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Civic won't turn off HELP!

Dear car talk,
I have a 1995 Honda civic. It blew the pgm-fi fuse after installing a working horn. Then the car wouldn’t turn off. It was In Park I removed the key and the engine and brake lights were still on. When I completely disconnect the gauge assembly the car will then shut off with the key. When the gauge assembly is connected engine won’t shut off, brake lights stay on and speedometer won’t work. I read a few tips in an online form- I tried unplugging the alternator while car was in off position (engine still running) this had no effect. This is a daily driver so I need help as quickly as possible. Thank you mary & michael hawkins phoenix, AZ

First off, suggest to not disconnect the alternator or the battery when the engine is running. The electrical spike that results could damage the car’s circuitry, esp the engine computer.

When you turn the key off, that should disconnect the power from the battery to the engine, so the engine shouldn’t be able to continue to run. Since it is, it seems like the problem is from among

  • faulty ignition switch
  • a major engine relay sticking in the “on” position
  • there’s circuitry conducting current connected somewhere that shouldn’t be, first suspect would be something associated with the horn re-wiring

There’s usually test points a shop would probe with a volt meter with the ignition key in all three positions, one by one, off, acc, on, start. that’s probably the place to start. Do you have a wiring schematic for this car you could post a link to?

First, remove the “working horn”

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Well…you can avoid all those shenannigans by simply unplugging the main PGM/Fi relay… Then… remove all traces of your horn “fix”…then…move on to verifying the ignition switch and its wires. My guess? You somehow managed to send power to the main relay constantly…instead of switched. Either you did this or some sort of failure occurred within the ignition switch…

Not hard to figure out really… Just remove your horn stuff… and suss out the wires at the column from the ignition. Replace the main PGM/fi relay as well. This should sort you out right quick…or at least thats what I would do…


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A short somewhere in the guage assembly my guess. I tapped in a power point off leads for the 2 way radio on a van at work, If the rechargeable spotlight was plugged in the van would not shut off, some kind of alternate route that kept the ignition hot, is the horn oem? Other issues that you were removing the cluster for?

hey sorry didn’t reply to anyone sooner…been long 2 weeeks at my job. thanks for everyones responses here is where I am at…
I disconnected the horn and yes its oem.
I checked the distributor coil ICM and the resistance is reading normal. The PGM-fi relay was bad and I just replaced that. However it isn’t starting, doesn’t have spark. The fuel pump engages and I’m not sure what to do next. When I turn the key to the on position and jumped the computer it says ignition output problem. The brights turn on and stay on and the SRS light is blinking as well.

Any advice would be appreciated. I’ll be off for the weekend and keep an eye on this trying to get it fixed asap.

Well determine why you arent able to start… It will be either spark or fuel…once you know…you can then go after the culprit… The Cam sensor will trigger the fuel injectors…and the crank sensor will trigger the spark…you also need a good ICM as well… A very common failure on these vehicles. That control module inside the distributor fails most often… Ive had little luck using a resistance reading as the determining factor. Most people just buy a new distributor with a new ICM or Ignitor already installed. When you get a new distributor complete…you get all new everything including cap and rotor and some models have the coil internal to the distributor as well…so…it winds up being cheaper to replace the distributor even tho only one component has failed.

Let us know why it isnt starting… Fuel or Spark


OP, do you know how to test for spark at the spark plugs?

thank you for your response. We did purchase an ICM on ebay. Is there a chance that it isn’t good? How would we know? Sorry this is Mary and I’m not very big in automobile subject. Should we get new ICM and complete distributor?

OP, repair by parts replacement doesn’t work w/modern electronic fuel-injected cars like it used to work with carbureted cars of the past. The problem is entirely practical: You run out of money before you run out of ideas what to replace next. If you’d like to do the replacement work yourself, fine, but have a proper diagnosis made first by a good shop. Then you can replace the parts they tell you to yourself if you like.

Alright sorry it’s been awhile. I wanted to reach out to the community and let them know I got the honda to finally start. I used a light tester and insoected the power from the distributor to the ECU all the way to the ignition switch and Back Again to find where it was losing the power. I found wires that we’re not fastened correctly.
I no longer have a code 15 when I test the car BUT NOW I have a code 9. The wires running to the ICM and coil no longer have their plastic casings. (coil wires?) that’s what I’m calling them I don’t know their actual name.
The issue I’m running into now is the car is running and I can’t find where to purchase these wires at without getting a hole distributor. Does anybody know where I can find these wires at or what their actual product name is.i will attach an image of the said wires.
I’m certain that the attachments I need are able to be purchased individually. I do not know the exact name so that would be helpful as well. Anybody who has more information on this subject please let me know. A website to purchase them at would be wonderufl or their exact name. Thanks again for all your help
*** yes I have considered going to junk yards but my issue I’m running into is that distributor is usually the first thing

Phoenix, Arizona

hey can you look at the last post I made and see if you have any suggestions?

Those wires you’ve circled look like they are low voltage wires. So you can replace them with any wire you like, as long as it is the same gauge and type (stranded likely). If it is those red casings you’re concerned about b/c they are no longer intact, you can purchase some heat shrink tubing to replace them. I expect that should work ok.

imo however you’d be better off to purchase a replacement distributor if the existing one is original to the car. Make sure it comes w/all new internal components, which will include new wires properly insulated. Distributors are wearing items like anything else that has moving parts.

What does a Honda code OBD I “9” mean btw ? It might have nothing to do with the ignition system.

After fixing the original no start issue the check engone engine light is now on.

I took to autozone to do diagnostic it read code 9 which is-no.1 cylinder position (cyp) my Haynes repair book said check Cyp sensor and the circuit.

Now the engine feels bogged when driving it.
What would you suggest for fixing check engine light?

After fixing the original no start issue the check engone engine light is now on.

I took to autozone to do diagnostic it read code 9 which is-no.1 cylinder position (cyp) my Haynes repair book said check Cyp sensor and the circuit.

Now the engine feels bogged when driving it.
What would you suggest for fixing check engine light?

From what I can tell the cyp sensor on your car tells the engine computer where the piston is on the number one cylinder. It’s the equivalent of the crank position sensor in other words. On newer cars this is a sensor located in the flywheel area, but on your is probably done by sensing the rotation position of the distributor shaft. That cyp coil in other words in the photo you provided. the “P” in cyp probably means “pickup” as it “pick’s up” (via the principle of magnetic induction) the location of a small magnet on he distributor shaft as it rotates past the coil . So you’re looking at a problem with the cyp rotor, or the cyp coil, or the spacing between the two, or the wiring from the cyp coil to wherever it goes. Or the grounding of the coil.

The engine computer uses that position info to set the spark timing. That’s probably why the engine feels to be bogging, the spark timing is too far retarded. The computer would fail-safe that way, as too far retarded is just annoying, too far advanced could damage the engine.