do you have a large heavy key ring? it is common for keys with lots of
junk attached to not return fully to the "run" position after starting.
and in that case, you will quickly burn out the ignition switch
contactors. separate your car keys from all the rest and keep them with
just a lightweight tag, and make sure you turn the key back to the
"notchy center" of the "run" position after starting.
do you know this? or are you saying this because the car doesn't start?
without proper diagnosis, you can't say this. what did you do to test?
which relays?. check:
bad relays are more commonly seen in hot weather, so it's a seasonally
more likely cause.
The key was on a ring by itself attached to an old hotel key fob. Not
heavy at all.
That was a guess on my part but the local Honda dealer has confirmed
this. Sometimes, the engine will turn but there is no power to the
plugs. They said it may be a switch(?) in the distributor.
Car never had this problem until after the distributor was rebuilt. I'm
just working my way backwards to when the problem started.
The service manager said the tech replaced the main relay but it did not
solve the problem. Looking at the above page, I'm surprised their
replacement main replay didn't help. The car did die on my once but
started right back up. Once I got it home it wouldn't start. When the
tow truck got here it would start. Towed it to the local Honda dealer
and it wouldn't start. They tried it the next day and it did start. They
replaced the ignition switch and a few days later it died while it was
idling. They haven't been clear as to whether it now starts or doesn't
but they have not been able to figure it out.
As I stated in my other reply to you, the problem was intermittent. It
didn't seem to be dependent on the outside temperature. It sometimes
would not start when it was cold outside, warm outside or hot outside. I
live in west Texas so our seasons run from pretty cold to very hot.
You seem to be unaware that your description of the problem is all over the
You just said in your previous post:
" The service manager said once
the car wouldn't start then their tech would
be able to diagnose the problem in less than an hour.
They've had it for a week."
That makes it pretty clear the car is starting just fine for the dealer and
they have never been able to reproduce the problem you were having. So there is
no way the dealer knows that the problem is "the car won't fire the plugs" as
Trust me. If you say the car won't start because the passenger door window
won't roll down, you are going to get some people giving you advice on how to
get the window to roll down. That sort of advice isn't going to help you solve
You trimmed out part of my reply.
The problem is intermittent. It doesn't happen all the time but it is
now happening at the dealer. They have been able to reproduce the
problem but they don't have a solution. That's why I'm here.
How about you just butt out if you can't help? I didn't say the car
wouldn't start because the passenger door window is down. That would be
stupid. Roll the window up. 8-)
The problem started when you brought the car to a garage that is unfamiliar
with older Hondas.
Dealers are fantastic for lots of stuff, but not for problems that involve
electronics that their techs haven't seen in 15 years. Remember that 99% of
the work done by dealer techs involves cars much less than ten-years-old.
It takes a, rare, exceptionally intelligent and interested tech to diagnose
a car as old as yours. This is where good independents are worth their
weight in gold: /They're/ usually the ones that know the old systems best.
I've met the tech and he's an older guy. He's familiar with older
Honda's. He's been doing this for over 20 years. I've talked with other
independent techs and I chose this dealer and this tech over them.
I agree with you that it has something to do with the distributor.
I appreciate all your help and if they can fix this I'll be back to tell
you what it was.
The service manager called today and they have replaced the igniter and
the coil in the distributor. And they replaced the main relay.
The car still won't start.
Service tech wants to do more diagnostics, they figure about $300 for
that but he's thinking it is a failure of the PCM which can cost
anywhere from $600 to $900. The service manager will have a price for
The tech is supposed to call me tomorrow and give me a more technical
review of his diagnosis to this point. He's not getting correct voltages
at certain places(?) which is why he needs more diagnostic time.
I don't know if I mentioned this before but when they rebuilt the
distributor, the tech said there was something behind the glove box that
he had to reset before he installed the rebuilt distributor. The
distributor has to be placed back into the engine with the engine set
with the first cylinder in a certain place.
Is the PCM located behind the glove box?
The only other work they have done on the car is to replace the timing
belt and the belts and that oil switch I talked about earlier.
I see you reply quite a bit in this newsgroup and you really are helpful
so *help!* 8-)
One bright spot to all this, they are *not* charging me anything at this
point. All the parts and time are free because the service manager
wanted to eliminate any problems caused by their rebuild of the
I'm hesitant to spend that much money on such an old car but I've got
about $15K in it including the purchase price and all the repairs up to
this time. My concern is the car is going to continue to decline because
it's so old. I only drive about 100 miles a month but I've got to have a
reliable automobile. I guess everybody wants that.
So I fix it and trade it in for a Mazda CX9. Any chance you know about
It's not a "PCM", it's an "ECU". This IS important!
Here is the correct behavior of the Check Engine light ( I hope you are
reading this carefully):
1) Turn the key to "II"", CEL illuminates, and a click is heard from under
2) Two seconds later, the CEL goes off and STAYS OFF thereafter. A SECOND
click is heard.
3) Turn the key to "III". As the starter engages, a THIRD click is heard
from under the dash.
Does the above sequence occur ***EXACTLY***, or is there ***ANY*** sort of
deviation from the sequence, ***no matter how minor***?
Somebody needs to pull the ECU and inspect it for corrosion and leaking
My recommendation? Leave the old heap for people like me, who /like/ wading
through old-car problems, and have some idea what causes those problems.
Cut your losses; dump it and buy the Mazda.
Mazdas are good cars. You will like your new CX9. Plus it will smell nice
inside and have an iPod port.
Honda originally called their engine computers "ECU" ("Electronic Control
Unit"). With the advent of OBD-II in 1995, the name changed to "ECM"
("Engine Control Module").
"PCM" means "Powertrain Control Module". It's a fairly new device that
combines the engine controller with the transmission controller. Your
Civic's engine computer is a standalone (does not control the tranny), so
it can't be a PCM.
Nope. All I know in any detail is Hondas, and even then just the Civic-
you don't need to tell me dude - i /love/ those things. nearly laughed
my organs off the other day buying some lumber. myself and a contractor
were checking out some 8' pieces of studding, and found ourselves parked
next to each other. he gave me one of those sneers to the effect of
"how are you going to get it in that little thing?". he was still
trying to tie down the overhang on his load as i was driving off with
mine, with the hatch fully shut. hatchbacks - the most awesomely
versatile vehicle format ever. combine that with honda reliability,
comfort and 4-wheel wishbone suspension? it'll be a /long/ time before
i give mine up.
while it's almost impossible to help you through a diagnosis if you
don't have physical possession of the vehicle, it would be great to help
you keep such a low mileage vehicle on the road. trouble-shooting the
engine electrics is relatively straight forward. even in the [highly
unlikely] event of it being a dead ecu, they're abundant and cheap in
the nation's junkyards, so replacement will be only $30 - $60.
Yes that is obvious, but that hasn't stopped you from telling the dealer
how to fix your car. In all likelihood your problem has nothing to do
with the ignition/distributer/sparkplugs nor firing. Probably, the fuel
pump isn't kicking on. That would have been something easy to determine
when the car was doing its no start thing.
Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.