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1996 Honda Civic - Full battery, no start

I have a 96 Honda Civic, and it’s been running great up til Monday. I drove to work without noticing any strange behavior from the vehicle. But, when I went to leave for lunch the car did nothing when trying to start it up. Absolutely nothing; didn’t try to turn over, no dash lights, no radio, no electrical at all. My first assumption was still a dead battery, so we tried to jump it with no success. Trying to start would sometimes produce the door-ajar beep, or radio lights, but never sounded like the engine was trying to turn over.

This is a brand new battery, so I thought it was possible that the alternator had gone out and I had just been running off battery until it completely died. So, I took the battery home and put it on a charger. The charger showed it at 75%, but I let it charge to full regardless. After putting the batter back in, I’m still getting the same behavior.

* No sounds when starting, no engine trying to turn over or clicking.

* Random activity from the accessories when turning the key past accessory, though they won’t stay on when set to accessory. They just blink quickly.

* No electrical to headlights or door locks, or windows; though the dome light does come on, possibly weak, but I can’t be sure.

Am I looking at a hard-to-diagnose electrical issue, or could this possibly be the starter? Can we rule out the alternator since a fully charged battery and a jump doesn’t allow it to start?

There’s has to be a poor connection between the battery and the vehicle.

This can’t be an ignition switch problem because the headlights don’t even function, which is a seperate circuit from the ignition switch. Try turning the headlights on and then go wiggle and yank on the battery cables. If the headlights all of sudden come on you’ve found the problem.


Yes, you can rule out the alternator, it’s probably fine. Refer to Testers response.

How do you know the battery is fully charged?
If you are handy check the terminal and engine block connections, especially the ground connection. If you are handy and don’t mind throwing a little money at parts replace the negative battery cable clean all connecting points, test then the positive if needed. I would guess less than 30 bucks diy.

I replaced the battery 2 months back, and checked the charge level on a charger last night. The terminals were pretty corroded so I had to replace the connectors already. But, that’s not a bad place to start. Maybe something was messed up when I switched them.

FIXED! Your suggestions led me to the right solution. The positive connector cables were very corroded when I removed them from the connector. I was able to get it cleaned up enough to get my car home. I’m going to replace the cables next, then I think I’m good to go. I’m relieved that a trip to the mechanic won’t be required. Thanks again for the suggestions.