Mystery problem with my Honda

HI, I am desperate for some good advice. I have a 2006 Honda Civic Sedan with 214,000 miles on it. I had a new starter and battery put in last year. I have also had the starter, alternator and battery tested recently by AAA. Everything checked out fine. This is my problem: Occasionally, my car just won’t start. The dash lights illuminate and the headlights/high beams work. There is no click sound–just silence. After several attempts at turning the ignition it will eventually just start up like normal. I have never needed a jump to start it. This ALWAYS happens in the morning, but not every morning. I had the battery cables and connections looked and cleaned by a mechanic just recently. That did not solve the problem. I have been told by two mechanics that it is most likely the starter and I just should get a new one. But I have a NEW one. Anyone have any ideas? The car is parked in a garage and the weather is dry since I live in Phoenix.

There’s several possibilities. It could be the starter. But it could also be the transmission safety switch (if an automatic) or the clutch safety switch (if a manual). And it could be the ignition switch, or sometimes there is an under-dash relay. Rather than guessing and simply start replacing stuff, what an experienced mechanic would do is measure the voltages at both starter motor terminals during attempted cranking. If both are above 10.5 volts, and it doesn’t crank, then the problem is almost certainly the starter motor. Otherwise, work backwards from the starter motor toward the ignition switch to find what’s wrong.

If you have an automatic, try starting in “neutral” rather than park. That might yield a clue.

Try changing the starter relay. I’ve posted a link to images of its location.
Let me know how this works out for you.

Thanks everyone. Does the fact that it only happens in the morning mean anything?

Not really. It’s just intermittent. Eventually it’ll start doing it more often if left unaddressed.

Turn on the headlights before starting. If they dim but stay on when you attempt to start, then you have an electrical resistance problem. Clean something. If they stay bright, look for a defective switch.

Thanks. My car, yet again, would not start this morning. I left the headlights on and there was no dimming at all. The car started after the second try. Thanks for the great advice.

It sure does sound like it’s a switch or relay somewhere, the others have made a good list of what it might be. I seem to remember Hondas having a problem with the fuel pump relay, too.

A mechanic with a voltmeter should be able to figure this out. Only complication is that it’s intermittent, those can be hard to find. You may need to leave it overnight with the mechanic.

The suggestion to try starting in neutral is a good one. If it’s an automatic you’ll need to turn the key on, step on the brake and then move to neutral (N) before trying to start the car. If it starts right up then the switch that only lets it start in park § or (N) needs attention. Tell your mechanic.

Do you have lights in your instrument panel that tell you what gear you are in? If so, when it fails to start, is the P light lit? If it is not, jiggle the stick and see if the light comes on and when it does, if the engine starts OK.