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Acura Integra Dies, Cranks, No Start

Q. I first experienced starting problems some time around October 2003. It happened only once in a while, and whenever it did, dashboard lights/indicators will come on, but nothing, not even cranking. I will have to try a few times whenever this happened before getting the car to start.

Acura Integra Dies, Cranks, No Start

Sometimes I will hear clicks, but no cranking at all. Sometimes, lightly pressing the gas pedal seemed to help, but other times that didn't seem to matter at all. Slowly turning the key seemed to help.

Once started, I had no trouble driving whatsoever, no funny noises and nothing unusual. I thought that maybe it was my car getting old and the unusually cold Boston winter weather we were having, especially because no-start problem happened after not driving for many hours, like in the morning or at night after not driving at all during the day.

I checked the battery to make sure that it was good and cleaned the connections. But the starting problem became more frequent during the past couple of months. Even so, once the car started, I had no trouble driving. I thought that my starter was going bad.

But two weeks ago, while I was driving on the highway (I wan't going very fast due to traffic), suddenly the car died on me. I tried to re-start several times, but it will only crank and not start. I tried pressing the gas pedal, but that didn't help.

I waited a few hours and tried to re-start, but still, there was just cranking and no start. Since it was cranking, I figured it was something other than the starter. I ended up towing my car to a repair shop. Charging me for 1.5 hrs. of diagnostic time.

The repair shop told me that based on their diagnostics, I needed to replace the starter and get it tuned up. I spent $1,300.00 to replace the starter, fuel filter, air filter, spark plugs, distributor cap, ignition rotor, ignition wires and ignition spring and to get the fuel injection service done.

After the repair, the car seemed to work start and run just fine. A week goes by and I must have driven about 100 miles, of which about 35 to 40 miles was on the highway, the rest on local roads. Then three days ago, while I was driving on a local road, I had driven about 10 or 15 minutes, my car suddenly died on me. I stopped at a red light and just as I was starting to move again, the car just died.

There was no sign of any problem up until then. I tried to re-start, but the same problem, cranking, but no start. After a few tries, I lightly pressed on the gas pedal while turning the key and the engine started up again. I took it right back to the repair shop, which was about 2 or 3 miles away.

For two days, the shop tried to figure out what went wrong. They didn't find any computer codes. They test drove and ran some kind of fuel pressure test. They found nothing and while they had the car running, there was no problem, no problem starting and no stalling. The senior mechanic told me that it might be the ignition coil and ignition assembly. But he had nothing to prove his suspicion. Finally, I just took the car out of the shop yesterday afternoon.

But before I even drove 3 miles on local roads, the car died on me again. Similar situation, I was stopped at a light and just as I began to move again, the car died on me, without any warning signs up to that point. I tried to re-start and I just got cranking, but no start. This time, pressing the gas pedal didn't help. Waited 30 minutes or so and tried again, but no start. I had to tow the car back to the shop.

And NOW they are telling me that I have no spark, so it must be the ignition coil and ignition assembly. They said this is a common problem with Honda cars. Is that true? They told me that it will be another $500.00 to replace the ignition coil and ignition assembly.

My faith in this shop is waning. It cost me nearly $550.00 just to replace the starter. I knew that was about $100.00 more than what an Acura dealer quoted me, but since the dealer was further away, spending another $75.00 to $100.00 on towing to save that $100.00 didn't seem to make sense, especially after paying this repair shop $135.00 for the diagnostics.

Now, I am wondering if I really had to replace the starter in the first place. And I'm wondering why the shop didn't find out about the ignition coil and ignition assembly problems the first time I had my car towed in two weeks ago. I paid them $135.00 to figure out what caused the stalling and they told me I needed a new starter and a tune-up with fuel injection service. And after a $1,300.00 work, I ended up with the same problem again only a week later.

Is it so difficult to figure out problems with ignition coil and ignition assembly? I realize that is the case while the car is running fine, but shouldn't they have figured that out in their 1.5-hour diagnostics the first time my car stalled and was towed there?

Doesn't the ignition coil and assembly sit inside the distributor? If so, couldn't I have saved some money on labor at least, if these were replaced when they replaced the distributor cap and ignition rotor? And what is an ignition assembly? Do these two items HAVE to be replaced together?

And my biggest concern and fear at the moment is--what if spending another $500.00 to replace the ignition coil and ignition assembly doesn't fix the problem? What if it's something else, like a fuel pump?

I can't afford to spend a fortune on this kind of guessing game on a 10-year old car. What do you think? There have to be some tests/equipment that the mechanics use to pin-point the exact problem so that I don't keep replacing different parts for hundreds and thousands of dollars.

I've read Q&As on your web site, but didn't find one that was close enough to my situation. I will really appreciate your advice. PLEASE HELP!!

  • 1994 Acura Integra RS
  • 1.8 liter DOHC
  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,800 miles
  • Fuel Injection
  • ABS brakes
  • P/S, A/C, Cruise control

Katherine

A. A problem like this can be very difficult to pinpoint. Yes, there are component tests that can be done, but a technician has to perform these tests when the vehicle won't start. Otherwise everything will check out good and then it's a matter of guessing. Believe me, technicians do not like guessing. It is expensive, time consuming and pisses everybody involved off.

The Ignition Control Module (ICM) is a common part to fail. When they get old they get heat sensitive. That is to say when they get hot, they stop working. Then when they cool off, they will start working again. By the time you give up getting it started and get it towed to the shop, the technician will go out and it will start right up for him.

This would apply to the Main EFI Relay located under the dash, near the brake pedal. But the Main Relay usually craps out when the car has been parked in the sun for a while and the interior of the car heats up. In this case opening the door and letting it cool off gets it working for a while.

Acura Integra Dies, Cranks, No Start

However, when ignition coils go bad, they stay bad. The Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP), Camshaft Position Sensor (CYP) and Top Dead Center (TDC) are prone to going bad as well.

Based on what you describe, my opinion would be a bad ICM. But I can't rule out a bad distributor either.

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