Civic starting problem

1999 Honda Civic EX

1.6L I-4

Battery replaced less than 2 months ago when a different kind of starting problem occurred(slow crank, but wouldn’t start).

Today after I pulled into the gas station and filled up the car wouldn’t start, it didn’t even make any cranking sounds. Lights and everything else worked, just wouldn’t start.

Something told me to try starting it in neutral and it started right up as if nothing was wrong.

Any guesses as to what the problem might be? I’m kinda worried I might not be able to get it started in the morning to go to work or even get it to the shop to find out what’s wrong.

Sounds like the park/neutral safety switch is worn out. This switch prevents the engine from starting unless the transmission is in park or neutral. But since you’re able to get it to start when in neutral, use that part of the switch to start the engine. Then when that part of the switch wears out, replace the switch.


It might be just an adjustment to the cable for the neutral/park safety switch. If you can try pushing the shift lever a bit in park when the car won’t start. That could tell you its just a bit of slack in the cable.

I agree with the neutral safety switch diagnosis and something else to consider is the possibility of a failing ignition switch because the simple act of operating the key again may cause it to work.

A number of Hondas of this era were under a Recall for the ignition switch and if it has not been done then it should be because it’s a freebie.

This morning and after work the car started fine, no problems. Took it to the dealership and they ran the VIN to find out, but nothing came up. Said if it gives me anymore problems to let them know about it.
The guy at the counter said it could be the N-S switch, brake pedal switch, or maybe the starter. My guesses were alternator, starter, or N0S switch, or maybe something going wrong with my remote starter, the guy agreed it could be that too. But, if messing with the gear selector makes it work, then I’ve pretty much diagnosed the problem.

Moving the gear selector to neutral ONE time, and, then, turning the ignition switch to START, and getting an engine start, does NOT prove that the problem is an intermittent park/neutral switch. It could, still, be the ignition switch. The more times something yields a particular result, the easier it is to draw a more accurate conclusion. It’s too soon (too few occurrences) to draw a conclusion.

Well, considering I made this post right after it happened…
I know she’s gettin old, and I’m worrying about the car and what might go wrong with it.