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Car won't start...sometimes

I’ve got a 98 Civic which I love. However, recently it’s been failing to start 1 out of about every 50-60 times I try. Sometimes it will start if I wait an hour or two…the next day it always starts up okay. I’ve brought it to the shop, but they say they can’t fix it unless they can recreate the problem (and since it always starts up the next day, they never can!). Any advice? Thanks!

'98 Honda Civic, engine?, mileage? Standard or automatic transmission?

Recent tuneups or other work? If so, what all was done?

What exactly happens when it won’t start? Turn key, starter engages and turns over the engine? Or not?

Check engine light/message on?

When it won’t start, do you smell fuel?

Do you hear the fuel pump buzzing (priming the fuel system) for a couple of seconds after you turn the key to the ON position?

I think you get the idea now. The more information you supply, the better the chances of getting a correct solution.

98 Civic LX 4-door. About 60,000 miles. Standard transmission. 4 cylinder engine.

Recently had the timing belt replaced, other than that, no new work.

When it won’t start: I turn the key, it turns over the engine, but it never catches.

Check engine light isn’t on (well, it is, but it just came on a few days ago b/c I lost my gas cap…which I’ve now replaced. but this problem has been around much longer than that).

Fuel pump buzzing - I don’t think so. I don’t really hear anything except the engine turning.

thanks for the help.

The next time it doesn’t want to fire up, pop the gas cap off and have someone turn the key to the ON position while you listen at the filler pipe for the pump priming.

If it doesn’t prime the system you MAY have a bad electrical ground/connection at the fuel tank.

Another thing you can try is spray starter fluid into the air intake, BUT have someone crank the engine at the same time as you do NOT want to use much of this stuff.
Just a couple of short bursts and let the intake suck the ether into the engine.

If the engine fires up then quits shortly thereafter, you’ll know you have a fuel supply fault.

If it does NOT fire up, you’ll have to check for spark.