Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Honda Civic, Cold Weather, No Start

I have a manual transmission 2002 Honda Civic. Recently when the nights started getting cooler 20’s and 30’s, my car will not start. The starter will not grind or even click like it’s trying to start. All the other electronic devices seem to operate normally, dome lights, head lights, dash lights, radio. Replaced the battery thinking it was the problem. No difference. If I turn the headlights on for a few seconds, the car starts fine. If the temperature is in the 40’s the car starts without any problems. The car can sit for days without activities, as long as the temperature seems to be above about 40 degrees there is no problem. As soon as the temperature goes down, the car doesn’t want to start again. I was thinking it may be the alternator not recharging the battery enough to give me my cold cranking amps, but before I dig into that mess, I thought I’d try and get some expert advise. Are there places I can take my alternator to and have it tested to see if it is the problem? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Any suggestions? Thanks.

Ignition switch is notoriously bad on Hondas–many were recalled.

Many auto parts stores can load test your alternator for free. (auto zone, advance, etc)

If you have a multi-meter or a volt meter check the battery voltage if the car dosn’t start it should be 12.6 v for a fully charged battery if less then say 12.4 charge the battery and have the charging system tesed to make sure the alt. is doing its job. how are the battery cables check both ends of the cables make sure you have a good clean tight connection. if everthing looks good check for voltage at the starter motor, the large wire at the sarter should have voltage all the time(i believe it should) and the small wire only when the key is in the start postion on the ing. key. if everthing checks out i think it time for a starter motor but if one of the two wires are not doing as i said starttrouble shooting the cercuit for a faulity relay or a pinched or brocken wire. Autozone or Advance can bench test or test on the car your alt. and stazrter for you.

Check the starter interlock switch on the clutch pedal. An out of adjustment clutch could also have an affect on this switch.

A little more information. When I put a meter on the battery after sitting all night at 50 degrees, it reads 12.45 v. In warm weather, I guess that’s enough to start the engine. When I turn the car over, it drops to about 11v and then goes up to 14.4v. WHen I turn the car off, it drops immediately to about 12.65v and within 2 minutes, it slowly trickles back to about 12.4v again. Does everyone still believe it’s the alternator? The battery light doesn’t come on after the car is running, just on startup. Thanks in advance for your help.

The voltage readings sound fine even when cranking. Around 10.2 volts is the minimum you want to see when cranking the engine.

With no sound when the key is turned you need to consider the clutch interlock switch I previously mentioned or a faulty ignition switch.
Some Hondas of this era are under a Recall for the switch but I do not believe your car fits the range.
However, just because a car is numerically out of the Recall range does not mean that it will not suffer the same problem as a car that is in range. That’s the politics behind Recalls.

I will change out the clutch switch and let you know what happens.

I think you have a poor connection between the battery cables and the battery or the other end of the cable and the ground or the starter.

My hats off to you guys for the help. Turned out it WAS the clutch pedal safety switch. A $45 dollar part from NAPA and about 5 minutes worth of work and I’m glad to report I’m trouble free. Thanks guys for your help. You’re the best.