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Honda has intermittent starting problem and door locks malfunctioning, too

I’ve had the car in two different shops on multiple occasions for the starting problem, but the problem couldn’t be duplicated then, of course. Often when I try to start the car and turn the key in the ignition, there is just one click, then no crank. Occasionally the engine would crank, then die abruptly. Sometimes after one or two key turns it would start. Weeks would go by with no problem, then it would reoccur. Lately it is more and more frequentl. Today I turned the key at least 50 times with no success. When turning the key makes the click, the lights and accessories come on, but the engine doesn’t fire. When it does start, it usually starts right up and runs fine. The problem is more frequent when the car has been sitting overnight or for 24 hours or more. It seems to have begun only since the hot weather arrived. Another wrinkle is that after the last time it was in the shop, the door locks started malfunctioning. Now, when I depress the driver’s side switch to lock or unlock the doors, sometimes there is a buzzing noise instead of the sound of the locks. After repeated attempts I hear the sound of the locks engaging rather than the buzz and know that they are locked. Actually it’s only the left rear door that doesn’t lock and seems to happen in conjunction with the buzzing noise. (Hope this makes sense.)

I’ve found some good info on YouTube on troubleshooting a car that won’t start. I plan to take it to the Autozone store to check the starter and alternator and anything else that might help rule out some of the possibilities. I’m wondering, though, if the door lock problem and starting problems could be related due to wiring or electrical problems. (I’ll have the fuses checked, too.)

Also, the keys seem very worn and are sometimes difficult to turn in the locks and ignition. This car is a Honda Accord 1996 4door, 4 cylinder, manual transmission with 146,000 miles. I’ve had it since it was just a year old and it’s been fairly well maintained until the last few years, when I stopped getting the big bucks periodic maintenance checks. I have had it routinely checked for problems and road-worthiness before long trips, though. In the last four months, I’ve replaced the battery, the belts, the radiator, and the AC compressor! My local Honda dealer has done all the work. Though a little pricey, they are exceptionally courteous, friendly, and helpful. They try to find aftermarket parts to reduce the pocketbook damages as much as possible, have wonderful limo service, and I trust them. I’m not sure why the problem with the starting cannot be diagnosed, even though it can’t be duplicated in the shop. It seems there should be a way to locate the source of the problem. And now there’s the problem with the door locks. Any thoughts or suggestions? (No, I can’t replace the car just now :)) Thanks!

I suspect a bad ignition switch as the cause of your starting problem. Common Honda issue and your might have had a recall at some point. The noise is the door lock actuator going bad. Neither repair is super expensive. You can have a new key cylinder installed when the ignition switch is replaced if you want.

"Often when I try to start the car and turn the key in the ignition, there is just one click, then no crank".

This click is fairly loud, coming from under the hood?
If so, I’d check the cables on the battery first, along with the other sides that go to the frame, the fusebox and starter.

Most likely it is the starter, but I would have the ignition switch replaced first. There is also a clutch interlock switch and a couple relays involved.
http://static-cl1.vanilladev.com/cartalk.vanillaforums.com/uploads/FileUpload/5d4e8cec382f5e26e989bb802c28db3d_2361073.jpg

Thanks so much for the feedback! Will follow up on your suggestions.