? Causes?? Fixes??
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Old May 7th, 2013, 07:38 PM   #7
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Front control arm bushings are common to fail. They will cause groans and moans with low speed turning or parking. Also they can cause uneven tire wear.

Possible cause of rpm going up and down at idle,... mine does it whenever the cooling fans and or the ac cycles on and off.

However I have noticed lately the rpm's sometimes will dip down too low and cause roughness to idle???

Anyone else have this?? Causes?? Fixes??
Thanks for the input. I think I'm just going to get the bushings replaced...whenever I get around to making an appointment lol.

I think we may have different issues causing our RPM drops. Mine literally oscillates...up 1 second, down 1 second, up one second, down 1 second, and so forth. I highly doubt the fan/AC is kicking on and off that frequently. I've wondered if somehow it was an issue with my HO alternator. That thing has been finicky since the day I got it. The battery light flickers on and off cause of the voltage regulator, and the damn thing squeals like a pig all the freaking time. The latter may just be the belt, but I've replaced belts to no avail. At least it meets my amperage demands...never seen a single dip in voltage, barely a hiccup.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 10:59 PM   #8
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Can you please elaborate on what you did to inspect your ball joints and what you mean by mushy??
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Old May 7th, 2013, 11:50 PM   #9
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If your shocks are blown then it can cause uneven wear.
I suggest getting new front shocks at least, replacing the torn bushing. They're not hard at all to inspect and go get an alignment.
Oh and some new tires.
And your new mount.

Not sure what the purpose of this thread was? But it seems like you're well aware of all this issues and just hoping for one solution to fix it all.

Yes, when I did my clutch job they did the rear main seal to prevent oil leakage.

But I suggest you buy new shocks, mounts, tires, bushing, and go get an alignment and I promise you won't have any issues.
Not to mention your car has pretty high mileage
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Old May 10th, 2013, 08:29 PM   #10
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If your shocks are blown then it can cause uneven wear.
I suggest getting new front shocks at least, replacing the torn bushing. They're not hard at all to inspect and go get an alignment.
Oh and some new tires.
And your new mount.

Not sure what the purpose of this thread was? But it seems like you're well aware of all this issues and just hoping for one solution to fix it all.

Yes, when I did my clutch job they did the rear main seal to prevent oil leakage.

But I suggest you buy new shocks, mounts, tires, bushing, and go get an alignment and I promise you won't have any issues.
Not to mention your car has pretty high mileage
The point of the thread was to avoid wasting money. I was trying to find out if the Honda dealership was just trying to scam me.

That said, I took it to the Shell station down the street today during lunch. The guy threw it up on the lift to try to confirm the dealerships claims, and he didn't charge me which was really nice. He was showing me everything too.

There was no play in the ball joints, and as I suspected before, they look to be in pretty good shape. The compliance bushing are cracked though. However, they just have a minor crack on the edge, and he said it's really not necessary to repair them at this point. He said they're really not in that bad of condition, and its very common for this to happen on accords (i.e., the replacements wouldn't even last that long). The only explanation he had for tire wear and ride comfort was low tire pressure.

He confirmed the engine mount is leaking fluid. And he didn't inspect the oil burning/leak, but he said he wasn't surprised and told me not to waste the money fixing it unless its burning a ton of oil.

Afterwards, I just setup an appointment to get the mount replaced, 2 new front tires, and my second attempt at MD inspection.

I haven't even considered shocks, because shocks almost never go bad on modern cars. But after the inspection today, I think I will take a look at them.
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Old May 17th, 2013, 05:41 PM   #11
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I got the PCV valve today and put it in. Car started a little rough after the install, and the RPMs were oscillating again like usual, but that subsided after a couple minutes. I think the problem comes and goes though.

When I pulled out the old PCV valve, it was covered in oil. Is this normal? It wasn't simply oily, I mean it was dripping with dark dirty oil. Some dripped out onto my alternator wiring harness while I was in the process of picking up the new one for the install. Also, isn't something supposed to plug into the PCV valve? When I removed the VTEC plastic cover, I saw nothing was hooked up to the valve whatsoever. It didn't appear that there was a lose hose hanging anywhere though. My Hanes manual said to unhook a hose (crankcase hose maybe?) to replace the PCV valve on the V6 engine.

edit: I also found a bolt resting on the intake manifold. I quickly discovered it came from the side engine mount ground (or maybe its just some kind of tether?). That was a bit unnerving considering the loose wire was less than an inch from the serpentine belt and power steering pulley.
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Old May 17th, 2013, 06:40 PM   #12
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There is a hose going from the valve to the intake
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Old May 17th, 2013, 10:22 PM   #13
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There is a hose going from the valve to the intake
On the outside of the valve or within the engine?
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Old May 17th, 2013, 10:33 PM   #14
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Outside. Very visible as soon as the hood is opened
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Old May 17th, 2013, 10:45 PM   #15
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Outside. Very visible as soon as the hood is opened
Crap. Somethings obviously missing then lol. I'll have to look harder tomorrow.
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Old June 14th, 2013, 03:59 AM   #16
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Suspension is more than likely the bushings under the strut mounts. They get worn out over years and should be replaced with preferrably nylon/Teflon (ie none rubber)stiffer bushings. They perform a ton better in the rigidity of handling characters and say good bye to popping/ unusual noises when going over bumps. We replaced them for like $20 on all 4 wheels on my friends 03' accord v6-l nav 6mt. It handles so nice now compared to before it handled a little boat like in corners. The bushings stiffen up the rigidity of handling characteristics. Good luck
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