Starter acts up - '78 Honda Civic (100k)

Discussion in 'Civic' started by Alex Ostapenko, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. Hello, Honda experts! I hope you can help me.

    The starter in my '78 Honda Civic(Model1200 with only 100k on it!)
    is acting up. On turning the ignition key, there is a click
    in the starter, but no cranking. Sometimes, there is cranking,
    and the engine starts. But most often it takes two, three or
    more trials. There seems to be no regularity. For example, one
    morning it took 2 trials to start, but after driving just abt
    5 minutes to the post office and stepping in for stamps, 4
    trials were needed to restart the engine. Cold weather appears
    to cause more trouble, but often, even after the engine had been
    fully warmed up, the starter acts up. (One cold morning - 10 degr F,
    it took abt 20 trials.)
    Suspecting that the trouble
    was somewhere between the ignition lock and the control cable
    connection at the starter, I pulled off the cable and used a
    separate wire to jump directly to the battery terminal.
    The starter behaved the same way as by using the ignition key.
    My impression is that the trouble is with the contacts of the
    magnetic switch, so that the main coils of the plunger don't get
    juice every time when the switch is thrown.
    1) Could the contacts be worn or dirtied by the oil somehow
    seeping on them from the block?
    2) The space around the starter is so cramped that I wonder
    whether it is possible to take the starter out without pulling

    the engine? Is there a way of getting to the lower connection

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions for curing the beast.
    I hope there is someone who remembers those beauties.
    Alex Ostapenko, Feb 12, 2004
  2. Alex Ostapenko

    Norm Guest

    I had exactly the same symptoms on my 1978 civic 1200 Hondamatic last
    summer. It was the switch on the starter itself. I simply removed the
    starter and cleaned the contacts on the switch. There was also some wear on
    the contacts but after a cleaning with a wire brush and contact cleaner it
    worked just fine.

    As for starter removal, there are just two bolts. One is obvious if you
    look at it from the top. The other one is not so obvious because it is
    underneath and you have to remove it from the engine side. I was able to do
    it with the engine in no problem.
    Norm, Feb 13, 2004
  3. Norm: Thank you for sharing your experience. Now I have the week end cut out

    for me to get dirty. By the way, what is the contact cleaner?
    I assume that I may have to remove the battery to make more room to move
    around. Thanks again, and enjoy the week end. Alex
    Alex Ostapenko, Feb 13, 2004
  4. Alex Ostapenko

    E. Meyer Guest

    You might want to check the easy stuff first before taking things apart.
    This is more often a symptom of a weak battery or corroded cable connections
    at the battery.
    E. Meyer, Feb 13, 2004
  5. E. Meyer: Thanks for reminding. But the battery and its terminal connections
    were the first things I checked out, and they are OK. Once the starter engages,
    it cranks very lively and starts the engine. Alex
    beauties Alex

    You might want to check the easy stuff first before taking things apart.
    This is more often a symptom of a weak battery or corroded cable connections
    at the battery.[/QUOTE]
    Alex Ostapenko, Feb 13, 2004
  6. Have you checked the other end of the ground cable though, where it
    connects to the body and trans/engine? On a car that age it's not unusual
    to have corrosion there.

    Rgds, George Macdonald

    "Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean you're not psychotic" - Who, me??
    George Macdonald, Feb 13, 2004
  7. Gentlemen:
    Thank you all for the suggestions. The past Sunday (Feb 15), I pulled
    the starter out
    (Norm, thanks for your hint). Unfortunately, the compartment with
    contacts on this
    solenoid is crimp-sealed and cannot be opened as described in the repair
    (There, the picture and the procedure are for a bolted-on cover.
    Different model? ).
    In the process of re-assembly, I cleaned all the connections and
    re-installed the
    starter. Now, the engine fires up right away. Apparently, the
    suggestions on just
    cleaning the connections were correct. However, I don't think that the
    from the solenoid to the starter could have been cleaned without taking
    out the
    Well, thank you for your responses. Alex
    Alex Ostapenko, Feb 17, 2004
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