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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2006 TSX automatic has just over 200K miles, battery replaced 3 months ago. For the past week, the starter motor has been progressively struggling to turn the engine over, and it nearly stranded me today in the garage. Out comes the Fluke meter. Battery voltage resting = 12.56V. Battery voltage with engine running and alternator charging = 14.20V. Parasitic current draw after 5 minutes with no lights / accessories on = 20 mA (well below the 50mA guideline). Voltage during cranking drops momentarily to 11.9V, then jumps right back to normal when engine starts. Side note 1: The “CHECK EMISSION SYSTEM” light has been going on and off for YEARS now. It will stay on for a day or two, then disappear for weeks at a time. I’ve just ignored the damned thing. Side note 2: I’ve DISCONNECTED the hands free link module. That cured a bad parasitic battery drain last month and everything was fine, but now the hard starting problem is back. My own theories for what’s giving me the hard starting problem: a) the starter itself might be due for replacement after 17yrs and 200Kmiles b) maybe that emission system circuitry is draining the battery when I’m not there to test the battery. Any other ideas welcome before I pull my hair out or spend BIG bucks with a specialist. Has anyone else had slow labored cranking on their TSX??
 

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Have your battery undergo a load test at a major auto parts store unless you have a battery analyzer that can test for it. Most major auto parts stores do it for free in my area. They can also give you an opinion on whether your starter may be going bad. The best way to check a starter is via a bench test but definitely test your battery under load first.

Also check your battery cables to ground and to your alternator. Make sure they aren't frayed or corroded and that the connections are tight. Your issue could be as simple as a bad cable connection.
 

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The stater ground also flows through three braided ground straps from the block to the body. Check those for corrosion, fraying, or just plain broken. I would remove, clean, and re-install all of those connections (they just bolt on). Two are easily accessible on the left side of the block facing the motor from the front. The other is on the right side down near the tranny.

After that, you probably just need a new starter... those do not last forever by any means. Mine is still good at 195K, but I do mostly highway miles so it has fewer cycles than average for that mileage.

Also... there's a distinction between "hard cranking" and "long cranking"... hard cranking would sound like slow or struggling cranking. Long cranking would be normal speed cranking that takes longer before the engine starts. The later is a known symptom of a weak fuel pump. You can test for that by checking the fuel pressure, which requires a special honda connector or you can get some hoses and fittings and dummy one up yourself. Also supposedly if you key the ignition on and then off several times to pressurize the fuel system before actually cranking and then it starts right up, that would indicate a bad pump.

Last thing, since you have an emissions light, that might possibly be a clogged cat, which would impede flow through the engine and might cause hard cranking. But I'm pretty sure you'd also notice power loss while driving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I let er sit overnight and bat voltage has dropped to 12.48V. I was able to start the car twice, but again with a slow labored cranking. The car requires a quick turn of the key, a couple cranks and it runs.....never any prolonged cranking. I'm used to a fast vigorous cranking from the starter, and not this slow labored chugging. I'm leaning toward a voltage problem, and would like to see that 12.48 lean more to 12.6 or more, so I've got it on the battery charger now as I type. Car has an Interstate group 51 battery in it that's just 4 months old. I did the parasitic measurement again, and looking closely, it pulsates between 20mA and 30mA which seems to be right in time with the alarm LED showing in the interior. As for the cables mentioned, I need to delve into that as well as a load test. Wondering if I need a different battery, although I haven't read anything bad about Interstate batteries.
 

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Definitely look at the ground straps, those can corrode badly in a climate that's wet or has salt. Many components don't rely on those ground straps but the starter definitely does, that's why there's three of them.

Do you have a battery tester, like this?


If not either get one, charge the battery (disconnected from the car), let it sit for a few hours and then test it. Or take it to FLAPS, they can charge and test it. Just checking the voltage does not tell you the whole story, a battery could have good voltage at rest but a defect could prevent it from generating the necessary amps to crank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
In a real predicament now. I searched and searched for ground wires, but my aching back prevents me from craning into that crammed engine compartment. After this morning's charging the voltage stayed in the high 12's (12.9). I took car for a short trip. When it was time to leave the car acted like there was a dead battery with battery warning symbol flashing on dashboard, and it wouldn't even crank. I tried 2 more times to start, and she chugged and miraculously started so I could take the car home. Battery voltage is still 12.9V, and I guess I'm gonna have to bite the bullet and schedule a mechanic's estimate IF....yes IF I can start the car again and limp it into repair shop. Over the phone the repair guy (who has worked on many Honda/ACura cars) strongly suggested the starter @17yrs and 201K miles is living on borowed time. . Will post outcome. .
 

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I would agree that's a long time for a starter, assuming it's original.. I suspect mine is only still good due to lots of highway miles.

If you can remove the battery yourself and take it to an autoparts store they can charge and test it, might save a shop diagnostic fee if all you need is a battery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Update: Miraculously it started right up this afternoon like nothing had ever happened. Took it in to Acura / Honda expert mechanic and he put his Snap-on D-tac plus tester on the battery. It came up with 175 Cold Cranking Amps (just 35% of the 500 CCA rating for that Interstate battery). He explained that the problem would be much worse in the morning when the garage is cold (it was about 40deg this am). Luckily, I still have my Costco receipt for the battery that I got last Sept, so it looks like this Interstate could be a lemon. We'll see if a new batt. cures the problem. Lesson learned: DON"T evaluate a battery just on voltage, alternator charging voltage, or parasitic drain, or battery age (I assumed how COULD a 4 month old battery fail) .....get the damned thing LOAD tested, THEN rule it out.
 

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Glad it was that easy, and warranty.

Those DIY digital battery testers come in handy, they're pretty accurate and can help you you spot a declining battery before it strands you somewhere awkward. I check all of mine annually.

However... the DIY testers are not as accurate in all cases as a real shop battery tester which can actually apply hundreds of amps of load.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So....I install brand new Interstate battery. Everything was OK, she started beautifully for about 2 days then I began to hear that sickening chug chug chug as the starter slowly labored to turn over the engine before starting. New battery voltage = 12.7V, and when charging from alternator = 14.2V. Sensing impending disaster I quickly drove home and it was in the garage that that I found the engine wouldn't start at all. Maybe a feint chug or two, then silence. Not even a click can be heard at this point. The 12.7V drops to about 12.1V when I try to start, then recovers back to the 12.7V when key is removed. Not a peep out of the starter at this point, and here I'm stranded for the weekend. Headlights shine brightly, acessories come on, etc, so I think we can rule out the days old battery. Tell me someone who might have experienced this before on their TSX.......is THIS the insidious way that starters die on a high milage TSX where they very gradually weaken before sudden death? . .
 

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Most likely the starter at this point, assuming you've checked all the wires and grounds.

It's not a hard DIY, but a bit more involved than some cars because I'm pretty sure the intake has to come off. Thre are you-tube videos.

Only other thing it could really would be broken engine mechanicals but that's very, very unlikely since it drove home OK.

If it were me I'd replace the starter. Be advised that if you keep trying to start it a bad starter might draw a lot of current and damage your battery or electrical system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I haven't left it in start mode for more than a second or two. For past 2 days I've monitored voltage on battery; still 12.7V, and it drops to about 12V when I'm briefly trying to start. Not a peep out of anywhere when I try to start. Engine ground cables are tight (the ones I could see and reach anyway) It gives me a sore back just to LOOK at the Utube repair video with that guy struggling to pull off all those hoses, connectors (without breaking them), intake manifold, and that practically unreachable lower bracket.....no thanks; decided to get it towed out of the garage and left to a pro. Thanks all for help and tips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Update, and probable end to posts on this topic: YES, it was the starter at fault. I've found that the starter in this car CAN and it actually DID die a slow agonizing death that tempted me on and on to keep trying live with it. What an absolutely maddening problem when the car starts perfectly one day, then sluggishly the next for weeks on end until it croaked for good. Had it towed to a repair shop where they removed that diabolical carcass of a starter for good and installed a new one. Car starts perfectly now.
 
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