Since about New Years, on the first start up of the day, my Honda Civic takes between 6 and 15 seconds to start after you turn the key.
2 Local mechanics and the dealer cannot recreate the problem, even if I leave it for them overnight.
After a day of diagnosis, they replaced the “electrical part of the ignition” at the dealer last week but the problem persists. It is worse when the temperature is cooler; and combined with when you touch the gas pedal a bit it cuts down on the time, so I was thinking it was the fuel pressure, but the dealer said that was a red herring.
We are a one-car family and I am anxious to figure it out while the weather is still warm and before it gets worse. Thank you for your time.
First off, I’d suggest stop taking a 12 year old car to the dealer. They are expensive and a well rated local independent shop wohld be cheaper and likely serve you better.
Try this… First thing in the morning, turn the key to the ON position but not to START where the engine cranks. Turn the key OFF. Do this 3 or 4 times. Now start the car. If the delay disappears, the likely cause is a leaking fuel injector or a fuel pump check valve.
Buy fuel injector cleaner from the auto parts store, follow the directions and pour it into the gas tank. If it is a fuel injector leak, one or 2 treatments should fix it.
I think Mustingman is on the right track. My 1999 Civic sometimes does this, especially with low fuel level in the tank and a drop in temperature. I learned the key dance years ago; and would only add to wait 3-5 seconds before turning the key back to Off. That way the fuel pump will run (you may hear it) and turn off. Each time you are bringing more fuel and fuel pressure up to the engine.
If it works, and everyone who uses the car knows it, no repairs are needed.
And, if that additive does the trick, try to remember to use a Top Tier brand of gasoline in the future, because it has higher levels of fuel system detergents than the gas that you have probably been using. Top Tier-branded gas isn’t a cure-all, but it can help to prevent fuel system problems.
Try cleaning the electronic throttle body with throttle body cleaner
If the throttle body is dirty around the throttle plate, this can restrict air getting into the engine making it hard to start.
When you step on the gas pedal, this opens the throttle plate and allows air into the engine and the engine starts
when it starts faster with cooler temperatures and/or a leaner mixture (as a result of allowing more air into the engine by stepping on gas pedal), makes me think the cranking mixture is too rich. This could be caused by a faulty evap system valve. Do you notice the car is a little harder to start immediately after filling the fuel tank? This is a gasoline engine, right?
So to clarify, turn it to On, count to 5, turn off. Repeat 2 or 3 more times?
I did this earlier today but did not count to 5 and heard a small mechanical hum, I THINK this is what you are talking about.
Tomorrow I will count to 5 and see how it goes.
@George_San_Jose1 – no, cold temps result in a slower start. Warm temps take as long as 6 seconds, cooler temps take as many as 15 seconds to start
You only need to turn ignition switch on for a second or two before turning it off.
That’s because the fuel pump only runs this long before normally starting the engine.
So waiting 5 seconds gains nothing.
Ok, then it seems more like a fuel pressure or throttle position problem.
@Tester Good to know! So then maybe it is not the fuel injector if that didn’t help this morning? I did On/Off 4 times and it still took about 10 seconds. The tank is at 7/8 or higher, but it’s not name-brand gas.
I’ll try the key thing again tomorrow just in case and let you know.
Where do I find the throttle body/how do I get to it, or is this a mechanic thing?
Follow the large hose form the air filter box to the top of the engine.
Remove the hose from the top of the engine and you’ll see the throttle body.
Pat explains how to clean an electronic throttle body.
That’s probably the fuel pump, back in the gas tank, running. Did it stop after a couple or few seconds? That is normal. When it stops, do the quick Off-On of the key and hear it run again. Each time you make it run, it is delivering fuel up to the engine, and pressurizing it. If the delayed startup is due to lack of fuel or fuel pressure, the key dance will disclose that and overcome that.
If you do the rest, the fuel pump runs, and the throttle body is clean, there could be the off chance of your engine temp sensor not giving good fuel info to the computer for a cold start. You really need a diagnostic computer to read the temp information though but they are cheap.
I just mention that because I broke one off once on the side of the road and it took for ever to get the car started on a cold start.
Update!! @Mustangman @shanonia I think you guys might be right, the key dance knocks the start time down from 10-15 to 6-10, and it wasn’t that hot these past few mornings. I just simply turned the key, rolled down the windows, key danced (waiting each time for the hum to stop) and it started up after about 5 seconds yesterday and 9 seconds today.
So next step is fuel injector cleaner and top tier gas, although I will check on the throttle body over the weekend.
I don’t think any of those three are the most likely culprits. First priority imo is a faulty fuel pump check valve. Fuel rail pressure & hold test would prove/disprove. 6-10 seconds of cranking means there’s still something unexplained.
So it’s been a month. We are doing the key dance, and it’s getting worse. It now takes about 2 x 20 seconds of holding the key to the 3 position. I talked to a friend at church who thinks its something electrical, [despite the dealership replacing the “electrical part of the ignition” (what does that even mean?)] because turning the key does not make any noise whatsoever until all of a sudden we have normal ignition. I put in the key, hold it at 3 while I sit there for 20 seconds turning the key and panicking, absolutely nothing happens. I turn it back to 0, take a deep breath, try again, about 10 seconds in I touch the gas pedal, and then about 5-10 seconds later we start up.
My husband wants to trade it in while trade-ins are still good, but we still need to save for about a month or two. How do I keep it on its feet while we save?
Diy’er or shop mechanic might be willing to buy your used car (at a bit of a discount) gambling it just needs a new fuel pump. Otherwise car will be very hard to sell until the repair is completed. Has fuel pressure hold test been done yet?