'93 Civic with ?Vapor Lock?

Hi all,

I have a '93 Civic Si (it’s red if you must know) w/manual transmission which likes to play head games with me. Whenever it feels like it, either of the following scenarios (which may not even be related) occurs:

1) I drive somewhere so the motor is good and hot. I park for as little as 10 minutes and as much as 2-3 hours. I crank the motor but it won’t turn over. After a few tries, much cursing, sometimes even opening the hood and fussing with the spark plug wires (which I don’t think does anything), I get back in and it starts right up as if nothing ever happened. I could swear it’s vapor lock, except this car is not carbureted!

2) The motor is cool and I depress the clutch and turn the key. Nothing. Just a click, as if the battery is dead. Of course, it’s not because I have lights, radio, AC, etc. I mash the pedal down a few times, turning the key each time, and finally it catches and starts right up - again, as if nothing every happened.

Naturally, a mechanic can’t duplicate either condition (Murphy’s Law!).

So, does this ring a bell with anyone?

Fred in Raleigh, NC

The “cranks but won’t start” is a bad fuel pump relay, also called the “main relay”. It’s under the dash. When they get elderly, they start failing intermittently, especially on hot days.

The “click but won’t turn over” is probably the starter solenoid starting to fail.
Pull the starter and have it tested, or replace it.

You have a bad solenoid in the starter. Since this design has an integrated solenoid, replacing the entire starter will fix this. A lot of Hondas and Toyotas use this Denso gear-reduction design, and this is a weak point in this otherwise bulletproof design.

Have a capable mechanic check the starting circuit, with a multimeter, from the ignition switch to the starter solenoid.