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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today my 2005 Pilot randomly sounded the security alarm several times. I was able to stop it by using the fob to unlock the doors. After several false alarms I figured out the tailgate sensor thinks the tailgate is open, but it is not. It is very clearly closed. I was able to lock the tailgate using the fob. But the indicator light on the dash thinks the door is not closed properly. A few minute go by and the security alarm sounds. For now I have left the Pilot unlocked.

I'm not sure where to look to figure out why the "switch" is not working correctly. The actuator does work. It locks and unlocks the vehicle. It just thinks the door is not closed, when it really is closed and locked.

I've had the vehicle since I bought it new in 2005. It has 251K miles on it. I hope to get another 100K. I've done nothing to the lock or actuator so I don't believe it is anything I did to cause the problem.

Any ideas are most appreciated.
 

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Is there anything obstructing the tailgate latch?

If you push/pull on the tailgate does the dash indicator light change state?

Have you had any water leaks in the tailgate?

I think I saw a post where the person wired the tailgate switch/sensor to always report being in the closed position. This could be an option for you if you can’t figure out the root cause.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good questions. I'll check on pushing the tailgate. Water could be a problem. I live in a suburb of Seattle. It has rained for more than 40 days and 40 nights, though my Pilot has experience 16 years of that already. I saw the post you mentioned. I'll have to take apart the back panel and figure out which wires to short. I'll do that if I can figure out the wires. I suspect I have an hour or two of disassembly and head scratching to determine exactly where the fault is. Curious that the door locks, but the indicator light is still on.
 

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But before you do all that, tighten the loose screws you may have on your rear latch. It's a well-kept secret. :D

Rattle/Squeak from rear of hatch
Well, I have been ignoring it for quite a while and finally did something about it. At first I heard a chirping, light random squeak over some bumps from what I thought was the rear wiper area. It sounded like the motor bolts were loose (IMO). I put it off and figured if it got worse I would...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks! I think your idea is onto something.

So, of course, the problem is not occurring today. I left it unlocked overnight. This morning it locked. I then unlocked it and started the car. No indicator light.

I took off the panel anyway to see if I could find anything loose. Everything looks very clean, No dampness. I did remind myself that I backed into a post about two months ago and put a nice dent in the drivers side back corner of the bumper, but I don't think that was the cause. I'm leaving the panel off and "waitfully watching" as my doctors says when they can't figure out what the problem is.

I'm guessing something is loose and/or not aligning properly. It may take some time to find it.
 

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Had the same problem of alarm going off for no apparent reason. i was advised that it could be a weak battery and after confirming that my battery was indeed weakening (5 years old) I replaced it.

Still the alarm would randomly go off. I thought it might be weather related; it seemed to happen when it was damp or humid. Next I tried disconnecting the sensor to the hood latch. It still went off.

Finally, while driving one night my dome light flickered and I was able to determine the system thought the tailgate was open. The tailgate was not open or loose as far as could determine. I thought the two new lift assist rods where putting too much pressure on the tailgate and thus under the right conditions (parked on incline, strong wind maybe) was causing the alarm to sound.

I put the old rods back on but the security alarm sit blew. So now after a month of chasing this problem (leaving the car unlocked as much as possible, and when locked leaving the hood ’popped’ to disable the alarm) I have just disconnected the sensor on the tailgate. No alarm so far and it even rained today!

If this is the right diagnosis then the options are to leave it disconnected (making the tailgate vulnerable) or replacing the entire latch assembly (it seems the unit may be about $50).
 

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Steve, I have a 2008 Pilot but your vehicle should be very similar. The tailgate latch is not very difficult to get at. Start with two plastic ‘screw’ fasteners to the left and right of the latch on bottom of tailgate (pop out with flathead).

Next, remove the handle on inside of tailgate: two Phillips screws behind plastic covers (pop those out with a flat blade). Pull the plastic interior skin partially out (it’s held on with those plastic fastners, try not to break them) but before taking it all the way off disconnect the little light So as not to break the wires.

Now take it the rest of the way off and you have clear access to the latch. Follow the wire up from the bottom of the latch and disconnect it at the plastic connector block (where you have to push a tiny little tab to slide apart).

You could now check that the metal screws on the underside of the tailgate are tight (I had three holdping the latch secure). Eventually, you reverse the process to put the rest back together. I marked the the places where the fasteners were on the inside with masking tape so I’d know exactly where to push. Remember to reconnect the little light before completely snapping the interior skin back in.
 

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Even if you don't disassemble, do check that those big, flat-headed bronze-colored Phillips screws holding the tailgate latch in place are nice and tight. I had to retighten at least one of mine. They're well hidden behind the plastic trim, so it's not obvious how to get to them. You have to remove the plastic screws then plastic pushpin grommets holding the plastic trim in place, then bend (takes a bit of effort) the corners of that trim away and out (I used a big flathead screwdriver) so you can get your Phillips screwdriver in there to do the tightening.

(Sorry about the blurry pics.)

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Might even want to apply some Loctite if you can, so those screws are less likely to rattle loose again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Steve, I have a 2008 Pilot but your vehicle should be very similar. The tailgate latch is not very difficult to get at. Start with two plastic ‘screw’ fasteners to the left and right of the latch on bottom of tailgate (pop out with flathead).

Next, remove the handle on inside of tailgate: two Phillips screws behind plastic covers (pop those out with a flat blade). Pull the plastic interior skin partially out (it’s held on with those plastic fastners, try not to break them) but before taking it all the way off disconnect the little light So as not to break the wires.

Now take it the rest of the way off and you have clear access to the latch. Follow the wire up from the bottom of the latch and disconnect it at the plastic connector block (where you have to push a tiny little tab to slide apart).

You could now check that the metal screws on the underside of the tailgate are tight (I had three holdping the latch secure). Eventually, you reverse the process to put the rest back together. I marked the the places where the fasteners were on the inside with masking tape so I’d know exactly where to push. Remember to reconnect the little light before completely snapping the interior skin back in.
Thanks! I already took out the panel (disconnecting the light). One of the screws holding the latch was slightly loose. I turned in no more than 1/4 turn. The others tight. That was yesterday.

This evening I needed to go pick up the dog at day care. The car had not been driven for about 48 hours. It was hard to start. It took three tries and more than 15 seconds before it finally turned over. The voltage was low. Almost immediately the voltage began to go back up. I have no idea if the two are related. I was worried that somehow I left one of the lights on which drained the battery, but it is not clear either way.

The false alarm has not come back, but the interior panel is still off. I figured I would put it back on after a few days if the problem went away, or it would be much easier to diagnose with the panel off it the problem came back.

Disconnecting the connector to the latch was one of my thoughts if the problem returns. I'm not sure if that would keep the tailgate from being locked or if it would just disconnect the dashboard indicator.

If I figure this out I will post the solution.
 

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You might take a look at
 

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You might take a look at the electrical contacts, both on the connector and its mate, to verify there is no corrosion/oxidation. Clean the electrical contacts if needed.
 

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One of the screws holding the latch was slightly loose. I turned in no more than 1/4 turn.
The false alarm has not come back,
That's all it took for me, too.

For low battery, I was going to say to check all your battery connections and cables, including grounds, for corrosion, looseness and/or fraying, but it looks like @road2cycle is one step ahead of me. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That's all it took for me, too.

For low battery, I was going to say to check all your battery connections and cable, including grounds, for corrosion, looseness and/or fraying, but it looks like @road2cycle is one step ahead of me. :)
That's all it took for me, too.

For low battery, I was going to say to check all your battery connections and cable, including grounds, for corrosion, looseness and/or fraying, but it looks like @road2cycle is one step ahead of me. :)
Excellent idea, but besides the battery terminals where else do I look.

The symptoms seem backwards, however. The voltage was low and the problem did not occur. The voltage prior was fine and the problem occurred. The battery is about 13 months old. The terminals are very tight. Some stray voltage drain seems most likely to me including a light, but I can't find a light on now.
 

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Excellent idea, but besides the battery terminals where else do I look.
Best info and illustration I could find is from pages 1849-1850 (22-15 and 22-16) of my 2006 Service Manual, which I've extracted and attached for you.
 

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If they are in less than fine condition, these EverStart cables from Walmart are pretty good replacements (and far less expensive than OEMs).

 

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My comment was more towards the electrical connection at the rear hatch. You might even jiggle the connector while the hatch is closed to see if you can reproduce the problem.
 
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Disconnecting the connector to the latch was one of my thoughts if the problem returns. I'm not sure if that would keep the tailgate from being locked or if it would just disconnect the dashboard indicator.

If I figure this out I will post the solution.
hey Steve, there is a connection for the latch actuator but a different one for the alarm sensor. You should be able to distinguish which one is which, but you can disconnect the one you think it is, and then, close the tailgate and press the lock/unlock button inside the car or fob to test that you got the right one.

Personally, I don’t think your starting problem is related to the alarm issue. But remember that a common reason for false alarms is a ‘weak’ battery (not necessarily a ‘bad’ battery). Your starting problem could be caused by any number of things (starter, ground, etc.).

I’m pretty certain that my sensor issue was weather induced. From what I gather the older sensors are negatively impacted by dampness. The fact that you’ve had no alarm sound today may not be indicative that the problem is solved. Was it dry today? I had to wait several days between the actions for the weather to cooperate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
hey Steve, there is a connection for the latch actuator but a different one for the alarm sensor. You should be able to distinguish which one is which, but you can disconnect the one you think it is, and then, close the tailgate and press the lock/unlock button inside the car or fob to test that you got the right one.

Personally, I don’t think your starting problem is related to the alarm issue. But remember that a common reason for false alarms is a ‘weak’ battery (not necessarily a ‘bad’ battery). Your starting problem could be caused by any number of things (starter, ground, etc.).

I’m pretty certain that my sensor issue was weather induced. From what I gather the older sensors are negatively impacted by dampness. The fact that you’ve had no alarm sound today may not be indicative that the problem is solved. Was it dry today? I had to wait several days between the actions for the weather to cooperate.
fm2008, Thank you for your thoughtful analysis of my problem. The panel is still off so I will try to differentiate the two circuits tomorrow. That could be useful in the future. The vehicle has been parked outside for the past two years since its owner has been storing the flooring material he intends to install in the lower level of his house in the garage. His wife is not happy that it is taking so long. I mention this because of your thoughts about weather affecting the problem. I can't find any pattern or reason that the weather affected or caused this. January was one of the wettest on record here, but the previous January was even wetter. And, it rains a lot here throughout the winter. Also, when I took off the panel the insulation and everything inside the door looked completely dry. I went skiing today, so the car sat in below freezing temperatures for about 8 hours. It started up instantly when I was ready to go home. I'm totally lost on why the battery was apparently worn down a couple of days ago. I've never experienced that happening in the 16 years I've owned it. But, I don't believe in coincidences (too much watching NCIS, I think). My guess is I left a light on and didn't notice it, but its just a guess. No proof. Several days ago, the alarm went off 3 times in a two hour period. After the third time I determined the tailgate door was not indicating it was closed and I tested this several times. I left the car unlocked overnight. I took off the panel the next day and the problem has not reoccurred. I can't remember if I tested the door before I removed the panel. I'm guessing the problem will reoccur sometime in the future. It was so consistent for the afternoon it was a problem, and there is no reason I can see why its cause has been removed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm putting this to rest. After a couple of days of thinking about the starting problem it abruptly came to me. I had repeatedly started the car while attempting to diagnose the sensor problem. I ran down the battery. Since the one difficult start there have been no problems.

As for the original problem of the door sensor being on when it should not be, I have not been able to find the problem, or reproduce it since the day it happened repeatedly. I did take the panel off the inside back to inspect what was going on, but didn't see anything.

I'm reluctant to speculate about the cause of the sensor problem. It could have been the door was slightly out of alignment.
 
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