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After Sudden Stop Car Won't Start

I’d like to help my neighbor with a problem with her manual transmission 2002 Honda Civic. To avoid an accident she swerved the car and came to an abrupt stop. After that the car wouldn’t start and had to be towed home. After it was sitting overnight I tried to start it. No luck. The engine didn’t even try to turn over, no clicking, no nothing. What’s going on? What can she expect when it’s towed to a garage?

If nothing electrical will come on then the sudden stop may have dislodged something at or near the battery. If any accessories do have power, then something more complicated.

Check the battery terminal connections by hand and with a wrench. They should be tight. Is the battery held in place with any kind of device or has it been free to slide and bounce around? (That is bad!) Is there voltage in the battery? Then check to see (ask auto parts guy or other expert) if there is any kind of reset switch somewhere on this vehicle.

With a 2002, someone may have been too lazy at some point to reinstall the battery hold-down.
The battery may have pulled on the cables during the emergency stop and loosened from the battery post.
Even if you have electrity to some thing, doesn’t mean that there is a good enough connection for the high energy demand for starting.


Anybody here know whether the inertial safety shut off will disable all the circuits?

To the OP: cars today have an inertial sensor that shuts circuits off in the event of a bad accident or rollover to reduce the chance of fire. Check your owner’s manual carefully to see if it speaks to this, and if so if it provides a protocol to reset the switch.

I would suspect that during a panic stop there was a sudden jamming of the clutch pedal and the clutch safety switch is affected. That would prevent the starter motor from cranking the engine.

Try hooking a toe underneath the clutch pedal and lifting up on it as the key is operated.

@ok4450 I thought the clutch would need to be pushed to engage the neutral switch?

To my knowledge, Hondas don’t have inertial safety switches. Edit: see below.

Did you try a jump start? Possible the fuel safety shutoff was tripped, and something was left on to kill the battery.

Check the battery voltage to see if any of the plates in the battery got shorted out to one another during the evasive maneuver.


Hmmm…I just read where a '96 Civic has a fuel pump safety switch. Switch is located behind the cigarette lighter/ashtray console. Press down on the top, you will hear a click.

My guess is the battery shifted and either got shorted to the chassis and is now 100% discharged, or one or both of its cables has broken or pulled loose. A quick look-see at the battery is in order at this point.

@kfenimore, that was a case of my brain cells (precious few…) and thinking going in opposite directions.

What I was getting at is that I’ve seen a few problems after a panic stop that was due to the end of someone’s foot inadvertently knocking something around during the excitement of the moment.
One was a VW in which the cruise control would not disengage after a panic stop. The driver’s foot had smacked the cruise deactivation switch and caused the button to stick in the switch housing which then led to the cruise not sensing the clutch pedal was in use.

Just wondering if something similar could be at work on that Honda. My bad for not being a bit clearer on the line of thinking.

@ok4450‌ no problem we all have brain farts, many times a day for me. I just wanted to make sure that the OP had the correct info. OP has not posted back. Wonder if they got it fixed.