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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi fellow piloteers. First the basic. I own a 2013 Honda Pilot Touring 4wd with 111,000 miles on it. All the scheduled maintenance is taken care of and for the most part I take very good care of my pilot. She’s my fav car ever.

A couple days ago I was driving down the highway, a dump truck changed lanes to be in front of me and almost immediately a rather large chunk of dirt flew off the truck and hit my hood. Overall, no real cosmetic damage. But....I went to use my windshield washers and it was only coming out of one side at a very low pressure. (Only the passenger side.)

Initially, I thought somehow the pump was going out. I tried using it a couple more times with the same results. When I got near my destination, my pilot went into limp mode and then the CEL started flashing. I pulled into the nearest parking lot. Turned the car off and back on and the CEL went out and everything seemed fine. I continued driving and it happened again. Only this time it came along with the “Check vcm” and “check exhaust system” notifications along with the flashing CEL. I pulled over and opened the good and found the windshield washer fluid line on the driver side had clean broken off the under side of the hood and came to the determination that likely when I tried using the sprayer all it did was leak windshield washer fluid all over my engine, coils, etc.

I towed it to the nearest mechanic which thankfully was a Honda dealership. I didn’t tell them about the windshield washer hose at first. Mostly wanted to see what they would say just based off the symptoms and codes. They diagnosed misfiring in cylinder 3 and said one of the bolts holding in the coil was loose and missing some form of washer. So it wasn’t seating up against the spark plug properly. They seemed very confident this was my issue. I then told them about the windshield washer situation and they said that while it may have had an impact, overall they think it’s the loose coil and seemed to think that windshield washer fluid spraying all over the engine wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds.

My issue is.....it seems to be quite a coincidence that this happened in conjunction with the windshield washer fluid leaking all over the engine and coils. My question is.... do you all agree with the diagnosis? And what do you all think are the long term ramifications of my situation? The dealer suggested replacing all spark plugs back to OEM standards (which I thought I had) and replacing the bolt and washer on cylinder3 coil. (Total costs around $370). They seemed very confident this would work and said these engines are really resilient so long as you didn’t try and drive for Long distances after it threw the CEL.

Thanks in advance for all your help and thoughts friends!!!
 

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It be nice to know what the codes are. But I guess it's possible the washer fluid may have got into the conectors on the vtec solenoid assembly (one set on the side of each engine heads). If you think the washer fluid is the reason, you could spray some CRC Electronic Cleaner on the back of those conectors to clean it, clear the code and see if that fixes it.
I'm a little confused about a bolt being missing for a coil. The threaded bolt is built into the valve cover. The coil is held down to the bolt with a 10mm nut.
 
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I have a 2012, and one of my washer nozzles snapped off too. It was easy and inexpensive to replace myself. Parts guy said it was an incredibly common occurrence: plastic becomes brittle with age and the heat of the engine.

Your engine problem sounds familiar too. Do you have a VCM muzzler installed? Most posts like yours end with “turns out Honda’s VCM system destroyed the rings on all of the cylinders that were being disabled.”
 

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I have a 2012, and one of my washer nozzles snapped off too. It was easy and inexpensive to replace myself. Parts guy said it was an incredibly common occurrence: plastic becomes brittle with age and the heat of the engine.

Your engine problem sounds familiar too. Do you have a VCM muzzler installed? Most posts like yours end with “turns out Honda’s VCM system destroyed the rings on all of the cylinders that were being disabled.”
After the chunk of dirt breaking the OPs washer fluid line, then trying to use it, then the engine lights come on is just to coincidental.
I hope the OP finishes the story for us.
 

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If the coil was loose and the washer fluid went down around the plug it will cause a missfire. My goldwing has rubber boots around the plugs and drains for water but a really heavy rain will get past the boots and allow water to pool around the plugs and then she misses like crazy until I get out of the rain. Same scenario with the coil being loose and losts of washer fluid.
 

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If the coil was loose and the washer fluid went down around the plug it will cause a missfire. My goldwing has rubber boots around the plugs and drains for water but a really heavy rain will get past the boots and allow water to pool around the plugs and then she misses like crazy until I get out of the rain. Same scenario with the coil being loose and losts of washer fluid.
Oh for sure. Didn't think about washer fluid in the spark plug tube. Just not understanding why the OPs bill is $370. Much more confused because of the parts needed.
 

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He just got hosed by the dealer.
Well hopefully not. That coil does need to be secured. Hopefully will get some more details.
 

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Just not understanding why the OPs bill is $370. Much more confused because of the parts needed.
Assuming that the dealer replaced all six spark plugs, the dealer list price is about $40 per plug.
So, $240 for the plugs plus labor at $100+ per hour and a bill of $370 - possibly including some labor time charge to first diagnose the problem - doesn't seem that unlikely.
 

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Assuming that the dealer replaced all six spark plugs, the dealer list price is about $40 per plug.
So, $240 for the plugs plus labor at $100+ per hour and a bill of $370 - possibly including some labor time charge to first diagnose the problem - doesn't seem that unlikely.
This is very plausible, But if he OP didn't need the plugs because it was a loose coil and fluid they are screwing him. the one plug may have fouled but the other 5 should be fine.
 

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This is very plausible, But if he OP didn't need the plugs because it was a loose coil and fluid they are screwing him. the one plug may have fouled but the other 5 should be fine.
If the OP didn't have/use OEM plugs, then that gave the dealer the opportunity to suggest that as part of the problem.
Of course, the OP could have disagreed and said that the vehicle was running fine with the existing (non-OEM) plugs until the incident involving the dump truck occurred.
 

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If the OP didn't have/use OEM plugs, then that gave the dealer the opportunity to suggest that as part of the problem.

True but this line makes me think he has them - "The dealer suggested replacing all spark plugs back to OEM standards (which I thought I had) "

Of course, the OP could have disagreed and said that the vehicle was running fine with the existing (non-OEM) plugs until the incident involving the dump truck occurred.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi all and thanks for the responses. Here’s some answers to your questions as well as some corrections I need to make to my original post:

  • I had originally said that along with the flashing CEL and “check engine exhaust system” indicators came the VCM light. It is not the VCM. It’s the VSA light.
  • the exact code thrown was P0303
  • I installed the S-VCM within two weeks of purchasing the pilot (back in November). It had approximately 108,000 miles at the time of purchase
  • before purchasing the vehicle I had a trusted mechanic do a valve pressure test. All came back great
  • the HONDA dealer mechanic did clarify that a bolt wasn’t missing from the cylinder 3 coil. But that it was lose.

Honda said that after replacing cylinder 3 spark plug, no codes are being thrown but that on a test drive connected to a computer they can see misfires happening in all cylinders. None of them reaches the threshold to throw a code for a CEL. But they say that it is a problem. They suggest replacing all spark plugs even though I just did that in December. They also think that it could be that the valve adjustment service wasn’t done correctly. I find this hard to believe because I’ve been going to my mechanic for many many years and I trust his work.

HONDA swears up and down that it is just simply soooooo incredibly unlikely the windshield washer fluid caused any of this. They mentioned how in order for washer fluid to get into the system it would have essentially three “layers” of seals it would have to get by. A friend even reminded me that at the self car wash has a setting for spraying your engine down. So if it was risky to get the engine wet why would people spray their engines down. But this just seems so coincidental to me.

Anyway I’ve taken the vehicle away from the dealer and brought it to my trusted mechanic. They initially said over the phone that they’re thinking it’s possibly the coils. My only issue with that is it seems unlikely all 6 coils would fail at the same time.
My thoughts are that either they had a bad batch of spark plugs, the washer fluid got into the system, the valve adjustment service wasn’t done exactly right, or somehow some way all the coils have failed.

What are your thoughts and are there any other questions I can answer to help figure this out?
 

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P0303 is a misfire code for cylinder #3. Loose coil on #3. The fix is obvious for this. Tighten the loose coil.
What brand type spark plugs were installed? NGK Laser Iridiums is OEM. There is a cheaper version NGK IX that will work, but they do not last as long.
There is lots of info on the next about how VSA help a driver with an oversteer or traction issue. It would be important to know if the system is functioning properly. Did enough washer fluid spraying out caused this light? It would be speculation. What is the condition of your tires? What were the road conditions at the time light cam on? (You mentioned mud) I'm sure everything is dry now.
 

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Also to add to ^^^^ where did you buy your plugs? If Ebay or Amazon remove them immediately and buy from a good autoparts store or the dealer. otherwise your misfires can lead to:


147218
 

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Also to add to ^^^^ where did you buy your plugs? If Ebay or Amazon remove them immediately and buy from a good autoparts store or the dealer. otherwise your misfires can lead to:


View attachment 147218
While there is counterfeit spark plugs, there is info on how to identify them. I wouldn't buy off Ebay for sure. I'd only buy from Amazon if it is sold and shipped by Amazon. RockAuto has been a great source for buying authentic NGK products without spending $20 a plug at the dealership.
 
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While there is counterfeit spark plugs, there is info on how to identify them. I wouldn't buy off Ebay for sure. I'd only buy from Amazon if it is sold and shipped by Amazon. RockAuto has been a great source for buying authentic NGK products without spending $20 a plug at the dealership.
Watch out, My pic is a sold and shipped by Amazon plug. they are not diligent on making sure their suppliers are not sending them counterfeits. NGK says on their site they do not sell direct to Amazon so they can't guarantee the product. If you get a fake, they'll replace it, but you may get fakes again and if they wreck your engine they won't cover that. Rockauto I believe is a direct supplier so I trust them.
 

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Watch out, My pic is a sold and shipped by Amazon plug. they are not diligent on making sure their suppliers are not sending them counterfeits. NGK says on their site they do not sell direct to Amazon so they can't guarantee the product. If you get a fake, they'll replace it, but you may get fakes again and if they wreck your engine they won't cover that. Rockauto I believe is a direct supplier so I trust them.
2 years ago, I got a set of Amazon shipped NGK Laser Iridiums, installed in my rebuilt 2012 Crosstour . When I heard of the counterfeiting, I removed them 1st to see if they were fake. 2 more times to see how they were holding up. So far so good (16k miles on them). The plugs I got say made in Japan. Likely bootlegged into the US and sold at a lower price. That's my theory.
 
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2 years ago, I got a set of Amazon shipped NGK Laser Iridiums, installed in my rebuilt 2012 Crosstour . When I heard of the counterfeiting, I removed them 1st to see if they were fake. 2 more times to see how they were holding up. So far so good (16k miles on them). The plugs I got say made in Japan. Likely bootlegged into the US and sold at a lower price. That's my theory.
I found the info after these failed at less than 600 miles and they were fakes, had 2 or 3 of the tells. I had been buying off both E-bay and Amazon but the previous vehicles were all standard plugs, that was the first time buying the Lasers and they were like $36 USD for 6. I went back after I found they were fake and checked and there were a bunch of new reviews of people over the few weeks all showing the pics of the fakes they had received and the damage that was done to engines etc.
EDIT - all the reviews before that were good so the batch I got mine from was 1 batch of fakes. Amazon did nothing to help any of the folks either.
 

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I found the info after these failed at less than 600 miles and they were fakes, had 2 or 3 of the tells. I had been buying off both E-bay and Amazon but the previous vehicles were all standard plugs, that was the first time buying the Lasers and they were like $36 USD for 6. I went back after I found they were fake and checked and there were a bunch of new reviews of people over the few weeks all showing the pics of the fakes they had received and the damage that was done to engines etc.
EDIT - all the reviews before that were good so the batch I got mine from was 1 batch of fakes. Amazon did nothing to help any of the folks either.
Wow! 600 miles. That's quick failure. Ya, $36 for 6 is to good to be true. I think I paid more than that. I haven't bought anymore plugs from Amazon for the fears. RockAuto has had competitive pricing. Especially when other things I'm ordering ships from the same location.
 
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