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Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Old 10-18-2015
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Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Hi everyone. New poster. Have tried to research here to minimize questions. Have decent experience, just not with Hondas.

Daughter's 02 Civic Ex. Background: Car has set up now for about 6-7 weeks. Experienced a single instance where hard to start (took quite a few attempts) but started, then stumbled a few times driving. Told her to leave with me and lent her another vehicle. Haven't been able to get to it till now. At that time it still started fine other than the reported incident.

Now I find it won't start on it's own. Sprayed a little starter fluid into throttle body and have been able to get it to start, not always easily. Once started, seems to idle ok and respond to accelerator, but haven't taken it out on the road nor pushed it. No codes.

I hear fuel pump humming when key it first turned, but perhaps it is weak or filter clogged. I've been told less PSI is needed to run the car than start it. Questions:

1) Easy way to test fuel pressure given Honda's specialized fuel line connector. Any workarounds? Haven't found anything via forum search.

2) Any other things I could consider as the source of the problem?

At this point I'm leaning to replacing the in-tank fuel filter (using DIY found here, great writeup!) as a starting point even if I can't pressure test.

PS, is it normal for the speedo and tach needles to 'jitter' when trying to crank and battery gets low? Even after key is removed? It continues for a few seconds.

Thanks for any help!
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Old 10-18-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Originally Posted by R Steele View Post

Hi everyone. New poster. Have tried to research here to minimize questions. Have decent experience, just not with Hondas.
Welcome.




PS, is it normal for the speedo and tach needles to 'jitter' when trying to crank and battery gets low? Even after key is removed? It continues for a few seconds.
Does the radio work? Dome lights? Keyless? Is the 'back up' fuse blown?

Daughter's 02 Civic Ex. Background: Car has set up now for about 6-7 weeks. Experienced a single instance where hard to start (took quite a few attempts) but started, then stumbled a few times driving. Told her to leave with me and lent her another vehicle. Haven't been able to get to it till now. At that time it still started fine other than the reported incident.

Now I find it won't start on it's own. Sprayed a little starter fluid into throttle body and have been able to get it to start, not always easily. Once started, seems to idle ok and respond to accelerator, but haven't taken it out on the road nor pushed it. No codes.
2 months isn't long enough to have real fuel problems IMO.
How well does it run once you get it to start?
Snap throttle, revs up clean and quick?
I hear fuel pump humming when key it first turned, but perhaps it is weak or filter clogged.
If the pump were weak or a filter clogged, symptoms would be present while driving.
I've been told less PSI is needed to run the car than start it.
Not really true.
A cold engine needs more fuel quantity to start and run, that is accomplished by keeping the fuel injectors open for a longer time period.

I'm not aware of any manufacturer or currently used fuel injection system that raises fuel pressure solely for the purpose of starting the engine.


Questions:

1) Easy way to test fuel pressure given Honda's specialized fuel line connector. Any workarounds? Haven't found anything via forum search.
It's a returnless system. Remove the plastic fuel hose quick connect, clamp a pressure gauge to the steel pipe that comes off the firewall.

I bet you won't find a problem there. Hondas pumps are damn reliable. I can count on one hand all the truly bad Honda pumps I've replaced in the last 12 years and still have several fingers left over.

2) Any other things I could consider as the source of the problem?
You don't have a lot in the way of knowing what's missing yet other than it seems to be lacking fuel quantity (due to unknown?)
Any other clues?
Since you say it will run once it is started, give it a drive around the block or something, get a feel for any other obvious issues. Maybe that will help you decide where to look first.

Battery and starter
Blinking immobilizer light while cranking?
ECT sensor accuracy
MAP accuracy
TPS accuracy
Cam timing
Plugs and gap
compression
fuel quality
Block and chassis grounds, PCM ground on top water neck (sort of hidden under that big intake chamber).
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Old 10-18-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Thanks for all the info!

Appears to have adequate power for lights, keyless entry, etc.

I have not pushed it hard after starting. Light revs of accelerator. Will attempt driving it when I have someone to tail me just in case. When I first worked on it today, it actually started right up. I had flipped the key on and off about 5 times to see if the fuel pump built up pressure and it started, but was not able to repeat that. Was back to starter fluid after that. Once after light revving a couple times it cut out shortly after returning to idle.

Remove the plastic fuel hose quick connect, clamp a pressure gauge to the steel pipe that comes off the firewall.
I found another post where you (I think) suggested the same, so I've figured out how to take off the tricky plastic cover over the quick disconnect and have exposed the the metal tube. Will test pressure when I get back to it.

Battery had gotten weak after all the cranking hence the question about the dash needles jittering. Don't see it when battery was full.

Any other clues?
Battery and starter - All seem fine as long as battery is fully charged.

Blinking immobilizer light while cranking? Can you explain what this is?

Plugs and gap
compression

Actually now I recall when I first began to troubleshoot it last weekend before the starting issue, the goal was to compression test. Had been charging battery because it had been sitting. Was still weak so I jumped it and it started right up. Drove it a couple miles to warm it up for compression test. Pulled plugs and they looked fine. Test yielded 212 to 220 PSI over 4 cylinders (Had tested while battery jumped to other vehicle to be sure I had adequate starter torque). It wasn't until I finished and restored plugs, fuel relay, etc. that I had the no start condition. During the week I checked plugs for spark and decided to try starting fluid in throttle body and she started and seemed to run reasonably well sitting in the driveway at least.

fuel quality
The fuel gauge indicates less fuel than I'd like, little less than 1/8. Intend to add a few gallons. Any suggestions for additives to help if there is an issue with quality?

Block and chassis grounds, PCM ground on top water neck (sort of hidden under that big intake chamber).
ECT sensor accuracy
MAP accuracy
TPS accuracy
Cam timing

Haven't gone far enough to consider these things.

The fact that it starts and seems to run ok after starter fluid makes me hopeful there aren't any other issues, but I'll test it under load when I can.

Also it did through a code today, P113 Intake Air Temperature Circuit High Input, which I'm hoping is due to the fact I have the air filter housing removed and the sensor exposed (or maybe disconnected)
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Old 10-18-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Once after light revving a couple times it cut out shortly after returning to idle.
I wonder if you use the gas pedal a little if it would help?
Idle too low? Idle relearn? Stuck IAC valve? Throttle body cleaning?

Battery had gotten weak after all the cranking hence the question about the dash needles jittering. Don't see it when battery was full.
Then yes. LOL I see that every so often so I don't really pay it much attention unless someone complains about it.... I associate it with the memory 'back up' fuse being out more than anything, as that's how we received the cars fresh off the truck.

Blinking immobilizer light while cranking?
Can you explain what this is?
Green blinking key symbol on the gauges. If it's blinking rapidly during cranking, that's bad.
If it flashes about 5 times after you turn the key off, that's normal.
212 to 220
sounds great.
The fuel gauge indicates less fuel than I'd like, little less than 1/8. Intend to add a few gallons. Any suggestions for additives to help if there is an issue with quality?
Many of the cars require extended cranking time when the tank gets low, but nobody has ever wanted to pay me to figure out why LOL.
I don't like to use fuel additives myself.

Read the 5 pages of this website: http://www.toptiergas.com/

If there's a quality problem, either address the problem or dump the tank and start fresh.
Take a fuel sample in a glass jar and see if it separates out? Do the simple alcohol content test?

a code today, P113 Intake Air Temperature Circuit High Input, which I'm hoping is due to the fact I have the air filter housing removed and the sensor exposed (or maybe disconnected)
Disconnected with the ignition powered up? Connect sensor, erase code and go on.
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Old 10-18-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Fuel pump relay? Would seem unusual to be quitting intermittently though IMO

EDIT: quitting intermittently after it's already operating

Last edited by ezone; 10-18-2015 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 10-18-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Originally Posted by R Steele View Post
Thanks for all the info!

Actually now I recall when I first began to troubleshoot it last weekend before the starting issue, the goal was to compression test. Had been charging battery because it had been sitting. Was still weak so I jumped it and it started right up. Drove it a couple miles to warm it up for compression test. Pulled plugs and they looked fine. Test yielded 212 to 220 PSI over 4 cylinders (Had tested while battery jumped to other vehicle to be sure I had adequate starter torque). It wasn't until I finished and restored plugs, fuel relay, etc. that I had the no start condition.
Tell us more about this... and you say your problems started after the compression test? Check your connections between plugs and coils, relay seated properly?

Last edited by bsmiley; 10-18-2015 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 10-20-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Got back to it tonight. Goal was to check fuel pressure. Picked up 3.5 gals of fresh gas and put it in before I did anything else. She started on 1st try. But.. it did this the other day as well. Let it idle, then revved throttle a bit (parked) up to 4K or so. Seemed to react ok. Left it running. Died about 3-5 minutes later. Attempt to start it again. No luck. Cycled key/fuel pump 4-5 times. No luck. Tried starter fluid. Started. Died after idling ~ 1 minute later. Decided to proceed with fuel pressure check.

After time taken putting together hoses, fittings, etc in prep for pressure test, decided to try to attempt crank again. Cycled key 4-5 times first. Started great. Let it idle, died 3-5 minutes later.

Pressure check:
Connected to exposed metal fuel tube near firewall, deadhead to gauge. Power-on gave 39 PSI. Cycled key 4 times pushed it up a tiny bit ~40.25 PSI. Cranking was same, 40.25. Waited 5 minutes and pressure dropped ~5 PSI over that time. Repeated tests a couple times, same results. Spec says 40-47 PSI.

While waiting, pulled plugs. Curious to see if any moisture, in case coolant steaming in cylinders maybe. All looked fine, good color.

Put it all back together. Attempted start. No key cycling. Started right up. Idle, then died 3-5 minutes later. Was able to do this repeatedly, though with few exceptions it took key cycling 4-5 times. Rare to start on only 1 key-on attempt but did a few times. Never had to use starter fluid again. A few times, even after key cycling it was stubborn and I'd wait 30 seconds or so and try again and it would start. Several times I shut it off and attempted restart. Most of those, it started on first try, no key cycles. So there seems to be a repeatable trend, at least for today. When it started, it was quick. I'd quit before going more than 5 seconds or so.

PS, battery/starter seem strong throughout. Original battery was having difficulty the other day so I put in a fully charged one from my boat that I know to be near new. Take out all that plastic stuff and you can actually cram a bigger battery in there I'm laying a rubber mat over the battery and not closing hood all the way when not working on it, just to be safe.

So I guess I'm leaning stronger to fuel filter?!?

Question: In revisiting service manual, one diagram appears to show a 2nd inline fuel filter, but can't tell from picture where on car it might be. Don't see it engine compartment, haven't climbed underneath. My reading here and elsewhere indicates this 2002 Civic Ex only has one and it's in the tank. I'll try to post a pic of the diagram later. I'm sure the factory manual covers several years/models. Can anyone clarify?

Also, I'll re-read the DIY thread on fuel pump/filter replacement, but off the top of my head I don't recall anything about replacing the regulator which is also within that assembly. Is this easily replaceable and obtainable?

I'm wondering if there's anything in the idle air circuit or throttle body contributing to this? When it starts I didn't have to use any pedal at all.

Originally Posted by bsmiley View Post
Tell us more about this... and you say your problems started after the compression test? Check your connections between plugs and coils, relay seated properly?
Well the first complaint experienced, when car was hard to start and stumbled a few times when driving might be related. This was all prior to letting it set for all those weeks. But it had been started and driven a little before being parked long term and had not repeated that issue. Was just easier to lend my daughter my car and I started driving my truck daily. Didn't intend to let her's sit all that time, but never had time to give it a once over till now and ran into this.

I really think all is well with the firing system. It really feels fuel starved. Unless the ECU isn't firing the injectors early enough or something weird like that. I see no abnormalities via codes or dash lights. But again, I'm not a Honda guy so maybe there's something I don't fully understand.

I'm really tempted to spend $35 and get a new fuel filter shipped in. Might not really need it but couldn't hurt to try I guess. Hold off on pump for now.

Still trying to get someone to tail me and chance taking it on the road, but I'm guessing it won't hold up.
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Old 10-21-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

It probably has 10 lbs of sugar in the gas tank. When you go for the fuel filter, suck off the bottom of the tank for sure to check.
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Old 10-21-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Originally Posted by RIPSAW View Post
It probably has 10 lbs of sugar in the gas tank.
I bet someone could lick the fill neck and find out.
You wanna volunteer?
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Old 10-22-2015
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Re: Starts with starting fluid, runs ok, but won't start on it's own

Originally Posted by ezone View Post
I bet someone could lick the fill neck and find out.
You wanna volunteer?
The previous owner was probably licking the wrong neck, he probable will do it...
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