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97 Honda Civic won't crank #5161926 07/15/19 08:22 PM
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Merek Offline OP
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I went to fill up the car before the 4th and when I went to leave the station it wouldn't start so I asked the guy inside if he'd help me get it rolling so I could get it started that way which it did. The first thing I tried is charging the battery and also tried jump starting it from another vehicle, I've also swapped the 7.5a fuse under the dash labeled as Starter with the taillight one, I had bought a new main relay awhile back which is a common problem for these older Civic's but never installed it so I tried that as well. I bought a used OEM Honda starter but the problem is still exactly the same, when you turn the key to start you can see the gauges dim and the voltmeter acts accordingly to the draw on the system but it will not crank over. I can take a wire from the battery and jump it to the starter and it will start that way so the used starter is in fact good and my problem lies elsewhere. I've searched online and most posts I've found say it's either the clutch interlock switch or an issue with the ignition wiring harness. I did have an issue awhile back where the rubber stoppers on the pedals deteriorated and left my brake lights on so I replaced them both for the brake and clutch pedals. It ended up killing the battery which was old anyways and needed replacement.

I've tried looking up under the dash but cannot get to the the connector on the clutch switch without removing a ton of other stuff just to be able to unplug it.

Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5161943 07/15/19 08:43 PM
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bbhero Offline
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Did the battery even accept a charge ?? You did not say that... How old is that battery?? Better question is what was the date on the battery when you purchased it if you did get a new one....? ? I have seen batteries at AAP and AZ that we're 8-12 months old on the shelf. And a battery that old with no charge applied is not a good battery from the beginning. Flooded batteries lose between 5-12 percent of their static charge sitting around. Plus sulfation of the plates will greatly shorten life of that battery.

I had a Nissan Sentra that had a issue with the ignition harness... And would not start... But it would not let me turn they to the start position.

Last edited by bbhero; 07/15/19 08:49 PM.

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Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5161964 07/15/19 09:09 PM
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Merek Offline OP
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Originally Posted by bbhero
Did the battery even accept a charge ?? You did not say that... How old is that battery?? Better question is what was the date on the battery when you purchased it if you did get a new one....? ? I have seen batteries at AAP and AZ that we're 8-12 months old on the shelf. And a battery that old with no charge applied is not a good battery from the beginning. Flooded batteries lose between 5-12 percent of their static charge sitting around. Plus sulfation of the plates will greatly shorten life of that battery.

I had a Nissan Sentra that had a issue with the ignition harness... And would not start... But it would not let me turn they to the start position.


The battery is an Interstate and is only 9 months old. I just had it running by jumping the battery to the solenoid which you have to make absolutely sure the car is in neutral with the e-brake engaged and then put the ignition into the run position. The charging system is working, a long time ago I installed aftermarket VDO oil pressure and voltmeter gauges, when you try to start you can see the needle drop but it still won't crank over, the solenoid is attached to the starter so the replacement starter came with it's own solenoid. I've also tried jump starting it from my other Civic which I just replaced that battery with an OEM Honda just a few months ago.

Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5161994 07/15/19 09:41 PM
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bbhero Offline
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I'd bet it is either the clutch interlock issue or wiring harness issue...

That Sentra of mine had been acting weird for awhile up until it finally would not work right at all.


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"Treat your family like your friends and treat your friends like your family."
Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5162279 07/16/19 08:19 AM
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Driz Offline
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Check out HONDA HOOKUP FORUMS. they always squared me away with my many Honda’s .

If you were messing round near the clutch I’d give that safety lockout a good look at. My old 95 iirc had the lower cover under the steering wheel , dash come right off with a few screws. It may give you a more accessible view. Look behind that kick panel by your left foot too. Is everything plugged in securely. I remember something being back there with a plug.

Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Driz] #5162350 07/16/19 09:55 AM
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Merek Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Driz
Check out HONDA HOOKUP FORUMS. they always squared me away with my many Honda’s .

If you were messing round near the clutch I’d give that safety lockout a good look at. My old 95 iirc had the lower cover under the steering wheel , dash come right off with a few screws. It may give you a more accessible view. Look behind that kick panel by your left foot too. Is everything plugged in securely. I remember something being back there with a plug.


I'm sure you're thinking of the main relay, on the earlier models they had it on the driver's side but on the 6th gen they moved it to the other side of the car beside the glovebox where you open the passenger door and then remove 1 screw that holds the side panel and remove a 10mm bolt that holds the relay and then you drop the glovebox and you can swap it out at that point. I stopped by my local garage that I use sometimes and they just did a Civic for same issues but it was the rubber stoppers on the pedals which I've replaced mine, they failed and it left my brake lights on at all times and is what killed the other battery so I replaced both stoppers and replaced the battery with an Interstate at the same time. If that hadn't of happened most likely I could've gotten another year or two out of that battery.

Honda batteries have generally served me well over the years but the last one in my 99 did not and only lasted a few years and the dealer should've covered some of the cost as it was within the warranty period but they couldn't find the record in their system and they told me that when it was sold they are now having a lot of them come back in to be replaced so evidently they had a run of defective batteries. They typically have lasted me anywhere from 6-8 yrs until needing replacement, that one was only like 3-4 yrs old.

I've talked to my local garage that I sometimes use for when I can't figure it out and going to type up a list of things I want them to do. They are actually very reasonable and honestly I wouldn't trust any of the other garages around to work on my stuff unless it was at the dealer, they are very convenient and within walking distance so I can drop it off and then walk back home.

Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5162444 07/16/19 11:37 AM
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meep Offline
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I'm pretty sure there is also a starter relay for this vehicle. I had a '96 at some point and think it had one.

You have identified:
battery is adequate, as the starter can spin the engine when direct-connected
starter is adequate, as it can spin the car when direct-connected

so, you know the problem is in the circuit driving it. It is odd that the gauges dim when you turn the key, but they shouldn't because there's no load on the battery - all you're asking of the car at that point is to fire a relay, as we know the solenoid isn't getting power, or adequate power. (are the gauges actually dimming, or are they just changing need positions?).

I would:
- look for a starter relay. Probe those terminals to see if one shows a 12v coming from the ign sw in 'start'; to see if it's got a solid 12V hot and a solid coil ground.
- put a voltmeter on the solenoid terminal and see if any voltage at all is making it to the solenoid (I'm betting 0 volts) when ign is in start
- check grounds near the relay boxes, ECU and instrument cluster.


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Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5162841 07/16/19 07:11 PM
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Merek Offline OP
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I think I've figured it out... Honda has changed the way you lookup parts online, with the old system you could look up parts and it would show you the quantity needed for that part and their new system does not do that. I went back and looked at the diagram again and I didn't realize it but there are actually 2 rubber bumpers on the clutch pedal, I replaced the lower one which was way easier to get too and the one on the brake pedal. I'm guessing the reason for the 2 switches is that so it knows that one tells it the clutch is released and the other tells that it's pushed all the way down to the floor so there is no in-between and cannot start in the middle somewhere, the one switch has to be pressed and the other has to be out for it to start. I haven't really looked to see how hard it is to remove just the clutch pedal but it seems like the most feasible option at this point as there isn't anyway to even get your hand up in there to put it in. It's funny I talked to the garage this morning and they did those stoppers just recently on another Civic but they didn't tell me that it was actually a total 3 of them.

This makes sense as the others already failed and I replaced those so most likely this one had to fail at some point anyways. It looks like that Honda really only designed them to last about 20 yrs. I've looked at the ones on my 99 and seems like Honda had updated them and they are not made out of the same material as the 97 which get old and brittle and end up deteriorating so they fall out.

Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5163798 07/17/19 08:14 PM
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Merek Offline OP
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Problem solved, I had tested my theory and crawled under the dash and was able to push in the upper switch and then use my elbow to push the clutch pedal just enough to where the other switch wasn't touching and use my other hand to turn the key and it started so it is that other rubber stopper that I didn't know about and didn't replace last year with the other ones.

Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5164034 07/18/19 06:53 AM
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mk378 Offline
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The lower switch on the clutch pedal is to drop out the cruise control when you slightly press the pedal. It doesn't have anything to do with the starter.

Also a bad main relay will cause a cranks but won't start condition. The control of the starter is strictly from the key to the clutch switch and a clutch relay which is mounted near the clutch switch, and then the power goes to the starter. The main relay is not in the path.

Most problems with the Civic main relay were on 1995 and older cars. In 1996 the system was redesigned including a much more reliable type of main relay.

Last edited by mk378; 07/18/19 06:57 AM.
Re: 97 Honda Civic won't crank [Re: Merek] #5164554 07/18/19 06:30 PM
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Merek Offline OP
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My car does not have cruise control and was not even offered as an option for the 96-00 HX models, only the EX's and LX's had cruise control from that generation. It looks like the pedal has to come out anyways as there is no room at all to replace it with the bracket that wraps around the pedal and the switch is mounted through that and the local garage I go to sometimes said that they just recently worked on another Civic for the same problem.

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