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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

Posting this to see if others have ran into this issue.

After driving through a snow storm at -15C (5F) the car did not start the next morning. I tried using jumper cables then called the roadside assistance but the tow truck driver could not start as well. The behaviour was that the car had power but when the start button was pushed you can hear a click but that was all. So I ended up towing the car to dealership and the next day I got a call from them saying that the car had a frozen starter and once the car was put inside in a warm place it started and I should come pick it up. On the release notes it does say they greased some wire from the starter.

I was not very happy with the explanation as I need a car I can rely during winter, -16C is the average night temperature during January where I leave. Both tow truck drivers I was dealing with told me they had several newer Odysseys with the same issue the same day so I wonder if anyone else on the forum dealt with this. The dealership told me they also had several cars with the same problem and when I tried to highlight they may have a problem they said it was not just Odysseys but other models too and this is something that can happen to any car.

Do others have dealt with a frozen starter on their Odyssey? Is frozen starter something it can happen and I just accept is a possibility?

Thank you!

PS: The first tow truck was a platform and was not able to load the car because you need a special tool to put it in neutral. The second tow truck had to drag the car from the driveway (good thing it was icy) so it can lift it from the front
 

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I'm not familiar with Honda starters but the traditional starters have nothing in them that can "freeze." All they are is a Bendix gear attached to DC motor. When those starters fail, it's because something has burned out, worn out (bearings), or they aren't receiving adequate voltage - sound familiar? There are tons of posts about under-volt issues in cold weather with the 5th generation Odys. It is possible that a bit of condensation built up in the Bendix gear shaft, and then froze but that's unlikely. The fact that the dealer greased a connection tells me there was corrosion. Even a small amount of corrosion is enough to make a DC circuit crap out or at least bleed to ground.

Is there a fluid of some kind inside an Ody starter that can freeze? The only way a starter can freeze is if water is getting inside somehow, which means it isn't sealed very well or is just poorly designed. It's highly unlikely you'll get a bunch of water inside a starter during sustained sub-zero temperatures! Unless I'm way out in left field, the dealer explanation sounds like the old shell game to me. Otherwise, the dealer would need to replace it under warranty - something dealers have been taught to avoid.
 

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Agree with Hodna that there isn't really anything that should be able to "freeze". The trouble is it's really difficult to get the dealer to replace a part in this scenario of a one time failure that is solved by letting the vehicle "thaw" after a drive in extreme weather conditions. The reality is there may be a design issue such as a failure to shield the starter from snow/slush rather than the starter itself and replacing with another starter will not solve the issue. Unfortunately you are probably going to have to continue to drive it to see if it happens again or until there are enough similar issues logged that Honda can determine a root cause and issue a TSB or recall to address it. Yes, it is concerning that a relatively new car failed you, but one off issues can occur in very unique situations and you may have it occur again or you may never have it happen a second time. Only time will tell and the only way you will know is to keep driving. Having now almost 50 years of driving under my belt it is amazing how much more reliable cars are today than 50 years ago and it can cause us to have the mentality that nothing should ever go wrong with a car and if it does to expect an immediate fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the detailed answers. My objective of posting here was to see if there are others running into the same issue, see if it's a design issue with the part.

I agree with the opinion that will be difficult to convince the dealer to change the starter if it happened only once. If it happens again I will escalate it with them but hopefully I won't have to.

Thanks!
 

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Glad we could help. I also agree that if it's a one-time occurrence, you can't expect the dealer to change it out. I still think his explanation is iffy :). Best of luck.
 

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I had a starter in my truck do the same thing. Had it towed in and they changed the battery terminal. Worked fine for them. Drove it home just to have it fail to start again the next morning. They towed it back again and replaced the starter. Figured it was a bad contact or cracked magnet inside the starter that caused it. I asked for the starter back when I went to go pick it up but they wouldn’t get it for me. As frustrating as that is to me, because I’m more than capable of determining the actual cause of failure, the starter now works and I was out of town with my hands tied so it’s not worth being upset about. I’m happy I got home with only a couple days delay.

I would take it in to Honda and have them pull and inspect the starter. It’s the least they can do for the inconvenience this caused you.


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Thank you for the detailed answers. My objective of posting here was to see if there are others running into the same issue, see if it's a design issue with the part.

I agree with the opinion that will be difficult to convince the dealer to change the starter if it happened only once. If it happens again I will escalate it with them but hopefully I won't have to.

Thanks!
I to agree with the others on the starter, even if you did get some water in it , the heat from the block would certainly dry it out in a half hour or so, even if it is down below to -32 F . Not knowing it the ODY has the solenoid on the starter would be my next guess, if you heard a click it could have been the solenoid not making good contact to engage the starter. I just looked on line, it appears there is no separate starter, however on the back of the starter on the top, there is what appears to be battery cable mounting point (Perhaps this is where the solenoid is and perhaps the nut came loose slightly and was arcing at a loose connection point and started to corrode as Battery being loose with waater available would cause a geen corrosion, and thus is where the grease was applied at by the Honda Mechanic. And yes, I can always be wrong...
 

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I missed that the car was already towed to the dealership and not just a random garage.

Issues don’t typically fix themselves. They happen for a reason. Too bad they weren’t able to find that reason, it’s hard to believe the frozen water theory. It’s more likely the bumps down the road moved the starter enough that the starter worked again when they went to go try it.

I hope they put it on a dolly when they towed the van.


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Sounds like the dealership was trying to blow smoke up your butt. I bet due to the cold your battery wasn't putting out enough voltage and by the time the dealership got to your car it was already in a warm garage so the voltage came back up enough for the car to start. Not a lot you can do about it, well besides a better battery or insulating the current battery so that it stays a bit warmer. At least it is still cold enough for you to know what solutions will work and what won't.
 

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PS: The first tow truck was a platform and was not able to load the car because you need a special tool to put it in neutral. The second tow truck had to drag the car from the driveway (good thing it was icy) so it can lift it from the front
Truly amazing that Honda would allow a design that requires a special tool (Part # 07AAA-TZ3A100, $50 on U.S. ebay) to put the transmission in neutral if the engine won't start. 45+ years ago my new employer had a rule to always back into parking spaces/driveways. It has stuck with me through the years. Little did I know it might come in handy for this type of situation! I shake my head every day.
 

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Truly amazing that Honda would allow a design that requires a special tool (Part # 07AAA-TZ3A100, $50 on U.S. ebay) to put the transmission in neutral if the engine won't start.
Yes, what idiot signed off on that design?? I thought the Germans were smarter than that. If this is such a brilliant idea, why doesn't every dealer sell those special tools?
 

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Truly amazing that Honda would allow a design that requires a special tool (Part # 07AAA-TZ3A100, $50 on U.S. ebay) to put the transmission in neutral if the engine won't start. 45+ years ago my new employer had a rule to always back into parking spaces/driveways. It has stuck with me through the years. Little did I know it might come in handy for this type of situation! I shake my head every day.
Sorry to be off topic here, but do you know or anyone else know if said tool is for the 9 speed, 10 speed or works on both?




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Order one off eBay as one never knows.
10 speed just requires open end wrench I saw.
Where did you see the instructions for this? And how does someone fit under the vehicle to adjust it? Is it close to the front bumper?


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Although I could not find the size needed for the 10XAT to put in Neutral on the shaft, I did run into Honda's 2018 Odyssey video promo which showed the back side of the transmission well. It looks like a crescent wrench would work as well as the shaft is round with two flat sides opposite on the shaft.
10XAT Picture.GIF Neutral release for 10 speed transmission.JPG
 

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My classic Mustang encountered a similar “no start” problem back in 1975. I solved it by recalling that I had forded through a low water crossing that morning and by putting a wrench on the main power lead onto starter body... got me going right then and there!

Later, when I had it in a better location, I thoroughly cleaned the terminal bolt, lead wire and nut...

Other than this one time, over the 53 years I have owned this vehicle, there has never been a recurrence of “no start” from moisture/corrosion at lead-in terminal!

I believe the dealer correctly diagnosed your case as moisture/corrosion at lead-in and properly repaired this by cleaning and applying anti-corrosion grease at the terminal.

Please do let inform us if you have a reoccurrence.

PS: I have 250,000 miles on my 2003 Odyssey EX-L and still have the original starter...!
 

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I'm not familiar with Honda starters but the traditional starters have nothing in them that can "freeze." All they are is a Bendix gear attached to DC motor. When those starters fail, it's because something has burned out, worn out (bearings), or they aren't receiving adequate voltage - sound familiar? There are tons of posts about under-volt issues in cold weather with the 5th generation Odys. It is possible that a bit of condensation built up in the Bendix gear shaft, and then froze but that's unlikely. The fact that the dealer greased a connection tells me there was corrosion. Even a small amount of corrosion is enough to make a DC circuit crap out or at least bleed to ground.

Is there a fluid of some kind inside an Ody starter that can freeze? The only way a starter can freeze is if water is getting inside somehow, which means it isn't sealed very well or is just poorly designed. It's highly unlikely you'll get a bunch of water inside a starter during sustained sub-zero temperatures! Unless I'm way out in left field, the dealer explanation sounds like the old shell game to me. Otherwise, the dealer would need to replace it under warranty - something dealers have been taught to avoid.
If any of the Bendix components have grease on them they could become immovable at very cold temps, such as frozen wheel bearings in Alaskan winters. If it worked normally after warming up the vehicle, that’s convincing proof. You may be able to solidly attach and strap a small battery warmer blanket over the starter and put it on a 24 hr timer to come on an hour before you leave, or contact Honda to see if they would use a lighter lube or have an Alaskan starter?.
 

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Good points, robertjmjrs. Funny thing is, in 50 years of driving, I've never had a starter freeze up before. Batteries? Yes, but not a starter. Why the Ody starter would freeze is beyond me, although to be fair, I believe the OP's is the first reported one on this site. Perhaps a fluke?
 

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Good points, robertjmjrs. Funny thing is, in 50 years of driving, I've never had a starter freeze up before. Batteries? Yes, but not a starter. Why the Ody starter would freeze is beyond me, although to be fair, I believe the OP's is the first reported one on this site. Perhaps a fluke?
I was in Alaska at minus 50 F and all vehicles were frozen, even after using 10 weight motor oil for wheel bearing grease. (This is what I was told) All vehicles had to be drug into warming sheds with their wheels locked. For this odyssey, I was wondering if it was very cold, the actual motor could have been very difficult to turn, making the starter seem frozen. In addition to battery blankets, there are also dipstick heaters used during the winters for vehicles left outside. They are always plugged in on very cold nights. I am just fishing here. I also agree that the ending is more likely to freeze than a starter.
 
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