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Stock 2012 Odyssey EXL with just about 173k miles on it. Our intermittent start issue is of the "all electronics light up but nothing else happens" sort.

We have had these intermittent start issues over the last couple years that we've managed to clear by battery replacements (seems we've had a string of subpar batteries, so thank goodness for the Costco warranty) but one day a few months back it just would not start even after a fresh battery. Our mechanic diagnosed it as a bad starter and we had it replaced. All was fine for a few days, but then it started doing it again. I checked all ground cables and put in a fresh starter cable, and all seemed well for a few days again.

Registration came due, along with a required smog check. I drive it to the test station and the no-start issue popped up again just as the tech was going to run the smog test. Luckily, after trying for a few minutes, it started. While it would have failed smog, the tech and I were hopeful that some sort of error code would have popped up that might give a clue as to the starting problem. It ended up passing smog with no errors.

I explained to the tech all the things we've already tried to fix it, and he says he's seen stuff like this before and it might be a fuel pump problem. I started searching around this forum and I saw that the last gen Odys might show the same start symptoms due to a leak in the fuel system that bleeds the fuel pressure, and that you can overcome it by having the car on Accessory mode for a couple minutes to power the pump and allow the system to come back up to pressure. Is that also a possibility in this gen? One possibly related indicator is we have had the occasional solid CEL come on, which we've cleared by making sure the gas cap is on tight and driving around a bit.

Totally unscientific tests whenever we encounter the start issue seems to show that the "turn on Accessory mode to power the fuel pump for a few minutes" works to allow us to start, not so much the "wiggle the key to see if the ignition switch isn't making contact."

To rule out it being perhaps a fault in the ignition switch circuit, I've bought a test probe and have been waiting to see the issue pop up again so I could test all legs of the circuit. I was able to get a no-start a couple days ago, but the car started on the next try, so I couldn't test to get any sort of solid data point. Also, any advice for which fuses to test? I have Interior Driver Side Fuse 14 and Engine Compartment Box 1 Fuse 11 on my check list, but any others I should check?

I'm hopeful I can find the exact cause so that we can have peace of mind in taking the vehicle out on a family camping trip in a couple months. Any thoughts to confirm this might actually be a fuel pump/fuel sensor issue rather than an ignition circuit one?
 

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If it is an intermittent problem, it isn't a fuse issue, so don't worry about that.

The fuel pump issue is turn the van to the "ON" position for a few SECONDS before turning to the start position. If that was the failure mode, the engine would turn over but take extra time to start.

Sounds to me like you might be having issues with the shifter. Make sure absolutely nothing is hanging from it, and try wiggling or pushing up on it when the no-start condition happens. You can also try starting the van in Neutral instead of Park (key to ON, foot on brake to move shifter to Neutral, then try to start).

-Charlie
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If it is an intermittent problem, it isn't a fuse issue, so don't worry about that.

The fuel pump issue is turn the van to the "ON" position for a few SECONDS before turning to the start position. If that was the failure mode, the engine would turn over but take extra time to start.

Sounds to me like you might be having issues with the shifter. Make sure absolutely nothing is hanging from it, and try wiggling or pushing up on it when the no-start condition happens. You can also try starting the van in Neutral instead of Park (key to ON, foot on brake to move shifter to Neutral, then try to start).

-Charlie
Thanks Charlie! I failed to mention we did try shifting to Neutral and attempting to start. That did not work, and reliably did not work in all recent no-start scenarios. We also wouldn't touch the shifter and would still eventually be able to start the van.

Also, yeah that is my mistake about turning the van to Accessory, I did mean that the van should turned to ON to see if it was a fuel pump pressure issue. It does seem like there are times when the van has a very brief delay in starting. However, it's not a crank and then start after a delay, it's more of a quick second or two of "huh? nothing is happening" and then the engine fires up.
 

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Good job checking starting it in neutral. That eliminates a fairly well known issue.... (on the 2014-2017 push-button start vans, the same problem keeps you from turning the van off!)

Our mechanic diagnosed it as a bad starter and we had it replaced.
What brand starter was used for the replacement? If not Honda OEM or Denso, this may still be your problem. Weak solenoid contacts can cause the starter to not fully engage, and your van is approaching the mileage where that might happen. This would manifest as a single quiet click from the starter while all the other van electronics work normally.

-Charlie
 
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Have you looked for any dealer installed electronics under the dash? Is there a little block on the dash down low under the steering wheel? You do not have to have bought the alarm for there to be junk left in there. If you buy the alarm, they put a module in there. If you don't they take their module out. Some do interrupt starting. That can happen years later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good job checking starting it in neutral. That eliminates a fairly well known issue.... (on the 2014-2017 push-button start vans, the same problem keeps you from turning the van off!)

What brand starter was used for the replacement? If not Honda OEM or Denso, this may still be your problem. Weak solenoid contacts can cause the starter to not fully engage, and your van is approaching the mileage where that might happen. This would manifest as a single quiet click from the starter while all the other van electronics work normally.

-Charlie
Checked my invoice -- it was replaced with a Honda OEM.

Have you looked for any dealer installed electronics under the dash? Is there a little block on the dash down low under the steering wheel? You do not have to have bought the alarm for there to be junk left in there. If you buy the alarm, they put a module in there. If you don't they take their module out. Some do interrupt starting. That can happen years later.
We did purchase the alarm and there is a module in there. Anything to test to see if that is the culprit? We are able to eventually start without arming/disarming the alarm.
 

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We did purchase the alarm and there is a module in there.
The KARR alarm? Can you take a picture of it or post a model number? The OEM system will already keep the vehicle safe (well, as safe as it can reasonably be) - and the aftermarket alarm very well could be causing these problems.

Glad to hear an OEM starter was used.

-Charlie
 
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