Intermittent starting problem with no clicking or turnover

starting
civic
honda
intermittent

#1

My Honda Civic Wagovan has had a starting problem for several years. It’s intermittent and no one has diagnosed it properly yet. Sometimes, regardless of weather, I’ll turn the key and absolutely nothing will happen (no click, crank, grind- nothing. The second time is almost always the charm though as it will start then. The battery has been replaced because a mechanic thought that was the problem- but it still happens. I thought it was probably the ignition switch (sometimes, wiggling the key on the first non-responsive try will make the engine start.) Any ideas? The car is well maintained, gets great gas mileage, but does have 250K miles on it and the ignition switch and starter are both original.


#2

How much does it cost to replace the ignition sw? why have you waited so long to do that? A loose wire at the ignition sw. or at the starter solenoid could cause this, or a poor ground at the battery, either the terminal, lead or point of contact on the frame/engine could cause this, but the clue you give about wiggle wiggle on the key tells me to suspect the ign. sw. first.


#3

Ha ha- I guess you missed the part about the mechanic thinking it was a battery issue. I described it to him the way I described it here, but he’s the mechanic so I trusted he knew more from his training and experience than I do from my books (I’m self taught). I didn’t want to go in and say “change my ignition switch” when I might be wrong. Nice to have some validation here. Thank you.


#4

oh, maybe you could look at my other two posts because it is an old car and it has 2 other problems (one with dying going down a hill and the other a little annoying noise in the dash)… Any help would be great!


#5

One other possibility would be worn contacts in the starter, that happened to my Toyota. Here’s a discussion on replacing the contacts for not much money in an Integra (Civic would be similar):
http://www.team-integra.net/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=15&TopicID=123037


#6

I assume that no warning turn on as they should when you turn the key to the run position. If that is the case you need to check the power getting to the ignition switch and after it when the trouble is occuring. It most likely is an ignition switch problem but you need to prove it first before changing it out.


#7

Ha ha- I guess you missed the part about the mechanic thinking it was a battery issue. I described it to him the way I described it here, but he’s the mechanic so I trusted he knew more from his training and experience than I do from my books (I’m self taught). I didn’t want to go in and say “change my ignition switch” when I might be wrong. Nice to have some validation here. Thank you.

Don’t laugh too loud. Given the intermittent nature of the condition a shorted battery would be more likely than an ignition switch. A shorted battery can give 100% reliable and transparent service and then fail for that one event. You’ll sit there and attempt using the key over a few minutes …and it might start right up and not have the same condition present itself for weeks or months. A problem with the ignition switch is usually permanent or highly problematic, not with substantial spacing between events.

…but it’s one of the next likely suspects… I’d be looking for a relay.


#8

Is this a manual or automatic shift? It could be your ‘neutral safety switch’ is failing if an automatic, or your clutch pedal switch if a manual. If an automatic, try wiggling the shifter when it won’t start or trying to start it in neutral instead of park.

But if wiggling the key makes it start sometimes, it does sound like it could be the ignition switch.