Honda CR-V Won’t Start? Here’s Why And How To Fix

Do you have a Honda CR-V, but it won't start for some reason? Here's why you can't start your Honda CR-V and what to do in order to fix it.

So, your Honda CR-V won’t start? Don’t worry; this page is full of ideas about what might be going wrong.

You should note that whatever’s going wrong is unlikely to be a Honda-specific issue.

The list of faults here can affect any vehicle of any age. However, for clarity, you’ll find a couple of Honda CR-V common problems that might be related to starting.

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How Does A Honda CR-V Start?

A Honda CR-V’s engine turns on precisely like any other ICE car. Understanding how it works will help you diagnose the root cause.

When you turn the key to START, it connects two terminals, closing the ignition switch. This activates an electrical circuit connected to the starter solenoid and motor.

The solenoid is energized by the current. The tightly coiled wires form an electromagnet when this happens. The electromagnetic field draws a plunger into position.

This plunger performs two simultaneous functions. It causes the pinion gear to jut out and mesh with the engine’s flywheel. At the same time, it connects two contactor switches, completing the circuit to the motor.

As a result, the high-current starter motor torques, spinning the pinion gear and thus cranking the engine.

When the flywheel turns, the pistons travel up and down (reciprocally) in the cylinders. This gives the engine the momentum to start running under its own power.

When you release the key, it cuts off the starting circuit. The solenoid no longer receives current (that is, it’s de-energized). Because of this, the pinion gear returns to its resting position, and the starter motor stops producing power.

The engine is now running.

What’s Going Wrong When A Honda CR-V Isn’t Starting?

man inserting key in car ignition lock

In the system, as detailed above, there must be a fault.

It could rest anywhere from the ignition switch to the fuel injectors or spark plugs.

This might sound like a lot to comb through. Identifying what’s actually happening will make it much easier to zero in on the issue.

So, is your CR-V

  1. Cranking but not starting? In this case, you’ll hear the ruhruhruh when you turn the key, but the engine doesn’t get started.
  2. Not cranking, and you only hear a click? This means power is getting to the starter solenoid, but the motor isn’t turning the flywheel.
  3. Making no noise at all? The starter solenoid isn’t doing anything.

Note: “cranking” and “turning over” are synonymous terms.

This article will break down the potential problems into the three categories above. Depending on what your CR-V is doing, scroll down to the respective section.

Honda CR-V Known Starting Problems

Before delving in, here are some known CR-V problems that could affect the car’s starting. If you suspect your vehicle is suffering from one of these issues, contact a Honda dealership. It might be fixed for free – you never know.

Second-Generation Ignition Switches

Car Ignition Switch

Second-generation Honda CR-Vs had ignition switch problems. If the starting circuit terminals are affected, power won’t reach the starter solenoid. You won’t hear any noise at all.

Investigate if you have a Honda CR-V built between 2002 and 2007 and can’t hear anything when you turn the key.

Loss Of Battery Power Due To Parasitic Drains

Honda CR V Hood

This affects a seemingly random range of cars across all CR-V generations. There are different underlying causes.

If your vehicle’s suffering from this issue, you’ll regularly notice a dead battery. It can drain even overnight. Of course, that’s unacceptable.

The root cause of most of these is a parasitic drain. This is when an electronic component continues drawing current from the battery after you switch the car off.

Parasitic drains affect all manufacturers worldwide. Most do a scarily good job of sweeping it under the proverbial rug.

Two lawsuits are currently ongoing – one in California, the other in Iowa. 

Here are two of Honda’s official parasitic drain bulletins:

  • Honda TSB A11090M – released 9/1/2011. The air conditioning compressor clutch relay gets stuck on. This draws power from the battery even when the engine’s off. You might also notice A/C problems. It’s an easy fix, whether DIY or in a dealership. Affects:
    • 1998-2012 EX
    • 1998-2012 LX
    • 2000-2001 SE
    • 2005-2006 SE
    • 2011 SE
  • Honda TSB 17-032 – released 6/14/2017. Title: Parasitic draw from VSA modulator. Vehicle Stability Assist software should shut off after you stop the car. Applying the electronic parking brake within 3 or 4 seconds of turning the vehicle off (or if you hold it for 3 or 4 seconds) can lead to this software error. A 350mA current is still drawn from the battery once the car’s off. TSB 17-032 only affects specific 2017 CR-Vs. Check the link and compare with your VIN to see if your vehicle might be impacted.
    • 2017 CR-V (1.5T, 2WD):
    • 2017 CR-V (1.5T, AWD):
    • 2017 CR-V (2.4, 2WD):
    • 2017 CR-V (2.4 AWD):

Wrong Battery Charge Mode (2012 to 2014)

Honda TSB 12-041 – issued 11/8/2014. A sensor monitors the battery condition and selects the charging mode based on battery sulfation and driving habits. As a result, the battery won’t be fully charged when you turn the car off. You’ll need a software update.

This issue affects all 2012 to 2014 Honda CR-Vs.

Honda CR-V Starting Problems

Honda CR V

If your car isn’t affected by these common problems, here are some generic starting issues.

Honda CR-V Cranks But Won’t Start

If your CR-V is cranking but won’t start, power is reaching the starter solenoid and motor. 

The problem, therefore, probably doesn’t rest with this component or the ignition switch. However, it could still be related to the battery.

  • Low battery power (but not completely discharged) – some current reaches the solenoid and motor. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to start it. Try jump-starting the car. The underlying cause still needs diagnosing, so head to a local mechanic.
  • No fuel – if your tank is empty or there’s a leak somewhere, there’s nothing for the engine to burn. The fuel filter could also be severely clogged. As a result, it’ll crank but can’t start.
  • Multiple misfires – your car can usually start with one or even two misfires. However, misfires in several cylinders mean it simply doesn’t have enough oomph. Misfires could be caused by bad spark plugs, injectors, ignition coils, insufficient compression, and more. You’ll have noticed low power in the preceding days and weeks.
  • Crankshaft position sensor – if this sensor fails, it’ll mess with the engine timing. Fuel will enter the cylinder at the wrong moment, leading to inefficient combustion. The car might not be able to start. OBD II codes can diagnose this on most cars.

Honda CR-V Won’t Start, Clicking Noise

Hearing Click Sound

The clicking noise you’re hearing is the starter solenoid engaging the plunger. Current is reaching the solenoid, but the starter motor isn’t cranking the engine.

  • Low battery power – even an almost completely discharged battery still has enough voltage to power the solenoid’s coil. It takes a relatively small current. However, cranking the starter motor itself is another story. It draws hundreds of Amps. The dead battery could have been caused by a faulty alternator or it might just be old.
  • Damaged solenoid terminals – if the connecting terminals are rusted or damaged, the circuit to the motor won’t complete.

Honda CR-V Not Starting, No Noise At All

No Sound

When you don’t hear anything at all, it means the starter solenoid isn’t activating. This could be due to:

  • A completely discharged battery – it doesn’t even have enough charge to power the solenoid.
  • Immobilizer/anti-theft devices – these prevent it from starting without the registered key. You might need a new key battery or to get your car reprogrammed. Get in touch with an automotive locksmith.
  • Faulty wiring/terminals – circuits aren’t complete if something isn’t connected correctly. This requires an in-depth diagnosis from an automotive electrician.
  • Ignition switch – when the ignition switch doesn’t complete the circuit, there’s no connection between the battery and the starter.

How Do I Repair My Honda CR-V?

Fix or Repair

If your CR-V won’t start, it’s best to first check out the service bulletins. Have your VIN at hand. You’ll find it either on a door sill or at the bottom of the windshield.

If you identify that your car is affected by one of them, it’s actually good news. You might get the issues fixed for free.

Otherwise, most starting problems can be fixed with a new battery. A new alternator can go a long way sometimes, too.

Try jump-starting your car, ensuring you give it enough time for the battery to charge. If your CR-V won’t start, but the battery is good, a deeper issue is at play.

Have the starter motor tested. You might need a new one. It’ll also come with a new solenoid since these parts are intrinsically connected.

Finally, you might have to focus on misfires or electrical faults (including the ECU). These can be a more expensive diagnosis, mostly in labor rate charges.

Expect to pay the following:

  • New battery: $100
  • New alternator $300 to $600
  • New starter motor: $300 to $400
  • Replacement ignition switch: $300
  • Misfire diagnosis and repair: $300 to $600
  • Electrical diagnosis and repair: $700 to $1,000

Rounding Up: Honda CR-V Won’t Start

Honda CR V SUV

Whenever any car doesn’t start, it can feel like the end of the world. Perhaps the most important thing is to stay calm. It’s probably nothing too serious, and you’ll probably be back on the road in no time.

Don’t be afraid to call breakdown services or a call-out mechanic if you need to.

One last thing to be aware of: Honda dealerships. If the problem stems from one of the service bulletins listed above, you could be in luck.

However, if it isn’t, it’ll cost much more to have the same repairs done. If you go to a dealership, ensure you get your car back before the technicians start diagnosis work. There’s no need to break the bank unnecessarily.

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Benjamin Kitchen

Ben is an automotive author from England. With experience in a fast-fit garage, he's an IMI-qualified light vehicle technician. He aims to help drivers worldwide with common automotive problems. You’ll often find him working with his 1.2 Vauxhall Corsa – it may have a tiny engine, but in eight years it's never once let him down!

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