2008-2012 Honda Accord: problems, fuel economy, engine, pros and cons

Updated: December 20, 2019

Redesigned for 2008, the Accord is available as a sedan or coupe, with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. The Accord's roomy cabin, solid build quality, competent handling and top safety ratings are the key selling points.

2009 Honda Accord coupe interior
2009 Honda Accord coupe interior.

The Accord coupe is a hidden gem. It combines sporty looks, excellent driving manners and good crash test ratings into one solid car.
The Accord's interior is nicely finished. Front seats are comfortable on long trips; the steering tilts and telescopes.

Handling is sharp, with precise steering thanks in part to the double-wishbone setup in front suspension. Many modern family sedans have a more basic front end layout with simple MacPherson struts. The Accord's ride is on the firm side, but well-controlled and comfortable. Overall, it's a safe and reliable mid-size car. We have researched common problems that used car buyers should be aware of; read more below.

Problems: In the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, a loud rattling noise at a cold start could be caused by a faulty VTC actuator (a part that adjusts camshaft timing).

2009 Honda Accord coupe
2009 Honda Accord coupe. See also: 2009 Honda Accord sedan

The noise is noticeable when the car is first started after sitting for a few hours. According to the Honda TSB on this issue, the VTC actuator will need to be replaced. Parts and labor are estimated at $380-$520. Will this problem get worse if not fixed? It probably will, but we also know of a couple of cases where owners have continued driving with this issue for years.

Rear brake calipers may seize or leak. A low brake fluid warning light is one of the indications of a leaking brake caliper. If you suspect that there is a problem with your brakes, have them checked as soon as possible. Read more about brake calipers. Replacement costs may vary from $250 to $380 for one caliper.
There are quite a few complaints about excessive oil consumption. The simple solution is to check the oil level on a regular basis and top it up as needed. To properly address the problem, the engine will need major work.
A bad front wheel bearing can cause a humming noise at 40-50 MPH. Replacing the front wheel bearing costs $310-$500.

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In a V6 models with the VCM (variable cylinder management) oil consumption could be caused by "repeatedly switching on and off" when cruising on the highway, as per the Honda TSB (service bulletin). Honda recommends updating the PGM-FI (engine computer) software as a solution. We researched Honda Accord forums and found that several Honda owners confirm that updating the engine computer software in V6 VCM models helps with oil consumption. Check for recalls at the NHTSA website.

EPA Fuel Economy: mpg
city/hwy
L/100 km
city/hwy
2008 Accord 4-cyl, auto 21/31 11.2/7.6
2009 Accord 4-cyl, auto 21/30 11.2/7.8
2010 Accord 4-cyl, auto 21/31 11.2/7.6
2011-2012 Accord 4-cyl, auto 23/34 10.2/6.9
2008-2010 Accord 4-cyl, manual 22/31 10.7/7.6
2011 Accord 4-cyl, manual 23/33 10.2/7.1
2012 Accord 4-cyl, manual 23/34 10.2/6.9
2008-2010 Accord auto, V6 19/29 12.4/8.1
2011-2012 Accord auto V6 20/30 11.8/7.8

Fuel Economy: The 4-cylinder Accord is rated around the middle of the class, however the V6 Accord bests many other V6-powered family sedans, see details in the table.

Engine: The Accord's base 2.4L DOHC K24 engine tops most of the 4-cylinder family sedans in power. The 2011 4-cylinder Accord EX and EX-L are rated at 190 horsepower, ahead of the 4-cylinder Toyota Camry (169 hp), Nissan Altima (175 hp), Mazda 6 (170 hp), Chevrolet Malibu (169 hp) and Ford Fusion (175 hp). The 2011 Accord LX gets 177 horsepower with the same engine. Overall, the K24 is a very good engine; the only complaint that is mentioned is the excessive oil consumption. Mechanically, this engine hasn't changed much from the previous generation; it still comes with a maintenance-free timing chain.
The 3.5L SOHC V6 is one of the best engines in its class; it's smooth and powerful.

Honda Accord 2.4L 4-cylinder engine
Honda Accord 2.4L 4-cylinder K24 engine.

The V6 has a timing belt that needs to be replaced at recommended intervals.

To keep your engine in good shape, check the oil level regularly. There is no light on the dash that will alert you about the oil level being low. Running the engine low on oil will cause many problems. Checking the oil level is easy. Read our maintenance checklist with illustrations. For the 2008-2010 Accord, Honda recommends using premium-grade 5W-20 engine oil; while the 2011-2012 Accord takes 0W-20 synthetic oil. The oil capacity (oil change including filter) is listed at 4.2 US qt. (4.0 L) for the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine and 4.5 US qt. (4.3 L) for the V6.

Pros: Safety ratings, reliability, driving experience, holds value well, roomy interior, good visibility, comfortable seats, available as a coupe, solid 4-cylinder engine, powerful V6.

Cons: Interior plastic could be better, USB is only available in 2011 and 2012 models, oil consumption issues.

Overall: Despite problems mentioned above, the 2008-2012 Honda Accord is one of the best family sedans on the used car market. As of October 2019, Consumer Reports rates the used Honda Accord 'above average' for reliability and marks it as 'Recommended' for used car buyers. Among competitors, the Camry with its soft and smooth ride is another great option. Nissan Altima is a bit smaller, but handles very well.

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On the downside, the Altima's only automatic transmission choice is a continuously variable transmission or CVT and not everyone likes the way it feels when accelerating. Mazda 6 is also not a bad choice overall.

When buying a used Honda Accord, the first important thing is to check the service records: was the engine oil changed regularly? Has the timing belt in the V6 engine been replaced? Has the transmission fluid been changed? Was the car serviced at a dealer? Checking used car history records may also shed some light on the car's past and give you some confidence that the car wasn't restored after an accident. When checking the car at the dealer's lot, the best way to detect engine issues is to start it cold: if you notice the engine rattles when started, or there is a blue smoke from exhaust, avoid a car. When checking inside, try if all door locks work; a few people mentioned problems with door locks. During the test drive, watch out for noises. Test driving on the highway may help, as many issues and noises are only noticeable at higher speeds. Check the engine oil level. If the level is low, it might be an indication that it consumes oil. Read how to check the oil level.

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Resources:
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.
By Samarins.com Staff