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Old 03-13-2012, 11:22 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 2
Default 92 Accord LX Wagon w/ 103k - Has Issues - Worth Fixing?

I have a 92 Accord LX wagon that I bought in November from an individual for $1700. The car has an original 103k on the odometer - which I started with at 99,200 when I bought 4 months ago. It's really pretty clean as far as paint, body, interior, etc., no real paint deterioration or rust, no seat tears, just a few small dents, one on the rear passenger corner by the real tail light and a small one on a rear passenger door, and a bit of the door fabric beginning to detach.

Here is what has recently been changed:

- New spark plugs
- New PCV valve

Now for the bad (yes, a LOT of bad unfortunately):

- Transmission - Automatic tranny, car makes a pretty nice jerk when acceleration after a dead stop or very low speed, only jerks when making that first gear change. Transmission slips occasionally when trying to accelerate too much while taking a corner from a low speed.
Also shows some scraping at front most portion to the front of the car from apparent "bottoming out", scraping is approx. 2-3 inches, transmission is seeping a very small amount of fluid (a few drips on the concrete if sitting for a while after moving).
I've been babying it, attempting to not make super quick off the line accelerations and taking corners slower as far as acceleration, which helps alleviate these jerking

- Oil pan - missing a bolt or two, and the gasket is very shot(gasket material beginning to "ooze out" - no longer flush in places with oil pan), pretty heavy oil deposit on pan & surrounding from oil leakage, but no real noticeable decrease in oil over the last 3k miles since I had the oil changed

- Valve Cover Gasket - replaced spark plugs a couple weeks ago, oil deposit in all four shafts, so the first thing I think is valve cover gasket, after having to replace this in my previous car, a 99' Corolla

- Idle Control Valve - Idle fluctuates heavily at lights, sitting still, etc., car shakes as well at stops, but shaking alleviated a bit by shifting to neutral. I've already tried adjusting it, idle had been turned up before I bought it (probably to mask issues, as the shake issues aren't quite as bad with it running higher), but I turned it down to about 900-1000 rpm (when initially starting, fluctuates down and up between 1200 and about 200 not long thereafter when sitting) I hear having it up high like it was before (about 1200-1500 rpm at idle from what I can remember) torques the engine harder than it should be. I'm told this could be that my idle control valve needs to be replaced

- Struts - from what I'm told, car appears to need new struts and probably is riding quite a bit lower than normal, which may have contributed to the "bottoming out" that appears in the form of scrapes on transmission and a little bit further back on the undercarriage of the car

- Brakes - normal wear and tear I'm sure, but are nonetheless beginning to squeak occasionally and will need to be replaced at some point in the near future

I made the mistake of not having it looked at before buying (which I shall never do again), being desperate for a replacement car for my 99' Corolla that was wrecked, and of course, given all these issues, very much overpaid for the car. Since it is in really quite good cosmetic condition and the engine has relatively low mileage though, I'm wondering if maybe these repairs may be worth it to turn it into a decently reliable car that could last me quite some time (given no other major issues rear their ugly heads). Any input is much appreciated. Thanks guys!
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:51 AM
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: PNW, USA
Posts: 782

you asking for judgement / value calls, so ours will all be different. mine:

looking at this as your daily cheap driver, guessing you have not much money and guessing you don't do your own repairs and
you live in Houston, wow, that's gotta be a pricey place to get repairs done -

A) I'd fix the idle, drive it for weeks then decide if you're going to repair it further or sell it before it dies.

B) if yes, after weeks - the tranny, well I'm not experienced w/ AT's so rely on someone else's advice more, do a drain and fill fluid service (cheaper than a flush) and have mechanic show you the magnetic drain plug before it's cleaned. this is a visible filter - it will look gunky, normal, but if it is really awful, well ask his opinion. I wouldn't pay to replace the tranny on this car, I'd sell it first, but I don't live where you live.

C) all the rest I wouldn't address (on the oil things especially, the car works do don't sweat the small stuff) except for brakes. There I'd find a neighbors/coworkers son to replace the pads ($30-50, parts) on the front disks (in order to avoid a brake shop and its compelling sounding reasons to spend $$)

Long reply 'cuz kindred new owner '92 Accord spirit here;
I just bought a 201,500 '92 EX sedan for a premium $2700, because it was so impeccably maintained.
Link: https://www.hondaaccordforum.com/for...uestion-45305/
Only car ever where I didn't have to spend a dime on up front repairs; still happy month and half later.

Last edited by UhOh; 03-14-2012 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:11 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 1,653

I do not see how $1,700 is overpaying for the car.

Besides the transmission problems everything else is minor.

The struts have nothing to do with how how thew car sits, you can drill holes in the strut bodies and it will still sit at the same height. The springs is what controls how high the car sits.

Do a search for idle problems, there are tons of detailed threads on how to diagnose and fix and all of which you can most likely do yourself with basic tools.

The valve cover gasket is also super easy to replace your self a 10mm socket and about 20 mins and you can have a new one installed.

It sounds like you were expecting a new car for $1,700 - that rarely happens. IMHO you got a good deal.

I would love to have a wagon, I would replace the auto with a 5 speed, lower the car down about 2 inches, install a nice lip on the front and drive the heck out of it.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:07 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Denver
Posts: 1,006

Now for the bad (yes, a LOT of bad unfortunately)
Or not. $1700 for a rust-free wagon that runs...if you overpaid, it wasn't by more than a couple hundred dollars.

The trans is the major problem. You may get away with a cheap repair. This TSB shows how to flush the trans:


Skip to the second page, "Flushing the A/T." I use Valvoline Maxlife but most others swear by Honda AFT from the dealer. This is a very easy DIY; an oil drain pan, a 3/8" breaker bar, and nine quarts of ATF are all that's required.

Another website with great Accord automatic transmission problem diagnosis and repair info:


Even if the trans is toast, used transmissions are plentiful and relatively cheap. $200 to $400 on Craig's List.

All of the other problems are minor and very cheap to fix if you do the work yourself.
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:08 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1

I have an old 93 LX named betsie who just got new struts/ complete struts. If you look up completestruts.com they have the rears (but no FRONTS in stock). But i got the rears from them for under 200 bucks. Then I ebayed the fronts and picked up some econos for the fronts, which have started making noise so NOW I GOTTA TAKE THEM OFF THE CAR! The rears that I got for LESS MONEY are fine- not making any noise.
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Old 03-19-2012, 01:18 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Katy, TX
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Changing entire ATF volume is 1st step. See "10 min atomatic transmission" video on youtube (yes that spelling is on purpose).

Is D4 light flashing, or even if not check for trans codes. See DIY forum and use Check Engine Code procedure but read D4 flashes for code.

Oil Pan - replace gasket, requires exhaust pipe removal and longitudinal beam removal.

Valve Cover Gasket - try new gasket and spark plug tube seals. Note, there are additional orings under neath the rocker arm supports that require lifting entire valve train to replace. If leaks don't stop, these need to be replaced.

Struts - Unless you have a broken spring, the body height should be OK unless someone has attempted to lower the body. Why oh Lord!

Brakes - pull wheels and inspect pad thickness. If new pads indicated, replace pads, caliper pin boots, and lube caliper pins.

good luck
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:52 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 2

Thanks for the feedback guys! Alright, so I guess I didn't overpay, but I did begin to feel like it, given the slew of issues that seem to have appeared. I certainly wasn't expecting a new car, but maybe a bit discouraged by the issues.

To help reduce the hard shift/shake that occurs during the first downshift, I've been accelerating to almost 3k RPM (right before the transmission would shift down automatically) then letting off the gas briefly until it drops to about 2-2500k RPM, then slowly edging back on the gas, where the computer picks up on the gear change, which eliminates the hard jerk on downshift. Is this a bad thing to be doing?

The D4 light is lit and not flashing. The check engine light comes on. To check the error codes, where would be the best place to do this for free if possible? I heard AutoZone will check it for free, but then heard that is only on cars 96' and newer, when they switched to OBD II.

Also, if anyone here is located in the Houston area and would maybe be willing to check the car out, I'd be willing to pay. Thanks again guys!
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:59 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 12,576

All you need to check your codes is a piece of wire or a thin paperclip.

Open up the common diy thread on top of the gen tech help forum. There is a link in there on how to check engine codes.

There are some youtube videos out there on how to do this as well.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:36 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 12

My 1992 Accord LX wagon used to shift real hard going from 1st to 2nd gear. I thought I needed another tranny. I found a bottle of Slick 50 for automatic transmissions in my Dad's garage. He quit driving so he told me to take it. I added it to a fresh fluid change. It smoothed it right out, that was almost 10 years ago (yes I've changed the fluid since). I figured it's not very expensive compared to another tranny, if it didn't work I was only out a few bucks.
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