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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Neither radiator fan, nor condenser cooling fan come on when the engine is started. If I turn on the A/C, fans still won't come on, but if I give the condenser fan a push, it starts up, and so does the radiator fan. Local mechanic says both fan motors are likely bad and need to be replaced.

Basic question: should the radiator fan come on regardless of the condenser fan? Or only at high temps, and independent of the condenser fan? Does the fact that starting the condenser fan (by turning on the A/C and giving it a push) causes the radiator fan to also start spinning tell me anything? Or is that what is supposed to happen? Does the fact that the fans start when given a push rule out the possibility of a switch or relay issue? (I've checked the relay and it seems fine, but not 100% sure of my diagnostic process.) Given that the mechanic wants to charge $1,000+ to replace the fans, I'm contemplating trying to replace them myself, but don't want to do something that isn't necessary, or won't fix the problem.

Follow-up: is there a good DIY video for this replacement? Can't find a really good one on YT.

p.s.: Mechanic points to the fans making a bad noise when they try to start, and vibration of the radiator. But I have not noticed the noise, the vibration seems slight to me, and both fans seem to spin pretty well when running. I'm sure a new radiator fan WOULD have less vibration, but is that alone enough concern to replace it?
 

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2020 Honda Passport Touring AWD Metallic Steel
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Depends, do you want to have to pop the hood every time you start the vehicle to spin up the fans? Seems a bit inconvenient to me. There is very little that is worse for a vehicle than high temperatures, which is why the fans are there to help control. Cooked engines, AC components and transmissions all can fail catastrophically, as in big buck repair, from excess temperatures.




 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, I did see those videos, and of course popping the hood every time I start isn't an option.

I guess my basic question is: Does the fact that my fans DO start spinning when given a push rule out a switch/relay problem? Logic would suggest that if they start spinning (once pushed), then there IS power to the fans, which rules out the relay/switch issue, right? Conversely, if the car IS sending power to the fan motors, and they won't spin without a push, that CONFIRMS that the fan motors are bad, right? Or am I overlooking something basic.
 

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I think that you're right on target...with power definitely getting to the fans & the fact that they won't start without a tug seems to confirm worn rotating parts/bearings.
 

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Have you checked your relays?
There are video on YouTube to do so.
2009 HONDA PILOT 3.5L V6 A/C Condenser Fan Motor Relay | RockAuto
It's no where close to a $1000 job. Keep in mind the fans are Fwd or AWD sensitive.
2009 HONDA PILOT 3.5L V6 Radiator Fan Assembly | RockAuto
 

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If the fans spin with some nudging I don’t think the relays are the issue. The A/C fan should turn on immediately when the A/C is turned on. The radiator fan turns on when the coolant gets above a certain temperature. If the coolant fan isn’t turning on when the temperature needle is by the ~75% level, then something is wrong. I can’t recall if the radiator fan starts immediately when the A/C is turned on, but you had mentioned you only had to nudge the A/C fan then the radiator fan started without a nudge. This leads me to believe the radiator fan is okay, assuming it also turns on when the coolant temperature is around the 75% level.

For the 2005 Pilot fan removal required removing the plastic engine cover, battery, battery tray, fan electrical connection, and four nuts for the radiator fan. If you need to remove the A/C fan then it’s four more nuts and an electrical connector. I’m not sure for your year Pilot, but I imagine it’s similar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you road2cycle and mcPilot2 for your feedback. Both the radiator and compressor fans are supposed to come on when the compressor clutch is engaged (i.e. when the AC is turned on). Plus, I mis-typed earlier - it was the radiator fan I was nudging, NOT the compressor fan. So that would seem to confirm that both are struggling to start (at the same time at least).

In any event, I went ahead and ordered both and will replace both at the same time. For one thing, it looks like the radiator fan will be easier to remove with the compressor fan out of the way - the radiator fan can be slid over, making battery tray removal unnecessary. Plus, I found the radiator fan for $50, so might as well do it while I'm at it. Will help me eliminate a potential source of problem if my diagnosis is off. Thanks again for everyone's help. I'll follow up next week after the parts come in and I've done the deed.
 

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[QUOTE="FCaz, post: 1656095, member: 311449" I'll follow up next week after the parts come in and I've done the deed.
[/QUOTE]
Inspect the condition of the radiator and trans lines while you’re down there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Help! Completely flummoxed by these clamps! They have to be opened/removed/disconnected so that I can remove the fan shroud, but I can't figure them out! Can't just rip them out without damaging the ATF lines they hold. Anybody know how to open/remove these clamps? Sketch in manual seems to suggest they open somehow. (they are labeled "A" in the sketch, if that wasn't clear)
 

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It almost looks like you need to pry a flathead screwdriver to lift the top tab of the clamp. I’m guessing there isn’t a lot of room to work in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So, yes, the clamps are just as road2recycle says, and yes, very little room. Finally got the job done with the help of the file end (non-cutting) of a tiny pocket knife, and even with that it was impossible to even fully bend my knuckles to articulate the tool into the correct angle, but after a while I got them undone. You must push your 'blade' into the slot at the top of the clamp head (right side in my pic), and then twist up and to the left. Easy enough, but all this has to be done with two prone fingers with little room to bend knuckles.

From there, the process was fairly by-the-book, and went without much of a problem. There are two hitches that aren't clear from the service manual I'd like to warn anyone who's following in my footsteps about:

(1) The fans cannot be removed from the main engine compartment. It looks like they can, but the tips of the shroud (where they are screw mounted to the radiator) will NOT pass back under the frame, on my 2009 model at least. (see where my finger is pointing in attached pic). I only needed quarter/half an inch, but there was no way to move the shroud down any further than it was, much less manipulate it in any way. This is relevant, because it LOOKS like the fans can be removed without removing the front grille, hood release, and detaching the radiator mounts, etc., but alas, all that has to be done. This important detail is unclear from the service manual, because the manual instructs you how to remove the fans AND the radiator, and once the radiator is removed, this is a moot issue - the fans come right out. After removing the hood release, radiator hose, front grille, and detaching 5 radiator mounts, I was able to 'pry' the top of the radiator forward enough (without bending/damaging it) to slide the fans up and out. Sounds like a big deal, but honestly, removing the front grille, hood release and radiator mounts was the easiest part of the job.

(2) In addition to the electrical connectors at the top of the radiator fan shroud (which are visible and obvious), there is a connector at the 'end' of the wire, at the very bottom of the radiator shroud, which is completely impossible to see, and which I only found searching with my fingers while under the vehicle. This is relevant, because it means you can remove the radiator fan WITHOUT disconnecting all of the clamps that attach the wiring to the radiator shroud - that section of wiring remains attached to the shroud, and then AFTER you've removed the fan, you detach the clips and mount that section of wiring onto the new fan shroud before inserting. Clearly, this is the labor-saving reason the connector at the bottom exists, and would seem obvious, but the manual does not mention it, and in fact recommends detaching the clamps holding the wires BEFORE the fan is removed, which would have made this entire process worse. If you're a gear head with a box of new clamps somewhere, I guess this is irrelevant - just snip the clamps and use new ones, but for a guy like me who needs to reuse what's there, it was a simple ah ha that made my life a lot easier.

I've started the vehicle and verified that the fans come on as called for when the AC is turned on, so I've solved the problem I could see. Haven't driven it around yet, so it's still possible I've got an electrical issue somewhere, or I caused some yet-unseen problem, but I'm feeling confident I've done good. I did lose a 10mm socket that was swallowed somewhere unseen in the bowls of the compartment. I'm hoping it falls out when I move the vehicle, and before it does any damage. Thanks to everyone for the help.
 

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