CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Honda wants me to meditate more

I bought a 1992 Honda Accord 4D about 6 mo. ago., 113K. The owner disclosed that sometimes, particularly in warm weather, it won’t turn over. She said to wait about 10 min. and it will start up fine. Her mechanic was perplexed and couldn’t find anything wrong. I decided when it happened to me I would just relax and meditate for 10 min. It happened today, the first warm day, and now I’m concerned it will happen more and more frequently. Meditation is all well and good but sometimes I’m in a hurry. Any suggestions? Thanks, Patrice

Won’t turn over or won’t start? In short, does the starter motor fail to run the crankshaft or does the crankshaft turn but the engine not fire?

If the starter fails to turn the crankshaft, then it’s probably going to be either a bad relay become heat sensitive or a bad starter motor assembly. A tech should be able to determine which by simply checking for 12VDC at the starter assembly when the key is turned. Then at the relay if he finds no voltage at the starter.

If the starter turns the crank but it doesn’t fire, it’ll either be a heat-sensitive main relay or ignition coil. Again, by checking for a signal at the coil primary (it’ll read as a squarewave or some portion of 12VDC, perhaps 6 or 7 volts if he’s using a DC voltmeter).

If he finds no signal at the coil primary he’ll need to start loking at teh igniter for starters.

The problem is that it’ll be hard to do these things things unless it’s acting up. Perhaps he could try heating some suspect components up with a heat gun and duplicate it that way.

It’s not a “starter relay”.
(Edited to add that rripstop has apparently deleted his text in order to eliminate reference to a “starter relay”)

It is the Main Relay (located under the dashboard, in the area of the steering column), which shuts down the flow of electricity to the fuel pump when interior temperatures are elevated. When the windows are opened and the interior of the car cools down a bit, the problem is resolved for the time being, only to return when the interior of the car heats up again.

This is a classic problem with Hondas of that era, and can be remedied by simply unplugging the old Main Relay, and plugging in a new one.

If your mechanic is not familiar with this incredibly common Honda problem, then I have to question his competence.

This is a classic problem with older Hondas. The main fuel relay is the culprit. They have had this problem for years and Honda has not come close to fixing them. Maybe it’s an inside joke…who knows.

I decided when it happened to me I would just relax and meditate for 10 min.

Honda ZEN …man, you’ve got it bad …err…good. Owners of new Honda’s that want to change the oil before the Maintenance Minder tells them …well, they just don’t have it. They need to find a quiet room and meditate more.

Honda ZEN. Closely guarded secrets handed down by monks from pre-feudal Japan. Violating the sacred bond with your Honda can result in ninja mercenaries descending from above.

Oh, I can’t help you with your issue, but I do admire your embracing of Honda ZEN.

Define won’t turn over. Many people use that phrase and it has a number of far different meanings with only one correct one.

Won’t turn over means the starter motor will not physically rotate the crankshaft in the engine.

Some people use won’t turn over to mean the engine rotating assembly will spin but it will simply not start.
Knowing which situation you have can help narrow this down some.