1988 Honda Civic DX


My '88 Civic won’t start…I mean, it trys to turn over and the battery is good (just bought a brand new one), but never fully starts. Up till now, it seemed to do this only when the weather was hot…it will try and try, but just wouldn’t make the final connection. Seems when it’s cooler, it will crank right up. But now, it won’t do it at all. Is this a fuel pump problem? What do you think?


If the SEARCH engine were better, I’d send you there; but, it comes back with Everything Honda, when just “start problems, Honda” is tried. Your problem is common to Honda. It’s often caused by the PGM-FI relay under the dash. Part, about $60. Repair manual: $18.


Man, thanks so much! The car started today when I used some starting fluid spray, and ran good…even drove it around the block for about a mile! BUT, when I turned it off and waited exactly 60 seconds and then tried to start it again, it wouldn’t crank. Is that consistent with a bad PGM-FI relay?


I didn’t really mean for my answer to seem like a “silver bullet”. That is, there could be other causes. When the car gets hot inside (it can reach over 140F) the PGM-FI relay often has those symptoms. When the car windows are opened and the interior cools, the relay may begin to work. IF, it’s not that, on Honda, it can be inside the distributor — the ICM (ignition control module). For more details on this, go to: www.tegger.com/honda faq/startproblems.html


It does sound like it, but there other possibilities.


Some of these links seem useful in light of the relay discussion above:



Carb or FI? The carb can be solved by simply changing your starting procedure, no kidding. Read you owners manual for procedure on starting a warm engine.


One more thing . . .if it IS mechanical, start simple, plugs, timing, wires, cap, rotor.


This is a carbureted engine and the description of the problem is consistent with a carburetor problem as well as a bad relay. Starting up with starting fluid and then failing after warming up a bit puzzles me. When you say that it ?wouldn?t crank? do you really mean that that starter did not engage, or that it would not make any power at all?


No it’s not. It’s the D15B2 engine, with dual-point fuel injection.
Now, admittedly, DPFI is almost a glorified carb, but it is technically FI :wink:

I think it’s about a 99.9% chance that you’ve got a bad main relay. 4G civics are famous for that. The other slight possibilities would be bad injector, bad timing, but I really don’t think so.