Why won't my car start?


I can jump start my car, or pop the clutch on it to start it (02 Civic), but I can’t start it at all in the “normal” way.

Once it starts, it runs with out any problems.

I’m guessing it’s the battery. I don’t know why it would be dying now. It was replaced a couple of years ago.

Any thoughts?



My guess is the battery. Batteries die, some quicker than others. However, you may want to check if there’s any lights left on, or if something else is sucking battery power, even a bit, when the car’s not running. One good way to check this is look at the car at night, and see if you can see any light coming from anywhere - inside, through cracks and seams, etc.


test the voltage at the battery when it is not running, should be at 12v or higher. if it is remove, inspect, clean and reattach the batery cables. see if that willgive the starter enough amps to start the engine. if it still wont start test the starter and circutry


When jumper cables are attached to a car, the connection by-passes the battery cable connections on the battery posts. On your car, the battery cables aren’t making good connection to the battery posts. You can replace the battery cables, or, scrape or sand the inside loops of the cables and scrape/sand the battery posts. Battery cables will corrode quicker when the alternator is over-charging the battery. Have an auto parts store check the battery and the alternator. They can do it on the car.


Some details on the problem would help.
Any starter click sound when the key is turned to the START position?
Turn the headlights on. Turn the key to START. Lights dim?
Manual or automatic transmission?


Hondas and other Japanese makes that use the Denso gear-reduction starter suffer from a problem in the solenoid. The brass contacts can get beaten out of shape, and not make solid contact, which is required to send voltage to the starter motor. Some dealerships stock parts to replace the contacts, or you could replace the stater. This may be your problem if jumping the battery doesn’t work, either.



Thanks for your replies. Here are a few answers to some questions:

  1. Car is a manual
  2. The car doesn’t make a sound when I try to start it. The lights are off; the battery is truly dead.

It does start right up with a jump.

I think I’m going to replace the battery, and see how long that fix lasts. I have 2k miles on our extended warranty, and so if the problem is more extensive than a battery, I want to get it into the shop as soon as I can.

My wife (it’s her car) has been running a voltage inverter whenever she drives, to power various electronics. I know that the cigarette lighter isn’t powered when the car is off. I don’t know if using the inverter when running is damaging to a car battery. If anyone knows if it is too much of a drain, please let me know. As I understand it, the car electronics are running off the battery when driving, and the alternator’s purpose is to charge the battery (I could be totally wrong about that).

Thanks again.


If the battery needs to be charged up then I recommend doing that first. Then have the shop check out the charging system by doing a load test on it. The problem really may be the alternator or the wiring to it. Don’t replace parts by guessing they are bad. If you don’t currently have a charger, use the money to purchase one. They are a good thing to have around for things like this.


Had the same problem on my wifes 02 Sonata a couple of weeks ago.

Would’nt start one morning.

Connected volt meter to battery: 12.8 volts, which is a good reading.

Jumped it from my truck & checked charging voltage: 14.2 volts, also a good reading.

Followed wife to her work 16 miles away & connected my battery load tester to the battery. A good battery will drop to not less than 10 volts. Hers was at 6 volts.

Replaced the battery & problem solved.


you need to re-check your cigarette lighter if you are leaving things plugged in when ignition is turned off,most of todays cars do supply power to the cigarette lighter/power ports with the ignition in the off position. if you are leaving things plugged in that is what is draining your battery. easy way to check for power when ignition is off plug your cell phone in with ignition off and look for the little light on the charger see if it is on. bet it is.


You began with wanting to replace the battery. Several people advised several competent strategies to isolate the cause of the problem, OTHER than replacing the battery. It’s as though you didn’t consider any of the ad visors. You want to change the battery because it’s a simple thing to do? OK. Your choice. It might (small might) work. +++++ me_art12


Thanks for that last reality check. I’ve reread all the suggestions, and have some questions.

  1. If I can start the car by jump starting it, does that rule out the starter or solenoids as being bad?

  2. If the battery isn’t charging at all (alternator is bad), would the car run after jump starting it? The other night we had to get a jump start, and then were able to drive home, at night with the lights on, which was a half hour drive. We only kept the jumper cables on long enough to start the car; we didn’t use the other car to charge the battery for more than a minute.

As soon as we got home, I turned off the car and tried starting it again. Nothing. Not even a click.

What is powering the electrical components on a car when driving? Is it the battery or the alternator? Can even a dead battery run a car, as long as the alternator is working?

I checked in the manual, and the cigarette lighter is unpowered when the car is off. So it’s not draining anything there. I don’t see any other lights that stay on. That’s not to say we don’t have a slow drain somewhere else, with maybe a frayed wire discharing the battery though the frame of the car.

Tonight I will clean the cable connections and battery terminals, and then I’ll measure the voltage of the battery. Then I’ll connect it back together, restart the car (probably with a jump), and measure the voltage across the battery terminals.

Thanks again.


Answers: 1. yes. 2.Once the engine starts, the car electrical system runs on only the alternator (if it’s healthy). If the alternator can’t keep up, charge comes from the battery until the battery is discharged (“dead”). If there are poor connection on the alternator or battery, the alternator can’t recharge the battery. Remember, the battery is DISCHARGING while it is starting the engine. It is (hopefully) recharging, from the alternator, while the engine is running. The battery AND alternator could be faulty. Call ahead to the auto parts store to ensure they will do a battery and alternator test in the car.++++++ me_art12. I’m not A Nony Mus


I wanted to send an update on my car, and to thank everyone for their input.

I made a mistake in my original posting. This was the original battery (5 years old).

I took the car to an Auto parts store, and they hooked the battery tester up to it. During the course of the 45 second long test the voltage went from 12.8 volts down to near zero. So they told me the battery was dead.

I replaced the battery, and the car has been fine ever since.

Thanks again for your help.