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2000 Honda Civic - Won't start

My 2000 Honda civic will not start. I does not even try to turn over. Battery is fully charged. Battery clamps are good. My battery charger has an alternator test function. It says there is a fault. I checked battery voltage the next day and it showed 12.5 volts. I charged it up. I did not take long. Dome lights work. Sound signal for door open works. Dash indicator light worked yesterday, today sometimes… mostly not.

You need to check if there’s power available at the starter solenoid when you turn the key to run position

Thanks. I’ll give that a try.

I presume that the spade connector is where you do the test you mentioned. Without the key in on position it shows .05 or so… with the key on it shows .6 or so. The volts range up and down.

You do know that the test you ran…the key has to be in the “Start” position, not “Run”.


If the vehicle has an automatic transmission, with the dash lights on, step on the brake pedal and place the transmission in neutral, and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, it points to a problem with transmission range sensor/park-neutral safety switch.

If the vehicle has a manual transmission, unplug the clutch pedal inter-lock switch above the clutch pedal, and insert a jumper wire in the electrical connector, and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, the inter-lock switch is faulty.


Are you speaking of the various colored instrument panel indicator lights? That sounds like an ignition switch problem.

Mechanics call this a “fails to crank”. There are two wires connected to the starter motor, a thick one, and a thin one. . Both must measure 10.5 volts or higher (terminal to starter case) with the key in “start” for the engine to reliably crank. If both are that voltage or above, and the engine doesn’t crank, then the starter motor is probably faulty. If one of them isn’t high enough voltage, work backwards toward the battery to find out why.

There’s two starter circuits, both start at the battery, from there

  • the first circuit is just one really thick wire directly to the starter motor
  • the second is a normal sized wire to the ignition switch
  • from the ignition switch to the neutral safety switch (or clutch safety switch if manual)
  • then to the thin wire attached to the starter motor
  • there’s often a small under-dash relay in the second circuit, but it rarely fails
  • both circuits complete their loop with a ground wire from the engine to the chassis, then from the chassis to the battery negative.

We tried push starting it. It started right up. Now it works fine. I took the starter to the auto parts store. It tested good. What the hell ?

There’s an intermittent problem. If the instrument warning lights come on intermittently, the ignition switch would be suspect. If the starter motor and its solenoid are 100% OK, then the problem is elsewhere. See Tester’s and George’s posts, above, for ideas to try. Good luck.

A friend helped me trouble shoot. We narrowed the problem down. Batt positive has two leads. We removed the one that goes to the starter- not the small wire that goes to the solenoid- the thick cable. With it disconnected the dash indicator lights all work as did the headlights, turning indicators, radio, header fan, etc. With pos cable disconnected we removed the ignition switch. It worked flawlessly in all positions- except start of course- batt cable was not connected. As soon as the batt pos was reconnected everything turned off again. We removed the starter, took it to a shop to have it tested. It tested good on a diagnostic machine. Reinstalled starter. Pushed car down a hill to bump start. It started right up. It has been running fine ever since. I am tempted to just buy a new starter anyway but I don’t have $170 to throw away. And it tested good. So ?

I read about a relay that lives on the passenger side foot area. It is on the right side of my car- I think. Is this the relay you speak of? I mentioned this to my friend and he dismissed it because the issue only presents itself with the batt pos cable connected. Is it worth taking the relay out to check for bad solder joints that might be intermittently failing?

From what you are saying, something in the starter is shorting the power to ground which is making the lights go out.

If it’s intermittent, the starter could test good and still have an internal intermittent short. Did you try banging on the starter when you are in the failure mode? just a gentle tap…

We did try tapping the starter- nothing. I also think it might be an intermittent short in the starter or solenoid. So far it has not failed to start every time but it does idle fast now. It eventually drops RPM’s when it’s been running for awhile.

Focus on the more likely causes before assuming it is something which is an uncommon failure item. When you hear hoof-beats, think of horses not zebras. Since you apparently have a manual transmission, next time this happens try dithering the clutch pedal position, see if that has any effect. The clutch safety switch failed and prevented cranking one time on my Corolla.

This model car is under a Recall for faulty ignition switches. If this Recall has never been performed you can have it done free of charge at any Honda dealer. The symptoms are failure to start, stalling while in operation, etc due to burned contacts in the switch.

Call the Honda dealer with your VIN and they can tell you quickly if you’re covered.

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