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Old 03-25-2012, 02:09 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 6,468
Car won't start after sitting for 3 months

Battery seems to be fine, engine turns over but won't start. It started one time but quickly cut off. It's a 99 Acura Integra 5 speed. Any advice?
Old 03-25-2012, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,117
Spray some starting fluid (ether) into the air intake duct.
Old 03-25-2012, 03:29 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Maryland
Posts: 3,785
What makes you say the batery is fine? Headlights, interior lights, or stereo working isn't enough of an indicator. I had a car sit idle for 3months and it wouldn't start.
Lights worked, so did the stereo. But I still needed a jump to turn it over.

Turns out that the stupid car had a light under the hood that was always on. 3 months plus cold weather sucked the life out of the battery. From that day on I removed the bulb under the hood. Never happened again, even after a second 3 month sleep.
Old 03-25-2012, 03:56 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,622
The OP did say that the engine turns over, but won't fire. So it wasnt' just a diagnosis based on the radio working.

So the problem is either fuel or spark. Fuel is more likely to be the problem caused by sitting idle. If the ignition system worked well last time the car ran, nothign should have changed. One exception might be if the car was somewhere very moist, a problem with an ingition coil or wire could impede spark. But in this case, my money is on poor fuel delivery caused by gumming/varnish in old fuel. If you can get is started (starting fluid is a good suggestion), run through the rest of the gas, perhaps with a fuel system cleaner in the tank. Get fresh fuel in there ASAP.
Old 03-25-2012, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: State of Hockey
Posts: 4,375
It could be that your fuel line is gummed up.

Another alternative really could be your starter. You say your engine turns over when you start it. Does it stop when you let go of the key? Twice I have experienced a starter while the electric was in contact while starting but was loose enough to lose contact when the key was no longer in starting position.
Old 03-25-2012, 05:28 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,803
Spark and fuel

You need to find somebody who can check for spark and fuel and go from their. Then go from their. You could turn the key on briefly without hitting the starter and listen for the fuel pump running. It should run about three seconds before quitting. If there is too much local noise you can open the gas cap and hold your ear up against the opening to listen while somebody turns the key.

So many things could have happened. Since it started briefly, I tend to think fuel is the problem. You could beat on the fuel tank area to attempt to get the pump started if that's a problem. The crank position sensor might have gotten rusty in three months. It might have just had enough reading for that brief start. You should be able to locate that sensor and visually observe corrosion.

You should also check the battery voltage while cranking. If it drops too low, like under 9 volts, the starter will still crank, but the electronics won't be able to generate a spark. That would sound rather likely after three months. Charge the battery and try again. A jump start can sometimes be misleading in these cases because the power drains to the dead battery.
Old 03-25-2012, 05:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: In a canyon, in a cavern
Posts: 1,125
Since we are just guessing, I'll take the fuel filter for $200.

As has been advised, get some good gas and a can of either Berryman's B12 or Seafoam, either should be available at an auto parts store. I'd add an entire can (a pint to 20 ounces or so) and fill the tank with fresh gas. You need to drive the car to empty the tank again, then fill it again with fresh gas.

It is not a good thing to let a car sit without driving it. Three months is pretty long; you should take it our at least once a month and drive it at least 20-30 miles to get all the fluids warmed up and circulated. Get some fuel stabilizer (Sta-Bil I believe is the best known) and add that to a tank of fresh gas if you know you will be storing the car for more than a few weeks.

The fact that it started and ran briefly is a good sign.

excavating (for a mind)
Old 03-25-2012, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Ohio
Posts: 10,416
Likely culprits:

Fuel pump
Fuel filter
Ignition module
Crank sensor (if it has one)

Use process of elimination to find root cause.

First check fuses.

If there are spark plug cables, I would next use timing light to determine if voltage is getting to one of the spark plug cables. If the engine does not have spark plug cables or they're inaccessible, pull a spark plug, ground it, have someone crank the engine a few times, and then look for spark.
Old 03-25-2012, 07:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Nevada
Posts: 2,162
When this happened to an old truck of mine the problem was traced to hardware related to fuel, filter, pump, line or some such.
Old 03-25-2012, 07:51 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Montana
Posts: 4,965
One more thing to add to the list of suspects is the main relay. This relay energizes the engine control electronics and is a bit of an Achilles' heel for Honda products. Depending on the exact car, a failed relay can cause no spark, no fuel or both. The most common failure mode is intermittent hot weather no-starts, but they also just randomly fail.
Old 03-26-2012, 06:13 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 6,468
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
Spray some starting fluid (ether) into the air intake duct.
how much do I spray
Old 03-26-2012, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,117
Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
how much do I spray
Two or three seconds. If it runs for a moment and dies, that indicates lack of fuel is the problem. Give it a few tries in the hope it will run and stay running.

Last edited by Gary T; 03-26-2012 at 07:41 PM.
Old 04-01-2012, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 6,468
Starter fluid worked great. Cheapest car fix ever - $2.98.
Old 04-01-2012, 04:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orygun forest
Posts: 4,467
Great! Always check for the simplest problem first. Most mechanical things will not break just by sitting for long periods of time. Fuel pumps, sensors, wiring, they just don't fail because of lack of use.

In spite of the perceived complexity of modern engines, they still require only three things to make them at least sputter; air, fuel and spark. If you have all three you should get some kind of bang.

So you check the air filter to make sure a mouse hasn't built a nest in there and plugged it up. You can pull a spark plug wire, place a plug in it and ground the plug to the engine and look for spark. And if you have air and spark, then it is a fuel problem.

If you have all three the engine should at least backfire, sputter or something. Might run like hell and you have to look for the more complex reason, but if the engine does nothing the problem is still one of the basic 3.
Old 04-02-2012, 12:02 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Antioch
Posts: 11,459
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
Spray some starting fluid (ether) into the air intake duct.
I always keep a can of this around so I can start the gas mower in two tries.
Old 04-02-2012, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Location: Location:
Posts: 10,482
If you have ethanol and you tank wasn't sealed/capped well, it might have phase separated and would require draining. No additives or filters would help.

You might be sucking in water and only water. Adding fuel = same problem.

Last edited by Philster; 04-02-2012 at 04:17 PM.

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