I have a 1996 Civic which was running fine and then stopped.

When I turn the key to ON, the dash lights come on.

When I turn the key to START the starter turns and the engine turns over but the dash lights go out and the car won't start.

I can however jump/crash start the car from the ON position.

  • What is the voltage at the battery? It sounds as though the battery is dieing. Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


My first thought is a faulty ignition switch. If I understand the symptoms correctly, it sounds like the switch is providing power to the engine ignition system when in position 2, but when you put it in position 3 to start the car, the ignition switch breaks the power to the engine ignition system causing the lights to go out and failure to start. Because you only put it in position 2 to push start (and I am presuming here that is what you mean when you say jump/crash start) the car starts as normal.

If you mean it starts using jump leads, then you either have a bad connection at the battery terminals causing a high resistance or your battery is not able to provide enough power and needs replacing. If this is the case I would expect the starter motor to sound like it is struggling to turn the engine when you try to start the engine.

  • By crash start, I mean a rolling start. 2nd gear, clutch in, start rolling, release clutch
    – John
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 17:57
  • @John how does the starter sound when it turns over.
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 19:02
  • The engine turns over, but very quickly
    – John
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 21:18
  • 1
    Marked correct: It was the ignition switch contacts. It was rather easy to fix - 30 min job. I removed the surround from the steering column and was able to remove the ignition switch contacts with by undoing two phillips screws. I disconnected the swicth and harness at the plug near the fuse connector. It's difficult to open up the contacts as it has about five plastic lock tabs which all need undoing at the same time. A little contact cleaner and a fine sandpaper fixed it.
    – John
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 21:19

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