Why Your Honda Wont Start and Makes a Clicking Noise [Fixed]

A common question I hear all the time is “why won’t my Honda Civic start and why is it clicking?”. Luckily this is a common problem and pretty easy to diagnose and fix yourself if you know what to look for, so let’s dive in and see what we find.

  1. Dead Battery.
  2. Damaged, loose or corroded battery terminals.
  3. Broken or corroded ground/earth wire.
  4. Faulty starter solenoid.
  5. Faulty alternator.

Even though you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of possibilities and problems you may face, don’t worry, this articles covers everything you need to get back on the road in no time.

Dead Battery

The first thing is to make sure your battery isn’t dead. This is especially important in the winter months because the cold and frost will kill old car battery’s. If your battery is dead you’ll hear a slight clicking noise when your turn the key. This indicates the car is not getting the correct amount of current needed to crank the engine.

You might also notice the radio, lights, horn and everything else electrical not working or working very dimly. This is a sure sign your battery is dead.

To check your battery for power simply set your multimeter to DC, connect the red lead of the multimeter to the battery pole marked (+) and the black lead to the battery pole marked (-). This should give you a reading of between 11volts and 14volts.

car battery test
12volts indicates a good battery

If the voltage in the battery is lower than 10volts the car wont have the power to start and will begin to make a rapid clicking noise. If your battery is dead you can jump-start it off another car if you have jumper cables and a neighbor’s car, or better yet you could use the booster pack that I cover in this article to be sure you never get stranded with a dead battery again.

Damaged, Loose or Corroded Battery Terminals

All too often the reason why your Honda won’t start is that the battery cables become damaged, loose or corroded. If this happens the current needed from the battery to start the car cannot leave the battery due to a poor connection between the cables and the battery.

corroded battery terminals
Badly Corroded Battery Cables

This would cause a rapid clicking noise and stop the engine from firing because the electrical components cannot get the current they need to operate. This is an easy problem to diagnose and fix by giving the terminals a clean using a wire brush.

  1. Check the battery leads for tightness.
  2. Inspect battery terminals and cables for corrosion.
  3. If corrosion is present remove the battery cables from the battery using a 10mm spanner.
  4. Clean away corrosion with a wire brush.
  5. Reinstall and retighten cables onto the battery.
  6. Cover terminals in electrical contact grease to prevent any future corrosion.

Broken Ground/Earth Cable

If you have a broken ground wire or a poor high resistance connection, like an earth strap installed over a painted area, your car will not start. A visual inspection of the engine bay would easily tell you if you have a broken wire because earth wires are thick heavy gauge wire bolted at each end to the body and engine.

honda civic gearbox earth
Honda Civic Gearbox Earth Wire

There are usually two earth wires, one on the gearbox and one on the engine or rocker cover. When the connections become rusty and corroded like the one in the photo they become brittle and break. If the earth breaks the electrical circuit is broken and the car won’t start.

rocker cover earth strap
Honda Civic Rocker Cover Earth Wire

If your ground/earth wires are badly corroded, remove the earth wires from the car, clean them using 80 grit sandpaper or a wire wheel, clean the area of the car they are being bolted onto until it is shiny metal then reinstall them back onto the car.

If your ground/earth wires are broken completely you will either need to buy new earth wires at your local auto parts store and replace them yourself, or you could bring the car to a mechanic who could likely fix your earth cables by crimping new lugs onto the wires. Either way, it’s not a big job.

How Do I know If My Starter Solenoid is Broken?

If your starter solenoid is broken you will hear a click from the starter when you turn the ignition. This clicking is the solenoid sticking inside the housing and not engaging the starter with the flywheel as it should. To check the health of the solenoid there is two tests to carry out, a continuity and a function test.

starter solenoid continuity test#2
Field/Solenoid Terminal Continuity Test

Continuity Test

  1. Disconnect the wire from the field terminal, this is the large terminal with the wire connecting the solenoid to the starter body.
  2. With a multimeter test for continuity between the field terminal and the solenoid terminal(the smallest terminal) there should be continuity between both terminals.
  3. Test for continuity between the solenoid terminal and the solenoid body, there should also be continuity.
starter solenoid continuity test
Solenoid Terminal to Housing Continuity Test

If no continuity exists on either of these tests it means the solenoid has an open circuit and needs to be replaced.

Function Test

  1. Check battery is fully charged at 12 volts.
  2. Connect Power Probe to the solenoid terminal and inject 12v into the terminal, this will energize the solenoid and force it to engage the starter motor. If you don’t have the luxury of a Power Probe you can check one out here or you can use a heavy gauge jumper wire connected to the battery terminal (+) and the other end of the wire to the solenoid terminal on the starter, this will energize the solenoid.
starter solenoid
Starter Solenoid Terminal

If the starter still doesn’t engage and the engine doesn’t crank it means the solenoid is not working and needs to be replaced.

Honda Alternator Problems

If your Honda won’t start and it’s making a clicking noise it means the electrical system in the car doesn’t have enough power coming from the battery to operate. The alternator’s job is to keep the battery charged while the car is running, if the alternator fails the car battery will go dead and the car will either eventually stall or just not start at all. A warning sign of a faulty alternator is the battery light will light on your dash, this light means the battery isn’t charging.

Honda altenator
Honda Alternator
  1. Inspect alternator to ensure the belt is not broken or missing.
  2. Set multimeter to DC.
  3. Connect the red lead of the meter to the battery terminal (+) and the black lead to the battery terminal (-).
  4. Start the car and the meter should read between 14.2 volts and 14.7 volts (charging voltage).

If you get a reading any lower that 14 volts it means the alternator is undercharging the battery and needs to be replaced.


With over twenty years worth of experience in the motorsport industry and many happy customers you can rest assured that the information you get here on BackyardBuildz.com is 100% free, reliable and without the fluff.

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