94 Civic EX inconsistent starting + overheating

starting
overheating
coolant
civic
honda

#1

3 days ago: My 1994 Honda Civic EX 1.6L sat in parking lot for 12 days. Try to start car & engine won’t go (i.e. I turn the key and it revs “rrrrr” - but if I let off the key it just dies and if I keep on the key it just keeps “rrrr”-ing… I get waay farther than a clicking problem). A couple times it sounds like it is going to kick in, but no.



I change spark plugs. Had put 15k miles on since buying car used - it has 175K total, previous owner was from Mongolia and new nothing about cars, so I figure this is probably needed anyway. Besides the car had been idling weird for a couple weeks, RPMs strangely kicking up to a little over 2 and back down about every second before car warmed up. And the old spark plugs looked pretty beat up anyway.



This didn’t work, so I go read up for 2 hours and develop some hypotheses. Go back out to car. Figured I’d stick the key in the ignition and give it a try… and… car starts fine.



Car is fine for next 24 hours.



2 days ago: Wife goes to grocery store. Car starts overheating. She turns off the engine and … same starting problem when she tries to turn it back on. Buys coolant and fills up reservoir which was mostly, but not completely, empty. Tries to start car again… it starts fine. Doesn’t overheat on 35 mph 3 mile drive home



1 hr. later: Wife drives to pick me up from train station (another 35 mph/3 mile drive). Car starts to overheat again. She turns on fans and it goes down. I get in car and temp gauge is halfway up but radiator not kicked in. Give it more coolant so reservoir is at max line (it was below). Radiator finally kicks in while doing this. Drive home. Discover reservoir is much lower. Fill it back up. Starts to rain. Call it a day.



Yesterday: Let car sit in driveway. Come home from work. Go to troubleshoot cooling system (reservoir still full), and… same problem starting the car.



Checked oil to see if head gasket problem, but oil is fine. Also, the ignition coil is only a few months old as are all the radiator hoses.



Is it possible the starting issue and coolant issue are related? What are the odds of two things going bad at once when the car had been more or less fine before sitting for 12 days?



Basically, I am a man of limited time, income and knowledge. I knew little about cars before getting this car (I was a public transit type), but since purchase have had no trouble replacing master/slave clutch cylinder, muffler, radiator hoses, and changing oil… so I guess I am a quick learner and reasonably competent. I don’t have hours on end to troubleshoot this thing (I’m working this weekend and get up at crack of dawn to catch the public transit, leaving me with a few hours in the evening before it gets dark) and am reluctant to pay a mechanic unless I have to, so I was hoping for a little advice.



Thanks and sorry for the long story (don’t know how else to explain without giving all the details if there is a relationship between the problems).