Well-maintained 98 honda accord coupe. 2 year old battery still under warranty. No problems until last Thursday. Car started fine in morning. Drove to gym for workout. Came out an hour later and car wouldn’t start. Couldn’t turn on interior dome light. No clock display. Nothing. After 15 minutes sitting there, clock led display returned slightly. but when i turned ignition key, nothing. No clicking. Nothing. Had AAA jump car. Started right up. Car was fine for four days. Got up yesterday. Car started right up. Drove to store. Came out 20 minutes later. Couldn’t start it. Same symptoms. AAA came to rescue again. Did standard full battery and power check. Passed all tests. Battery. Starter. Charging system. Drain. Drove home after jump. Turned off car. Immediately attempted to turn back on. Nothing. I’m sure if I jump it again it will start right up. HELP!!! What is going on? Thanks. (I live in Massachusetts and it has been cold lately. Below freezing often.) Thanks.
I’d start by cleaning the battery terminals. You can buy a battery terminal brush pretty much at any car parts store and do this:
Just because the battery terminal is clean, does not mean it makes good contact. In fact, Hondas of that vintage can have an issue with the + connection in that where the wire is crimped to the terminal has a bad connection. The bad part is that this wire on Hondas is so short that you can’t easily replace just the terminal - very often that harness may need replacing.
But I’m jumping ahead of something that may not be your issue: first try cleaning the terminals and see if that fixes it.
Another thing you could try is bring booster cables with you but make sure you understand the following instructions:
When you can’t start the car again, using just the black booster lead (DO NOT use the red one – do not hook it up to anything!), hook one side of the black lead from the negative or minus terminal of the battery and the other side to any bare metal piece on the engine. Again: Make sure you hook it up to the minus terminal – NOT THE PLUS! Hooking anything like this up to the plus terminal would be quite dangerous.
Hooking the negative from the battery’s terminal to the engine basically bridges a connection that should be there. There’s a chance your car has that connection missing so this tests for that.
See if that makes the car start. If you now can, you have a bad ground connection somewhere.
You could have a bad battery but you could get yours tested at places like Pepboys and Autozone. Beyond having them touch your battery, don’t let them ‘fix’ anything, though. They will mess it up, if they are given an opportunity. They are morons.
@rl77 there’s a good chance you need an ignition switch
Contact Honda and find out if your car is eligible for the free ignition switch.
If it was the switch, jumping it would not help much…I agree with cleaning up / replacing the battery connections…
@Caddyman I still think the guy’s got nothing to lose by calling Honda. If he can get the switch for free, might as well do it and check that off as “done”
It sure looks like a battery connection problem to me. Good advice above how to correct using a cleaning tool. If that doesn’t fix it, there’s a possibility of an internal problem with the battery, something inside has come loose, or a main relay or circuit breaker is on the fritz.
I should add I had a problem not exactly like this – but similar – one time w/my Corolla, and I traced it to a wire splice inside a huge bundle of wires in the engine compartment. I had to untape everything, which was a big job, but I found a metalic splicing connector connecting two thick wires that looked like it had been munched on by a metal-eating space alien to the point of almost breaking in half!
Puzzled how this could happen, finally I noticed the wire bundle seemed a little wet. It turned out the battery was leaking, and the leak was decanting down one of the wires which was touching the battery near the leak, and continuing inside the wire bundle until it reached a point where it could corrode bare metal, the wire splice. I replaced the wire splice (which wasn’t easy I might add; to reach the solder melting point on something that big I had to buy a huge soldering iron!), then I replaced the battery with a non-leaking one.
Anyway, it might be worth your time to take a look-see if there is any sign of the battery leaking and possibly causing corrosion of the wiring harness.
I had the same thing happen to me once and it was the battery itself, and a fairly new battery at that. The battery tested good, took a charge, but would not provide any current for starting. Put a new battery in the Honda and tried the old battery in a neighbors truck, it still would not provide starting current. Another battery worked in the truck as well.