Intermittant Dying Is Probably Due to Bad Fuel Pump

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 27, 2017

Dear Car

Talk: We have a 2009 Honda Odyssey LX. At 90,000 miles, we changed the timing belt and water pump before a cross-country trip. Mistake. On the interstate, driving on the way to the Black Hills, the car lost power for a few seconds, half recovered and then died. It was as if we had run out of gas, but there were two to four gallons left in the tank. We rolled to a stop, turned it off, turned it back on and drove 10 miles to the next gas station, where we filled it up, and it was fine. A day later, the same thing happened near Little Big Horn. Three months later, same thing in Idaho. And then two more times since then over the past year. It's always when it has less than a quarter of a tank of gas in it, and it's always when traveling at or near highway speed. And it always restarts right away.

Two Honda dealers couldn't find anything wrong. One dealer suggested that we drain and drop the gas tank, but said that could be a wild goose chase, so we haven't done it. What should we do? -- John

You probably should order a new fuel pump, John. This sounds like a classic case of a fuel pump going bad.

When the fuel pump is weak, it's most likely to misbehave when it's hot and been running for a long time, and when the demand for fuel is greatest. When is that? When you're on a long highway trip, climbing a mountain, and it's midsummer.

Have your shop put a pressure tester on your fuel pump. I'm pretty sure it'll be below spec, and a new fuel pump will be the answer.

And, by the way, changing the timing belt and water pump before that big trip was not a mistake at all. In fact, if you hadn't changed the timing belt, you'd probably be writing us from Little Big Horn to ask how much you should pay for a new engine.

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