Common Problems

My radio display fades in and out.  What’s wrong?

Unfortunately, this is a fairly common problem with the Acura DSP system. The problem appears to be a bad solder joint in the circuitry that powers the display. This unit is made by Panasonic and Acura has an exchange program with them. 

If none of the stereo lights come on when the dash lights lights come on... that's something else. Check the stereo illumination switch. It's on the stem with the Balance/Fader controls. Push the knob in so that it pops out. Then, pull it out slightly farther. In this position, the knob controls the stereo lighting when the dash lights are on.


Return to "Common Problems"



I didn't get the stereo anti-theft code from the previous owner. What can I do?

If you have the serial number, your Acura dealership can get the code for you. You'll have to remove the stereo to get the serial number. Your dealership will also be more than happy to remove it for you (at prevailing labor rates) and re-set the stereo.


Return to "Common Problems"




My car alarm goes off when I unlock the door. Or (less commonly), the alarm won't "arm" itself when I lock the door.  What’s wrong?

The probable cause is a bad door lock actuator switch. The switch contacts become oxidized and they block the “unlocked door” signal to the security system control unit. The fix is to replace the switches (and their retaining clips). The switches are attached to the door lock actuator inside each front door.

We've also found that the connectors between the door actuator and the security control unit develop corrosion over time, causing a bad connection. Cleaning these connectors will enable a good contact between the door actuator and the alarm computer. The December 02 Timely Topics article will show you how to fix this.

NOTE: An aftermarket security system will NOT fix this problem if it uses the existing switches to determine whether a door is unlocked.


Return to "Common Problems"



My front seat passengers can open their window, but they can't close it using their switch. The switch on the driver's door will close the passenger side window. What's wrong?

The problem is usually corrosion and some dirt on the contacts inside the switch. The proper fix is to replace the switch, but at least one member has successfully repaired his switch. If you'd like to give it a try, read on. Here's what you need to do to fix it.

First, you'll have to remove the door panel. Then, unplug the window switch assembly, unscrew it from the door panel, and remove it. The switch is really easy to open upit looks like its completely sealed but it's not. You'll see the part that you normally move with your finger (to control the window) is attached to a rubber boot that kinda covers the lower body of the switch. Pull that rubber boot up, away from the body of the switch, and you will see the pivot point where the switch lever pivots about the switch body.

Carefully use a screwdriver to pry the plastic part off of the pivot tab. Be careful how you pull it apart. While you do this, make sure to hold the lever part of the switch up, or else all the pieces will fall out when you take it apart. The switch will now come apart and you'll see a bunch of metal contacts inside with a metal free-floating arm. Take careful note how they're oriented so you can put it back together properly.

One or both of the contacts will have oxidation on them. Clean away the oxidation with a spray of "tuner cleaner" or "switch cleaner" from Radio Shack. Then, lightly burnish the contacts with a burnishing tool. If you don't have one (What? You don't have a burnishing tool?), then use the striker from a book of paper matches. Do not use sandpaper.

Next, there may be areas of melted plastic surrounding the contactsthe plastic got too hot because of the excess current drawn through the corroded switch contacts. If you see any of this plastic, scrape it off, because it may get in the way and prevent good solid metal to metal contact.  If the contacts are completely recessed within the plastic, or too badly burned, then you'll need to replace the switch.

After you've cleaned it and scraped away any excess melted plastic, put some dielectric silicone grease in there and snap the switch back together. Plug it back in and it should work perfecty. Simpilot71 reports that this fix has held up over a year so far. Also, check out Juanvaldez's December 02 Timely Topics article, Repairing the Vig's Door Lock Actuator.


Return to "Common Problems"



My "Check Engine" light came on. What's wrong?

The Check Engine Light (CEL) will come on whenever the car's computer (called an Electronic Control Unit, or ECU) detects a problem with one of the engine's components or sensors. When the light comes on, the ECU will store a "code" (called a Diagnostic Trouble Code, or DTC) which can help determine where the problem is.

Before checking for codes, re-set the ECU and drive the car to see if the CEL comes on again. Occasionally, a transient glitch will set a code. When this happens, the glitch will go away, but the code will stay stored in the ECU. To re-set the ECU, remove the #39 Back-Up Fuse from the Under Hood Fuse Box. Count to ten. Put it back in.

If you re-set the ECU and the code CEL doesn't come back on, you're good to go. Problem solved! But if the CEL does come back on, you'll have to see what the problem is.

ECU Location & Service Check Connector

To read the trouble codes, first find the Service Check Connector. It’s under the dash on the passenger side, near the center console. It has two wires coming into it. One is brown, the other is green with a white stripe. To read the trouble codes, you have to jump these two wires at the connector. A paperclip will do nicely.

Then, turn the ignition switch on. The Check Engine light will flash the DTCs. One digit codes are a series of short flashes. Two digit codes have long flashes for the first digit and short flashes for the second digit.

The code list is...

0 (No flashes) Bad ECU
1 Oxygen Sensor
3 MAP Sensor (Manifold Absolute Pressure)
4 Crankshaft Position Sensor
5 MAP Sensor (Manifold Absolute Pressure)
6 ECT Sensor (Engine Coolant Temperature)
7 Throttle Position Sensor
8 TDC Sensor (Top Dead Center)
9 CYL Sensor (No. 1 cylinder position)
10 IAT Sensor (Intake Air Temperature)
12 EGR System (Exhaust Gas Recirculation)
13 Atmospheric Pressure Sensor
14 EACV (Electronic Idle Air Control Valve)
15 Ignition Output Signal
16 Fuel Injector
17 Vehicle Speed Sensor
18 Ignition Timing Adjuster
20 Electronic Load Detector
23 Knock Sensor #1 (Front)
30 A/T FI Signal A
31 A/T FI Signal B
41 Oxygen Sensor Heater
43 Fuel Supply System
45 Fuel Metering
53 Knock Sensor #2 (Rear)

If your car shows a code that isn’t listed, re-set the ECU and check again. If it STILL shows a code that isn’t listed, your ECU (or its associated wiring) is bad.



Sometimes, the ECU will give an erroneous Code 4.It gets tricked! A bad alternator may put out voltage spikes which make the ECU think the Crankshaft Position Sensor is bad. Sometimes it will put the engine in "Limp Home Mode," which limits the engine to 3000rpm and causes it to hesitate.

Sometimes, a Code 23 or Code 53 (Knock Sensors) will be indicated instead.

To test the alternator, drive the car with all accessories off and the CEL should not come on. When you turn on all the electrical stuff (lights, blower, defogger), the alternator should be able to keep up with the demand. If turning on the accessories sets the CEL and you get the same code, your alternator is bad.

Another way to test it is to remove the round connector from the back of the alternator. If the symptoms go away—and then return when you plug it back in—the alternator is bad.


Return to "Common Problems"



My "ABS" light came on. What's wrong?

The Ant-lock Brake System control unit has detected a problem with one of the ABS components. When that light is on, your braking system reverts to "normal" 4-wheel disc brakes and the control unit stores a code.

To read the code, you'll need to follow the same procedures described for the Check Engine light, except the ABS light will flash the codes instead. The codes are...


Problem Area


Also check...

1   Pump motor over-run   Motor fuse, relay, pressure switch
1-2 Pump motor circuit Motor relay unit fuse
1-3 High-pressure leakage Solenoid
1-4 Pressure switch
1-8 Accumulator Gas leakage
2-1 Parking brake switch-related Fluid level switch, BRAKE light
3-1 FR Wheel pulser
3-2 FL Wheel pulser
3-4 RR Wheel pulser
3-8 RL Wheel pulser
4-1 FR Speed sensor
4-2 FL Speed sensor
4-4 RR Speed sensor
4-8 RL Speed sensor
5 RR, RL Speed sensor Modulator
5-4 RR Speed sensor


5-8 RL Speed sensor


6 F or R Fail-safe relay
6-1 Front Fail-safe relay
6-4 Rear Fail-safe relay
7-1 Solenoid-related problem ABS B1 fuse


ABS B3 fuse, Front fail-safe relay


Rear fail-safe relay


It's possible for the control unit to set a code temporarily, especially if the car has lost traction for any reason, the car has been driven with the P-brake on, or the car has been driven over rough roads.

To clear the codes from the ABS control unit's memory, remove the ABS B2 fuse for at least three seconds.


Return to "Common Problems"



My car idles funny. What’s wrong?

Idle Adjust Screw

Throttle Body and Idle Adjusting Screw

It could be caused by a kazillion things, but erratic idle speed is usually the result of dirt in the throttle body.

To clean the throttle body, first remove the air supply inlet from the throttle body opening. Then, start the engine. Spray the inside of the throttle body with an O2-sensor-safe "carburetor/throttle body" cleaner and work the throttle plate back and forth. This will usually restore smooth idle.

In some severe cases, it may be necessary to remove and clean the idle adjusting screw. Make sure you don't lose or damage the rubber O-ring that's on the screw. Count the number of turns when removing it, and screw it back in with the same number of turns. Your idle speed may be off slightly, so it would be wise to check/adjust it after reinstalling the screw.

Low coolant level or a bad coolant temperature sensor can also cause an erratic idle -- they can confuse the ECU so it won't know whether the engine is warm or still cold. In this case, the ECU may command the engine to go back and forth between "cold" idle speed and "warm" idle speed.

A faulty EACV or a bad fast-idle valve can also cause a "too high" or "too low" idle speed. If the EACV is leaking, the idle speed will fluctuate but no code will be set by the ECU—it can't recognize a leak, only an open or a short circuit.

One other possibility is a leaking vacuum hose or connection. As these cars approach their 10th birthday, the rubber hoses are beginning to show their age. They're becoming brittle and may deteriorate, causing a vacuum leak.


Return to "Common Problems"



Sometimes, after driving and then shutting the car off, it won't start. What's Wrong?

The coolant temperature sensor is probably going bad. When these sensors fail, they tend to fail "cold." That is, they mistakenly report a "cold engine" to the ECU. When you start the car in the morning, everything's fine, because the engine is cold. But when the engine gets up to operating temperature, it won't re-start because the ECU thinks the engine's still cold. So it dumps a lot fuel through the injectors (which it should, for a cold engine) and the engine floods.

Then, when the engine cools down sufficiently not to flood, it'll start fine again.


Return to "Common Problems"



My heater blower is cutting out. What's wrong?

Bad news. Most likely, it's the blower motor, which is behind the dashboard. (That means the whole dashboard has to come out in order to replace it, so it's a pretty expensive job.) To verify, run the diagnostic test. First, set up the heater controls...

  • Temperature switch to MAX HOT

  • Fan switch to OFF

  • Recirculation switch to RECIRCULATE

Turn the ignition switch ON and, within 5 seconds, toggle the Recirculation switch from RECIRCULATE to FRESH and back three times. The A/C light will come on for a second and then go off as the circuits are being tested. Within a minute, the A/C light will flash a trouble code if a problem was found.



1 Evaporator Temperature Sensor
2 Air Mix Control Motor
3 Mode Control Motor
4 Recirculation Control Motor
5 Blower Motor


NOTE: Sometimes the blower won't work unless the fan switch is set to MAX. If it works only on MAX, then the blower motor is okay and the power transistor has probably failed. Cristofo1 reports that it's easily accessed under the dash. "...just pull down the passenger rug and find the 3p connector. Push the seat all the way back, then lay upside down with your feet in the backseat so you can see. Unplug the connector to the power transistor. Unscrew with a small screwdriver(3") and move the wire harness as far out of the way as possible.." Thanks, Cristofo1!

Replacing a blower motor is a time consuming job, but if you'd like to try it, see the November 02 Timely Topics article, Replacing the Vig's Blower Motor.


Return to "Common Problems"



My struts sound like they creak when it is cold out.  What’s wrong?

This happens because of the stiff material used in the bushings that connect the struts to the suspension.  This is normal.


Return to "Common Problems"



My antenna makes a loud noise when it goes up or down. Sometimes it won’t go all the way down. What’s wrong?

Clean the antenna mast and leave it dry. DON’T lubricate it with WD-40 or anything else. If that doesn’t fix it, then one or more of the tubes on the antenna mast is probably bent. If you watch the antenna go up and down, you can find the bent tube and straighten it.

If that doesn’t fix it, then replace the antenna mast. A&H Motorsport sells them for $41.00 plus shipping (10/21/01). Acura dealerships sell them for under $50.00.

To replace the mast...

  1. Remove the antenna nut. Use a pair of needlenose pliers after first laying down some masking tape to protect the paint in case the pliers slip.

  2. Turn the ignition and radio ON. This will extend the mast. If it's stuck, just grab it and lift up ''til it's fully extended.

  3. When it's fully extended, keep pulling until you pull the antenna mast right out of the antenna tube. Just pull straight up. It might not seem like it wants to come, but it will. Just yank. When it comes, you'll see a toothed plastic coil. Notice which direction the teeth face and pull the whole thing out.

  4. Insert the new mast into the tube. First, feed the long toothed piece into the antenna tube just like the old one came out, then turn OFF the radio to retract the mast. You might have to "help" it retract the first time.

  5. Loosen the antenna motor mounting nut. This is inside the trunk, at the very bottom of the antenna assembly. This will give the whole assembly some "wiggle room" so you can ...

  6. Reinstall the antenna nut (outside) nice and snug.

  7. Tighten the antenna motor mounting nut (inside). This gets rid of the wiggle room.

  8. Close your trunk lid and have a beer.

On 7/12/04, Stephende adds... 

"I thought it might be useful to supplement the antenna replacement FAQ. If all goes well the description in the FAQ is enough. Unfortunately, there are two main areas where things can go wrong.

First, when you pull out the old antenna, compare the length of the nylon leash with the new one. If the old one is shorter, a piece of it has broken off in the motor. You'll have to remove the motor to get to it. The motor is secured by only one nut. Once you disconnect the wiring and moisture drainage tube it tilts out fairly easily. You'll notice a round metal plate on one side of the assembly held by two screws. Carefully remove it. Inside is a circular plastic housing cover. Use a small screwdriver to carefully lift it up. Underneath, you should find the offending piece of broken leash. Do not remove any other screws or housing covers on the assembly - esp. the motor's armature cover - you'll have brushes and springs flying everywhere!

The second problem also involves comparing your new antenna to the old one. On your new antenna, you will see that there is a short, sliding metal tube topped off with a plastic bushing. Make sure the old one came out with your antenna when you pulled it out. If you don't see it, it is still inside the guide tube. The metal has reacted with the metal of the tube and is stuck. To remove it, use a very fine screw driver and needle nose pliers to pry it away from the inner walls of the guide tube. Be careful not to deform the guide tube or damage the external threads.

These tips were given to me by a helpful parts man. He turned out to be absolutely right as both possibilities happened to me."

Thanks, Stephende!


Return to "Common Problems"



Oil is leaking on my engine (from the distributor area). What should I do?


Vigor Distributor

This is generally caused by leaking distributor O-rings. To replace them, you'll need to remove the distributor, slip the old ones off, put the new ones on, and re-install the distributor.

See the August 03 Timely Topics article, Replacing the Distributor O-Ringsby Lvmilkman202for step-by-step instructions on how to do this. Thanks, Milkman!


Return to "Common Problems"



Oil is leaking from the driver's side of the engine. What's with that?

Most likely, the oil cooler O-ring. The May 06 Timely Topics article, Replacing the Oil Cooler Figure-8 Gasket, by Heimonator will show you how to replace it.


Return to "Common Problems"



Are Vigors prone to rust in any particular areas?

Of course. Every car has areas where rust starts, depending on its design. Something has to be the first to go, right? If every part of a car were equally rust resistant, then when the car finally did start to rust, it would simply rust everywhere at once! Poof! Instead, there is always a weak link in the chain for every model of car... a place where rust begins. Any competent body shop should be able to repair it, especially if you get the car in there quickly.

Fortunately, Vigors are pretty good when it comes to rust, but they do tend to start rusting at the back of the rear wheelwells. It's important to get this fixed as soon as you can, or it can spread rapidly and extensively. Vigs also tend to rust on the back of the trunklid, behind the V I G O R letters, but this is allegedly more common on '92's.

Some members have reported rust developing in the following areas, but these are nowhere near as common as the two areas mentioned above:

  • The rocker panels can develop bubbles above and behind the black sill cover.

  • Around the door mountsespecially under the bottom mount for the front doors.

  • The edges of the front fenders at the front of the wheel well.

  • At the top corner of the windshield just above/behind the chrome trim. Rust here can cause serious (expensive) problems if not eliminated immediately. The rust can develop into holes in the edge of the roof in as fast as a couple months!

  • If the rubber strip along the edge of the back fenders develops any lumps, there is probably rust beneath it. There is a metal strip inside the rubber strip. The encased metal strip can rust and poke throught the rubber on the inside. At this point the rust from the strip can transfer to the Vig's body and cause the fender edge to rust. If these lumps are discovered before the rust transfers to the body, the rubber strips can be replaced at a fairly low cost.

  • There are various spots on the bottom that can develop rust.

The underbody should be checked for rust whenever the car is on a lift. As these cars get older, we'll probably get reports of other rust areas, too. But for now, that's about it.

To prevent rust, see CW's  October 03 Timely Topics article.


Return to "Common Problems"



Home - • - Clubhouse - • - FAQ's - • - Links - • - Timely Topics - • - About Us

 - Top -