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Car won't start in Rain...WTF!!!!

08-12-2003, 11:03 AM
Ok, let me preface this with I am a woman, intermediate when it comes to my level in working with cars, but by no means expert!! Here is my problem:

When it rains overnight, my car won't start. It attempts to turn over, but it doesn't. Now this is happening intermitently, without rhyme or reason, and after waiting 5 - 10 minutes, it will start without hesitation. I know the spark plugs were recently replaced, and initially I thought it was the distributor being shorted out by moisture, but it happens in dry times too!! Please help!! I will provide any additional data necessary...I don't want to get suckered at a dealer...and I don't want to pay more than necessary, especially if I can do this myself :-)


Elise :)

4-Door Flunky
08-12-2003, 12:03 PM
You say the car will turn over...but doesn't. Do you mean that you hear the engine actually going rrrr-rrr-rrrr, but that it doesn't start?
Since you say this happens first thing in the morning, when I assume the car is cool, then it's probably not your main relay.
So: is the engine actually turning?
If it's not spinning when you turn the key, do you hear a 'click!' noise?
Do the warning lights on your dash come on when you try to start the car? Watch the warning lights, and see if they quit the moment you turn the key...when a battery cable is loose, you turn the key and 'click!', all the warning lights go off, the clock goes blank, and everything else quits, too. My battery cable gets loose about 4 times a year.
Anyway, give us a little more information, please.

08-12-2003, 06:05 PM
Hey I think I did say the car attempts to turn over, in other words it sounds like it is going to start but it doesn' clicking noise either. At first it happened after heavy overnight rain in the morning, but it is now happening when the car is hot in dry conditions. One thing though, when it does it after the rain, the car won't start again until the rain dries (in the summer - could be later on in the afternoon that it starts, when it is cold and it rains, won't start all day until the next dry day). When is does it when after I have done some driving and stop at the store or something, sometimes it won't start, I take the keys out, wait 5 - 10 minutes, and it will start.

This is the craziest thing and I am pleased with my car so far but hell this is frustrating...

All the lights, radio, panel lights, all come on (as they normally do) when attempting to start without success.

08-12-2003, 06:17 PM
might be the main relay...

08-12-2003, 07:07 PM
I am going with main relay as well.

08-12-2003, 07:39 PM
hhmmmm...whats the chance of 2 problems, main relay for the no start when its hot.... and cap,rotor, wires for the no start when its wet.....


08-12-2003, 09:26 PM
you need a main relay, the gasket on the dist. cap is probally old and its letting moisture in the cap my advice is to change cap, gasket, rotor. and throw some plugs and wires in ther efor safe measures

08-13-2003, 07:09 AM
OK - now with regard to the main relay, are you saying that you suspect a "dry joint?" If so, can I take the main relay, find the dry joint, and resolder? Also, does anyone suspect it is the distributor itself? I will replace the cap & rotor, replace the spark plugs (again) and the ignition wires and that should eliminate the wet start problems correct? If this doesn't correct the problem does that suggest the distributor is bad? Thanks for everyone's help ~ I do appreciate :-)

4-Door Flunky
08-13-2003, 12:01 PM
Hello again.
The cap is only $12 at Autozone. The gasket for my cap was bad, and when I sprayed my engine at the car wash, the car wouldn't start.
I took the cap off and found water in there. I wiped it out and stuck it back on. It took five minutes.
Car started right up.
And yeah, as long as you've got the cap off, change the rotor, too. They cost about $6 (sometimes as low as $3!). The only difficult thing about changing the distributor rotor is there's a tiny phillips head screw that you have to take out and put back in, and it's hard to get the distributor at just the right spot so you can get your screwdriver in there.
Good luck!
PS-I've never had to play with the main relay. Your distributor is probably ok. When they go bad, they quit and don't start again, no matter what you do. Yours is still starting.

08-13-2003, 12:37 PM
I had the main relay thing happen to me. I didn't look at it inside (is it potted? can it be taken apart?) but I doubt it's a cold solder joint or anything like that. Probably more like insulation on the field coil failing or contacts rotted. It's about $50 at the dealer and it's easy to replace.

My symptoms were when warm the starter spun the motor, it fired briefly, stumbled and died. After a battle it would eventually start. Warm weather made it worse.

Does you starter spin the motor? I didn't get that from your post.

08-14-2003, 09:48 AM
Hey all,

Just called the dealer and they say $150 to fix main relay, does this sound right?? I can't find the part for shit anywhere....arrgghh! Is this something I can do myself (if I find the part)?

Re: motor spinning...I don't know what you mean by this, but once when it stopped raining, I got the car started, but I had no gas it did start, but when I pressed on the gas, there was no pressure and the car "choked." Again, this has happened only once on a rainy day...usually it won't start at all on heavy rains...but it seems like when it is warm and it rains, the car may start, but when it is cold and it rains, it definitely won't start.

I do agree with the main relay for when it doesn't start when I make a pit stop (stop at the store). It takes about 5 - 15 minutes for it to start..OH ONE there any temporary fix or anything else I can do to start the car when the main relay is acting up, or does it control the fuel pump/fuel injectors too??

Thanks all...Elise

08-14-2003, 10:49 AM
You can do it yourself. All it takes is a 10mm wrench and a philips screwdriver. It is located under the interior panel just outboard of the hood release. You'll have an advantage being a girl as your hands will be smaller (maybe) to get into the space where it is.

Check out this link. Apparently dry solder joints may be an issue. You might try that if you want to save The $50. In the pic, ours looks like the lower one.

You can buy the part on line from Majestic Honda.

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