Honda Accord 1998-2002: problems, timing belt or chain, fuel economy, engine, specs

Updated: July 13, 2014
2002 Honda Accord
2002 Honda Accord (Photo: Honda)

The 1998-2002 Honda Accord is one the top choices for a budget family car. The Accord comes as a 4-door sedan or 2-door coupe, with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. The Accord's roomy cabin offers good visibility, easy-to-use controls and comfortable seats. The trunk is spacious; rear seat folds down for extra cargo room. Available features included power leather seats, wood-grain trim, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, moonroof and 6-speaker audio system. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control system (TCS) as well as side airbags are available. Crash test ratings varied through the model years. Visit the website for details. On the road, it's an easy-to-drive car with a firm, but compliant ride. The steering is precise and responsive. The V6 Accord is very smooth and powerful but a 4-cylinder model is a more sensible choice with today's gas prices. Honda Accord is proven to be dependable, but there are some issues to watch out for. We have done some research on common problems.

2002 Honda Accord interior
2002 Honda Accord (Photo: Honda)
Honda Accord engine
Honda Accord 2.3-liter VTEC engine

Engine: The 1998-2002 Honda Accord offered three engines: the base 135-hp 2.3-liter 4-cylinder 16-valve SOHC (Single Over Head Cam) feels a bit underpowered, but otherwise is a good reliable engine.
The 150-hp 2.3-liter 16-valve SOHC VTEC 4-cylinder engine offers the best combination of power and fuel economy. It's a strong and also reliable engine.
The 200-hp 3.0L SOHC V6 VTEC is the most powerful choice. All three engines have a timing belt that must be changed at recommended intervals. Read more about timing belt.

Fuel economy: The 1999-2001 2.3L VTEC Honda Accord automatic is rated at 20/28 mpg or 11.8/8.4 liters per 100 kilometers city/highway. This means you can get up to 375 miles or 600 kilometers to a tank. The 2001 V6 Accord gets 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway (13.1/9.0 L/100 km).

Pros: Fuel economy for 4-cylinder models, handling, smooth and powerful optional V6, interior quality and comfort, excellent braking.

Cons: Road and engine noise (4-cylinder models), automatic transmission issues, a timing belt will need to be replaced at certain mileage.

Overall: Honda Accord is fairly reliable and not very expensive to maintain. The one thing to watch out for is the automatic transmission problems; they are fairly common, especially in V6 models. We recommend the Honda Accord with the 2.3L VTEC engine, as it is good on gas and offers reasonable power.

What to look for when buying a used Honda Accord: Watch out for a blue smoke or loud engine rattle when the engine is started. During the test drive, pay particular attention to the way the automatic transmission works, especially on V6 models. If you notice any transmission issues like harsh shifts, jerks, delays, slipping between gears, noises, avoid the car. A clunk or strong jolt when shifting into Reverse is an early sign of a worn-out transmission.

What to look for when buying a used Honda Accord: If the transmission fluid appears too dirty (black) or has a burnt smell, avoid the car. During the test drive, listen for humming noise coming from the wheel bearings; bad wheel bearings are not uncommon. Make sure to test the air conditioner. Check if the timing belt has been replaced. If not, it will cost you a few hundred dollars to replace it. The "check engine" light staying on after the car has started indicates a problem; have it checked out with your mechanic. Read more on tips what to look for when buying a used car. Before signing the contract, have the car inspected by an independent mechanic.
Guides for used car buyers:

Honda Accord problems: A worn ignition switch could cause a car to stall, even though it may re-start again. There was a recall for this issue. If your Accord has a stalling problem, check with your local Honda dealer if this recall has been done on your car. If the ignition switch already has been replaced, it's still worth to check it out.
Another known issue that can cause the engine to stall or not to start intermittently is a faulty main relay (PGM-Fi). One of the common symptom of a bad PGM-Fi relay is that the car won't restart when hot, but starts again after it cools down.
A bad heater control panel can cause the air conditioner not to work. Google Honda Accord heater control panel, there are plenty of discussions and repair tips on this issue.

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A bad EVAP Control Canister Vent Shut Valve can cause the trouble code P1457, there was a TSB on this issue.
The EGR codes P0401 or P1491 in a V6 Accord could be caused by a clogged up EGR port. There was a TSB mentioning cleaning the EGR port, and installing the EGR pipe kit as a fix for this issue. You can search for 'clean the EGR port Honda Accord', there are a few forums that describe this repair.
Worn sway bar bushings could be one of the possible sources of a clunking noise coming from the front suspension when driving over small bumps.

Maintenance tips: Don't miss your regular oil changes; keep the engine oil level topped up. Change your transmission when it gets dirty, use only the recommended fluid (Honda ATF-Z1). Avoid overheating the engine, as it may cause serious problems. The owner's manual for the 2001 Accord recommends replacing the balancer belt and the timing belt at 105,000 miles or 168,000 km if the car is operated in normal conditions. The balancer belt requirement only applies to 4-cylinder models. It might be a good idea to replace the water pump when you change the timing belt. If your car is diagnosed with a bad ignition coil, it's a good idea to change all the spark plugs if they are old.
You might also be interested:

Recalls: Safety Recalls - NHTSA or Transport Canada - Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls.
Honda Owner's Manual and Warranty - read an owner's manual online, check what's covered by the warranty.
Honda owners: Maintenance Calculator - check the maintenance schedule online. - Honda enthusiasts forum.

2001 Honda Accord sedan specifications (US model)

Overall length:
Overall width:
Overall height:
4-cylinder models:
6-cylinder models

189.4 in (4810 mm)
106.9 in (2715 mm)
70.3 in (1785 mm)

56.9 in (1445 mm)
57.3 in (1455 mm)

Turning diameter:

36.4 ft. (11.1 m)

Cargo capacity:

14.1 cu. ft (399 L)



LX V6, EX V6

2.3-liter 16-Valve SOHC In-Line 4
135 hp @ 5,400 rpm, 145 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm

2.3-liter 16-Valve SOHC VTEC In-Line 4
150 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 152 lb-ft @ 4,900 rpm

3.0-liter 24-Valve SOHC VTEC V6
200 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 195 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm

EPA Fuel Economy (US mpg, L/100 km):
2.3L, 4-cyl engine, manual trans.

2.3L, 4-cyl engine, automatic trans

2.3L, 4-cyl VTEC engine, manual trans.

2.3L, 4-cyl VTEC engine, automatic trans .

3.0L, V6 engine, automatic trans.

city: 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km)
hwy: 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km)

city: 20 mpg (11.8 L/100 km)
hwy: 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km)

city: 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km)
hwy: 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km)

city: 20 mpg (11.8 L/100 km)
hwy: 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km)

city: 18 mpg (13.1 L/100 km)
hwy: 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km)

Recommended Fuel:

Regular Unleaded

Fuel Tank Capacity:

17.1 US gallons (64.8 liters)

Engine oil capacity:
Oil change, including filter:
4-cylinder engine
V6 engine

4.5 US qt (4.3L)
4.6 US qt (4.4L)