2009 Civic LX- Trouble starting on occasion. Suggestions needed

Greetings All,

So, every other day or so when I turn my key to start her up, nothing happens. I usually have to turn it two times before my car starts up normally. It began a few weeks ago and would strain to turn over before it would start normally. Now, like I mentioned, it doesn’t even turn over the first two times when it happens. I had my starter replaced and my battery is fully charged and it still happens. I’m at a loss. Any suggestions?

Have you taken a meter to check the battery output to confirm that it is fully charged? Have you checked the connections of your battery cables (posts clean, firm connection at battery posts, firm connections where attached to the car)?

Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, I had the battery checked at autozone and when I brought it into the shop to get it looked at (which is when they told me the starter was bad and put a new one in for 400$). I would assume that they checked all the connections when it was in the shop.

The next time the engine won’t start, with the dash lights on, step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into neutral and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, it points to a problem with the transmission range switch.


Concur w/ @Tester above, if the battery is known to be good, likewise the starter, most likely it’s the automatic transmission neutral safety switch. If you have a manual transmission, instead the clutch safety switch. Not that? Then you’re probably looking at an ignition switch problem.

There’s often some complicated circuity involved in a vehicle’s “start” function, and it varies by make/model/year, so you may need to visit a shop that specializes in Hondas and has experience with auto-electric diagnosis to get it solved. The tech will just follow the start circuity schematic from point to point until they find the place the signal isn’t getting through.

I would not assume that they checked all the battery connections when the replaced the battery and starter. I would check the battery cable connections, especially the connection from the negative cable to where it grounds.

Also Honda had trouble with starter relays for years, don’t know if they still do. swap the starter relay with one with the same number on it.

It’s hard to test because it always starts on the second attempt.

That’s a big assumption about someone who had you buy a starter you didn’t need.


How old is the battery?

When it doesn’t start on the first attempt, does it turn the radio/air conditioner off like it does normally when it starts? If not, it might be your ignition switch.

Hey guys, just wanted to say thanks for trying to help me out. So, this is the latest:
Symptoms: engine strains to turn over or sometimes nothing happens at all when I turn the key after being in the cold for a few hours (it starts normally after one or two attempts). Lights still go on in the cabin and dash. Radio and air turn off as I turn the key.

Remedies I’ve tried: battery and it’s connections have been checked and are good. Checked alternator. New starter put in. I’ve tried starting in neutral with cabin lights on numerous times after it wouldn’t start normally and it always started ok until this morning when I tried and it continued to chug as it turned over. Also replaced the starter fuse under the dash.

My friends says I might want to try putting some fuel injector cleaner and premium gas in. Any other suggestions before I’m forced to take it in somewhere else to have it looked at?

I agree with those that suggested the ignition switch. Not the key lock cylinder but the ignition switch behind it. Anyway, that’s what it seems to be pointing to.

I believe that your description of not starting isn’t electrical if you’re now talking about using fuel injector cleaner and premium gas.

By the way. Regular gas has just as much detergents as premium gas. So premium gas won’t be of a benefit.

Try this the next time you go to start the engine.

Turn the ignition switch on so the dash lights come on for two seconds, and then turn the ignition switch off. Repeat this a half dozen times and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts right up, there’s a problem with the anti drain-back valve in the fuel pump assembly.


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The key dance as Tester outlines has helped my 1999 Civic start on a few occasions over the years, especially when low on fuel and in cold weather.

It’s not clear what your car is or is not doing when it doesn’t start. “Turning over” means the starter motor is engaging and is turning the crankshaft, making the pistons go up and down and the valves open and close, etc., etc.

“Fire up and run” means the engine has been turned over AND it’s getting the necessary fuel and air and well-timed spark to, well, run. Many people use “turn over” when what they mean is “fire up and run” or simply “run” or “start.”

Thanks. By turn over I mean it chugs slowly, straining to start but doesn’t.

An engine can fail to start in two basic ways. 1. It fails to crank — you get no rrr rrr rrr souind with the key in “start” – or it cranks, but slower than normal, sluggishly. 2. It cranks ok, but it won’t catch and run.

If the problem is number 1, measure the voltages at the starter during attempted cranking. Measure from the starter terminal to the starter case. If either of the two terminals measures below 10.5 volts, work towards the battery and find out why. If they are both 10.5 volts or more at the starter and it doesn’t crank, replace the starter.

If the problem is number 2, post back. The solution to that is different and often more complicated.

OK, update. I just started it and now it is making that honking/grinding noise while I turn the key as well.