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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just had my 2017 Pilot towed to the dealership after it went into limp mode on the highway after flashing "Emissions System Problem" and "Transmission System Problem," flashing the "D" gear indicator, and throwing a CEL. I was just cruising along, not accelerating or decelerating. I was curious if anyone had that particular combination of messages and what it ended up being. My search didn't turn up that specific combo, but if I missed it I'd be happy for a link to that discussion.

I tried restarting it and potentially making it home, but the Pilot wasn't having it. It stayed in limp mode, and merging onto the highway would have been a quick way to make the papers. My wife noticed a burning-type smell, so I shut it off and didn't turn it back on. I noticed that even when I wasn't moving, the engine's RPMs went really high.

I had the transfer case replaced a few months ago, and that was covered under warranty. I have about 54K miles on it right now. Other than that and the auto-engine-stop issue a lot of people have, it's been fine.

I saw a lot of posts specifically about the Emissions System Problem message by itself, with the usual result being a fuel injector replacement that's not covered under the 5/60 warranty, but given the specific symptoms and the fact that these two messages appeared simultaneously makes it seem like something else is up.
 

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The same thing happened to my ‘17 Elite. It was the first day of prolonged driving it, after the initial Covid lockdown in California. I wonder if that had something to do with it.

I drove it fairly spirited that day and it behaved fine just the way it usually does. The issue occurred while I was stopped at a light. The auto start/stop system turned the engine off, and while I was waiting at the red light it all of the sudden it restarted itself in a funny way at high RPMs, I had to push harder to on the brakes so not to bump into the car in front of me. And then it lit up he same way as you described. Although the car would turn on, I did not dare drive it with a flashing D (learned my lesson the hard way with an Accord some years back).

This happened Friday early evening. I was only about a quarter mile from my home, so I pushed it there. My plan was to tow it to the shop I usually go to Monday. Throughout the weekend I tried again to start it up and it would go into limp mode every single time. Sunday evening I called a tow truck, after yet another unsuccessful attempt to restart it. The tow truck driver had trouble getting the car on dollies, so he asked me to push the car just a bit. And guess what, when I pressed start to get power steering, the car started up fine! I tried it a few more times and had no issues.

I drove the car to the shop myself, and had them look at it. They tested the battery and it came back fine, the shop said they would not recommend to change it immediately based on their measurements alone. Since it was a three year old battery I asked them to change it anyway. The shop said that the car was border line low on oil and they said they’ve seen low oil cause this sort of issue. So they changed the oil as well, although it was a bit early. They weren’t sure that was the root cause, and I’m not sure either.

Before this incident, I had maybe three other occurrences which could be related. After starting the car, a bunch of warning lights would turn on, but the engine idle would be perfectly normal and the transmission indicator wouldn’t flash. I do wonder if all this is some sort of electronic/electric issue that manifests itself on startup, but with different symptoms depending if it’s a cold start vs. the auto stop/start system.

I’m curious about what you’ll find out. Please keep us posted.
 

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I had the same error messages and the flashing “D” on my 2016 Pilot at 102K miles. Also, had a DTC of a P0303 (misfire in cylinder 3). Replaced all the spark plugs and coils as it was time but it did not fix my issue. So after reading on this forum about the fuel injector replacement for this issue, I went that route. I replaced all 6 injectors with Honda OEM replacements and it fixed my issue. Has been good for 4 months now and runs like a new one. I’d suggest seeing if you have a DTC and go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Interesting stuff! FWIW this is the first problem like this I've had; never had so much as a CEL previously (the transfer case issue never threw a CEL, it just made the vehicle make a loud whining sound when decelerating).

The thing that was concerning was the burning smell. It wasn't, like, "holy crap my car is on fire" but it was definitely noticeable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had the same error messages and the flashing “D” on my 2016 Pilot at 102K miles. Also, had a DTC of a P0303 (misfire in cylinder 3). Replaced all the spark plugs and coils as it was time but it did not fix my issue. So after reading on this forum about the fuel injector replacement for this issue, I went that route. I replaced all 6 injectors with Honda OEM replacements and it fixed my issue. Has been good for 4 months now and runs like a new one. I’d suggest seeing if you have a DTC and go from there.
I was holding out hope that it would be something covered by the 5/60, especially since the posts I saw here only mentioned the Emissions System Problem message and not one involving the transmission. But since you had both, I guess that opens up that possibility.

They called me as soon as it was dropped off, and said they'd probably call me Tuesday afternoon with info, as they're closed tomorrow. I work from home thanks to COVID, so fortunately it isn't causing me a hardship; if it's there for weeks it'd be a different story, but that feels unlikely.
 

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Also, we had the same burning smell. I couldn’t find the source or any evidence so I assumed it was from the misfires (in cylinder 3 in my case).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
FWIW, the code mine was throwing was a P0420.
Interesting, that's an oxygen sensor code (I think). I wonder if the accursed auto stop/start system made it freak out, since it seems to make electronics go temporarily wonky when it malfunctions.
 

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P0420 is bank 1 cat below threshold and it is usually caused by an over rich fuel bias. Most here like myself usually get the p0430 which is bank2 below threshold. I changed the air filter, ran some seafoam through the fuel and changed the oil and filter and haven't had the code come back. I have also only used only Esso 87 fuel since the issue. I am still on the original injectors at 60k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have also only used only Esso 87 fuel since the issue. I am still on the original injectors at 60k miles.
It's probably correlation without causation, but I did just get gas yesterday at Costco. FWIW, that's the only place I've gotten it (except for a couple of trips to the Sheetz near my house) since COVID hit. Before that, unless I was traveling, it was almost always one of those two places.
 

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Wait a second... That is exactly what I did before I drove all around the day the issue occurred. I filled up at COSTCO.

This might be a reach too, but one of the suggestions I read, while researching the issue, said that taking the gas nozzle out before 5 seconds after done refueling could cause this.


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It's probably correlation without causation, but I did just get gas yesterday at Costco. FWIW, that's the only place I've gotten it (except for a couple of trips to the Sheetz near my house) since COVID hit. Before that, unless I was traveling, it was almost always one of those two places.
I was getting gas at Shell and the code came back and I reset it and switched to Esso 87 and that was 4 months ago and the code has not come back. I did purchase the vehicle used so I don't know what fuel was used by the previous owner and it may have taken a few tankfulls to flush it out. These DI engines are susceptible to carbon fouling on the injector nozzles and fuel detergents could be a factor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wait a second... That is exactly what I did before I drove all around the day the issue occurred. I filled up at COSTCO.

This might be a reach too, but one of the suggestions I read, while researching the issue, said that taking the gas nozzle out before 5 seconds after done refueling could cause this.
I'm in the habit of waiting the five seconds to take the nozzle out, and I usually count it down under my breath. That does not, of course, mean that I didn't forget to do that or do a quick count.

But, my goodness, if not waiting the five seconds causes the vehicle to go into limp mode on the highway and require a tow to the dealer, that's piss-poor design.
 

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With these new vehicles, you do have to be careful not to overfill the fuel tank causing liquid to carryover into the vapour recovery system and charcoal canister. This can definately cause an over rich condition and cause error codes to pop up. I always wait at least 15 sec before pulling the nozzle out
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
With these new vehicles, you do have to be careful not to overfill the fuel tank causing liquid to carryover into the vapour recovery system and charcoal canister. This can definately cause an over rich condition and cause error codes to pop up. I always wait at least 15 sec before pulling the nozzle out
Well, FWIW I never "top off" the tank when it clicks off, so hopefully that helps a little at least.
 

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Costco and Shell are both rated and approved as Top Tier Gasoline. That is what Honda says to use (Top Tier, NOT specifically Costco or Shell). Unless the fuel storage tanks were contaminated with water or the fuel itself was contaminated before it was pumped into your Pilots, I find it odd that they caused any problems.

I have used Shell and Costco for the majority of my fill ups and haven't had any problems.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Unless the fuel storage tanks were contaminated with water or the fuel itself was contaminated before it was pumped into your Pilots, I find it odd that they caused any problems.
I agree. It feels highly unlikely that the fuel is the issue, at least in my case.
 

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Clean Air Filter
Clean mass airflow sensor (MAF)
Disable the VCM
Use a top tier 87 octane fuel
And your emissions codes will soon disappear.
 

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I am still using Costco gasoline and haven’t had a single issue since, and I usually wait the 5s too, but that day I yanked it out as soon as it was done in a hurry. Someone would have to convincingly explain to me how that could cause a rich mixture, many hours and miles later to this effect. But at the same time I don’t know why they have that posted, and there is probably a good reason.


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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I am still using Costco gasoline and haven’t had a single issue since, and I usually wait the 5s too, but that day I yanked it out as soon as it was done in a hurry. Someone would have to convincingly explain to me how that could cause a rich mixture, many hours and miles later to this effect. But at the same time I don’t know why they have that posted, and there is probably a good reason.
Yeah, after my most recent fillup, I drove about 40-50 miles before it went into limp mode, and it was the next day.
 
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