How To Troubleshoot A No Start (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 1.6L Honda Civic)

Quite a few things can cause your 1.6L Honda Civic (Civic del Sol) to Crank but Not Start. For example: a BAD fuel pump, a BAD igniter (ignition control module), a BAD ignition coil, a busted timing belt and the list goes on.

The good news is that troubleshooting the no start condition of your Honda Civic is not that difficult. With a solid diagnostic strategy, you can do it yourself and replace the failed part, whichever it may be. In this article I'll show you the basics of testing/troubleshooting such a problem.

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar Un Arranca Pero No Prende (1995-2000 1.6L Honda Civic) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

Difference Between A No Start And A No Crank Condition

There's a world of a difference between a No Crank and a No Start condition. Here's a brief description:

Cranks But Does Not Start Condition: Means that your Honda's starter motor is cranking the engine but the engine is not starting.

Does Not Crank Condition: Means that the engine is not cranking when you turn the key to crank the engine. In other words, the engine doesn't turn over at all. This is usually due to a bad starter motor, bad ignition switch, bad neutral safety switch, or the engine is locked up.

No Start Condition Basics

The key to troubleshooting the no start condition of your 1.6L Honda Civic, is to know that the engine needs 3 things to start and run. These are:

  1. Air.
  2. Fuel.
  3. Spark.

When your Honda Civic (Civic del Sol) cranks but does not start it's because one of these 3 things is missing from the mix.

So, the idea behind any diagnostic, trying to figure out why the car won't start, is to perform tests on the fuel system, the ignition system, an the Engine Mechanical system.

Once you've found out what system is the one not providing one of the three things the engine needs, the next step is to test specific components within that system. To go into more details, the three main areas where the problem will reside in and that you should concentrate on when facing a no start condition are:

1.)  Ignition System

  1. The ignition system is the one responsible for creating and delivering spark. Without spark, the engine will crank but not start.
  2. The ignition system of the Honda vehicles covered by this article use a distributor type system.
  3. In my experience, the most common component failures, of the ignition system that cause a no start no spark condition are:
    1. Ignition control module (ICM) -most commonly known as the igniter.
    2. Ignition coil.
    3. Distributor cap.
    4. Distributor rotor.
  4. All of the above ignition system components can be tested in a methodical way to find out exactly what has failed (if indeed something has).

2.)  Fuel System

  1. The fuel system is the one responsible with supplying the engine with fuel.
  2. The fuel system component that causes the majority of ‘no start no fuel’ problems:
    1. Main relay (this is the relay that supplies the fuel pump and fuel injection computer with power).
    2. Fuel pump.
  3. The fuel pump can be tested to make sure it has really fried.

3.)  Engine Mechanical System

  1. The engine pistons and cylinder head valves (and all the other related components like: timing belts, etc.) are the ones responsible for the induction of the fresh air the engine needs for the combustion process.
  2. Although rare, internal engine mechanical problems can and do cause no start conditions.
  3. Possible internal engine problems are:
    1. Blown head gasket.
    2. Blown engine.
    3. Broken timing belt.

OK, the list of possible things that can go wrong looks pretty long but it is rare to see (or have) two different components go BAD from two separate systems at the same time.

The cool thing is, is that there is a diagnostic strategy that you can use to figure out exactly what's wrong with your particular no start problem. Let's find out more about it in the next subheading...