2006 Honda Civic Starting Problems

Honda Civic ( not a hybrid) with 137k miles has had inconsistent starting issues since last Spring. I had a new battery installed in March of 2014, and it still had inconsistent starting issues. It acted as if it wanted to turn over, and then finally would after 2 or 3 turns of the key. Some days it started just fine, too. The mechanics that replaced the battery said that they battery was fine and then they could not find any issues. It still continued and I brought it to a different mechanic after a jump 6 weeks after the new battery was installed. They put a new starter in, and said that the seams or seals were worn and drawing too much power from the battery. That starter was replaced in May. Once again, and over the last couple of days the car is not wanting to start. It is cranking, but takes 2 or 3 turns of the key. Sometimes it has started just fine, and it started for the mechanics just fine this morning.

Simple things I’ve ruled out: regular oil changes, a full tank of gas, not sitting outside in cold weather, and not sitting for long periods of time. An idea is that something might be drawing a current from the battery while the car is off.

Thanks for any ideas!
Portland, Oregon

The next time it doesn’t start the first try, turn the key to OFF, then to RUN (not START) and you’ll hear the fuel pump run behind you. It will stop in 2 seconds. Turn key to OFF and repeat turning to RUN two more times. This primes the fuel system. If it then starts on the next try, it sounds like a weak fuel pump.

Wow! Thanks!! I will give it a try.

I concur with Insighful’s suggestion. This has happened with my 1999 Civic and the key dance has always done the trick.

If the engine has always turned over (that is, spun by the starter motor when you turn the key to Start) there was no fault with the starter motor. Even if the engine doesn’t fire up and run, if the starter motor is turning over the engine, it is OK.

If the starter motor is running very slowly, that’s usually the sign of a weak battery. It doesn’t happen so much any more, but people used to wear the battery down (discharge it) trying to start carbureted cars on very cold days. When that happened, the starter would no longer turn over the engine and you needed a jump, or to restore the battery using a battery charger.

My guess is your battery has not been too discharged to run the starter motor, and that getting a jump started the car only coincidentally.

The failure to start could be a weak fuel pump, but I think it’s more likely that the fuel system loses pressure, so there’s little or no fuel being delivered at the moment the starter starts running. Doing the key dance makes the fuel pump run each time you go from Off to Run, stopping short of going to Start. After a couple or few cycles, there’s plenty of fuel pressure and fuel is delivered to the engine when you finally go to Start. And it starts!