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1996 Honda Prelude Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1996 Honda Prelude based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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10
Known Problems

The front axles are prone to failure on the 1992-1997 Honda Prelude. This will be evident as fast clicking or popping sounds will be audible while driving, most commonly when the steering wheel is turned while the vehicle is in forward motion.

Constant velocity (CV) axles, sometimes called a “half-shaft”, are designed to allow the wheels to be driven by the transmission, even when turning the steering wheel.

They are manufactured of a shaft with a gear at both ends. When one of the gears on the end of the shaft fails, it will make noise as the vehicle is driven.

The axle should be replaced immediately, or damage may occur to the wheel bearing/hub assembly if left unattended.

 

The 1990-2001 Honda Prelude engine oil pressure sensor is known to leak from normal operation.

More information about the oil pressure sensor here.

To correct the leak, the sensor must be inspected, properly sealed and installed, or replaced with new.

Smelling burning engine oil is common on the 1992-1997 Honda Prelude, and is associated with oil leaking from the valve cover. It is most common to smell the oil burning at a stop light, or just after you shut off your engine.

Engine oil leaks from the valve cover, drains down, and settles on the exhaust manifold, which burns the oil upon contact due to high exhaust gas temperatures. This creates an odor that comes through the vents, and can be smelled around the front of the vehicle. 

The valve cover gasket should be replaced in a timely fashion to prevent engine misfires resulting from oil contamination of the ignition coil, which is fairly common.

Valve cover gasket replacement will correct both the leak and the smell of burned oil at the same time. If the ignition coil or spark plug wire was soaked in oil, it will need to be cleaned or replaced to stop or prevent misfires.

The camshaft seal, located at the end of the cylinder head, has a reputation for failure on the 1992-1997 Honda Prelude.

This seal wraps around the camshaft to prevent engine oil from leaking where the camshaft exits the cylinder head.

Replacing the leaky seal requires timing belt removal, so timing belt and water pump may be recommended if your vehicle is near the service interval.

The 1992-1997 Honda Prelude has a known issue with ignition distributor shaft bearing failure, which causes:

  • Failure to start 
  • Engine randomly misfires 
  • Check Engine Light Illumination
  • OBD Trouble code(s) P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P1336, P1337 
  • Engine vibrations  
  • Hesitation or stalling 
  • Oil leak from distributor cap 
  • The ignition system uses the distributor to send high voltage electricity to the spark plugs at the right time. It accomplishes this timing mechanically by a shaft, which connects the crankshaft and ignition distributor, so they spin at the same rate. That shaft, part of the distributor, rests in a bearing inside the distributor.This bearing, the distributor shaft bearing, is known for failing, and allowing the shaft to move slightly.

    As the bearing fails, it allows the shaft to move away from the shaft seal, and oil pours into the distributor cap, causing misfires.

    The play in the shaft can also cause contact with the crankshaft position sensor, causing a no start problem.

    Total bearing failure will be most evident from the grinding noise that changes with engine speed, and oil in the ignition distributor cap.

    If the bearing is making noise, driving or running the vehicle can result in catastrophic engine failure.

    To correct this issue, the ignition distributor and shaft must be replaced. Any damage to the crankshaft position sensor will necessitate replacement as well.

     

    The front brake rotors can warp and cause a vibration when braking. The rotors will need to be machined or in cases where they are worn to thin, replaced to correct this issue.

    A seal in the 4 cylinder engine around the balance shaft tends to fall out, causing a large oil leak. There is a retaining device available to prevent the seal from falling out, which can be put in place during routine timing belt maintenance.

    On some models the manual transmission fifth gear can grind on upshift due to a misaligned fifth shift fork. The transmission will have to be removed and disassembled and  the fifth gear, the fifth sleeve set and the fifth gear shift fork will have to be replaced to repair this issue.

    On certain models moisture can get into the rear wheel bearing and cause a noise. Replacing the rear bearing and hub will repair this problem.

    On certain models the clutch pedal can creak due to the assist spring rubbing against itself. Replacing the clutch assist spring with an updated spring from Honda will stop the noise.