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Intermittent Hard Starting

I have a new Honda Civic. Most of the time it starts right up as soon as you turn the key. Occasionally, however, it will crank for about 5-7 seconds before finally starting. I have also noticed that if it doesn’t start up right away and you turn the key off, it will then restart immediately when you turn the key back on. In all cases, once it starts it runs perfectly.

I’ve looked around the web (including here) and I’ve seen that many other folks (not all with Honda Civics) have the same problem. Since it’s intermittent, it is extremely difficult to have it diagnosed by a dealer or repair shop. Some of the theories I’ve read are:

1) immobilizer - not likely since it starts so easily on the second try

2) battery - new car, and the fact that it starts on the second try argue against this one too

3) fuel pump needs time to pressurize - why intermittent?, but might explain why it works the second time

4) initial position of engine cylinders - does this matter? doesn’t the position change once you start cranking?

OK, so it’s not a problem that I can’t live with, but you don’t expect it on a new car, and it would just be great to know what is going on, even if I can’t change it.

Possibly a overly rich condition that takes a few spins to clear,present your concern to Honda post back a report.I don’t suggest you lay a wrench on the car.

We sure do get a lot of posts about Hondas and Toyotas with dissatisfied owners,maybe they pumped themselves up to much,(not the owners,the manufactures)

If it is a “new” car, then I will offer my standard advice. It is covered under the new car warranty. It is not uncommon for any new car to have a glitch or two. It is the job of the dealer/manufacturer to correct the problem. Correction includes diagnosing the problem. They tend to do this by the book. The book is written by the manufacturer and it is designed to fix the problems with the least amount of cost, and with some concern about getting it right the first time.

In short the dealer is not going to listen to what you or we think is the problem they are, and likely should, just do it by the book. So don’t waste your time, let them do their job, which they are going to do anyway.

Mr. Meehan has given you good advice. You have a warranty (actually several warranties, if you check the details in your Owner’s Manual or other documents in your glove compartment), and engine starting problems are absolutely covered under the terms of at least two of those warranties.

As Mr. Meehan stated, it is not necessary for you to diagnose the source of the problem, and in fact, the dealership will likely ignore whatever diagnosis you provide. They will go through a standardized diagnostic protocol specified by Honda, and the reason for this is to avoid “throwing parts” in vain at the problem.

So, don’t waste your breath giving the service writer a diagnosis. Simply give a very detailed description of the problem, and if possible, drop the car off at the dealership the night before you want it repaired. By working with a cold engine the next morning, their diagnostic protocol is more likely to find the problem on the first attempt.

The solution to your problem is spelled w-a-r-r-a-n-t-y.

The problem with having the dealer fix it is the intermittent nature of the problem. At most, it happens twice a week. Some weeks it doesn’t happen at all. And this is a car that gets driven (and therefore started) many times each day. Also, someone pointed out to me that the owner’s manual has the following information:
“sometimes the engine may take longer to start because the engine management software is trying to reduce emissions”

Does anyone know what that actually means?

That statement from the manual doesn’t make any sense. I think a technical writer was trying to say something, but, failed. Ignore that statement.
You want the detailed symptoms that you have to get to the mechanic. That won’t happen by telling those symptoms to the service writer. The service writer will severely abbreviate anything you tell s/him.
Write your symptoms down and leave that note on the car’s seat, since you probably won’t be permitted to talk to the mechanic.