I have a 2005 Honda Civic and today out of the blue it wouldn't start. I hear a click sound when I turn the key to start, but nothing else. The car lights still work, and they dim slightly when attempting to start the car (which is normal for this car). Everything electrical inside the car also works fine, the engine just isn't cranking.

The battery is three years old, but it's still fully charged. I put a load on it and it's holding a charge under load just fine. Also, the battery terminals and connecting wires are very clean with no traces of rust or corrosion.

The car is a 5-speed and it still starts great on a hill, or with a push, so the engine isn't seized up.

I suspect that maybe the starter is bad, but I'm not entirely sure. Are there any other tests I can run before just replacing the starter? I'm on a budget so I'm just trying to avoid replacing the starter and then finding out that wasn't the issue.

Thanks for any help!

  • my 1998 honda civic ex with a 5-speed manual transmission does the same thing as well and i think its your starter motor Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 17:13

4 Answers 4


Worth checking for good earth from body/battery to engine, check for good positive connection on starter - check for corrosion etc. Worth tapping the motor body to possibly force worn brush to make contact - don't beat the hell out of it - this will prove starter motor issue beyond repute if it does start on key. But it's most likely the motor needs recon/replacement.

  • Thanks. So other than a bad starter, I'll also check for a bad connection to the starter. Is there anything else, possibly non-starter related, that might be the cause of this problem?
    – Timothy
    Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 1:33
  • 1
    @Timothy ... You can always take the starter off yourself and have it tested at a local parts store. If it's still good, put it back on and check elsewhere. Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 2:17
  • @Timothy You really need to make sure the simple things are working before looking for other possible causes, does the starter have a good earth? Does it have main power? Does it have switching power from the ignition switch?
    – SMAuto
    Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 12:10
  • 1
    So, tapping the starter didn't get it started, and neither did unwiring and rewiring the ground/connection. However, when I took out the starter completely out, shook it a bit, and put it back in, that must have jostled it around sufficiently, because it started working again. I figured that since it stopped working once, it was going to happen again so I just replaced the starter. If the car continues to drive fine with the new starter for a week, I'll mark your solution as the answer. Super thankful for the help!
    – Timothy
    Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 18:35
  • That'll be worn brushes on the starter then. I had a car like that for ages - I used to keep a length of 2"x1" timber in the car to hit the starter with every time it wouldn't work (about once a fortnight at the time), until I could afford to replace it.
    – Nick C
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 10:54

A starter clicking but not turning is a problem of amperage. Too few amps are making it to the actual starting motor. This can be caused by;

  • An almost dead battery
  • Corroded or loose battery cables/ends
  • Bad windings/brushes in the starter motor
  • Bad/worn solenoid (in the starter of most modern vehicles)

3 years is generally a good life for a starting battery, but you said it tested OK under load. You also said the wiring was ok, so it sounds like you've already narrowed it down to the starter.

Autozone and Orielly will both test starters (off the vehicle), I'm sure other auto parts stores do as well. If it tests bad, replace it. If not recheck the other items on the list.

  • Doesn't the clicking sound rule out bad/worn solenoid as the possible cause? Seems to me that the click is coming from the solenoid, indicating that it works properly.
    – juhist
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:42

A few items always need to be checked

  • Both positive and negative wires connection to the battery, engine and starter

  • Starter relay, normally under glove compartment

  • Water thermostat sensor ground connection

  • The starter's brushes.


The solenoid clicking indicates the solenoid coil is energizing. Frequently the problem is pitted contacts, from arcing where the solenoid passes the high current to the starter. Some units can be disassembled and the pitting sanded off.

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