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03 Honda Civic ignition

We bought a used 03 Civic a little over a year ago. Rarely, but often enough to be annoying, it won’t start on the first try. We have to wait a few seconds or more, then try again. The dealer couldn’t replicate it and so is baffled.

It seems to occur more often on moist days, but not always. It can happen when the car has been sitting overnight or when we’ve popped into the post office to mail a package.

Does anyone have a clue what the problem is?

The mention of this being worse on moist days is a possible clue to bad spark plug wires being the source of the problem. The part about “popping into the Post Office” seems to contradict the spark plug wires as the problem but…since the dealer has no clue at this point, I would suggest that you start with the plug wires.

What happens when you turn the key to Start?

If by not starting you mean there is no starter operation, or even a click sound, then it is likely to be a faulty neutral safety switch if the car has an automatic transmission or a faulty ignition switch. (electrical part; not key and tumbler)

You might clarify the no-starting symptoms. It can help narrow it down a bit.

If it’s just cranking and not starting, early `90s hondas have a problem with the fuel pump relay. Changing it may solve your problem.

The fuel pump relay is a problem with earlier Hondas, but I believe that the problem was finally “licked” by the '03 model year. In any event, since we are not experiencing hot weather in most of the country currently, and since the fuel pump relays tend to be problematic in hot weather, I ruled that out.

But…you never know…so it may be worth pursuing that angle.

It turns over, but doesn’t start.

As above, it does turn over. Now that we know the drill, we just try once or twice, perhaps curse, then wait, say 30 seconds and try again. It nearly always starts after that short wait.

And it’s a standard transmission.

You should get the car scanned for codes. AutoZone, Checkers, etc. will do this for you free. It’s possible a code could be set for an intermittent fault that prevents the car from starting.

Without knowing if the problem is is fuel or spark related the number of possibilities goes way up and it’s very difficult to narrow it down.

While some of the prior problems (main relays, ignition switches, etc) are ironed out in theory often the same problems continue on. If a recall or service bulletin is issued on a 2002 car for example this does not mean that a 2003 is exempt from the same fault.

Some random wild guesses could be the ignition switch, main relay, ignition module, crank position sensor, fusible link connection, etc. A scan may pull something up; and a code can be present even if the Check Engine Light is not on.

Thank you! I’ll see if a scan turns up more info.

Thanks to everyone who responded.