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2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting


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jblake1103
New User

Jan 20, 2017, 5:59 PM

Post #1 of 10 (705 views)
2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

2002
Honda
Civic LX
1.7 SOHC (D17A1)
177,xxx miles

Every few months my civic has trouble starting. I will turn the key and the engine cranks and sounds exactly like it normally does when it successfully starts, except that it won't actually "catch" and start.

I then let the car sit for approximately 10 seconds and try to start it again. On the second attempt it always starts. However, once I release the key the RPM's fall very low (roughly half of idle... maybe around 500 or so rpm) and the car sounds like it going to die for a second or two. Then, without me doing anything, the RPM's go back to normal idle and stay at idle. Then the car drives just fine.

Every single time the car has had trouble starting it follows this pattern.

I can go for several months without this issue coming up. But when the issue comes up, it happens roughly 5-10% of the time I start the vehicle. It can happen 2 times in one day and then not happen again for a week. It SEEMS like it happens more often on shorter trips (1-2 miles) than longer trips, however it may just seem that way. After several weeks of having this trouble, the issue goes away and the car starts fine for several months in a row with no trouble. This cycle has been going on for approximately 5,000-10,000 miles.

Since the trouble is intermittent, unpredictable, and since the car does end up starting it has been very difficult to do any diagnostic work. The CEL is not on. Once the car is started, it seems to run just fine. The car has never stalled while driving. The issue happens both in colder/winter temperatures (35+ degrees), and hotter/summer temperatures (105 degrees). It does seem to happen more often in colder temperatures though.

In case it is relevant, the car has a relatively new battery, alternator, and spark plugs (all within the last 10,000-25,000 miles).

Thank you in advance for your help. It is greatly appreciated.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jan 21, 2017, 5:07 AM

Post #2 of 10 (680 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

Check for codes even if no warning light is on there may still be something pending to help.
Since this can go many times without a problem at all it's possible to escape an accurate diagnosis unless you could catch it in the act. I would suspect by description that fuel pressure isn't up to par or is lost too fast upon shut down hard to prove without watching that when it happens if no other clues or codes can help,


T



jblake1103
New User

Jan 21, 2017, 7:56 PM

Post #3 of 10 (666 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

After going a few months without the problem, it happened this evening.

I just checked for pending codes and there are none. I will do some research into fuel pressure, thanks. In case it matters, once the car starts it smells like raw fuel and smells like its running rich for 10 seconds or so.

Do you think it could be the crankshaft position sensor?

Also, if it would help, I can start an audio recording every time I drive the car until the issue happens and then post it. Let me know.


(This post was edited by jblake1103 on Jan 21, 2017, 7:58 PM)


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jan 22, 2017, 1:38 AM

Post #4 of 10 (647 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

Quote you from top post ">On the second attempt it always starts. However, once I release the key the RPM's fall very low (roughly half of idle... maybe around 500 or so rpm) and the car sounds like it going to die for a second or two. Then, without me doing anything, the RPM's go back to normal idle and stay at idle. Then the car drives just fine.<"


That's a tough spot to be in as it quickly runs fine which is it's own problem to diagnose. The fuel odor isn't conclusive of anything unless you see fuel dripping or something.


You could try for a better more comprehensive code reading it really should have but might not otherwise it may need to say broken or play hide and seek with you or techs if it all checks out fine in front of them.


Parts tossing as a guessing game is both costly and IMO then question that swap really worked or failed if it happens ever again so AYOR and wallet on that approach.


Your call on tossing possible items I'll just suggest do ONE thing at a time not more or many at once so you better know that this intermittent issue is really fixed AND which was the real culprit.


Perhaps another tech's inspection may find something overlooked that could help? I can't fix what isn't broken in front of me without more clues or info or it's totally guessing,


T



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jan 22, 2017, 5:31 AM

Post #5 of 10 (641 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In


Quote
After going a few months without the problem, it happened this evening.



That is going to be about impossible to diagnose properly. Proper diagnosis can only be done while the problem is present. If you can't easily duplicate the problem, you can't diagnose it.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jan 22, 2017, 7:03 AM

Post #6 of 10 (637 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

Thanks HT. My frustration exactly. I can only think of looking for a lousy connection of something visually noticed and still wouldn't be sure?


T



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jan 22, 2017, 7:09 AM

Post #7 of 10 (631 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

As much as i don't like it, I will throw one wild guess out there.

This generation of Honda had a lot of trouble with the main relay, especially in hot weather.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



jblake1103
New User

Jan 22, 2017, 2:25 PM

Post #8 of 10 (614 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

Thanks for the help guys.

Tom, when you say "you could try for a better more comprehensive code reading" what do you mean? I am currently using a $20 OBDII reader I purchased online... Should I borrow a better one? FYI, even though it is a cheap one, it claims it is able to give pending codes.

I will hold off on replacing the crank position sensor since it is a lot of work to change that out in my apartment's parking lot, especially in the winter.

As far as the main relay goes, I will look into that and definitely keep it in mind if I decide to play the guessing game. And if it does come down to the guessing game, I will keep your advice in mind and only change one part at a time.


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jan 22, 2017, 2:27 PM

Post #9 of 10 (610 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

Here is the right way to do it.



All "crank, no start" conditions are approached in the same way. Every engine requires certain functions to be able to run. Some of these functions rely on specific components to work and some components are part of more than one function so it is important to see the whole picture to be able to conclude anything about what may have failed. Also, these functions can ONLY be tested during the failure. Any other time and they will simply test good because the problem isn't present at the moment.
If you approach this in any other way, you are merely guessing and that only serves to replace unnecessary parts and wastes money.



Every engine requires spark, fuel and compression to run. That's what we have to look for.

These are the basics that need to be tested and will give us the info required to isolate a cause.

1) Test for spark at the plug end of the wire using a spark tester. If none found, check for power supply on the + terminal of the coil with the key on.


2) Test for injector pulse using a small bulb called a noid light. If none found, check for power supply at one side of the injector with the key on.


3) Use a fuel pressure gauge to test for correct fuel pressure, also noticing if the pressure holds when key is shut off.

4) If all of these things check good, then you would need to do a complete compression test.

Once you have determined which of these functions has dropped out,
you will know which system is having the problem.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jan 23, 2017, 1:01 AM

Post #10 of 10 (591 views)
Re: 2002 Honda Civic - Occasional trouble starting Sign In

Just to answer a specific question: Quote "> Tom, when you say "you could try for a better more comprehensive code reading" what do you mean? I am currently using a $20 OBDII reader I purchased online... Should I borrow a better one?< "


$20 code reader! Try mega thousands, live data with screen capture ability. That's the issue with getting no info as yours can't. Better may not either.


Of note: I don't know folks who would let you borrow such costly equipment ($4,000 on way up) rather a shop use their own and a cost for the time and use of it.
That's all for this post, Tom






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