92 Honda Accord starting problem -- sometimes won't crank

Greetings from one of the many long-time lurkers. Could I please impose upon the group to help me with a problem?
My daughter has a 1992 Honda Accord sedan, 145K miles, 5sp, which within the
last month or so has been having some odd problems starting.
At random times, and with no apparent pattern, the starter sometimes doesn't crank. All the warning lights on the dash remain lit, all the other systems in the car seem to have full power, and all other indicators appear normal, but the starter just won't crank. But then if you release the key back to the "Run" position, and then immediately turn it again to the "Start" position, then the starter will crank and the car will start right up, no problem. It doesn't do this every time - maybe once out of every eight to ten times when starting the car - and there's no pattern that I've yet been able to isolate as to when it will do this. Every other time the car starts fine.
The battery is new, the ignition switch has been replaced, the clutch disconnect switch checks out okay, and as far as I can determine the main relay seems to be functioning properly (at least it passes all the tests as described on Tegger's website, and I always get the three "distinctive clicks". Plus I know that it has been replaced at least once on this car, about six years ago.)
So far the car has never failed to eventually start, but I worry that it might someday leave her stranded. My next thought was to try and search for a loose ground somewhere (but where to start?), or pull the starter and tear into that, but I would welcome any other ideas the group may have. I have searched the archives but have not found anything very useful.
(I should add that I had just recently performed a major timing belt service not long before the car started doing this, but I'm hard pressed to find any cause-and-effect relationship, because I did not touch anything on the electrical or ignition systems.)
Thanks in advance,
JimC in Redlands
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JimC wrote:

Solenoid.
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Or poor stater cable connections.
--
Tegger

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
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JimC wrote:

----------------------------------
Moe and Larry suggested 'solenoid' and 'starter cables'. Curly says it may just be the ignition switch is worn out. The Main Relay has absolutely nothing to do with starter engagement. I know a guy who rebuilt his a couple times on a '93. I doubt it's actually the starter, but here's a good thread with some links regarding the CR-V starter, which is basically identical to yours: http://www.hondasuv.com/members/showthread.php?t 252&
'Curly'
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Okay...the solenoid....and starter cable connections. I should have known to check these -- my pappy taught me better than that.
Thanks to all who responded. It'll probably be the weekend before I have a chance to look at it. I'll let you know if I find anything.
JimC

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In wrote:

There's a small copper contact plate in the solenoid/starter assembly that gets corroded after some time, and will produce exactly the symptoms you describe -- intermittent cranking ability. I suffered through the problem last winter thinking the clutch engage switch was faulty.
I took it to a mechanic who quickly remedied the problem by replacing the copper contact plate in the starter/solenoid assembly and have had no problems since.
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Patrick wrote:

-------------------------------
His symptoms aren't really the same. When the copper contact inside the solenoid goes bad, you get the loud 'click' all the time, but sometimes the starter just doesn't go. When the ignition switch isn't firing the solenoid at all, there's no 'click'. He didn't say that it was clicking but not spinning the starter. The third scenario is when the armature / brushes aren't connecting so there's no click because the solenoid has no path to ground, but that one can be dismissed because he said that just torqueing on the key a few times made the starter fire up. If it was the brushes / armature, he would have needed to tap on the starter or slam a door to make the connection work better. Take a look at the thread (and its links) I provided. The schematic really made sense to me once I saw this problem in real life. There's two windings in the solenoid, one to suck it in and another to HOLD it in. Cool.
http://www.hondasuv.com/members/showthread.php?t 252&
'Curly'
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wrote:

Gentlemen,
Thank you all again for the very helpful advice. Unfortunately, I don't have the car here with me this week (lovely and maddening daughter is away for the week) so I can't verify the "loudness" of any clicks, but I will definitely check on everything suggested here next time she has the car home, and report back with the results.
I do appreciate all your help.
JimC
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wrote:

I don't know if the Accord has the same starter as my Integra,but;
I bought a contact kit for the solenoid on my Integra's Denso starter at www.nationsautoelectric.com,it cost $30 including shipping,and I am satisfied with the service.
http://www.nationsautoelectric.com/Nippondenso.html
has pictures of the eroded contacts and instructions on how to replace them.
Some Honda starters have replaceable solenoids.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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