2000 Honda Accord Stumping Mechanics

Hello everyone! I have a 2000 Honda Accord V6. Sometimes when I start my car, I turn the key and nothing happens. There is an audible buzzing coming from the engine. If I hold the key in the start position, the buzzing will continue and then changes to a loud grinding sound that skips for a few seconds and then the engine will crank and start. Sometimes, the car will crank right away when I turn the key, however the engine will sputter and take about 3-5 seconds to start. Once it starts, there is a rough idle.

This has literally stumped 3 mechanics. I even caved and brought it to a Honda dealer and they couldn’t figure it out.

I’ve recently (within last month) replaced: water pump, fuel pump, timing belt, battery, battery cable, spark plugs and ingnition relay.

Help!! What could this be?

Remove, clean, and reinstall all electrical grounds in the engine compartment.

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Might be a bad replacement ignition relay, So tell us about the problem leading up to this.

I agree with @insightful that this is a grounding issue. @Barkydog has hit on the other thing that commonly fails on these Accords with the ignition relay. One last thing I recommend is that all electrical and ignition replacement parts be OEM. Ignition and electrical are bad places to be trying out aftermarket parts and the Japanese brands are notoriously finicky about these parts.

The problem started off with the occasional buzzing sound. It would happen once every 10 starts. It has gotten progressively worse. I think the next phase will be the car not starting at all.

The mechanic (a friend) tested the relay that was replaced and it wasn’t faulty.

How do I clean all the ground wires? Where are they located?

Could it be the actual starter?

Yes. Given everything else that has been done I’m surprised nobody’s replaced the starter.

Your description points to more than one problem; at least in my humble opinion.

The grinding sounds like a starter motor problem.

The failure to start or rough running could be due to the ignition switch. I’m pretty sure the 2000 Accord is under a Recall for that and if the Recall has never been performed before you could quite possibly have that done free of charge at any Honda dealer. Just call them with your VIN and see what happens.

You state there is a rough idle. Does this idle smooth out very soon or is it continuous?
If it’s the latter you might need to run a compression test and consider a valve lash issue.
If it’s the former you might consider a residual fuel pressure loss due to a leak in the fuel system. This is most often the check valve in the fuel pump but since that’s been replaced…

I agree that I think the starter is bad! I don’t know why mechanics didn’t check this. If it’s not under recall, is this something that is easy to replace on my own?

The rough idle goes away shortly after start and drives completely fine!

If the car failed to start for the mechanics they should have tested the starter circuits and starter but you said “sometimes”. If the car starts while in the service department the starter is working. Did you leave the car for a few days so they could experience the problem?

Agreed with Nevada’s comments.

I checked and your car is NOT under a recall for failing electrical contacts in the switch. The Recall covers the ignition switch interlock function only. However, it is quite common for many models not covered under a Recall to have the same problems and causes as models that are covered. Switches have been an issue for a long time on Hondas. Whether you can change it yourself I have no idea. It’s not difficult for me to do but I’m a wrench twister by trade.

As for the engine running fine after a minute that sounds a loss of residual fuel pressure. The usual culprit is the check valve in the pump but since the pump has been replaced that almost rules out the check valve. It can also be caused by a faulty fuel pressure regulator, leaking injector, etc. A fuel pressure test might be in order to see if the fuel system maintains pressure while at rest. Hope that helps.

Checking the voltages at the starter motor during attempted cranking is where I’d start. If both measure 10.5 volts or more (terminal to case) and it doesn’t crank robustly, replace the starter motor. If either is below that voltage, work backwards towards the battery to find out why.

A marginal voltage at the SM or a marginal SM can cause inconsistent or long cranking times, and when that happens extra gas can be injected into the engine, more than it needs, which will make it start with a cough and idle poorly for the first few minutes, until the extra gas gets cleaned out. That may explain the other symptoms. Just a guess of course.

Well this might change things:

If I turn the key to the run position (not on), turn the key back to off, then turn the key to start, it starts right up no problem. Not even a delay. Quick start. What the heck?

Could be the ignition lock. Like George said, somebody needs to see when the starter is getting 12V.

That procedure can cause the fuel pump to re-prime the fuel rail on some cars. If you got low fuel rail pressure due to a leaky tank check valve, could make a car that cranks ok but a stubborn starting car tostart. But priming the fuel pump wouldn’t help a no-crank problem like you have. hmmm … well, sometimes worn out relays just on the hairy edge of working can act like this. Turning circuits on and off can heat them up enough to cause them to work. As a work-a-round, usually is not long lasting.

No cranks can be caused a combination of problems. One time I had a no-crank on my Corolla and it was caused by a combo of a weak battery, corroded connections, worn ignition switch, worn clutch safety switch, and worn starter motor solenoid contacts. to get it cranking reliable again I replaced the battery, cleaned the battery connections, bypassed the ignition switch start path with a new relay and new switch to start the engine, bypassed the clutch safety switch, and had an auto-electric shop replace the starter motor’s solenoid contacts .

With all that, it is still not quite a perfect. cranker I get some slow cranks sometimes, but only in the winter when the ambient temps are cold. . I think that is caused by the starter armature contacts being a little corroded. Since I’m too lazy to remove the starter and take it apart, my work-a-round is to keep the battery topped off by trickle charging it once in a while.