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Thread: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

  1. #1

    Default Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Hi, I have a Civic 97 that I purchased use 2 years ago. I know it does not run on the OEM battery, I assume it has been replace once and now it's about time to get a new battery, but I am not sure. Here is what happens:

    the car starts fine most of the time. Even two weeks ago when it was very cold, it started fine. Sometimes though, it hesitates, the starter turns the engine just fine (it seems) but it takes 5-6 seconds for the engine to start, usually it takes ~2 seconds.

    Last night it did it again, this time it looks like everything went dead, I couldn't even hear the starter turning, I though Oh Boy, and when I was about to give up, the engine started and then it run just fine all the way home. This morning I measure the voltage BEFORE starting the engine, 12.64 V, then with engine running 14.57 V. I am no battery expert, but a quick search on the net seems to indicate the battery it not dead yet.

    What other test shall I do? I will probably go in the weekend to one of those places that sell (and test batteries), but anything else I should try tomorrow morning or evening?

    yes, I should open the hood and look at the manufacturing date on the battery, but in the morning I am usually late, and in the evening it is dark. So I have to wait till Saturday for that. Or I should get a Flashlight, after all this is what the forum is all about!

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Sounds like a problem with the starter. From what you've described it sounds like the battery is fine.

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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    I'm fairly sure you do NOT have a battery problem based on your info. Also most batteries will have a date code and nearly every car battery I've had lasted 5 years + or - 6 months or so. Check your battery cables, connections, corrosion, solenoid. It somewhat sounds like a solenoid but not enough info.
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Battery voltage is ok and the alternator (engine running) is right where it should be at 14.5 volts. Check the battery terminals for corrosion. Remove the terminals and clean them and the battery posts with a wire brush and apply WD-40 to the posts and terminals before reattaching them. Remove the negative (-) terminal first. If you try to remove the positive terminal with the negative still connected you could weld your wrench to the car or worse blow the top off the battery! The long (5 second) starting time puzzles me though. Could be an intermittent fuel pump glitch.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    yes, I forgot to mention, the starter turns the engine over, but it takes 3-4 seconds longer than usual for the engine to start.

    I posted the same questions on a different forum and the suggested cleaning the terminals (which I will do soon) and also checking the ignition system, i.e. rotor, spark plugs, etc.

    Also I am gonna get the battery tested to one of those places like AutoZone.

    I will look into all these things. Thanks guys

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the

    When you are not sure about the age of the battery and you have starting problems, the easierst thing to do is assume it is the battery and change it out. I've been through several hundred thouand pounds of cars, and 99% of the time is is the battery. Todays cars, including 1997's, put quite a demand on the batteries, with a lot of stuff running when car engine is turned off. That coupled with cold weather can finish off an older battery. Just change it out. Batteries are reasonably priced, Costco, and other outlets have very decent prices. Switch it out then if you have problems you have ruled out the battery. I know that people will recommend this and that, test this and that, but believe me, it most likely is the battery. Good luck.

    Bill

  7. #7

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Quote Originally Posted by viorel00
    yes, I forgot to mention, the starter turns the engine over, but it takes 3-4 seconds longer than usual for the engine to start.

    I posted the same questions on a different forum and the suggested cleaning the terminals (which I will do soon) and also checking the ignition system, i.e. rotor, spark plugs, etc.

    Also I am gonna get the battery tested to one of those places like AutoZone.

    I will look into all these things. Thanks guys
    I have experienced similiar trouble and it was found that my spark plugs worn out. I changed all 6 plugs of my Honda Legend.

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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the

    Good point, he doesn't seem to be sure whether the battery is original or not. If it is the original battery then it won't hurt to replace it. A '97 could very well be running on the battery from the factory. I've routinely gotten close to 10 years on the original batteries, probably just from living in a temperate climate (we won't count the snow on the hills this morning )

    And if he doesn't have a Costco membership, batteries at Wal*Mart are only about $30 for many cars.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bullzeyebill
    When you are not sure about the age of the battery and you have starting problems, the easierst thing to do is assume it is the battery and change it out. I've been through several hundred thouand pounds of cars, and 99% of the time is is the battery. Todays cars, including 1997's, put quite a demand on the batteries, with a lot of stuff running when car engine is turned off. That coupled with cold weather can finish off an older battery. Just change it out. Batteries are reasonably priced, Costco, and other outlets have very decent prices. Switch it out then if you have problems you have ruled out the battery. I know that people will recommend this and that, test this and that, but believe me, it most likely is the battery. Good luck.

    Bill

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Can you check the voltage under the starter load, with the help of a friend of course. Althought if the starter is turning over fine, I would consider a fuel and or electronic ignition problem. I would personally take it to a shop and see if you can get a free check, but I'm sure others on here or another car based forum could offer more assitance.
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    If you have a DMM that does min/max record or have somebody help you, check to see if it drops below 10.6V under load which they claim is min.
    Bill

    I'm a retired mechanic not a electronic/electrical engineer!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Go to an auto parts chain and have the battery load tested. Then clean the terminals, then check for any loose connections in your wiring harness, and battery terminal at the grounding point and on the starter. Wonder if your ignition switch is worn out too.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Just to let you know Hondas from this time period are notorious for starter switch failures, but I agree with all of the above. check cable, clean connections, and get your battery load tested/replaced at the local auto part store.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Quote Originally Posted by coontai
    Just to let you know Hondas from this time period are notorious for starter switch failures, ...
    the starter turns the engine just fine, but it takes longer than usual for the engine to start. I don't think I have a battery problem after all, but nevertheless, I will get it tested.

    Thanks

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Quote Originally Posted by viorel00
    the starter turns the engine just fine, but it takes longer than usual for the engine to start. I don't think I have a battery problem after all, but nevertheless, I will get it tested.

    Thanks
    ahhhh, a stickey solinoid? (that would be if it took time for the starter to REACT iafter you turned the switch)

    the first thing i thought was the battery and starter cable connections, as they can get loose and corroded. but i would First have to test the battery under a load.
    they have some really cheap junk battery connections out now, not like the bolt em down stuff, of the old V8 with the 300AMP starter.

    the wet lead acid battery can last MANY years, if it is kept topped off, and will die in as few as 2 when it is left discharged. so cars that are Parked and rotting, will go through a battery faster, unless they top off that battery regular, or use a battery maintainer.

    if the starter TURNS the engine just as rapidly and quickly as it ever did, but the engine doesnt start running on its own quickly, then it needs a tune up (type things) as opposed to a battery or connection issue of any sort.
    fuel filters, spark plugs, coil, o2 sencors, injector cleaning, that kinda stuff.
    Last edited by VidPro; 02-28-2007 at 09:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    see break it down

    the starter turns the engine just fine (it seems) but it takes 5-6 seconds for the engine to start

    this is an engine issue, not a starter/battery issue.
    BUT

    this time it looks like everything went dead, I couldn't even hear the starter turning,

    this sounds like a starter connection battery issue, or even could be the alternator not charging, and the battery being low, and stuff like that.
    BECAUSE

    it manifests itself AFTER the engine was having trouble starting, those extra seconds, might have put undue (not normal) load on the parts that were working just fine before. bad connection heats up the few molecules connection gets charred, the connection fails.

    SO

    you could have 2 problems, and that is why you have so many solutions.
    First, your engine isnt starting easily, which could indicate it needs a tune, THEN to add to that problem you have some starting fluke.

    then this

    This morning I measure the voltage BEFORE starting the engine, 12.64 V, then with engine running 14.57 V. I am no battery expert, but a quick search on the net seems to indicate the battery it not dead yet
    INDICATES

    that the battery does NOT have a bad cell, is NOT ruined, and IS charging.
    Last edited by VidPro; 02-28-2007 at 10:02 PM. Reason: sure eventually i will say it right

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    I have to at least do the terminals on my Sisters Town Car tomorrow, as today it was dead when she came out of the doctors office, and then started fine after getting jumped at that point, driving to another location and having the car sit for another hour or so.

    My RAM doesn't always light off as fast as it sometimes does, but nothing freaky at all has been going on with it.

    I would CERTAINLY clean the battery connections! But if it is spinning over good it sounds like plugs/filters etc.

    What a less than perfect battery connection USUALLY has happen, is that the starter can take out amps, but the alternator can't put them back. That you show 14.5 running SEEMS to indicate decent battery connections....
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    +1 on Vidpro. There is no law that says you can only have one problem at a time. You probably have a couple of things going on.

  18. #18
    *Flashaholic* mdocod's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    when engines have long cranking times, there are 3 things that are very common issues.

    1. Lazy Fuel pump: or, associated piping... in some tanks... the hose that drops down into the tank becomes corroded, and the pump doesn't get a good "suction" on the fuel. It takes longer than usual to get the fuel lines and rail up to pressure.... Also- sometimes as the pump wears out, it will allow fuel to flow back down the fuel line into the tank while it sits there overnight.
    2. Fuel pressure regulator... May not be bringing the fuel rail up to pressure correctly (too much bleed down to the return line).
    3. Fuel injectors... As injectors age, they develop various issues.. one being that they bleed down during a hot soak(after you shut off the hot engine).. so require more fuel to get primed back up than usual, this leads to long cranking times...

    one way to see if these are the possible problems.. is put the key in the "run" position for a few seconds before cranking- on SOME vehicles you will hear the fuel pump kick on at this point. Then after it has run for a moment (then it will shutoff when the fuel rail is up to pressure) you should crank over the engine and see if it fires up faster.

    If it has a lot of miles on it there are things you should be doing ANYWAYS to keep the car in good working condition. going on a decade old I would replace plugs and plug-wires anyways... Other things not even related to your problems like the timing belt, serpentine belt, water pump, ball joints, struts, wheel bearings, tie rod ends, brake pads/rotors etc etc etc.... should all be at least inspected or considered approaching the end of their usable life.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Several have mentioned cleaning the terminals, which if you do so, might reveal another common problem (I've had it and had to help several with it)... don't just clean the terminals, make sure the connections are solid and tight after reconnecting the cables (actually check before doing anything, then check again afterwards)... oftentimes there can be a crack in the battery clamp that's hard to see, and being malleable, the clamp may still appear "solid" and even tighten down pretty well (or so it seems) when in reality it's just wedging at an angle, and a good tug one way or the other will reveal it can't be truly tightened up.
    This would easily explain this problem (and corrosion in the cable under the clamp, or a bad electrical connection elsewhere (fuel pump for instance), could explain some of these symptoms as well. The cable is marginally tight, but occassionally vibrates out of position, at which point the resistance goes up and the car hesitates to start, or hesitates then fires up, or the lights flicker, etc... as the car is attempting to start, either the current overcomes the resistance of the weak contact, or the shaking as the engine tries to turn over wiggles the cable enough to make solid contact, starting up again full strength.
    Some clamp cracks can be nearly invisible to the eye and so problems keep coming and going for awhile. If it's a problem elsewhere (bad connection, cable corrosion short circuit, etc), that would also explain a lot of your issues (a short sucking current away from the starting circuit would cause hesitant/no start situations). Check your plug wires also, I haven't seen this happen exactly, but my car would start hesitating and acting up in operation from time to time (including stalling for a few seconds a few times with lights dim while going along, then firing up again), it was a bad plug wire that was shorting onto the intake manifold. At first it just seemed like a misfire or alternator/electrical system problem, maybe a tuning issue. If that was happening while starting, it would be just like you describe also.
    Yep, bottom line, no easy 1-answer, but I agree it doesn't sound like the battery itself, so long as it's holding voltage, if it has real problems, they'll show up soon enough, but until the voltage starts turning up low, it's probably something else.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    For the engines have long cranking times, try change the fuel filter and air filter.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Does the start switch share a common contact for the starter solenoid and the ignition? If not and two separate contacts (double pole) exist, perhaps the ignition pole is intermittent - the starter motor is energized but no or too little current flows to the coils.

    Just another thought if other suggestions don't cure your car.
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    If it cranks but doesnt fire it is not the starter or solenoid.

    I would start with a fuel filter change and new plugs. That fixes most problems like this. If that does not fix it, you may then want to do a full tune up (rotor/cap, wires, coil pack(s)). If it still doesn't I would have the fuel pressure tested, to see if the pump is ok.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Any battery experts out there? Sometimes, car hesitates, then starts. Most of the tim

    Here ya go, as I said maybe the ignition switch is bad, yours was recalled...
    http://www.visualimpressions.ca/switch/ at least get that fixed.
    Note on one car I had if the battery power got real low the fuel injectors would not
    respond very well, making the situation worse. So again try these:
    1. LOAD test the battery
    2. Check battery water level
    3. Clean the battery terminals
    4. Check/clean the ground wire(disconnect battery first)
    5. Check/clean the starter wire(disconnect battery first)
    6. Inspect each wiring connector in the engine bay.
    7. Replace ignition switch.
    These should eliminate any possible electrical problem,
    if it fixes it great, if not it cost nothing.
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