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trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

Posted by better2boutside (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 29, 06 at 13:17

I have a 98 Honda Civic DX. The last 2 times I washed the car, it would not start afterwards. The first time it started and ran fine about an hour after I discovered it would not start. This time, I washed the car yesterday (it was 50 degrees out) and this morning it wont start. I dont have a problem when it rains, nor do I force water under the hood or into the grill when I wash it.

The problem is not spark, the electic is there (ie not a dead battery, the lights, fan & radio all work) When I turn the key, the "spark" and starter engage, but the car will not turn over, not even an "rrr". We put a small heater under the hood (maybe it will dry out the problem) and I will try in an hour or so to see if it will start, but I am not sure how to trouble shoot this.

I was told that often hondas once they hit 90K will develop a distributor problem, but that begins to act up intermittently. The fuse box is dry, as is the cap. I am really at a loss here. Plugs & wires have been done.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

A serious DIY must have a multimeter among many other testing and regular tools..
Your battery should be at 13 volts, no load.
11 volts with the starting load and 14 when running. These are not exact figures, but I have measured mine primarily to determine the useful battery life..

Did you pull the plugs and then turn over the engine to see what is happening ???


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RE: trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

Diagnosing a problem with someones car when it dosen't start really isn't the kind of thing where I can tell you XXXXX is bad by the way you just described the condition or symptom. In fact you contradicted yourself to a certian degree when you said

"The problem is not spark, the electic is there (ie not a dead battery, the lights, fan & radio all work) When I turn the key, the "spark" and starter engage, but the car will not turn over, not even an "rrr".

Your "rrr" suggests to me that you are describing the starter NOT engaging. If your turning the key, and you are getting an audible click at the starter solenoid, but the starter is not cranking the engine you could have;

(1)A bad starter, (2) A bad battery, or (3) Bad battery cables or connections.

Testing must be done to find out which of the three possibilities is your cars problem. Another way you have actually given missleading information is you said

"When I turn the key, the "spark" and starter engage" If your explanation of the "no rrr" is what I think it is, you could not get spark. That is because the engine isn't cranking for the sensors inside the distributor to send signals to the computer that the engine's internal parts are moving.

Don't worry about coming across to me as vague at this point. It's really very common for the information people first try and give me to not add up and I have to dig a little to get them to help paint a picture for me to know that I am definately getting a clear idea of what is happening.

As far as having distributor issues, that is very common with some of the Honda's, and on some models I think they even have a recall in effect. But a distributor problem will most likely show itself as a cranks (your rrr sound) but wont start, no spark, no fuel pulse.

See if you can repost in a more technical fashion, with more specifics.


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RE: trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

Thanks for the replies... I did manage to the car started with a good jump and it is running fine today.

My plan at this point is to replace the battery (simple fix) since the one in the car is original. The battery cables are firmly attached without any corrosion.

I will clarify the symptoms and get back to the determination as to if the starter was actually engaged or not. Even though the car is running today, the problem is still there. So I will get back to you all.

Thanks-


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RE: trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

Amazing, Better2boutside, simply amazing.
I was going to post " Have the battery and charging system checked out as the first replacement battery may be shot by now...

So the original lasted 8 years ???

Good advice from John G


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RE: trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

OK- Let me try this again.

It appears that the battery was not dead (hence the lights, raido & fan). The starter was engaging, but was turning the engine too slowly to start it.

I dont believe that the battery is the problem, but is easily replaced. The Starter would be my next guess. But the big question is- why does it only happen when I wash the car? It's raining again today and there is no problem with it running.

Earthworm- I have not had to do any repairs to the car- so all parts are generally the originals (even the rear brake shoes!) go figure. I have changed the plugs, wires & filters only. Honda makes a good car- this is my 3rd one (all bought used).

As for DIY with toolsno, not my own, but I am married to one and the daughter of one. So I know enough to trouble shoot a problem, do the brakes, change the oil, change a tire, just the basics. I know enough to know when the garage is trying to rip me off, but would rather help one of my men to fix my car.


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RE: trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

better2beoutside

First let me fix something for you.....

I know enough to "think I" know when the garage is trying to rip me off.

In reality, few people understand what it costs to run a shop and have a technician trained, tooled, and ready to service your car. If you don't know what it costs to run a shop, then you really don't know what they should be charging. That quite often means, people want to claim "rippoff", when in fact they are totally wrong in their assessment. (Please no anecdotal responses, I can probably match you ten to one about people choosing price first over training, tooling, and experience only to have handfull of parts thrown at a car and it still not be fixed)

You also said....

"As for DIY with toolsno, not my own, but I am married to one and the daughter of one. So I know enough to trouble shoot a problem, do the brakes, change the oil, change a tire, just the basics"

Trouble shooting a problem, can be one of the most difficult things a tech has to do, it's far from the basics. Plus many DIY's think they know how to do something "as simple as" brakes, when in reality if they suddenly decided they wanted to be an auto tech professionally they would quickly learn they didn't really know as much as they thought they did.

"My plan at this point is to replace the battery (simple fix) since the one in the car is original. The battery cables are firmly attached without any corrosion."

A very plausable solution to this problem with your car, but you should have the battery, alternator, and starter, and cables tested before you change the battery. Otherwise, you could infact be ripping yourself off....

Now we are to this point.

"OK- Let me try this again.
It appears that the battery was not dead (hence the lights, raido & fan). The starter was engaging, but was turning the engine too slowly to start it. "

Excellent, these are great observations, without tools. The possible causes though are still, the battery, the alternator, the cables, and/or the starter. With the information you have given me, as a tech I can now proceed to duplicate the conditions that cause your cars symptoms and test accordingly.

"I dont believe that the battery is the problem, but is easily replaced. The Starter would be my next guess. But the big question is- why does it only happen when I wash the car? It's raining again today and there is no problem with it running."

Why does it only happen when you wash the car? Maybe your keeping the car door open for a while as you clean the interior pulling the battery down? Possibly it's because once you drained the battery the first time, you simply haven't charged it sufficiently for it to completely recover? (It can take 40 hrs with a "trickle charger" to bring a battery back to full charge once it's been run down.) Another possibility is maybe the alternator ouput is low, so that has worked to drain the battery. The alternator could be weak all by itself, or maybe evem the belt is worn and slipping. When this happens, the result is a weak battery, able to run lights ect for a short period of time, but too weak to start the car. There are a lot of possibilities at this point. I would recommend you have this looked at by a good tech instead of simply throwing parts at it. One reason for that is there could be a drain on the battery (somethin on the car not completely turing off) and while the car manages to start most of the time, if you are doing something with the car like washing it, you could be pulling the battery just low enough to have trouble starting.


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RE: trouble shooting starting problem-Honda

John_G

Thanks for the time you have invested in responding to my question. I will follow up with your suggestions.

I do understand that there is overhead, expenses & liability in running any business. I can appreciate that todays auto techs need considerably more training & that todays autos are far more complicated then they used to be. People deserve to get paid for their time. On the other hand- there are alot of dishonest & ignorate people out there. When a garage says that it is going to cost $80 to change a belt.. that is just the way it is. Its not the parts, but the OH and labor.

I do appreicate that you have taken considerable amount of time from your schedule to give me a clue as to what to persue to correct this problem before I end up stranded somewhere. Thanks again.


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