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My 2004 pilot occasionally has this problem, I can turn the key to start up the car, it cranks but won’t start. I try it 2-3 more times with no success. I let it set for a few minutes then try it again and the car starts right up normally like it had no problems ever before. There’s no cel . What is the problem here ?
Help!!
 

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Nobili spiritus embiggens pequeño sparus tyre.
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Does it do that with all your keys?

Trying to rule out an immobilizer chip issue first.
 

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How many miles are on it?

When facing a problem like this, I start (no pun intended) with the basics: spark, fuel and timing.

That’s a bit more complex these days, since the computer can control all three. The shortcut here is to read any codes that are stored. Not all of them will illuminate the Service Engine Soon light on some makes, not sure about a Honda.

Take care of any codes that come up, you need a scan tool that reads Honda specific codes, to be sure you get ‘em all.

Now if there are NO codes, that is information in itself! It means that the problem isn’t in any of the sensors, switches, solenoids, etc. and so forth.

If the engine has Variable Valve Timing controlled by the computer, I’d say that’s all good because a problem there should set a code. And if the timing was off for mechanical reasons I expect it wouldn’t start at all.

That leaves us with spark and fuel.

I’d first check fuel pressure. The computer doesn’t monitor much in the fuel system, it’s mostly concerned with emissions. If your fuel pressure is dropping off (or low) due to a leaking injector(s) or weak fuel pump the computer will never see it until it can no longer adjust the Fuel Trim for a stoichiometric A/F ratio.

You’ll need a helper and an extra spark plug to check spark. When it cranks but won’t start, pull a plug wire off and put it on the extra plug. I like to ground the plug using one side of my jumper cables to be sure of a good ground. I ground it to the engine block first. Have your helper crank it over, if you see spark great. If not, I then ground the plug directly to the battery.

Spark now? Bad ground strap connection between block and battery. Still no spark? Problem is in the ignition system.

Let us know what you find!

Edit: There could be vacuum leaks, just something else to check. And if the engine has EGR, that can cause starting problems.

Oh yeah... considering the cost of having a shop diagnose and repair it you can EASILY justify to the wife your need for a couple of cool new tools... just sayin’.
 

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Does it have fuel pressure?

When you first turn the key, can you hear the fuel pump run?

Try turning the key to ON without cranking it, you should be able to hear the pump.

Then give it about 5 seconds, you should hear the pump turn off when the pressure is up. Then crank.

Does it start then?

I have a 1999 Ford Super Duty that had the same problem, and the fuel pump was worn out.
 

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If it doesn’t start up doing what Dan_in_WA recommended then the next time
1) turn the key to the I position
2) turn the key to the II position leaving it there for a few seconds.
Repeat this two more times.
Crank the engine.
 
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