Last Sunday I was driving home and noticed my dash had no lights and my power windows would not roll up. As I pulled into the driveway to park I tried to put the car in reverse. As I did so the shifter would not go into reverse. So I put it in park and turned the ignition off. The car will not start now. I tried jump starting it and it did not work. It will not shift out of park without my shift release key. Please help. I have checked fuses and relay. I'm at a loss and don't understand what's wrong. I can't get a code because I have no power to the dash.

  • Without power, the brake shift interlock will not function, hence not shifting out of park without the interlock release. Have you checked battery cable conditions?
    – Nick
    Aug 23, 2014 at 22:53
  • Yes the cable are good I at first thought maybe thats what is was.The car will not start but I can start it if I use a screw driver against the cylonde I think thats what it is called but even when the car is started it still will not go into gear with out the release key :(
    – erika
    Aug 23, 2014 at 23:00
  • 1
    That'd be "solenoid". Aug 23, 2014 at 23:24
  • Does your car not shift through Reverse to Park? I'm confused there; not many vehicles these days can be shifted to Park without going through Reverse to get there. Aug 23, 2014 at 23:26
  • What release key?
    – dobey
    Aug 24, 2014 at 1:57

3 Answers 3


It sounds like your ignition switch is bad, and needs to be replaced. This is a common failure on Civics of that age, particularly on higher mileage cars. A replacement switch is around $70 from a local parts store, and can take a couple of hours to replace, depending on experience and familiarity with the portions of the car that need to be removed to access and replace the switch.

  • Thank u I will also try that replaced the whole ignition and still having the same problem
    – erika
    Aug 25, 2014 at 3:55
  • It's not a problem in the ignition system under the hood. It's a problem with the switch in the steering column. So yes, replacing distributor/plugs/wires/etc… would have no change.
    – dobey
    Aug 25, 2014 at 13:25

First, I'd like to try to clarify this whole situation a little.

  1. Your car has two keys, correct? An ignition key and an antitheft key that fits a special keyhole in the shifter, which manually permits the shifter to be shifted out of (P)ark without using the ignition key?

  2. As you drove home, you noticed a loss of power to the dash lights and power windows, and when you turned off the ignition key, you noted a total loss of power?

  3. Now your car shows no sign whatever of having any electrical power to the passenger compartment, the lights don't function, the dash indicators don't function, the ignition switch doesn't energize the starter relay or solenoid, but you can crank the car by triggering the solenoid with a screwdriver?

If all that is true, then you either have a blown master fuse (if your car is so equipped) or a bad connection - whether at the battery or at the starter solenoid - that delivers power to the fuseblock, and through the fuseblock to the passenger compartment. A possible alternative explanation would be a faulty chassis ground plus a faulty engine-to-chassis ground, but a good battery-to-engine ground. I don't think you have a grounding problem, though, because the solenoid (which gets its required ground from the body) can be energized with a screwdriver.

If the positive battery post has one heavy red wire leading to the starter solenoid and a smaller red wire leading to the fuseblock (or into the wire loom), then that smaller red wire is your suspected perpetrator - it may have a poor connection at either the battery post clamp or its other end, at the fuseblock.

If instead, your positive battery post has only one heavy red wire leading to the solenoid, but the same stud on the solenoid also has a smaller red wire (still much heavier than most of the other wire under your hood) that leads off to the fuseblock or into the wire loom, then that wire is your suspect.

Last, if you have a vehicle immobilizer but its connection to a horn, siren, or other sounding device has been disconnected (hence the lack of blaring noise), then your immobilizer may be at fault here; it would very likely interrupt all power to the passenger compartment.

It's clear that your battery and its connections to the starter motor are still fine, since you can crank the engine with a screwdriver.

  • Thank you so much TDHOsfstetter everything u wrote as far as me trying to explain was true the only difference is that it isnt just the passanger side or compartment that dosnt have power. The horn works the lights work the brake light works the dash has no lights none of the windows roll up or down the sun roof dosnt open or close when I put the key in the ignition and turn it over the battery light is the only light that comes on but that happens inmust cars it dosnt crank at all this situation has totally stomped everyone I will check what u have suggested
    – erika
    Aug 25, 2014 at 4:00

It might be the Body Control Module.. Erica drove the vehicle home- logically then engine and transmission are ok. The BCM controls the operation of the power windows as well the security system and I would hazard a guess the functions of the instrument cluster as well.

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