How do I know if this is a starter motor problem in a 2004 Honda Accord?

Our 2004 Honda Accord (205Kmi.) starts fine on cold days, but let it run a while, then stop for fuel, groceries, etc. and it cranks very slowly and sometimes doesn’t start. Replaced the battery - still does the same thing. I think it’s a starter motor, but replacing that on this car is about $700 because of labor. Any suggestions on how to verify it’s the starter?

Have someone perform an amp draw test on the starter when the engine is hot and while cranking the engine over.

If the test shows the starter is drawing more amps when the engine is hot for the engine size, the starter is probably heat soaking from the engine heat causing the starter to turn slower.

This is especially true if it’s the original starter in the vehicle.


It also could be a corroded terminal at the battery or starter…not allowing the full flow of electricity to pass.

Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No Crank” situation. Even
if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be
allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be
enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the
starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the
lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.
Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10
Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the positive cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.
Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.
Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!


The voltage at the starter motor terminals (between the terminal and the starter case) during attempted cranking, both should be 10.5 volts or higher on both. Make sure that’s the case before replacing the starter.

Edit: The symptoms are usually consistent with needing a new starter motor.

Your symptoms are consistent with a failing starter, dragging when hot as Tester described above. Easily tested and verified as good or bad if the repair shop has the car long enough to get the engine warm and then have the starter act up while they have test equipment hooked to the car.

$700 seems a little high but depending on labor costs where you are could be reasonable. Part of the intake manifold needs to be removed to replace your starter. I come up with $477 plus tax for a reman Denso starter installed.

I have had this problem on two different cars–a 1988 Taurus and a 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. In both cases, the engine would crank just fine when the engine was cold, but cranked very slowly when hot. I had just had the starter replaced on the Taurus because the starter drive wouldn’t engage. It turned out that the new starter was defective. However, the Monte Carlo was a weak battery–it would crank the engine over easily when the engine was cold, but cranked very slowly with a hot engine.
Have the current draw checked on the starter. However, while your battery is new, it still may be defective. I bought a new battery that didn’t last a day.

Tester is…as usual…Correct. A corroded terminal is not affected by the engine temp… A failing Starter motor…IS. I wont get into all of that but. Of course make sure your batt terminals are clean greased n tight. The rest is up to the integrity of the Armature inside the starter motor…and if this issue is directly related to the temp of the engine/starter motor… You are proving out the issue right there.


On some cars there used to be heat shields to protect the starter motor from the exhaust manifold heat. Sometimes those heat shield would get in the way of some repair or the other and they’d be tossed, the tech not realizing what they are there for. I wonder if this vehicle is supposed to have a heat shield that protects the starter motor from the exhaust manifold?