Honda Accord hates winter storage, throws a hissy fit

“It’s running!”, said the text from Robert at Tordown Storage, the place where the Mk2 Honda Accord had been hibernating over winter. We therefore had high hopes of a smooth collection as we ventured across the northern edge of Dartmoor. Little did we know…

She’d been on trickle charge since Friday, so the battery was full of juice. And we’d armed ourselves with some fresh fuel, including a ‘squirty’ can to spray petrol directly into the carburettor. The fuel pump can be a bit temperamental, you see. So when Robert informed us that the Accord had “just died on him”, we figured it would be case of giving the fuel pump a helping hand and getting on our way.

No such luck.

Try as we might, the Accord simply refused to start. In the end, we ran out of the juice that had been trickling into the battery for the past three days and were left with an Accord blocking the owner’s exit. Great.

In need of a jump-start and a minor miracle, we called the AA. Amazingly, despite a promise that a van would be with us in 40 minutes, it arrived in five. It was though the patrolman was on standby, knowing an elderly Accord was being removed from winter storage that afternoon. The non-starting was traced to condensation on the distributor cap, which may have been caused by the jet-wash, given as part of the service when taking a car out of storage.

The colander-like body of the Accord doesn’t like water at the best of times, but having been left neglected for six months, this was a proper toys out of the pram moment. Amazing, isn’t it? Twenty years ago, the distributor cap would have been one of the first things you’d check when a car failed to spark. Today, such problems are being consigned to the history books.

Mk2 Honda Accord bonnet up

With fuel in the carb and a clean distributor cap, the Accord turned over on the key and settled down to the smooth running we’ve grown accustomed to. All seemed OK, but it turned out to be a false dawn. A few moments later, the radiator decided it was time to chuck coolant on the floor. Quick, switch her off, trace the problem.

Rust. Over the winter months, rust had taken chunks out of the rad, meaning we were unlikely to get home. Fortunately the AA man had a bottle of rad-weld onboard, but there was no guarantee this would work. Fortunately, it did, and we had visions of getting home without a further hitch.

Wrong. Next it was the turn of the rotor arm to give up the ghost, the third in a quick-fire succession of faults from the previously reliable Honda. With some electrical tape, rad-weld, some fresh fuel, a (rusty) wing and a prayer, we eventually managed to vacate the storage yard, but only after the Accord had made its feelings known.

It just goes to prove, cars are better when they’re being used. Mrs Tiffin, the Accord’s previous owner for 30 years, made sure the car was started weekly and, at the very least, rolled backwards and forwards in the garage. The Honda had grown accustomed to such pampering, so wasn’t impressed with being left in the company of caravans for six months.

So we have a growing list of to-dos, many of which weren’t on the radar six months ago. A new radiator, distributor cap (a fixing was broken during removal) and rotor arm can be added to the need for a new fuel pump and starter motor. And let’s not discuss the rust, which is still very much in evidence. Sadly, storage doesn’t magic away corrosion.

Mk2 Honda Accord sunset

But she’s back and it’s good to have her home. The journey – once we got moving – was completed without incident, but with that niggling feeling that something could go ‘pop’ at any time. Which is shame, because up until this winter, we had total faith in her. She’s never put a foot wrong and there’s barely an MOT advisory of real note to her name.

OK, she’s arguably the least interesting and certainly the least valuable of the fleet, but she’s a survivor. Even if the winter of 2015/16 did its best to kill her off. Still, if she can survive Scrappage, she can survive anything.

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Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.


  1. March 22, 2016

    Sounds like fun Gav! Glad to see spring is coming and it is out of hibernation…

    • April 1, 2016
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Fun isn’t a word I’d use to describe the experience, but it’s good to have her back!

  2. March 23, 2016

    I think we’ve all been there with hibernating old cars. Just out of curiosity, how difficult is it to source a new distributor and rotor arm for a 30yr old Accord? My reason for asking is that I’m on the hunt for a Honda CRX which I can restore to its former glory. I previously restored German cars with plenty of parts supplier backup but I’m wondering how difficult it will be with Japanese classics.

    • April 1, 2016
      Gavin Big-Surname

      I’m about to find out how difficult it is. I don’t fancy my chances to be honest, but will be setting up some eBay alerts.

      Good luck with your search for a CRX.


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