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and now, another exciting round of WHATS WRONG WITH MY CAR!

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Matthew Bryson, Apr 4, 2003.

  1. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Can anybody diagnose a starting problem?
    The car: '98 civic EX
    milage: 79K
    The problem: Not starting. It started out very much an intermitent type thing. I attempted to start the car and it failed to start (no grinds, clicks or any special noises) I turned the key off and tried again and it started and ran fine. Approxamately 50 starts later same thing happened and it might have taken a few tries of the key to get it started. The problem has become worse and more frequent (of course) to the point that for all practical purposes the car won't start with the key. When I attempt to start it the dash lights, head lights, radio, etc all work normally. I can compression start the car and it will start and run fine. I did open the hood and was able to confirm that in fact that is the place the engine is kept. I really let my mechanical skills shine when I checked the connections on the battery terminals by trying to give 'em a little wiggle (the seemed fine)
    I have had one guy tell me I need to remove my battery cables and clean them up (scratch around with a pocket knife) and he thinks that will take care of the problem. I have another guy telling me that with the way it's acting that corrosion is not the problem - that if it wasn't starting because it wasn't getting juice that the radio wouldn't work either. Is it possable to get enough juice to run the radio and lights and windows and such but not be getting enough to charge a coil or whatever it takes to start a car? Anybody have any idea what I've got going on? Any guess on what it should cost me to get it fixed? Did anybody actually read this post?
  2. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Your post is confusing to me. Are you saying the car won't turn over the first couple of times you turn the key, then it starts? If this is the case, you may want to check the starter solenoid.

    If your car is actually turning over, but it is having a hard time starting, then things get interesting. Is this the case?

    You need 3 things for your engine to run, gas, compression, and spark. You can check for spark by disconnecting a spark plug wire from the plug, pulling the rubber protector back a smidge, and holding a metal screwdriver close to the metal tip of the spark plug wire. Make sure you use a plastic handled screwdriver to insulate you from electricity. Have someone try to start the car. While they do so, look to see if a spark is reaching from the plug wire to the screwdriver. If not, then you will need to check cap & rotor (if equipped), the spark coil, and plug wires.

    If you're not mechanically inclined or don't have tools, have a mechanic look to see if you have compression and fuel.

    If anything, you want lack of fuel or spark. Lack of compression is bad.

    Hope this helped.

    BTW - The hardest thing to diagnose (car wise) is a car that won't start.
  3. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Yes. That is what I'm saying. It doesn't turn over at all.
    For awhile it only happened every now and then and would usually start on the 3rd or 4th try.

    I was think it was probably the actual starter or the solenoid - I asked about this and was told that on my car they are one unit and I'll have to replace the whole starter/solenoid - does that sound right?

    No, not that one
  4. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    newer cars have a switch in the shifter/trans etc that stops it from starting in anything but neutral or park.... I had one go on me with similar symptoms.
  5. Take it to a mechanic. I mean jeeeez, do you really think that posting to a Bass Guitar forum will help you figure out what's wrong?

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to call a painter to look at this cut on my forearm :D
  6. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    If it's a standard shift it may have a lockout switch on the clutch that prevents starting unless the clutch pedal is pushed down. If that switch opens up or goes out of adjustment it wont start.

    A big clue is whether or not the solenoid clicks when you try to start it.

    If it clicks but wont crank over it could be an open starter. Usually a brush worn to the point that it doesn't make good contact.

    If it doesn't click at all it can be a bad ignition switch, bad solenoid, open or misadjusted safety cut out switch or an open wire.

    You can test the starter and solenoid pretty easily without removing anything from the car. Simply hook one end of a peice of wire to the positive post of the battery and touch the other end of the wire to the smallest post on on the solenoid. The starter will engage and crank over if it's OK.


    There are probably some fusible links on your car, one of which"may" cause the prob you have. The owners manual should indicate thier locations.
  7. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My dad's '67 Mustang's tranny has the same thing where it won't start if it's not in neutral or park, so it's not just newer cars. It stopped starting and he thought that was the problem, but apparently it's not. Now he has to hot wire it from under the hood to start it. Probably just needs a new ignition switch.
  8. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    Well, it could be anything. But it sounds like a bad ignition switch.

    If your car has a computer(a 98 probably does)have a mechanic see it there are any trouble codes stored in it. Sometimes, if the computer doesn't send the necessary signals, the car won't start.

    Sure, there could be enough juice in the battery to run the lights and radio, but not turn it over. However, you would hear the starter clicking. Since nothing is happening, have the ignition switch, and computer checked.

    Hope that helps. :)

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