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Starting Problems 2004 V4 Accord: begins to crank then stops

I’ve got a 2004 V4 Honda Accord. For the past few weeks I’ve been having problems starting it. The engine cranks at first, but won’t turn over and then the cranking slows and stops–over the course of a few seconds. If I let it sit for a second and try it again it will start on the 2nd or 3rd or 4th attempt. But then some days it starts without any problems at all.

It’s very well-maintained, and I just recently splurged for one of those overpriced maintenance schedules from the dealership (though didn’t mention this problem to them because I don’t trust them). Hoses, lines, fuel connections etc. were all inspected. I took it to my local mechanic yesterday and of course it didn’t have any trouble starting while I was there. The battery and starter tested fine, so he was at a loss.

Now it just occurred to me that the only thing that wasn’t checked were the spark plugs, so of course that’s my suspicion–and they are due for a change. Does this problem sound like it could be spark plugs? Any other ideas or suggestions?


“I’ve got a 2004 V4 Honda Accord…The engine cranks at first, but won’t turn over…”

Hmmm…well, so much for confusing us right from the start!

“Cranking” and “turning over” are the same thing.
But, if I am interpreting your post correctly, it sounds like the starter is being starved for electricity. This could be as simple as having someone clean and tighten all of the connections between the battery/starter/ground–at both ends. A loose or corroded connection could be the source of the problem. Or, another possibility is a bad ignition switch–but have someone try working on all of the electrical connections first.

I am also puzzled by, “I just recently splurged for one of those overpriced maintenance schedules from the dealership” and “the spark plugs are due for a change”. That overpriced maintenance schedule didn’t include spark plugs?

You had it in for service, knew that spark plugs were due, and you didn’t have this taken care of?
Are you sure that the car is “very well maintained”?

Also–whatever you do, don’t tell a mechanic that you have a “V-4” Accord, because once he hears this, an unscrupulous mechanic may decide to take you like Grant took Richmond. There have not been any V-4 engines in the US marketplace for…a few decades, and Honda does not make a V-4. Don’t let them know that you are a neophyte by telling them that you have a V-4 engine!

You have an I-4 engine, but for simplicity sake, just refer to it as a 4-cylinder engine.

Clean and tighten those battery connections!

Thanks for the V-4 tip!

I was shocked that the maintenance didn’t include spark plugs too! I assumed it had, and it actually wasn’t until today–right before writing this–that I realized it didn’t (after pouring over the laundry list of less vital things they DID do). Then I checked my records and realized they were due for a change about 25K miles ago… Anyway, I think that’ll be the last time I bring my car into that dealership.

As for your suspicion: I don’t think the starter is being starved for electricity actually. I went out and listened to it again after I posted and it’s not like it ever gets to the point where it just “clicks.” The cranking just fades to sputtering, and then kind of whining…

I’ve been searching the Car Talk newspaper and found this from a long time ago about a similar problem (via Tom): “in our vast (or half-vast) experience with older Accords, hot-start failures usually are caused by a bad fuel pump relay.” It occurred to me that the problem has been happening in the past few weeks, during especially warm weather and so I wonder if this could be a similar issue. From the beginning it has kind of intuitively felt to me like a fuel issue… Thoughts?

I will bet you need besides the spark plugs you will need battery cables. I would change both. If there is more than two change them all. Just went thru this with a friends truck. they looked good till I cut them open and and they were green inside. It could be that when your cranking. The starter is drawing all the power and not volts are getting to the ignition system.