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Hi all,

I have a 55-reg Honda Civic 1.7 diesel, which has done about 48,000 miles. In the last couple of days (when the weather has been particularly cold) my car has developed a problem. I will be driving along quite happily and then suddenly the engine malfunction light will come on, the engine will cut out, and I have to coast to the side of the road. If I turn off the ignition, wait a few seconds, and then try again, the car starts up and I can continue driving (although the indicator light remains on).

The exact same problem happened to me around the same time last year. I took the car to the dealership, where they told me that the code for the malfunction was "low fuel rail pressure" and explained that a fuel filter had become clogged up with ice crystals caused by condensation freezing in the cold weather. They replaced my fuel filter (it was due replacing anyway as part of a service) and all was well.

I have just taken the car back to the same dealership. This time they confirmed it was the same error code as before. It has only been a year since my fuel filter was replaced, and Honda recommend changing the filter every 2 years. So it does not seem like it could be a dodgy fuel filter. The guy at the dealership claimed that the problem may be due to my use of supermarket fuel. He said that branded fuel from Shell, BP, etc contains additives that prevent condensation and freezing in cold weather, and that if I used this type of fuel I wouldn't have this issue. He said that supermarkets do not include additives in their fuel (to save costs) and so this can cause problems in diesels at this time of year.

The way he said it made it sound like this is just the way that Honda diesels (and perhaps all diesels) work. In other words, that if you use a diesel, with supermarket fuel, in the winter, then there's a high likelihood of things going wrong. This doesn't sound very plausible to me - otherwise the supermarkets would be flooded with complaints around this time of year and, I would have thought, would have to change their diesel.

What are your opinions? Has anyone experienced this before or have any ideas as to what might be going wrong?

Incidentally, the dealership gave me the choice of replacing the fuel filter (again) or putting some additives into my fuel tank to try to stop the supermarket fuel from causing these problems again. I opted for the additive, because it was cheaper and because I wasn't convinced that a new filter would have helped. Unfortunately, neither did the additive - I drove away from the dealership and ten minutes later I got the same problem :-( .....

Any help appreciated!
 

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I agree that the 'ice crystals in the filter' suggestion is utter nonsense.
Though I run on petrol, perhaps my experiences might help shine some light on your problem.....
My 1.4 SE Auto (03 Reg) started exhibiting the near-stalling, 'Hesitation Blues' in the winter of 03/04 and repeated this behaviour each winter (except one where it must have been a bit warmer) until Jan 08, when it was particularly cold. I found pulling out into a busy main road shortly after leaving home a hair-raising experience, but never had any problem with a hot engine.
Each service (in March) my Honda garage had fiddled round with carburetor settings and replaced bits (including a fuel filter) until the weather got warmer when my problem went away. Finally, in June 08, the mechanic got round to trying the most expensive option - a new ECU. No problems since.
Fortunately, since I had all the documentation showing that it was an unsolved (and serious) issue dating from the warranty period, Honda finally agreed to replace the ECU free of charge.
Honda might even be aware that these are not isolated incidents but are not willing to admit - and rectify - a potentially dangerous fault which could involve them in an expensive recall. Hence their procrastination?
Hope this helps.
 
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