2000 Honda CR-V is clicking and intermitten starting

This is the 2 wheel drive CR-V.
Two weeks ago I turned the key and all I got was a click. I tried again and it started. I checked the battery terminals, they were clean and tight (battery is only 18 months old).
Yesterday it did it again and this time wouldn’t start.
My ndependent mechanic went to work on it this morning after it sat overnight and it started and has started every time they tried. They even drove it.
They performed electrical computer check including if power was getting from ignition, checked battery, voltage tests to starter(?).
I did some research here and the only thing the mechanic didn’t mention checking and I didn’t ask about was if they checked the neutral safety switch.
Anything else you guys and gals can suggest. Is it possible for a starter to have an internal problem that would cause this?

It is possible a starter motor is going bad, more probable is rhe ground connection to the body of the cr needs attention. Is the start problem only in the morning say after a rain, heavy dew or fog? Is it after sitting many days between starts?

it only happened twice, once when hot, second time also hot after being driven maybe 10-12 miles. No rain, dew or fog. High humidity. No, I drive it every day. BTW, what’s “cr”?

spell check did not kick in, cr = car engine block or whatever, being as it is heat related, ie after driving starter motor seems the most likely candidate. Kind of like intermitten, the opposite of outer mitten? (humor)

LOL on the intermittent. thanks barkydog. So don’t think neutral safety switch could possibly be it?

So don't think neutral safety switch could possibly be it?

If you’re hearing a pretty good clack from the starter, it’s not the neutral safety switch, but probably the solenoid contacts failing. (Solenoid is on the starter.)

If the proper voltages (both starter terminals to starter case are 10.5 volts or more during attempted cranking) are reaching the starter, and you get a “click”, that usually means the starter solenoid has burned contacts and is failing. Eventually the contacts will wear enough it won’t ever start, so it has to be addressed soon. Replacing the starter w/a new one is the usual fix. When this happened on my Corolla I replaced the contacts inside the starter, keeping the same starter in service. That’s another fix that usually works.

It can’t be the neutral safety switch causing this problem if the starter voltages during attempted cranking measure ok.

Neutral safety switch…if that was the cause you wouldn’t even get a click…you’d hear nothing when you turn the key.


I agree with everyone else here. It isn’t the neutral safety switch and the most likely candidate by far is the starter assembly. I think George described the problem beautifully.

The way the starter assembly works is that when you turn the key the solenoid slides an assemblage that (1) slides the starter motor gear into engagement with the flywheel ring gear, and (2) closes two contacts that directly connect the battery to the starter motor through wires large enough to carry the higher current levels needed to start the engine. In addition to simple wear, these contacts arc slightly every time they engage and disengage. They become worn and the arcs produce erosion and carbon deposits on the contact surfaces. Arcing actually vaporizes material. In short, they “fry” over time. When they do this, they generally become intermittent before they become too fried to allow the engine to start.

Like so many intermittent problems, this can be difficult to diagnose unless it happens while the tech is there doing the diagnosis. Without disassembly and visual inspection, there’s no real way to tell if the contacts are bad if it isn’t acting up.

PostScript: if it happens when the tech is under the hood, the typical “test” is to hit the starter. That generally will “jar” the contacts enough to cause continuity, allowing the engine to start. Don’t be surprised if the tech reaches for a ball-peen hammer.

A lot could depend on what is causing the click sound. If it’s the starter solenoid (battery and cables good…) then the starter motor could be faulty.

If the click sound is one of the assortment of relays controlling another function then the starter motor may be fine and there’s an issue with the neutral switch or ignition switch.

Some Honda CR-Vs are under a Recall for faulty ignition switches but I do no believe the 2000 year model is. This involves the switches breaking down electrically due to current flow over the years. Current means heat and eventually the contacts in the switch start giving up.

However, Recalls involve back room politics with the end game being keeping the number of cars recalled to a minimum so it’s entirely possible for a non-recalled car to suffer the same problem as one that is under a Recall.
I’m not saying the switch is the cause; only a possibility. This all goes back to whether or not the click is the solenoid or a misc. relay.

You have gotten well-reasoned and insightful replies which cover very well all the likely possibilities. What should you do? This depends on your time/money/interest values.

The cheapest is to remove the starter, open up the solenoid and clean up or replace the contacts. The plunger won’t need to be replaced, but cleaned. I have done this on a few starters over the decades. I had the time and interest, and I enjoy it. If you don’t want to do this internal work, take the starter to an auto electric shop. They can fix and test it for, I’d say, $50-90.

The fastest is to install, or have installed, a new or rebuilt starter. The rebuilt part could cost $75-150 or more; installation maybe another $100. I bought and installed a rebuilt once, when time constraints and cold weather made it preferable to doing my own take-apart and repair. We do hear of defective rebuilt starters from time to time. For that reason and others I bought my rebuilt locally.

Most expensive by far is a new OEM starter. This has always seemed like an extravagance to me. And I do not trust the quality of non-OEM starters.

Good luck and best wishes.