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1997 Accord EX-V6 NOT starting


James Matteu

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Today I drove 15 miles, came to a stop, turned off the car to drop the kids off, then tried to restart to go to work and it wouldn't start.

 

1. 100A Battery Fuse looks good

2. 50A Ignition Fuse looks good

3. The usual dash lights come on with key in ON position II

4. The A/C, clock and fans shut off as expected with the key in START position III

5. I can hear the Fuel Pump running when its supposed to.

6. I turn the key and all seems well except that the Starter Motor doesn't move, doesn't even make any sound.

7. The Ground connection to the Starter Motor has a light patina of aluminum oxide and some copper salts on the wire itself The last time this happened, I wiggled the ground wire to rub some corrosion off the ground wire and it fired right up. This time, that trick didn't work right away and I had to go to work; I caught a ride to work.

 

Tomorrow, I'll continue my trouble shooting. I have my spare ignition switch, spare main relay, spare ECU, Fluke, and jumper wires. I'm thinking it's corrosion again, but also would like to remain objective.

 

So, if you guys have any ideas, please contribute.

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Update: I show up with my arsenal and it fired right up.

 

Correction: the wire I referred to as a ground wire is actually the connection to the Starter Cut Relay, found under the dash to the left of the steering column.

 

The Plan: I will leave my jumper wire and Fluke multimeter in the trunk so when it happens again, I can see if the Starter Cut Relay is providing the Starter Motor with voltage. If not, I'll use the jumper wire to get it started and then deal with the problem from there. If there's voltage but the Starter Motor still refuses to give me love, then I'll tap on it a few time to get it going and then schedule some down-time to rebuild it.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Any chance it is the electrical portion of the ignition switch? If you have not changed it out yet then I would certainly start there as they are somewhat of a maintenance item on older cars and the terminals gum up. They are hard to diagnois but what you are describing sounds like it may be the potential cause. Often times they fail slowly causing intermittent starting issues. They are pretty cheap (I think around 30 dollars) and I would not consider it wasted money if it does not solve your problem. If you do do it be sure to get two new bolts for the steel band that goes around the column and holds the key cylinder in place. The heads will twist and break off from the new bolts when they are tight, so they are a one use item. You will need a sharp chisle (or flat head screw driver) and hammer to tap/spin the old bolts out since there is no head on them.

 

Let us know what you find out. If it happens again try working the key to the on/off positions or wiggling the key as you are trying to start it. If it starts while doing that then you have likely diagnoised the problem.

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I've decided to schedule some downtime so that I can remove and bench-test the Starter Motor. 'Turtlehead', I'll inspect my Combination Switch at the same time; I've refurbished them before to get a friend back on the road until payday, so I have a little experience in what a bad one looks like.

 

I'll let you guys know what I find.

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This happened two more times since my last post.

 

I parked the car with the kids sitting inside and left the headlights and radio, engine off and keys in ON position II. I walked about 5 feet away to turn in some RedBox DVDs and hopped back in the car. I turned it to START position III and got nothing. I tried again and it fired right up.

 

I parked the car to wait for a store to open, engine off and keys in OFF position I. I sat for about 2 minutes and then decided to get breakfast. I turned the key to START position III and got nothing. I switched it back to ON position II, then III, then II, then III, then II, then III and it fired right up.

 

I've noticed that doing things that drain voltage from the battery seem to affect the Starter Motor function, but I've yet been unable to recreate the problem by leaving the radio and headlights on for short periods of time.

 

Today I will try again by leaving the headlights on for about 10 minutes and then trying to start the car.

 

If I am able to affect starter function this way, then I may find the Starter Motor is drawing too much current and may need to be rebuilt/replaced.

 

All this is speculation right now, but it is promising that the problem is reoccurring more and more frequently; it means I am closing in on the answer to this problem.

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I would be replacing the electrical portion of the ignition. As I mentioned before don't try and test it (similar to the coil issue you had earlier and my comments on that). They are a wear and tear item. If it does not fix it then you will be out only about $40 and at the very least should not have to worry about it for the remainder of the life of the car.

 

The other thing you can try is jumping the starter from the battery with the key in the ON position. Turn the car off assuming it starts and repeat this many times. If it starts everytime without an issue then I would have to think that the contact in the start position is getting gummed up, thus replace the electrical portion. I replaced the one in my 95 Accord anout two years ago. Over the past three or four years I think I have replaced about six on the same generation Accord as yours and mine. I believe the part is the same whether a 4 or 6 cyl.

 

I hope that is your issue, but if not I appologize up front.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It hasn't failed again, yet.

 

I hate when people post a dubious problem that seems to have no solution and then come back with something simple they overlooked, and here I am doing the same thing; I didn't want to post again until I had some concrete evidence.

 

I reviewed my wiring and discovered I overlooked a change in the OE design I made a few years back which is related to another problem that was on my low-priority to-do list. I installed an OEM Honda Optional Security System which secures the vehicle by cutting voltage to the Starter Cut Relay. One day, the Security System stopped receiving lock/unlock instructions from the FOB (Panic still works) so I flipped the system to Valet mode and left it for me to fiddle with another day. Given that system's ability to kill voltage to the Starter Motor, this is now a high-priority item.

 

 

 

The plan is to finally fix the Security System and then pull my Ignition Combination Switch and Starter Motor out for inspection and refurbishment. I've scheduled this for after I fix the threads on the motor mount bracket I stripped while replacing my Crank Pulley; I may be able to chase the threads, I may have to helicoil, or I may want to helicoil it either way so I don't worry about the threads failing any time soon. I haven't decided as I haven't made a closer inspection of the threads since installing the Crank Pulley.

 

It's been hard to focus on this stuff as I'm getting my final divorced hearing on Valentine's Day (no joke) and will be loosing my house afterward. So I've been putting off as much as possible so I can save as much money as possible (e.g. if I open up the starter motor for inspection, I'm at least going to change the brushes).

 

 

 

In the meantime, I've got my jumper wire in the glove box to bypass the Starter Motor switching system if the system fails again; the OEM Security System doesn't cut fuel.

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  • 4 months later...

Update:

 

Over the past month, the frequency at which I have had to use my jumper wire has increased to point which I'm popping the hood to get my car started every other trip.

 

Last night, the starter began drawing down my battery on each startup. This tells me the starter motor is the culprit. Drawing that much current tells me the starter is full of corrosion and/or has bad or failing contacts.

 

Tonight, I'm pulling the starter to inspect and clean the contacts and armature. Hopefully, I can get it cleaned up enough to keep me moving until replacement parts arrive. If the armature windings are failing, I'm just going to buy a new starter. But my money is on the brushes and/or a dirty armature.

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