Jim Grant's Tech Tips
‘91 Honda Civic, Starting Problems
Q: I am having problems with my '91 Honda civic DX. It never happens in the morning when the car is cold. It usually happens when I drive for a while, then I stop the engine for 5-10 minutes to do some shopping or whatever...and then try to start again. It doesn’t start at all. But if I wait another 5 or 10 minutes and I try again, usually starts. I don’t have any idea what the problem is. The battery is new.
A: When you say it doesn’t start, does that mean there’s no noise from the engine when you turn the key to start the engine? Or is the starter cranking the engine but it just won’t run? If you're turning the key and nothing is happening then you need to have the starter checked for connections and a command from the ignition switch to operate. Of course this testing has to be done when the engine is hot and the problem is present to confirm what parts or repairs are needed. If the starter is working okay, and it’s just the engine won’t start I would suggest pulling up the carpet on the front passenger side of the vehicle where the floor slopes up. When you remove the carpeting you'll find a metal plate with a window in it. Through that window not only can you see the computer but you can also see a red LED. With the key on see if the LED is flashing, if it flashing the computer is providing a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC). We've seen some Honda’s of that age with starting problems (only when hot) that will set and ignition output signal code. If this code is present you may have and ignition module (Honda calls it an igniter) or a connection problem in that area.