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97 Accord four cylinder intermittent starting problem

We have a 97 Accord EX 4 cylinder with well over 150,000 miles on it. We’ve had some battery problems for over a year owing ( I think) to a faulty door sensor. Unless you slam the driver side front door, it comes ajar enough for the door ajar light to come on. That has depleted the battery enough to require recharging or replacing a few times. So my first question is, how do I replace or fix this issue.
The second problem may be failing starter. During the past week or so, I’ve noticed that occasionally, it won’t crank. I get a clicking noise, but the engine doesn’t start. Yesterday my wife got stranded across town because it wouldn’t start. We left if overnight and I went back today intending to remove the battery and have it tested. On a whim I tried to start it and it cranked fine. I left the newer care there and drove it home to get my wife so we could go back and get the '09 Accord. When we tried to restart the '97, we got a click but nothing else. I put the car in neutral and pushed it a bit hoping to turn the starter motor, but it wasn’t in gear. Anyway, after a couple more attempts, it started and ran fine.
I think the starter motor is going out, but I’d like to be sure before I shell out $178 and spend an afternoon wrenching to replace it. Any advice on either issue would be greatly appreciated. :slight_smile:

The problem could be due to a failing ignition switch. A quick look shows that your car is one those covered under a Recall for this problem.
If the repair has never been performed previously you can have it done free of charge at any Honda dealer.

This would be a good time to have other outstanding Recalls performed. They’re all free of charge as to labor and parts so take advantage of it.

You can go to Motor Trend, etc. and look the Recall up if you need more details. Hope that helps.

The door may just be the door switch. See what happens when you just press the plunger (hondas have plungers, I think). A door switch usually grounds a wire when the door is open. Maybe that wire is frayed and makes intermittent contact. Usually you can take them out by just taking out a couple of screws. It could, of course, also be elsewhere in the wiring but that’s a good place to start.
Perhaps just put the dome light in the off position until you’ve narrowed it down.

As far as the starter, be sure to check the battery connections, both ends. Check the wire going to the frame and the one from the frame to the engine. Also check and clean the fat red connection going from the starter to the battery.
If that’s in good shape, next time it doesn’t start hit the hammer by putting a short piece of 2x4 on it and wacking the other end with the soul of your shoe or a hammer. If it now starts, there’s a good chance your starter is bad. You can sometimes find good deals on ebay for much less than $50 shipped.

Thanks fellows. We have had problems with the ignition switch. Only one of our keys will work in it and it seems to be getting loose. I’ll take it in this week and have them replace it.

Not sure if it is the ignition switch because he hears a click that one would assume is the starter solenoid but if that’s a recalled item, it makes sense to have it done.

@ok4450, Out of curiosity, do you have to have a problem for a recall to be done?

No, there does not have to be an apparent problem to have any Recall done. They’re required to perform the Recall even if things appear to be fine.

Is this a secret recall? I have a 97 Accord that we’ve had since new and I never got a recall for this. I did get two other recalls that were performed.

It’s this one.

Being notified about a Recall is a coin flip. Sometimes car owners receive a notification in the mail and in most cases do not.
Car manufacturers are not required to notify individual owners of Recalls; they only have to put it out there in the public domain.

WOW, I had no idea there were this many recalls on my car. I am not having trouble with the ignition switch or the headlights, but that lower ball joint recall has may attention. I have had problems with tire wear on the front of this vehicle, especially the passenger side front but have not been able to pinpoint a cause. The ball joints all look good, at least using all the shade tree diagnostics.

I tried to open the “full details” at your link but it just reopens the link. Is this part of a subscription service? BTW, I had the steering knuckles off the car to replace the rotors and wheel bearings last year and the ball joints did not appear to be loose. They felt almost like new.

I opened your link in Safari and it showed my the “full details”. I guess its a tenfourfox thing.

Okay, I called the dealership and they say the ignition switch recall work has already been done, along with the electrical system wiring recall. (They looked up the VIN). BTW, I ordered a new door switch for just over $18.00 They say it’s an easy replacement involving a single screw.
So if it’s not the ignition, I guess the solenoid is the most likely culprit. Is there a test for that I can have done without pulling the part?

Does it have an automatic transmission? If so, there’s always the possibility of a failing neutral safety switch which can prevent starter operation.
It’s also possible the click you hear could be a starter motor solenoid click on a bad starter or that the click could be a relay click that is not even tied in with the starter circuit at all.

Next time it acts up you might shift into neutral and try to start the engine. If it starts, then that could point to a faulty neutral switch.