Honda Civics are one of the most reliable compact cars on the market. The Civic has been around since the early 1970s and is one of Honda’s best-selling vehicles. Like any other car, though, a Civic can experience mechanical issues. One of those issues is an engine that won’t start. There’s rarely a convenient time for your car not to start. If your Honda Civic won't turn over (start) – do you know what to do?
A Honda Civic that won’t start is likely to have an issue with the battery, the alternator or the starter. If you crank the engine and your Civic won’t turn over—the engine won’t start—a good place to start is with the battery. If you have jumper cables, find a fellow driver and try to jump-start the car. If your Civic doesn’t start, it’s time to have the vehicle towed and checked out by a professional. Your local trusted mechanic or dealer can run diagnostics on the car and troubleshoot the problem.
There are many potential reasons for a car not to start. Read on in this post as we discuss no start reasons in a bit more detail. We'll also cover what you should do in each situation.
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Get to Know Your Engine
It might seem silly, but it’s essential to get to know how your car sounds and feels when you are starting it and driving it. Sure, there are alert lights like check engine or fuel pressure that come on when the car’s computer senses a problem, but you know your vehicle, or you should.
When your Civic doesn’t start, here’s what you need to consider and what to do:
- The battery: As you crank the car and don’t hear a response, it might mean a dead battery. The best way to check out the battery is to connect some jumper cables to the battery and try to give the engine a jump. If your Civic starts, let it charge a few minutes and head to your mechanic. The issue is likely a dying battery. If you have a roadside assistance service, they might provide help with a jump or even a new battery on the spot.
- The alternator: When you turn the key in the ignition and hear a click or a growl but no response from the engine, it might mean a failed alternator. Try to jump-start the battery. If your Civic starts, perhaps the alternator is merely having trouble recharging the battery. If the car is holding a charge, head to the dealer or mechanic for further evaluation, if the charge isn’t sticking, contact a tow service or a roadside assistance service for a tow.
- The starter: Your starter might be broken if you hear a clicking noise while failing to crank your engine. If you jump the battery and there is no response, it’s likely an issue with the starter. Your Civic will need to be towed to the dealer or a local mechanic. Call a towing company for a tow and a ride. Or if you are a member of a roadside assistance service, give them a call and get your car serviced as soon as possible.
Can a Main Relay Cause No Spark?
Honda’s main relay is responsible for sending power to the engine’s computer. A main relay also controls the fuel pump, supplying power to the fuel injectors. A Civic engine that does turn over but dies quickly could be related to a main relay issue.
A problematic main relay can prevent an engine from cranking. A failing relay can cause the fuel pressure to drop, which leads to the failed start. The main relay controls fuel, though, not the spark.
If a fuel pump doesn’t prime, and there isn’t a spark, there could be an issue with the main relay. But if there is only a lack of spark, there is likely another culprit causing the problem. You should have the timing belt or distributor checked out.
What are the Symptoms of a Bad Starter?
Your car’s starter is powered by a battery and is responsible for getting your car running. If the starter doesn’t work, your car won’t start.
As follows is a list of common symptoms for a bad starter:
- Clicking noise: Get to the know the normal sounds of your car on start-up. If you hear clicking, whirring, or grinding sounds when you turn the key or push the start button, and the engine doesn’t turn over, it could be the result of a failed starter.
- Lights but no engine: Once you crank your car, the engine should start, and the dashboard lights should come on. If you have lights, but the engine doesn’t turn on, the started could be dead.
- Jumpstart doesn’t work: Jumping your engine with battery cables should do the trick and start your engine. If you have jumped the car and the engine doesn’t crank, your starter might need to be replaced.
- Smoke from the engine: Cars have complicated electrical systems that can overheat. Multiple failed efforts in trying to start your car might cause the starter to get too hot. Any indication of smoke means it’s time to call for help.
- Oil leak: If the oil is leaking from your engine and finds its way to the starter, it can cause the starter to fail. You should head to your mechanic and have the situation assessed.
In addition to the symptoms above, it's a good idea to check out the connections around your starter. Loose or corroded connections can also be one of the reasons your starter might not kick in one day.
Why Won't My Honda Civic Start When It Has Spark And Fuel?
If your Civic has fuel and the ignition is getting a spark, but the engine still won’t crank, there could be an issue with airflow. Your car needs air in addition to spark and fuel to properly start.
We break down a few potential issues below:
- Fuel filter: A clogged fuel filter can prevent the proper amount of fuel from getting to your Civic. The engine might crank, but it won’t start. Fuel filters should be changed every 20,000 miles. Head to your mechanic and have them check out the filter and replace it if needed.
- Fuel pump: Have the fuel pump inspected. A clogged fuel pump causes similar symptoms to those of a dirty fuel filter. If your car isn’t getting enough fuel pressure, it might crank, but it won’t start.
- Timing belt: The function of a timing belt ensures the engine components and valves are in-synch. A common reason for air leaks in your engine is a broken or worn out timing belt that allows air to escape. A broken timing belt means your car won’t start. A timing belt can also fail while driving. Have your mechanic inspect the timing belt. Some car manufacturers suggest replacing a belt every five years.
It’s Time to Find a Pro
If you are having trouble starting your Civic, it’s best to address the problem right away. Take your car into a professional mechanic at your local dealer or repair shop. These folks can run a diagnostic on your car and narrow down the no start issue.
If you crank the car and the engine doesn’t start, don’t keep trying to fire it up. Repeated failed cranks can drain the battery or damage the starter.
After the first or second time your car doesn’t crank, try to jump-start the battery. If that doesn’t work, find a towing company that can get you and your car safely off the road.
Get to Know Your Civic
Your Civic is a reliable car that has normal engine sounds and drives a certain way when at peak health. Regular maintenance should keep your Honda problem-free and on the road for years to come. If you don’t own jumper cables, it’s time to buy them. They could have you back to driving in a matter of minutes.
We hope you never get stuck with a Civic that doesn’t start. If it happens, perhaps this post has helped, and you will know what to do.