Are you having troubles starting your Honda Pilot and you are scratching your head why your Honda Pilot won’t start? If this is the situation you are in, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this specific topic.
Having a no-start issue on your car can be a really frustrating thing to deal with. When you most need the car, it simply won’t like to start and your day is ruined. Imagine that you have to go to dinner with your family and the car doesn’t want to start. You are stuck home from the start. Unless you want to pay for an Uber or a taxi. But there is no pleasure in that, to be honest. Especially if you are a car guy who loves driving his car.
Frankly, it happened once to me. My car simply wouldn’t want to start no matter how I tried. In the end, it became clear that the battery was dead and I replaced it and the problem was quickly resolved. But it doesn’t always have to be the battery. There are also other components that could fail and cause a situation like this. And we are going to cover them in this article.
First, we are going to learn more about the Honda Pilot and its basic specs to familiarize ourselves with this model. Then we will cover the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. We will focus on two scenarios. When the Honda pilot doesn’t want to crank and the scenario when the Honda Pilot cranks. After we will learn the cost to solve the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is The Honda Pilot?
So, before we cover the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. Let’s first familiarize ourselves with this model. Since not everybody here knows what is the Honda Pilot in the first place. If you are familiar with the Pilot, you can jump right to the problem. If not, keep reading.
The Honda Pilot is the largest SUV produced by Honda. This SUV is full-size meaning that is one of the largest vehicles out there. This SUV implements three-row seats, meaning that it is perfect if you are having a large family and you need that extra space to accommodate people.
The Pilot was introduced in 2002 for the 2003 model year and now is in its third generation of production. That is 20 years, and during these 20 years, the Pilot has evolved and become one of the best options for the ones who want to get a full-size SUV.
This Pilot is based on the same platform as the Honda Odyssey and the Acura MDX. The MDX is basically a Pilot but with an Acura skin on the outside. It is the SUV to go if you want to get more luxury than the Pilot can offer.
All of the generations come equipped with an engine of the same size 3.5 V6.
Unfortunately, though, some of the Pilot models are 20 years old and this could mean that you will experience Honda Pilot won’t start sooner or later. And that we are going to discuss this in the following chapters where we will elaborate on this problem.
Honda Pilot Won’t Start Problem
Now let’s discuss the problem, which is the Honda Pilot won’t start issue. Nobody likes to have a no-start issue. But that’s how things go and sometimes we have to deal with this and try to solve the problem that we are into.
In order to make it really simple for you, we separated the problem into two scenarios. Scenario 1 when the car doesn’t want to crank and scenario 2 when the Honda Pilot won’t start but cranks.
It is good to note that these two are completely different problems. Even though the epilogue is the same and you are not able to start the SUV. Now let’s jump into the problems and learn both of these scenarios.
Scenario 1: Honda Pilot Won’t Start And Doesn’t Crank
Now let’s discuss scenario number one and that is when the Honda Pilot won’t start and doesn’t crank.
As you know when the car likes to crank, the problem is completely different than when the car doesn’t want to crank. In the following few chapters, we are going to learn why the Honda Pilot won’t start and won’t crank. So, follow along.
Dead Key Fob
The number one reason for the problem of the Honda Pilot won’t start is the dead key fob battery (to find out more, check out our guide on changing batteries in a key fob). But why the key fob plays such a big role when it comes to starting the engine?
Well, in each car there is an anti-theft device also known as an immobilizer. This immobilizer basically works along with the key.
In each key fob, there is a transponder. So, whenever you insert the key, the immobilizer reads the signal from the key. If the battery inside of the key is empty, you will not be able to start the car since the immobilizer will think that someone is trying to steal the car.
So, if your Honda Pilot won’t start and there is a red blinking light on the dash, it means that the immobilizer is active and will not start the car. Replace the battery on the key fob and try to start it. If this doesn’t help, move on to the next probability.
The second possibility when you have a Honda Pilot won’t start and won’t crank problem is in case one of the fuses has blown.
The fuses as you know are installed for our safety. In case there is a short in the electrical system, one of the fuses will blow. When the fuses blow there could be malfunctions of some components like in this case with the starting ability.
If the fuse in charge for this work has blown. It means that you will not be able to start the car and you will first have to replace the fuse. Luckily fuses are cheap and cost no less than a dollar. Just check the fuse box and find out if there are faulty ones. If there are you need to replace them with new ones. This will hopefully solve your Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Dead Lead Acid Battery
Another reason for the Honda Pilot won’t start problem appears is a dead lead-acid battery. As you know whenever you have a dead battery you are not able to start the car.
A lead-acid battery needs always to have 12V of power to allow the engine to crank well and start. If the battery doesn’t hold electricity and the car does only click-click sound, it means that the battery is done and needs to be replaced.
I’m telling you from my experience. I woke up and decided to go and get some groceries. The car simply wouldn’t start. I immediately determined that the problem is the battery. How do I do this? I tested a couple of components like the radio, dome lights and they were flickering. A clear example of a dead battery. So, whenever the Honda Pilot won’t start. Make sure that there is power inside the car. If not, the battery is your problem.
You can also get a multimeter and test the battery if it has power. But the simplest thing is to go and get a new battery. You will not pay more than $100 to solve your Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Rusted Battery Terminals
Another similar cause for the Honda Pilot won’t start problem is rusted battery terminals. As you know, car batteries have acid inside and sometimes this acid can escape from the terminals and rust out the clamps that are holding the terminals.
This rust buildup is greatly affecting the ability of the car to start. There is not enough contact for the electricity transfer to be complete. And eventually, you end up with Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
The solution for this problem is to check the terminals of your battery and if there is rust buildup. Make sure that you clean all the rust with a steel brush and sandpaper. Make sure that you clean the terminals properly and also the clamps. Then give it a go. It should start immediately if the battery is good. If the Honda Pilot won’t start problem continues, continue reading.
Dead Starter Solenoid
A dead starter solenoid can also be one of the causes for the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. But why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because the solenoid is the one that is transferring the electricity to the starter motor so the motor would spin and start the car.
If there is no properly working solenoid, you will end up stuck with the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. The only thing you will get will be a click-click sound.
This solenoid is one of the most important pieces that tend to fail on a lot of cars and turn them unusable. There just isn’t any way to start the car with a dead solenoid.
The only way you will be able to start the car if it’s a manual transmission is by pushing it. If it’s an automatic the only way will be to tow the car to the nearest shop and call it a day. Replacing the solenoid will hopefully solve the Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Another probable cause for the Honda Pilot won’t start problem would probably be a broken alternator.
Every car has an alternator. This device is in charge of generating electricity. Meaning that this is a power generator. And if this generator fails, you will be less likely to start the car.
The battery will be empty and you will not be able to start the car since the alternator is not doing its job to charge the battery and maintain the charge on a certain level of 12V to start the car.
If you had experienced symptoms like grinding or wobbling from the alternator. It could mean that the alternator is due to be replaced. These components have a limited lifespan and after 100,000 or more miles start to fail. The only way is to replace them with new units. Something that is expensive. But will hopefully solve your Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Scenario 2: Honda Pilot Won’t Start Cranks But Doesn’t Start
Now let’s focus on the second scenario that you will likely experience and that is when the car cranks but doesn’t start. As we noted there are two types of Honda Pilot won’t start problems and this is the second one.
What is characteristic about this problem is that it knows to be relatively more expensive to fix in comparison to the no-crank problem. Because if the car cranks, it means some of the more complex components are going down. We will start from the base reasons for the Honda Pilot won’t start and then move on to the more complex ones.
Weak Lead Acid Battery
The prime cause for the Honda Pilot won’t start but cranks is the weak lead-acid battery. We covered above the case when the battery is completely drained. In this case, you will hear a click-click sound. But when the battery is weak it will continue to crank until it starts the car if it’s able to do so.
This is likely caused by one or more cells in the battery being dead. Meaning that your battery is working with 10V or 8V instead of the 12V needed to start the car in a normal situation. Measure the battery level with a multimeter to see if it’s up to the battery. If the reading is bad, here lies your Honda Pilot won’t start problem. Now let’s move to the next possibility.
Weak Starter Motor
Another possibility for the Honda Pilot won’t start but it cranks is the weak starter motor. The starter motor simply doesn’t have the ability to turn the engine over in order for the combustion process to begin.
This is likely caused by a weak starter and this starter is due to be replaced with a new one if you don’t want to experience problems like this in the future. A starter motor is not cheap, but if you diagnose that this motor is bad, you will have to replace it sooner or later if you want to fix the Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Bad Ignition Coil
A bad ignition coil can also cause the Honda Pilot won’t start problem to happen. This is less likely since these engines are V6 but if two or more coils are affected by this problem then it is possible.
The only way to diagnose them is to get an OBD2 scanner and can the car for codes. Then replace the faulty ones and solve your Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Bad Spark Plugs
Bad spark plugs are also one of the reasons for the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. Whenever you have this problem it is advisable to check their condition. If their condition is bad, then you will have to replace them with new ones.
There are six in total on the Pilot. Replace them and see if they have solved the Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Broken Crankshaft Position Sensor
A broken crankshaft position sensor is also one of the most probable causes for the Honda Pilot won’t start but it cranks. When this sensor is broken the car will love to crank continuously until it starts after persistent cranking. Sometimes it even doesn’t want to start at all.
All this is because of the crankshaft position sensor that is observing the position of the crankshaft. When this sensor goes bad, it has to be replaced if you want to get the problem of the Honda Pilot won’t start sorted quickly. It can only be diagnosed with an OBD2 scanner since it is connected to the ECU.
Bad Fuel Filter
A bad fuel filter can also cause the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. This filter knows to get clogged and interrupt the fuel passage. It is advised to be replaced every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. If yours haven’t been replaced, replace it.
Broken Fuel Pump
A broken fuel pump might also cause the Honda Pilot won’t start problem to appear. So, why is this the case? Well, this is the case because the pump is a device located in the fuel tank. This pump is pumping fuel into the engine. So, whenever you are not able to start your car but it cranks, it could mean that the pump is not working.
A simple way to check this pump is to put your key into the ignition, turn the key slightly and listen. You should hear a little click from the rear. This means that the pump is engaging. If you don’t hear anything it could be the fuel pump went bad. The best is to inspect this problem with a diagnostic tool to determine if the fuel pump makes the Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
No Compression In The Engine
The last reason why the Honda Pilot won’t start but cranks can appear is when there is a lack of compression in the engine.
As you know, internal combustion engines need compression to work. If there is not enough compression there would be no engine work. The engine will continuously crank and if it’s able to start eventually it will be slow and will stall often. This is a dead engine.
If you want to check the compression, you will have to do a compression test on the engine and see how much compression it is making. Numbers above 100 up until 120 are ideal when it comes to engine compression. And based on the compression ratio, some engines could even go higher. Compression of 90 is somewhat tolerable but if it gets lower, this engine is near its last voyage to the junkyard. Unless you try to rebuild it.
In some cases, it could only be a simple valve job needed. So, that’s why it is best to look at all the cards when it comes to problems of this kind like the Honda Pilot won’t start but it cranks.
Cost To Fix Honda Pilot Won’t Start
Now let’s see how much is the cost to fix the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. This will be extra useful for you to know if you want to sort this problem quickly and effectively. We will list the cost for the parts only. The labor costs depend from shop to shop. But usually goes in the range of $50 to $100 per hour.
The cheapest fix for the problem of the Honda Pilot won’t start would probably be if the problem is in the key fob, a fuse, or the battery. A new keyfob battery will cost you $5, a fuse $1, a car battery would probably be $100.
Sensors can be more expensive, the crank shaft position sensor could easily cost you $150 or more in some cases. A fuel pump is very expensive costing above $500. Ignition coils come $150 each on average.
If your engine lacks compression and you need to do a rebuild on the engine head or the engine, you will expect to pay somewhere in the range of $1,000 to $2,500 depending on the work needed. This is the most expensive fix for the Honda Pilot won’t start problem.
Facts about Common Causes of Honda Pilot Breakdowns and How to Fix Them:
- The most common reasons for starting issues with Honda Pilot include a dead key fob battery, dead 12v battery, corrosion on battery terminals, bad alternator, clogged fuel filter, broken starter, blown fuse, empty gas tank, immobilizer error, or any fault in the electrical system.
- A weak or dead 12v battery is the likely cause of the Pilot’s engine not cranking or cranking very slowly, and a voltage test with a multimeter can assess the battery’s condition.
- Corrosion on battery contacts can lead to reduced current flow and starting problems, but cleaning the corroded battery is possible by removing pole cables first and then reconnecting the terminals.
- A weak key fob battery could cause starting problems in models with a push start/stop button, but placing the key fob close to the button or using the second key can work.
- A broken starter motor is signaled by clicking sounds when turning the key, and the engine may start with a temporary fix of hitting the starter motor, but a replacement is required.
- A defective alternator can lead to battery draining even if the battery is replaced, and it needs to be replaced with a new one.
- A clogged fuel filter can reduce fuel pressure and engine performance, and cleaning is not possible, so replacement is necessary.
- A blown fuse can cause starting issues, but repairs or tests should be done in a workshop.
- Defective spark plugs, which affect the ignition system’s plug connections, require replacement in a workshop.
- Rodent damage from biting through cables and wires can lead to all vehicle systems’ malfunctions, and the damage should be repaired in the workshop.
- Engine failure is a rare cause of breakdowns, with possible causes including tearing of the timing belt, incorrect fueling, insufficient oil, hydrolock, overheating of the engine, or continuous driving in an excessive speed range, and it requires diagnosis in a workshop.
- Using onboard diagnostics (OBD) with a diagnostic tool and entering correct vehicle information can help diagnose starting issues.
- Laypersons are advised to contact a breakdown service or workshop for repairs.
Conclusion To Honda Pilot Won’t Start
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the Honda Pilot won’t start problem. We learned what is the Honda Pilot for those who are not familiar with it.
Then we covered the two possible scenarios for this problem. One of them involves the scenario when the engine doesn’t want to crank and produces a click-click sound. The second scenario is when the engine cranks and doesn’t start or starts after a while. Lastly, we have elaborated on the costs involved in solving this problem.