Need advice... 95 Civic dies and won't start, but then starts and is fine.

Discussion in 'Civic' started by In2hoppn, Dec 21, 2004.

  1. In2hoppn

    In2hoppn Guest

    Thread title about sums it up. Seems to happen as part of the warm up
    1st time was when I left the house and got about 5 miles down the road.
    This morning (very cold), I started and let it idle for about 10 minutes.
    Pulled out of the driveway and got 50 feet and it died. NO stutter,
    stumble, misfire... just plain quits. Key off and back ON runs the fuel
    pump OK. Crank all you want, but not a single fire. I get out and push the
    car back to my driveway. Then try the key and it starts up and runs fine.
    Same thing the first time it happened. Traveling along at 55 to 60mph and
    it died. Coasted into local gas station. Tried several times to start it,
    but would not fire. I was listening for fuel pump that time, but couldn't
    here it (too much noise around me, this time I could here it for sure). So
    I got out and popped the hood, looked for a fuel pressure relief to just see
    if there was fuel pressure but didn't see one. Found the fuse boxes and
    quickly checked fuses. Got back inside the car and was digging out my cell
    phone when I decided to crank it one more time. Cranked it and it started
    instantly and idled perfect.

    I'm hoping you guys know of a "typical" problem that causes this exact
    symptom. I do need to replace the thermostat... not getting very good heat
    and it's running on the cool side. I don't think it's relevent. Temp gauge
    was up a good quarter this morning when it died. Then of course, on the
    highway it goes back to near COLD. But so far, once the car dies and
    restarts, it runs without failing for the rest of the day! I have no idea
    how I'm gonna find the problem if it starts and runs fine after. I don't
    usually like to "throw parts" at a problem, but sometimes that's the route
    to go ; )

    All advice much appreciated!
    In2hoppn, Dec 21, 2004
  2. In2hoppn

    Remco Guest


    Next time it happens, see if banging on the side panel near your left
    knee helps. I am not suggesting that be a permanent fix :) but it is
    often an indication of the main relay being bad - a very common honda
    problem. Once you determine it is indeed the main relay, you can
    actually fix it by resoldering its connections.

    Tegger, an often contributing member of this group, has set up a very
    nice site you'll want to check out:

    Hope this helps.
    Remco, Dec 21, 2004
  3. In2hoppn

    In2hoppn Guest

    Thanks, and other suggestions still welcome (just in case) !!!

    I also looked at the site you mentioned.

    My next questions are:
    Does the Civic have same relay location?
    Is it up in the dash or under the side panel? Or both?

    Thanks to any and all!
    In2hoppn, Dec 21, 2004
  4. In2hoppn

    Remco Guest

    If is usually mounted near the fuse box on a bracket. I can see the one
    on my wife's 95 Integra by just looking up into dashboard. Ours in
    mounted along the outside wall - not the fire wall. Suspect yours is
    mounted similarly.

    If you are familiar with soldering electronic components, I'd take the
    relay out and reflow the connections to see if that fixes it.

    Here is a picture of the relay mounted in a car:
    Remco, Dec 21, 2004
  5. In2hoppn

    Remco Guest

    If is usually mounted near the fuse box on a bracket. I can see the one
    on my wife's 95 Integra by just looking up into dashboard. Ours in
    mounted along the outside wall - not the fire wall. Suspect yours is
    mounted similarly.

    If you are familiar with soldering electronic components, I'd take the
    relay out and reflow the connections to see if that fixes it.
    Remco, Dec 21, 2004
  6. In2hoppn

    SoCalMike Guest

    main relay
    ignitor/distributor problem
    ignition switch
    SoCalMike, Dec 22, 2004
  7. In2hoppn

    In2hoppn Guest

    Thanks Remco!

    I've already found 2 fuse panels under the hood, and wonder if it might be
    out there... but then again, total number of fuses wasn't that many so it
    would surprise me to find more inside. But it's cold out here these days,
    and my back is killing me. I did at least get the thermostat and lower
    control arm bushing changed. I saw the gound connections. They don't look
    too too bad, but I thinks the bolt prefers to break instead of loosen so I
    let it be for now. I'll check for resistance (voltage drop method) when I
    get a chance. I didn't have my good meter.

    I was looking at the tegger site again. I realize my symptoms don't quite
    match, as I do get the fuel pump to run it's cycle, and it also never starts
    and stalls.

    This really kinda sucks, as I wanted to have my wife start running this car
    to work and back. But I guess I'm gonna have to do the old "timing light
    and multiple test leads out the hood and in the door" trick and keep driving
    this thing. That can usually draw some conclusions, except of course when
    it just leaves you hauling your equipment all over the place for no reason
    because it maybe won't do it again for a week, month, or ever? ; ) But I'm
    sure if my wife takes it, it will bother!

    Next question...
    Any sites around that have good schematics to peak at? I don't have a book,
    and would rather junk a car than buy a haynes rag ; ) Or does anyone know
    how to unlock the codes on the old alldate disks? I lost the code to my
    disk and I guess alldata went out of business with the disk deal.
    In2hoppn, Dec 22, 2004
  8. In2hoppn

    In2hoppn Guest

    Thanks SoCalMike! I appreciate the imput.

    I've been thinking about the distributor. I'm planning to hook up my timing
    light, run the wires from the hood around the door jam and have it inside
    the vehicle. Then when it bothers, I can check for spark.

    For what it's worth, when it dies the fuel pump will still runs and the MIL,
    oil, temp,... all come on indicating "the key is on" for at least most of
    the system. I need a good schematic to figure out if all that still leaves
    a pole or two not connecting. Same for the main relay. I don't seem to fit
    the "typical classic" symptom completely. But I certainly will see what I
    can do there. I have a good meter (snapon vantage, but no KV : ( ) and am
    hoping to figure out exactly how to be hooked up to check the primary side
    so as to isolate the problem if it is loss of spark, and at the same time be
    checking for ignition feed?

    All help much appreciated! Short of thermostat, control arm bushing, and
    rear brake job (disk, rust bolts, fun...) my Honda experience is ZERO! I
    may need to do the alldata online thing, but I HATE that because it leaves
    the information here and the car there, and I always run into print issues
    that just makes it too slow and difficult to deal with.
    In2hoppn, Dec 22, 2004
  9. In2hoppn

    John Ings Guest
    John Ings, Dec 22, 2004
  10. In2hoppn

    Remco Guest

    You could hook up a small 12V bulb across your coil's primary and see
    if the ignitor does its job (it is supposed to flash if ok). Once it
    fails you will al least be able to determine if it is before or after
    the coil.

    Ignitors do fail from time to time -- not sure if they have an
    intermittent failure mode because it looks like it is a darlington
    transistor to me.
    It is into the distributor. You'll see it as a module that has four
    wires attached to it - it is mounted on a bracket that comes off with
    two screws.

    Maybe also check the coil, as the insulation can break down and it will
    arc through the case to the distrubutor so perhaps remove it and
    visually inspect it for cracks. I guess that could be an intermittent
    failure mode.

    I have a schematic -- it is out of a haynes manual. This one is fairly
    accurate - let me know; I could email you a copy (schematic, that is)
    if you need it.

    Remco, Dec 22, 2004
  11. In2hoppn

    r2000swler Guest

    Make sure it is a small bulb.
    A large one, large is more than 100mA (.0.1A),
    can kill a good ignitor.
    Don't ask how I know this.
    Better to use a LED which will only draw 15~20mA (0.015A).
    And while it is mainly an darlington, there is an amplifer
    to sense coil saturation.
    r2000swler, Dec 22, 2004
  12. In2hoppn

    Remco Guest

    Good point on the max current.

    An LED with a 470 ohm resistor in series will run about 20mA at 12V or
    That current at running duty cycle can probably be seen on an LED.
    Remco, Dec 22, 2004
  13. In2hoppn

    Graham W Guest

    In2hoppn wrote:
    From my website article on the Honda designed Rover 216 GSi at :

    You may like to download this ZIP file which contains a drawing,
    a photo and a text file.

    The drawing is of the parts and their interconnections with wire
    colours etc. and a fault finding guide. The drawing is produced
    at 300 dpi and will translate to print a full sheet of 8.5"x11" or A4.
    The text file describes how to make the LED probe and the
    fault-finding it can carry out.

    The white wire on T1 of the igniter module goes directly to the
    tachometer. So if the engine dies and the tacho shows zero
    then the module isn't providing output pulses.
    Finally (my hobby horse) take the distributor cap off (mark the leads'
    positions) wash it up in the sink with detergent and then seal the surface
    with anything handy that is a known permanent water repellent after drying
    it. A smidgeon of silicone grease rubbed in and polished off will do.

    Graham W, Dec 22, 2004
  14. In2hoppn

    mwh Guest

    Could a similar thing be happening with my turn signal relay and is it just
    as easy to reflow the solder? I have noticed recently that my 92 civic when
    below freezing often buzzes for a moment when I use the right directional
    before the car cabin in warm. After it warms up - no buzz.

    Thanks in advance,
    Mike H
    mwh, Dec 23, 2004
  15. In2hoppn

    TCS Guest

    If you can learn how to solder, you can also learn how to use a meter.

    Measure the 12v coming out the output side of the contacts. If OK, your
    done. The relay is fine.

    If there's no 12V coming out, check that there 12V coming to the relay.
    if OK, then check that there's 12v to the coil.

    Leave the damn solder alone until you make the tests. The solder isn't where
    relays fail. It's almost always the contacts and sometimes the coil.
    TCS, Dec 23, 2004
  16. In2hoppn

    In2hoppn Guest

    That's another question I had! It normally starts so quick and easy it's
    hard to tell, but I shall pay attention if I can remember! Can one expect
    to see the engine rmp at "starter cranking speed" register on the tach??
    I'm betting it shows zero, but don't know at what rpm it should actually
    start to register.

    I didn't think it would be cap, wires,...etc., as moisture doesn't seem to
    bother it and it never seems to skip or stumble. But I'll probably address
    the standard tune up issues along the way here ; )

    Thanks to all for all replies. I haven't had time to deal with this yet.
    But I'm saving all the links and suggestions. I'll try to get back for an
    update when/if I ever get it fixed!
    In2hoppn, Dec 23, 2004
  17. In2hoppn

    Graham W Guest

    Well, when it dawned on me, same as you above, I looked and I
    thought I could see it just 'bouncing' off the stop when the cap
    was the problem.
    No, but this is special moisture which steals energy from the spark
    and only appears when the engine is warming up. There is still
    HV going up the lead to the plug but it may be insufficient to fire

    Clean the cap. It is FREE to do and could fix the problem. What have
    you got to lose?
    Always good to do.
    Graham W, Dec 23, 2004
  18. In2hoppn

    In2hoppn Guest

    UPDATE It finally died while I was driving it and had equipment hooked up
    to it! (Now I can stop driving it around with more $ worth of equipment
    inside it than the car itself is worth!)

    It's definitely cold weather related, and apparently as the distributor is
    warming up, it dies. Then, I imagine, heat continues to transfer into the
    distributor... 5 minutes waiting time... and all is fine again. Never
    bothers again when fully warm. From cold, it's hit or miss whether it will
    be a problem or not. Never had a problem from spring, summer, and fall...
    only since winter came and I've been driving it.

    I had my Vantage meter attached to primary side of coil, and timing light
    attached to secondary. When it dies, I lose both signals.

    HELP! This is a charity job. $178 is WAY TOO much to spend at autozone!
    My local boneyard doesn't have a distributor... gave me a price of $150 to
    $200 if they can locate one! WHAT? Well I guess that includes a bunch of
    stuff in it that I don't need. If I can locate one myself, I doubt they'll
    break out just the ignitor for me.

    Some kindhearted fellow Honda wrencher got one of these? It's a 95 Civic
    with 1.5 VTEC. My understanding is it's the same part from 94 (not D15B7,
    D15B8 OK), 95, 96, 97 (including 1.6) (also VTEC or not), and who know what
    Wells number is JP129? I'd pay shipping cost plus a small fee if you gotta
    get something for it (charity job for my efforts, I can charge something for
    parts if I have to).

    Hopefully, someone can help me out. I have yet to check ebay. Owner will
    just unload this car if I can't fix it real cheap. I buy complete parts
    cars for way less than this! But, I can't wait for one to come through the
    auction... not to mention the weather here in New Hampshire right now!


    reply here or reply direct... but not worldpath anymore... it's metrocast
    In2hoppn, Jan 23, 2005
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