Reader Question: No-Start Accord?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Q asks: I have an ’05 Accord that won’t start. Or rather, it seems as though the key doesn’t work. I had a new key made, but it hasn’t made any difference. Do you have any suggestions?

My reply: It appears the Accord from circa ’03-’07 still had a physical ignition key (i.e., a key that the driver inserts into the ignition lock cylinder and turns, in order to start the car) rather than a keyless ignition fob (which works with a keyless/push-button ignition system). 

However, the physical key has an electrical component – unlike the older “just keys” that were purely physical things that didn’t need to be programmed or “paired” with the car’s electronics (anti-theft system). With the older, just keys, you could go to any hardware store and have a spare cut that would work just as well as the originals. No need to go to a dealer to have the key programmed or “paired” to make it work. 

The Honda’s keys do have to be programmed/“paired” – meaning that even if the key physically fits in the ignition switch, the car’s computer will not turn on the ignition. This seems to be the case with your car  – i.e., you put the key in the ignition and nothing happens. I am assuming the accessories do not turn on, either – i.e., the radio, dash lights and so on. 

This also assumes that the battery is not dead – and is adequately charged. This latter is the very first thing I would check. You want to eliminate “could be’s” from the equation. If there are any doubts about the battery, eliminate them by taking it to any auto parts store and having them load-check it. They will do this for free. If the battery is weak, that could be the problem rather than the key. Removing the battery – in order to take it to the auto parts store to be tested – is usually not difficult; there are just two connections – positive and negative – and clamps on the battery terminals (+ and -). These can usually be removed by loosing a small bolt or screw. 

Next, make sure both the positive (red) and negative (black) cables to the battery are properly (tightly) connected. If either isn’t, it could account for the no-start issue. Also make sure the connections are clean. 

Another thing to check before assuming the key is the problem is the fuse panel. Look in the car’s owner’s manual to find where this is. It is usually located somewhere under the driver’s side part of the dashboard, often behind a small removal trim panel. 

If the fuse controlling the ignition circuit or fuel injection circuit has blown, that could also account for the no-start issue. Check all the fuses and if any are blown, get a new one of the same type and amp rating (they are all labelled) and replace the bad one with he new one. This may solve the problem – but even if it does, you will want to find out why the fuse blew as it is apt to happen again. 

Ok – 

Assuming the battery/connections/fuses all check out good: 

If – when you insert the key and turn it to “accessory” you should see the main gauge cluster turn on, as well as the radio and so on. You should also be able to hear an audible “click” – indicating the fuel system is pressurizing. If all the foregoing happens – but when you turn the key to “start” and nothing nothing happens, it is likely the trouble is the starter motor/solenoid. Not a huge big deal but will require the services of a mechanic or someone who knows how to remove/replace a starter/solenoid. 

If you get nothing – no signs of life – when you insert the key and turn it to “accessory” – then it is likely an issue with the key itself. Or rather, the electronic component. 

The key here is to have a “known good” key – to assure the problem is the key that’s not working. You can buy an unprogrammed/“paired” replacement blank key/fob online for less than $20. This can then be physically cut to fit your car’s ignition switch and programmed/“paired” by a dealer to communicate with the car’s anti-theft system so it will allow the ignition switch to work. The dealer will probably need your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and proof of ownership; e.g., title or registration.  

If you have already bought a new key from the dealer and had it programmed/paired, but it doesn’t work – have them double check it to make sure it’s properly programmed/paired.Or just buy the new blank and have them program/pair it (as well as cut it). 

It also possible the ignition lock cylinder is itself bad.

Hope this helps!

. . .

Got a question about cars, bikes or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in! Or email me directly at [email protected] if the @!** “ask Eric” button doesn’t work!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Q, when you say ‘doesn’t start’, does it do anything? Does it crank and just not start? Does it do anything?- i.e. do the dashboard warning lights come on when you turn the key? Can you beep the horn? If you turn the headlights on, do they come on (They work independent of the key). Need more info.

  2. Went to start my 2000 Holden Statesman 2 weeks ago. Key would not move the barrel nor would the key remove from the barrel lock. Removed the steering column covers to access the barrel and switch which had the wire connections. Removed the plastic part of the key and still cold not move teh key or turn it. I had to take off the key contacts to remove the barrel. Eventually I got a pair of linesman pliers and just forced the key into the off position. Took a lot of force. Then I could get everything out. A piece of metal came off the barrel and held up the whole assembly. Replaced the barrel and switch separately, along with getting the key programmed to the car. About $300 all up. New key is tight in the barrel now. Before the keys were sloppy. A few times I had to force the key really hard to start the car. This time it happened in my driveway, so no towing costs. The terminals part of the switch was held onto the column by a T8 torx screw. I had one of those t8s in my small toolbox. What a nightmare. Lucky the car was at home and not somewhere on the road.

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