My embattled 92 civic hatchback has developed an issue that makes it take forever to start. I put the key in the ignition, turn it to the start position, and then I have to wait for up to 10 to 15 minutes to hear the click-hum of the fuel pump priming (which turns off the check engine light) before I can start it. I’ve noticed that it’s much worse on wet days, but generally starts right up if it’s only been off for a few moments. I used to just give the Civic ample warning before I need to go somewhere by running out, turning the key to start, and then letting it sit there, but this is beginning to wear down the battery. I’ve replaced the main relay to no avail, and once the car is running it does just fine, which makes me think that the fuel pump is fine.
Full disclosure: this thing also has a bad oil problem. A diesel mechanic helped me change the head gasket several months ago (owing to yet another starting problem, and I’m starting to think it was the same starting problem, and that I blew the head gasket from trying to push-start the thing), and in our efforts, we seem to have messed up the valve cover gasket. There is oil in the plug wells, and there’s some power loss as the engine is trying to cough up the oil. I haven’t replaced it yet because it doesn’t seem to be a critical issue as long as I keep feeding it more oil. I’m not brave enough to crack it open on my own, but my brother in law has a standing invitation to help me when our schedules align.
I’ve done some searching on the web, and the general concensus of the internet (and the internet HAS to be right, right?) is a bad ECU. When I look this up in my manual, getting to the ECU is just a matter of pulling the carpet in the passenger-side floorboard out of the way. Okay, great. Only problem: I can’t find a place where I can buy a good ECU. I could probably find one at a junkyard, but there’s no guarantee there. If I do manage to find one, I want to be able to return it if replacing it doesn’t fix anything.
Fuel pump - checked before we changed the head gasket, came back okay
Starter - I changed it by myself before we changed the head gasket
Ignition Switch - The key is optional, but everything else electronic in the car responds properly when the switch is in the proper position.
Distributor/Rotor cap - Changed when we changed the head gasket
Please, oh mechanical geniuses, tell me it’s something simple…