I have a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. About a year ago, I noticed it had starting problems if not recently driven in the last few days, like when I'd come back from a vacation or if I didn't drive it during a 3-day weekend. Normally it starts almost instantly; in this case the starter would take a second or two before the engine would catch, initially starting with what seemed like a backfire. My mechanic couldn't figure out anything wrong.
The problem has continued and the "recently" time period has shrunk, now it is about 12 hours or so. I get home at night around 6pm and leave for work around 7:30am, and each time in the morning it has this problem. When I go home it doesn't have the problem. (It's not a temperature issue as far as I can tell; we live in a warm climate and I've had the same problem often when starting during the weekend at midday.)
Does anyone know what it might be + what I should ask my mechanic to look at? I wonder if it is a leak of some sort into the cylinders.
(Just to clear up the obvious question, the starter motor works every time, it just takes a while for the engine to engage.)
- Cranking isn't slow (so the battery doesn't seem like the problem)
- I get a slight hydrocarbon smell after this "bad startup" occurs (fuel or oil maybe?)
- (possibly unrelated issue) When I come to a stop and have my foot on the brake, e.g. at a red light, the engine is supposed to automatically stop and then restart when I take my foot off the brake. It no longer does this, instead it remains idling in the 500-1000RPM range.
Noted conditions when starting after a 36-hour downtime period: engine sputtered for about 1.5 seconds, then started. During this time starter did not slow down appreciably, but had to work very hard and pulled down the starting battery just enough to trip the low-battery light (which went off a few minutes later). (The 12V battery is somewhere between 18-24 months old + seems fine otherwise.)