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A car problem that I need some help with

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A car problem that I need some help with

Old 02-12-2019, 06:08 PM
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Default A car problem that I need some help with

I'm hoping that someone here can help with this problem.

As you know I own a 2017 Civic Si. I have about 15,600 miles on it and I love the car. Unfortunately in the last two weeks a problem has developed that neither I nor Honda can figure out.

We've had a lot of rain in New Jersey in the last few weeks and about a week ago I had to drive through a 7 or 8 inch deep puddle in a parking lot to visit a client. Water splashed all over.

When I get into the car in the morning, particularly when the temperature is below 32*f the car won't start. When I push the starter button nothing happens (the ignition seems to go on, but the starter doesn't turn the engine). At first I thought it was the battery, but when I jumped the car it didn't make any difference. I called Honda roadside assistance and they couldn't get it started with a jumper either. I was able to bump start the car by rolling it down the driveway and popping the clutch. Once I did that the car ran fine and started perfectly the rest of the day.

Once I got it to run, I took it to my Honda dealer. They did a diagnosis and discovered that the battery had a dead cell. I didn't think it was the battery, but since the car is still under warranty, they replace the battery for free. I left the car at Honda overnight, and the next morning was a mild morning. The car started perfectly so I took it home. Honda told me that they did a complete diagnosis and found nothing else, and that the car was running perfectly.

Yesterday was a cold day and the car, new battery notwithstanding, wouldn't start. When I pushed the starter button the dashboard lit up and everything seemed to work, but the starter wouldn't turn the engine over. Later in the day, after the car was sitting in the sun, the car did start, but only after pushing the starter button 10 or 12 times.

This morning was a cold morning and the car wouldn't start. Later in the day when it warmed up to about 30*f the car still wouldn't start.

I'm not sure about this, but it seems to me that the problem is worse on cold, damp days.

Is it possible that water got into a relay or some other part of the circuit going to the starter and freezes when the temperature is below 32*f? I'm just grasping at straws, hoping to stumble on an answer.

Has anyone had a similar problem? Does anyone have any ideas? Your help will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-12-2019, 06:15 PM
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Rob, I think you are on the right track. There's water somewhere that is freezing and not letting the ____ make the ____ go around. I'd look closely at the starter motor.
Also have you driven the car enough to get the engine and engine bay really hot? That might evaporate the culprit and end your problem. Take it for a long, hard drive, or do some hot laps (someplace there isn't any ice).
Good luck.
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Old 02-12-2019, 06:49 PM
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The problem might be a result of water splashing into the engine bay or it could be a coincidence. Either way, my guess would be: starter solenoid, starter motor, or faulty battery cable. Do modern cars still have a starter solenoid? Of course it could be some computer buried somewhere in the engine bay or trunk. But my money is on the starter solenoid or the cable.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:16 AM
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I too would look at the starter. Does the starter crank? If it cranks is it engaging? There may be water in the bendix that engages the starter and allows it to crank.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:35 AM
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Well, here is what I would do.

1. Determine if the starter motor has a solenoid. It probably does. It will be the small cylinder attached to the large cylinder that is the actual starter motor. It will have two sets of wires attached to it. One set of high amperage (like the battery cables) wires and one set of low amperage (narrow gauge) wires attached to it. The solenoid is an electrically operated switch. When you energize the low voltage wire it will turn the switch "on" which sends the high voltage coming into the other end of the solenoid to the starter motor itself.

2. Identify which low amp wire is energized when you push the starter button. Make up a low amp wire with alligator clips on either end.

3. On a day that the starter doesn't respond to a push of the starter button, attach the low amp wire to the low amp activation wire post on the solenoid. Then touch the other end to the positive post of the battery. If the starter engages, then you know the problem is something before the starter solenoid. Find out if there a relay between the solenoid and the power supply and see if that got wet.

4. If nothing happens, then something is wrong with the solenoid or starter motor itself. I would then remove the starter motor, bring it in the house and see if it has water inside of its windings or elsewhere. I'd tip it in every direction and make sure I had all the water out. If my wife wasn't home, I may even put it in the oven at 250 degrees for an hour or so to dry it out. I'd also check inside the hole where the starter motor is mounted to the engine and see is any water has pooled up inside there. This is doubtful, but I'd check. I'd remove all the wires and dry the terminals and then reattach them all.

5. I'd reassemble everything after my work and see if the car starts and obviously see if it works the next day as well.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:07 AM
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I'd check all connections to the starter, battery, and ground. You may have corrosion or a poor contact, that esp affects the starter on cold mornings (which is when reserve battery power is most critical). I'd loosen, move, then tighten all heavy wires going to and from the battery and starter. Esp the battery terminals, starter, and alternator. And all ground looms to the chassis and engine.

Good luck!
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:18 AM
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And please let us know the outcome!
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:09 AM
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Keep it in a heated garage and only drive it on warm days. Maybe when the heat of summer comes it'll fix itself. (just kidding)
Be sure to let us know what the problem is. Hope you find a quick fix.
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Old 02-13-2019, 08:04 AM
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Thank you everyone. I'm going to check out all of these suggestions. As soon as I find the problem I'll post the solution.

Thanks again.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:47 AM
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As much as it pains me to type it, since it's under warranty I'd suggest making it the dealer's problem. Tell them to park it outside on a sub-32 night while they give you a loner vehicle, and see if they can start it in the morning. If it doesn't start they've got the perfect opportunity to diagnose the faulty component,

Of course, if it does start then they can just keep right on looking because you've been driving Hondas since 1932 and the old cars worked just fine but you're really starting to lose faith in their newer cars with all their new-fangled electronic gizmos and gosh darn it you might just head on over to Toyota for your next vehicle after all.

(I haven't quite achieved full Grumpy Old Man status yet but I'm getting in all the practice I can. )
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