How To Test The Starter Motor (2001-2005 1.7L Honda Civic)

When the starter motor fails your 1.7L Honda Civic's engine is not gonna' crank over.

The cool thing is that testing the starter motor on your 1.7L Honda Civic is not hard. There are 3 basic tests that the DIY'er can do to find out if the starter motor is fried (or not).

In this tutorial I'll show you in a step-by-step way how to test the starter motor on your 1.7L Honda Civic, to see if it's behind the no crank condition you're currently experiencing.

Here are the contents of this article at a quick glance:

  1. Important Safety Precautions.
  2. Symptoms Of A BAD Starter Motor.
  3. Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor.
  4. TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The Starter Motor S Terminal.
  5. TEST 2: Verifying The Start Signal.
  6. TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing The Battery (+) Cable.
  7. More Honda Civic Test Tutorials.

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Motor De Arranque (1.7L Honda Civic) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

Important Safety Precautions

Suggestion 1: All of the steps in all 3 tests in this tutorial are done with the starter motor on the transmission case. In other words, all these tests are on car tests even though the photos I'm using show the starter motor off of the car.

The only reason I'm using these images (that show the starter motor off of the vehicle) is just to make it easier to show where to make your test connections.

If you need to bench-test the starter motor, the following tutorial will help you: Bench Testing The Starter Motor (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).

Suggestion 2: It's very important that you start your starter motor troubleshooting with a fully charged battery. Also, the battery cable terminals and battery posts must be clean and corrosion free.

Testing your 1.7L Honda Civic's starter motor with a low battery or corrosion on the battery cables/terminals will lead to false test results that'll have you replacing good parts that don't need replacement.

Suggestion 3: If you're vehicle has a standard transmission... make sure that it's out of gear and in neutral, and the parking brake is activated/on.

Symptoms Of A BAD Starter Motor

When the starter motor goes BAD on your 1.7L Honda Civic, you'll see one of the following symptoms:

  1. When you turn the key to start your Honda Civic's engine... nothing happens.
  2. A jump start did not help the engine to start.
  3. The battery has been charged and/or replaced and still your Honda Civic does not crank.
  4. When you turn the key to crank the engine, all you hear is a small knock and nothing else.

Although the above list is a not a very complete list of symptoms... the theme that runs thru' them, and any other related symptom, is that the engine will not turn over when you try to start it.

Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor

You don't need expensive test equipment to test the starter motor on your 1.7L equipped Honda Civic... the following are recommendations:


  1. Remote starter switch.
    1. If you'd like to see what a remote starter switch looks like, you can follow this link: Actron CP7853 Remote Starter Switch.
    2. You can either buy this tool online or you can buy it at your local auto parts store (AutoZone, O'Reilly, Pepboys, etc.).
  2. Multimeter or a 12 Volt automotive test light.
    1. If you don't have a multimeter or need to upgrade yours, check out my recommendation here: Abe's Multimeter Recommendation (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
  3. A wire piercing probe.
    1. This tool is not an ‘absolute must have tool’ but I can tell you from experience that it makes it a whole lot easier to probe the S terminal wire for the start signal.
    2. If you'd like to see what this tool looks like, you find out more about it here: Wire Piercing Probe Tool Review (Power Probe PWPPPPP01).
  4. A helper.

As you can see... you don't need anything expensive. OK, let's turn the page and get starter with the first starter motor test.