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03 Civic Stalls/Starts For 1/2 Second While Running, Click Under Dash

Car: Honda Civic 2003 EX, with 110,000 miles, Timing Belt replaced 2k miles ago. Manual Transmission.

When: Issue surfaces only when the weather is over 70, on cold weather it doesn’t do it.

What: Starts normally, drive for 5 minutes. Then, suddenly and with no other indication, I hear a click behind the glove box, and immediately the engine dies. Tachometer goes to zero, and half a second after I hear another click and the engine restarts.
Sometimes this cycle (click - engine dies - RPM zero – click - engine restarts - RPM normal) happens every 2 seconds (annoying!) for a minute or so, then each five seconds for another minute, then randomly with no set times in between.

Lights in the dash are normal, radio is still on. Only indication is the click, and the RPM going to zero, even with the actual engine turning (manual tranny).
I’ve tried all kinds of combinations, like radio off, headlights off, nothing seems to make any difference, but the weather.

Any ideas? Coolant Sensor? ECU dying?

I don’t know if this applies to your year and model, but a common Honda issue around then was the fuel injection (PGM-FI) relay, which acted up in warmer weather. See if that applies to your car.

The stalling might be caused from a bad PGM-FI main relay located near the glove box.

Common problem with Honda’s.


I see that’s a ~$20 part, so i’ll try and replace it, will get back to you.

I’m reading on the PGM-FI relay and it seems like it causes mostly issues when starting hot, which is not my problem at all… Car starts every single time, no issues there, but dies while driving on hot days.

Something I forgot to mention, sometimes it will die and won’t restart, until I quickly turn the key to Accessories then back to On.

But no matter if hot or cold the engine or the weather, it always starts.

Still, may be worth checking that relay.

You can check the relay, but I suspect it’s your ignition switch. I think it might have a bad solder join which becomes apparent as the temperature heats up. Vibrations as you drive are causing the bad solder join to lose contact.

You hear the click from the relay because when the ignition switch loses contact, it turns the car off, which turns the relay off. Vibrations are still happening because the car is still moving, and the vibrations make the join make contact again and the car re-starts because you’re still in gear and moving forward.

You’re correct that dead/dying relays usually only manifest as a no-start condition – once you get the engine running it usually stays running until you shut it off. Ignition switches, on the other hand, will make the car stall.

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I just looked up the wiring diagram for your vehicle.

And if the problem were with the ignition switch, everything would shut off.

The engine, radio, instrument cluster, etc…

It would be as if you turned the ignition switch off the way it’s wired.


Shadowfax, I agree with Tester, a faulty ignition switch wouldn’t shut everything in the dashboard down?

Only the Tach dies, everything else is normal…

But, I’ll try and test everything I can, thanks for the advice to both!

Hmmm…where does the tach get its signal?




FI= Fuel Injection


Hmm. Good point. But I’m still stuck on the part about it stalling with a bad MR. That usually doesn’t happen.

I know, I get all this weird faults -_-

Thanks for the insights!

It makes sense to take a flyer & replace that relay since it is cheap and is a common Honda problem reported here. The symptoms are not what is usually reported tho for that problem. I’d guess an ignition switch or fuse problem or bad connector if replacing the relay doesn’t do the job. Anything that interrupts a circuit connection, like wiggling a broken connector, could also turn off a relay under the dash, which you’d hear as a click, but the relay wouldn’t be the problem in that case.

What sensor does the computer use to generate the tach signal?

Crank sensor.


Oh cr*p, I think Tester hit the nail in the head with a sledgehammer.

It is also in limp-mode, for the crankshaft sensor… Code P0335 is showing on the scanner…

Crankshaft sensor it is. Can’t do it myself, don’t have the tools, so I’ll take it to a shop…

Could be. When the computer thinks the engine is no longer turning, on most cars it automatically turns off the fuel pump. Safety feature in the event of a collision. The click you are hearing may be the fuel pump relay being clicked “off”, as a result of the computer no longer detecting the crank sensor signal.

Well, to anyone wondering, this case has become even weirder.

Crankshaft sensor was changed and cabling was good. Still doing the same, but only when the weather is between 70-80. Colder, runs fine. Hotter, runs fine.

Also new: if I’m on the highway and starts doing the shutting off/on, will do it about 8 times and then the RPM dial will go to zero, but the engine will still run. But, it’s on super-limp mode, barely any power.
If I turn the ignition key off/on, it will go back to normal.

I know, I’ll just bring it to the junkyard…