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99 Odyssey dies and/or wont start!

19978 Views 22 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  John Clark
Fairly new to the forums but I have done some searching and do not see anything similar to my problem so here goes.

Shortly after I bought this van less than a year ago I started having intermittent issues with it starting. Totally random it would just crank and not start. The problem progressed to the point where it would even die while going down the freeway, and then come back on and keep going as if nothing happened. This was truely wierd. Going down the freeway at 55 to 65 and the dash lights would come on and I lost power and sart slowing down. Then a few seconds, up to 5 seconds, later it would all go back to normal and I would keep driving. I did not even have to restart the van as it retarted as well. I found that these vans had a recall for the ignition. This was for a wire harness that goes to the ignition switch and not the switch itself. It had already been done on this van it a past life but the symptoms exactly matched the recall issue so I replaced it. This fixed the issue completely for 3 or 4 months.

The issue I now have is somewhat similar. The van starts and drives normally. I drive to the store, shut off the van, and go inside. I come out maybe 10 min later and the van just cranks and will not even try to start.

I have tried different keys, wiggling the key, switching on and off, taking the key out and trying again. The only thing that is consistent is that it takes in the neighborhood of 5 min to get it to start again. It was also very inconsistent. You never know if it will start or not. Most of the time it will start just fine.

Now the problem is getting worse. On the way home from church Sunday just driving along it just died and would not restart. Same as if I had shut it off. All the dash lights came on and I coasted to the side of the road. After about 5 min it started just fine. I drove another 3 miles and it died again just as I got home.

I searched in my Honda repair manual and decided it was likely the Immobilizer receiver unit. I went and spoke with the dealer but that was no help. They had the part for $60 so I got one and installed it. That was cheaper than the $100 they wanted to start looking at it.

I installed the part but the next day it was doing the same thing again. Lucky for me the part is returnable because it was an open part that they sold me and they said I could return it if it did not fix the problem.

But I do not know what the problem is.

The Immobilizer system reads the code in the ignition key. There is a green "key" light on the dash. When you turn on the key, this light comes on for two seconds and then goes off if everything is working properly. If it does not detect the proper code in the key this light will start flashing until the key is removed. When you turn off your key, the light flashes about 5 times then goes out.

When everything is working on my van this light shows everything is fine. When the van shuts off or will not start, this green light does not come on at all. Either when you turn the key on or off. This is why I replaced the immobilizer receiver.

I have never seen a check engine light. I assume this means the bulb is out. Part of the troubleshooting in the manual says that the PCM is the next place to go.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help.

After doing some more searching I managed to find some similar posts but no definitive answers. Looks like possibly the ignition switch that is only few months old or some other undertirmined cause. The PCM is not listed as having been tried for fixing this issue.
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Check your battery cables too. You may have a loose connection there. I've seen a number of oddball issues in cars come from battery cables so far corroded that everything in the car would work but it wouldn't run or start.
I'm pretty sure the immobilizer couldn't have been the problem.

I think it is verified only at startup. You could have checked this by having a plain key made and starting the car with it while holding a good key nearby. Then walk away from the van with the good key and see if the immobilizer kills the engine.

I'm still voting the ignition switch or wires.

Does the check engine light even flash at startup?
What is surprising is how the van is able to start on its own. This is what has to happen

1) The van has to be in locked torque converter
2) lose ignition
3) transmission stays locked
4) get ignition back
5) as you popped the clutch on a manual.

But it is difficult to imagine how transmission can stay locked without ignition.

Would you be willing to replace the Immobilizer with a brand new un-opened unit? The loss of green led strongly suggest immobilizer.

Otherwise, you might want to try another ignition switch.
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Actually, the torque converter wouldn't need to stay locked to keep the engine turning. It would certainly help, but just having the transmission side of the converter spinning at 1500 rpm(typical 50mph 4th gear) would be enough to keep the engine side at least turning.

I bet if everything is going well the engine will restart at even 100rpm. I doubt the starter spins it much more than that.
No the check engine light never lights.

The immobilizer was the most likely problem because of the green key light issue. I believe that the immobilizer is in constant operation but no I have not checked.

I have read in some other posts that the ignition switch sends power to the PCM. If the switch does not send power to the PCM then the Green key light does not work.

As for the van restarting on its own, I agree it is wierd but I have read about it happening in other posts as well so I am not on drugs this time.
Well I had the opportunity to do some more checking.

If you remove the ignition switch (electrical part only is easily removed) then you can use a screwdriver to start the van as long as the key is near the immobilizer receiver. You can then throw the key out the window and drive away. SuperDad was right. The immobilizer only checks at startup.

I checked for power at the ignition switch. Battery voltage at all leads except one. I assume that one is ground.

Using my troubleshooting guide I was able to check a few things.

The troubleshooting guide starts by checking for trouble codes "using the HDS" Anybody know what the "HDS" is? If the trouble code P1607 is present, replace the PCM.

Step 2 (turn the key on) and continuing assumes the PCM is good.

Step 3 asks if the indicator light blinks. If it does not, then the light is bad or a wire is broken.

Since my light don't light, intermittently, then I think the most suspect item at this point is the PCM.

Power for the PCM, as near as I can tell, comes directly from fuse 13 in the pasenger fuse box. Before that it comes from the underhood fuse/relay box.

The PCM also controls the PGM-FI main relay which runs the fuel pump.

When the system is working properly:
Unplug the immobilizer receiver and turn on the key and the green key light flashes continuously just as it should.

I turned off the key and plugged it back in.
When you plug the immobilizer receiver back in and then turn the key on, the immobilizer system does not work. This is a simple way to induce the failure.

When the system is not working, there is still power to all the ignition switch nodes.

Pin one of the immobilizer receiver connector only has power when the system is working. Pin one comes from the PGM-FI relay box but is also connected to the PCM.

Anyone have any more thoughts?

Honda's web site does not even list the PCM so I have no idea how expensive the it might be to try it.

I can get the codes read and will do that at the earliest opportunity but can the local parts store do that? They have readers but what is the HDS?
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<<Anybody know what the "HDS" is>>

HDS = Honda Diagnostic System

It's a hardware / software combination of tools used for advanced diagnostics. Google Honda HDS for additional details.

My wife's van was doing this last summer. It usually only happened when she was driving it. Then one day I was driving with her and it was getting a little warm in van so I maxed out the A/C. The van died. I turned off the A/C and got the van to start again. I drove a little ways and turned on the A/C again only to have the van die again. After some fiddling I found that I could drive the van with the A/C if I turned the ignition switch back part way. I did some googling and found a recall on the ignition switch. I took the van to the dealer and they advised that the serial number was not in the range for the Recall but that the ignition switch was overheating. I paid about $125 to have it replaced and it has been fine ever since. I know you said you have a fairly new ignition switch but it is possible that your van is dieing when you put a lot of load on the electrical system. ie. rear defrost, A/C, high beam etc? Just a thought.
Well I got the codes read but did not get the one I was looking for. That just means that the PCM did not set the code for that issue. It could still be the problem.

I have a very helpful parts gut at the local dealer. My troubleshooting manual indicates the PCM but does not really explain what the PCM is. He enightened me. Even though my manual shows only a few connections to the PCM, it is not giving me the whole picture. The manual only gives me relevant info. The PCM is actually the engine computer. He says it lists at about $800. Ouch.

My Ody is a '99. The same PCM is only used in '99 and '00. Stopped but the local yard. The closest PCM is on the other side of the state. But they only want $250. They do want the numbers off of mine to make sure it is the right one.

So I came home and started taking things apart. I can see the PCM now but don't see any useful numbers. Anyone know what I am looking for?

I really did not like something I found though. There is a bunch of electrical tape on the wires to the PCM. And boy is there alot of wires. I may have a wiring problem rather than a PCM problem. I will have to remove some tape and see how bad it is.

I have had the tranny replaced and I believe the engine has been replaced. I wonder if the put in a used engine from the wrong year and had to make things match?

Thanks for the defenition on HDS. Basically it is Honda's code reader system.

This issue is not affected by the electrical load. Not presently using the A/C (or defrosters). The blower is on low all the time. The lights are off most of the time.

My van was not part of the ignition switch recall. My year was listed but not all vans from each year are affected. However, I have replaced the ignition switch myself. The symptoms of the switch problem was noticeably different than the current issue.

Thanks for all the help.

Any more thoughts?
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The number appears to be on the side of the unit. Ebay has some:
PCM stands for Power Control Module which of course is the brain of your car. It also seems to be known as ECM and ECU. The taped wires is a scary thing but maybe you have found a culprit.
Well I pulled the PCM to check the numbers. Since it was dying all the time we weren't driving it. I started searching for a used one but have not had much luck. And not sure I want to spend the money if I don't know that is the issue.

After a week I put the PCM back in so that I could do more checking. I drove it for a week with no failures. But now it is failing again.

I am seeing more details on the failure now. I found that the check engine light bulb was broken. I replaced it and now it is on all the time.
The trouble codes for the check engine light read an 02 sensor but nothing for the PCM.

The first failure after putting the PCM back in goes like this.
Tuesday 4:45 AM. I can get in the van and drive to work. About 2 min of run time.
1:00 PM. I then leave from work and drive 20 miles to school. No issues.
3:15 PM. I leave school and get about three miles and the van just shuts off while I am going down the road. I see when it shuts off that all the dash lights come on the same as if you had just got in and turn the key on. The green key flashes a couple of times. The check engine light is off not on. The D4 light is off. I slip the tranny to neutral and I coast over to the side of the road.
On the side of the road I turn the key back one and back on. I have no green key light and no check engine light but all others are on as normal. I turn the engine over but as expected it does not start.
As I am thinking that this only takes about 5 min to come back on, I leave the key in the run position and wait. After 7 or 8 min I am wondering if it is dead. I turn off the key and remove it then reinsert and try again with no luck. With the key off I reach under the dash and unplug the wires from the PCM and reinstall them thinking this might restore a poor connection. A few min later while waiting with the key in the run position I hear a loud click, the check engine light and the green key light comes on, I start the van and drive home.
Same thing on Thursday except that I get just over 5 miles after school before it shuts off.
Thursday after I get home again I pick up the wife and daughter and head for tumbling class. After about 5 min the van shuts off and we coast to the shoulder. I don't even try to start it but just wait. After maybe 2 min a click and we are on the road again. At tumbling we park for 30 min. We come out and everything is fine. I drive to the end of the parking lot (100ft) and pull over and shut the van off. I wanted to check and see what the dash lights look like when I turn on the key. But when I turn it back on I have no check engine light and no green key. We sit for 3 or 4 min and everything comes on and we drive away.

This is really looking to me more like a power issue than a computer issue. I have not had the opportunity to check the power to the PCM when things are down. As previously posted the power at the ignition switch is good when this is going on but I believe there are relays involved. I see in the schematic that the PGM-FI relay is connected to the PCM but I can not tell if it is just the PCM controlling the fuel shut-off or it looks like there might be a power line to the PCM going through that relay.

Sorry for the long post but I am hoping that someone will see something that might give a clue.
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I am having this problem and of course it has cropped up just as I am moving accross country.
Family99Odyssey said:
A few min later while waiting with the key in the run position I hear a load click, the check engine light and the green key light comes on, I start the van and drive home.
Wow, I think at this point I would wire a couple temp light bulbs to the ignition switch so I could watch and make sure the output is there. Or maybe a couple test points for on the fly voltage testing. It sounds like a bad relay or the relay has nominal voltage from a bad ground or flaky ignition switch. At least you now know you can narrow your search a bit. Keep us posted.
Or take my dunce cap off and use the right key. The Ody keys have a chip in them and I was trying to use a standard flat keay copied at a hardware store. my wife is never going to let me live this down.
So why did it work if you sat there for a few minutes? Seems strange. The immobilizer only worked on occasion?
OdyinNH said:
So why did it work if you sat there for a few minutes? Seems strange. The immobilizer only worked on occasion?
That is an excellent question. I really do not think that the problem is in the immobilizer. The PCM operates the immobilizer. When the PCM is off, the immobilizer is off as well. As the check engine light and the green key light both go off and on together, I look more at the PCM. My thoughts lean more towards a relay or something that powers the PCM.

Another thing that I noticed the other day is that the D4 light also goes out and comes back on at the same time as the other 2. When you move the selector to neutral, the neutral and park indicators work fine. Only the D4 is affected on the shift indicator. I guess the PCM and the tranny computer are connected? (Or maybe the same thing? Havn't researched that one.)

Radman, Either that post was meant for someone else or you did not read this thread. The wrong key could not possibly cause a running Ody to shut off.
Oops, I've been following the post and thought Radman was the original poster and was admitting to using the wrong key. I jumped to a conclusion... :stupid:
Sorry. I am not sure either. Trying to pack a 4 bedroom house for a move to California, I am a bit scambled.
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