Piston Slap: An Accord Awakening?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap an accord awakening
Ronald writes:


I’ve been lurking TTAC for a few years now and I really enjoy visiting the site every day. I think I’ve learned quite a bit about how to get the most out of my cars. Here’s my most recent car issue: I recently inherited a 2004 Honda Accord EX-V6 with an automatic transmission. It was purchased new and only has about 44K miles on it.

The problem is this – it hasn’t moved in 4 years. It was in good condition before and was being driven daily. However, when the owner passed away, it was transferred to someone who doesn’t drive and that person left it sitting in a garage for 4 years until I got it.

Traditionally, I have not been very hands-on in my car care, but am starting to take baby steps into fixing things myself. My current ride is a 2004 Acura TSX 6-speed manual that I bought new and currently has about 150K miles on it. Aside from a few cosmetic issues, the car runs perfectly and has been reliable so far. I also love driving the TSX (especially due to the 6-speed), so until recently, I didn’t have any plans on replacing it.

So my question to you is this:

Should I –

(1) Sell the Accord as-is?

(2) Get the Accord running again and sell it? If I take this option, how much do you think it would cost to get a non-running Accord in running condition?

(3) Get the Accord running again, use it as my daily driver, and sell the TSX? How reliable of a daily driver do you think the Accord would be after sitting for so long?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Sajeev answers:

Option #1 is a non-starter…literally! Get it? (snort)

Since you like the TSX, maybe cash from the Accord’s sale is better for you. It’s probably worth more to someone else! Invest the proceeds, save it for a rainy day, give it to charity, or burn it away in a Hunter S. Thompson-esque bender in Vegas…whatever man, it’s all good.

So I recommend option as it probably needs very little work to be a clean and awesome ride for craigslist, AutoTrader, Edmunds, local classifieds, etc. Here’s the stuff I recommend to recondition a car like this to ensure buyer confidence and a fat profit for yourself. In no particular order:

  • Thoroughly detail inside and out, it might take a full day for a car sitting that long. Anyone can do this, and it’s very rewarding if you like to get your hands dirty.
  • New tires: they might be flat spotted and are definitely not inspiring buyer confidence if they are original with that much age/mileage.
  • New Battery: don’t forget to save the receipts!
  • New fuel filter, after you run the old gas thru the system. Or dump the old gas out, if it won’t run on what’s in the tank. You might need a mechanic for this, if you don’t trust your skills.
  • Oil Change, coolant change too.
  • If it’s an EX with leather (aren’t they all?), marinate the hides in leather conditioner. Baby oil works in a pinch.
  • Drive for a week or so, see if anything else goes wrong. Definitely run the HVAC system and deodorize if needed.

Honestly, given the low mileage and late-model status of this Honda, I don’t think it’ll need anything else! If outdoor storage, rat infestation, etc are mitigating circumstances we aren’t aware of, perhaps option #1 isn’t a bad idea.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

Join the conversation
3 of 28 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 31, 2012

    Honda V6 automatic transmissions are not known for their longevity - get it serviced as part of its return to the road.

  • Moparman426W Moparman426W on Jan 01, 2013

    The struts are probably fine. I had a set of shocks that sat in my barn since 1991, couldn't even remember what I bought them for, but I remember when & where I got them. A buddy of mine bought an Econoline that had bad shocks, we looked at it and saw that the shocks I had would fit like a glove, so I gave them to him. He installed them and they work just fine. I've had many parts sit in my barn for 10-20, and probably close to 30 years. Sometimes when I eventually end up using them or giving them to someone they are normally fine. Parts often sit on shelves in auto parts stores for years before being sold if it's not a part that people commonly buy. Parts are also known to sit at salvage yards for years before being sold. The belt & hoses are probably fine. There are muscle cars at shows that still have the original belts & hoses. The climate to which they are exposed is the major factor that determines how long they last. The tires could or could not be flat spotted. I've seen some develop flat spots after sitting a short time, but I've also seen cars that have sat much longer than 4 years and the tires were fine. It probably depends on the quality of the tire, how much air they had, whether or not they were exposed to SUV rays, etc.

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jan 03, 2013

      It is indeed bad news when a Tahoe comes along and wants to shine all over your Accord.

  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.