Irregular Starting Issues: 2005 Honda Accord

Hi Folks,
I’m hoping to get some thoughts on an irregular starting issue I’m having with my 2005 Honda Accord. I would say that 95% of the time the car starts right up with no issue. However, the other 5% of the time the engine will struggle to start and can take 3 to 5 seconds or more in the sustained ignition position with the engine obviously struggling several times before starting. At its worst the key will be turned and held in the ignition for several seconds with no audible attempt by the engine to start and after several seconds of leaving it in this position it will weakly sputter to life. This problem has gotten progressively worse over the last year or so but because it is so irregular my mechanic has never been able to replicate it or find any issues when I take the car in. Here is some additional information

  1. The battery is relatively new and in good condition

  2. The starting issue does not always occur after the car has been sitting overnight or for several days. Sometimes the car will start up fine the first time. It will then be driven for 5-10 minutes, shut off and then have difficulties starting up again

  3. Yesterday was by far the worst example of the ignition problem. The car started up fine initially and was driven for 5-10 minutes. It was parked on a hill and turned off for 1- 2 minutes. When I went to restart it and turn the ignition the electrical system came on but the there was no noise or activity from the engine indicating it was trying to start. I turn the electrical system on and off three times before it just barely sputtered to life the third time. I drove the car later in the evening, starting it twice, with no problems.

  4. Recently we had issues with the car not locking from the remote key. Additionally to rule out that lights were being left on and thus draining the batter we have adjusted the setting on the dome lights so that they never come on.

Any ideas you may have on the issue would be greatly appreciated so I can point my mechanic in the right direction.

This indicates there’s either no juice getting to the starter or the starter itself is bad. I’m not a mechanic but there has to be a reason. How do you know the battery is “in good condition”? Have it tested if you haven’t already. I had one fail after a year and a half. You could have a bad starter solenoid. Or if the car has an alarm system it might be getting flaky and preventing it from starting.

Your description of the problem had an important uncertainty. When I first read it, it sounded like you were telling us that it would crank and crank, but not start. Then later, you made it sound as if the engine would not crank. These are very different symptoms. Can you clarify?


Thanks for the clarifying question. The starting issues can manifest themselves differently. Sometimes it will crank and crank and crank and then start-up. In the example I provided from yesterday, which was particularly bad, there was no discernible cranking for several tries and then even on the third try is weakly sputtered to life. As I mentioned though both of these issues are the rare exception and the car will start up with no problem 19 out of 20 tries on average. Hope this additional info helps.

if your car has a alarm system i would look there. an alarm system as it gets older can give you all sorts of problems.

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You might consider a main relay or ignition switch failure. I have not pulled up a wiring diagram so my comment is general in nature.
Check for a black wire with a yellow tracer at the ignition switch or coils. That wire should have power to it when the switch is turned to both the RUN and START positions. If not, the switch is bad and that has been a bit of an issue with Hondas for decades.

Ask the parts guy at the Honda dealer about what he suspects for this age Honda. It is useful diagnostic info. Without that information, I would suspect a weak starter motor. You didn’t tell us how many miles you have on this.

Maybe a corroded battery cable or cable connection?

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Perhaps an ignition switch on it’s last legs?

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The car has about 93,000 miles on it