Why Does My Honda Pilot Says Keyless Start System Problem?

The keyless start system in the Honda Pilot is prone to fail prematurely and is a known fault, especially on the 2016-17 models. Upon failure of the keyless start system, the vehicle fails to start on the first press of the “ENGINE START/STOP” button.

And the error message “KEYLESS START SYSTEM ERROR” pops up in the MID (Multi-Information Display) on the dashboard. An error message is also stored in the vehicle’s memory for that particular failure.

Keyless Start System Problem Error

Did Honda address Keyless Start System Problem?

With an increasing number of cases for failing keyless start systems, Honda has officially addressed the situation by releasing a service bulletin for the 2016-17 Honda Pilot keyless start-stop error as it is a consistent manufacturing fault appearing in most of the Honda Pilots.

American Honda has extended the warranty for the keyless start system on the vehicle to 09 years from the purchase date or 125,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Read more: What does Emissions System Problem mean on a Honda Pilot?

Probable Causes of Keyless Start System Failure

The cause of the particular error can be one of the following things. We have listed the probable causes of failure from the most likely issue to the least likely one.

1.    Faulty ENGINE START/STOP Switch

ENGINE START/STOP Switch is the most probable cause of keyless start system failure in the Honda Pilot. Honda has itself diagnosed the issue to be a faulty switch for the premature switch error and also provides free-of-cost switch replacement as the corrective action for this particular issue on 2016-17 models.

2.    Battery in the Key Fob is Dead

Another probable cause of the error is depleting batteries on the key fob. Although dead battery on the key fob is far less likely to occur especially within 4-5 years after the purchase. Since the battery replacement is quite easy and inexpensive you can replace the key fob batteries if the issue is not resolved by replacing the switch.

How Do You Fix the Error?

1.    Warranty Claim

If you’re facing the issue especially in a 2016-17 Honda Pilot, then before heading to a local mechanic or your dealership for diagnosis and repairs, you should confirm whether your particular vehicle comes under the warranty extension for keyless start system error from an authorized Honda automobile dealer. If your vehicle is under warranty or is under the extended warranty, get the error fixed by claiming the warranty.

2.    Engine START/STOP Switch Replacement

If your Honda Pilot is not under warranty for any reason, then you have to remove the error either yourself or from a mechanic. The most likely issue for this error is a faulty START/STOP Switch (PART NO: 35881-TG7-A03), which needs to be replaced with a new one. The switch replacement process is fairly easy and can be done with a single Philips head screwdriver.

  1. Remove the passenger’s dashboard side cover.
  2. Remove the passenger’s dashboard trim panel.
  3. Remove the dashboard center panel, and then disconnect the connector.
  4. Carefully pull back the right side of the driver’s dashboard lower cover to expose the screws for the dashboard center middle trim. Disconnect the humidity/in-car temperature sensor
  5. Remove the screws holding in the dashboard center middle trim, then remove it.
  6. Remove the ENGINE START/STOP switch assembly from the dashboard center middle trim.
  7. Disconnect all harness connectors.
  8. Install the new ENGINE START/STOP switch assembly
  9. Reinstall all removed parts in the reverse order of removal.
  10. Clear all DTCs using a diagnostic system.
  11. Confirm that the ENGINE START/STOP switch works and the error from the dash has disappeared completely.

3.    Key Fob Battery Replacement

If your Honda Pilot has been used extensively or, it has aged for a couple of years, it is also possible that the batteries in the Key Fob have gone dead. To fix this you would have to replace the batteries with new ones. It hardly takes 10 minutes to replace new batteries in the key fob and you require a CR2032 battery along with a small screwdriver.

  1. Press the button to slide out the metal key assembly out of the Key Fob.
  2. Pry Open the key Fob with help of a prying tool or with a little force to pry it open from in between.
  3. Replace the battery with a new one and close the assembly back, ensuring all the clips are fastened properly.

Has there been a recall from Honda in regards to Keyless Start System Problem?

No, there haven’t been any recalls from Honda for the premature failure of the Engine START/STOP switch in the Pilot.

Although Honda has addressed the issue by releasing a service bulletin that extends the warranty on keyless start system on the affected vehicles (Pilot 2016-17 and Ridgeline) and offers free Engine Start/Stop Switch Assembly replacement to solve the issue.

Do I need to reprogram my key after replacing the Engine Start/Stop Switch Assembly?

No, you do not need to reprogram the key fob to work with the new Engine Start/Stop switch, as the files for the communication are not stored on the switch itself.

Can you program a Honda Key yourself?

Yes, programming a Honda Key especially for the Honda Pilot is fairly easy and can be done on your own if you have the previous key, and an unprogrammed key. You need to follow the following fairly simple steps mentioned below to program the new key.

  1. Get inside the car and close all doors and make sure all the doors are unlocked.
  2. Then put the old key in the ignition and switch it to ON position and press lock and then unlock button on the new key.
  3. Switch the ignition key to the OFF position.
  4. Now repeat the steps b) and c) 2 more times.
  5. After that repeat step b) only and you should hear the lock and unlock. Now again press the lock button and you have successfully programmed the new remote.