1989 Honda Civic Engine Dies While Driving

My 1989 Honda Civic engine randomly dies usually while driving. When it dies I hear a relay click sound coming from the area of the glove box. The tachometer and speedometer go immidiately to 0. The dashboard indicator lights all go out. The turn signals windshield wipers and electric windows all quit working, but the emergency flashers, radio, and comfort system blower continue to work. I think the transmission goes immediately into neutal too because deceleration is much slower than it would be if the engine were running and I take my foot off the accellerator. So far I have always been able to restart the engine and continue driving, though it often takes many tries before it will successfully restart and keep running. In an unsuccessful restart the engine will fire and start to rev up but die again as soon as I release the key from the Start position. Occasionally the engine will spontaneously restart while we are coasting to a stop. We took it on a long trip this summer and it would almost always work fine until we stopped for gas, food or restroom break. After the break it would die one to three times in the first 5 miles and then would work fine until the next break. My mechanic says the computer is not storing any failure codes and he is having a hard time troubleshooting it because the problem only randomly occurs. I’m wondering if the problem might be a flaky electrical connector somewhere.

Oops. Dislexic fingers. It is really a 1998 Honda Civic.

Do you have a bunch of stuff on your key ring? The weight could have killed the ignition switch or it’s just worn and bad.

Honda recalled the ignition switches on certain 1997-2000 vehicles. Your car may have one of the defective switches. Call your Honda dealer with your VIN and ask if your car was recalled for this problem. If so, you or the previous owner may have missed the recall and not gotten a new switch. And even if a defective switch was replaced way back then, the replacement ignition switch could still be causing your problem due to too many keys hanging from your key ring.

More info here:

Did you ever figure out what the exact problem was? I am having the exact same problem with my 99 civic EX and would love to hear what the final diagnosis on yours was.

@aweinmann, the original poster is long gone…but check to see if your Honda is covered by this recall, and if so, have the ignition switch replaced for free by