Intermittent not starting issue

  • 2003 HONDA PILOT
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • 200,000 MILES
So I’m not that car savvy but need to get creative with trying fix this myself as the car just isn’t worth much more investment.

Got a rebuilt transmission after catastrophic failure about 4-5 years ago. New starter and keys about 2 years ago. Brand new battery and alternator that I installed 3 months ago. New timing belt and whatever went with that (a pump or reservoir or something?) Just one month ago. Now it’s having issues starting.

It was infrequent at first but has progressed to the point where I don’t drive it anymore. Here’s what happens: I turn the key, all lights, heating/AC, and radio turn on. Key goes all of the way and I can hear a low electrical hum. Nothing turns over, no clicks. Upon repeated attempts some lights turn off and eventually the whole car loses electrical power. The complete loss of power doesn’t always happen as sometimes it starts before the symptoms progress further. The main fix has been slamming the door. Today I tried getting it to start for 20 minutes without slamming the door (I had swapped some fuses and wanted to see if that was the issue) and never lost power but never turned over. I then slammed the door and it still didn’t start. Then I hit the steering column right under the started and it started up. I may try and reproduce this issue/fix later today.

Is my starter suddenly bad? Is this a terrible electrical voodoo? Why would hitting it temporarily solve the problem? Why is it getting worse, to the point where bow it is less likely to start than not?

Thanks for any advice/help!
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have the same problem?
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 AT 8:55 AM

1 Reply


The most common cause of temporary total power loss is corrosion at the battery terminal or a loose terminal. Take a look through this link:

If you find that isn't an issue, the next thought is the starter itself is going bad. When you smack them, it jars them internally, and sometimes they will work.

Here is what to do. When the starter won't engage, have a helper turn the key to the start position while you check for power at the smaller wire on the starter solenoid. If there is power, replace the starter.

Here is a link that explains how to perform that test:

If you find the starter is bad, here is a link to help with a replacement:

Here are directions specific to your vehicle. The pics below correlate with the directions.


2003 Honda Truck Pilot V6-3.5L
Vehicle Starting and Charging Starting System Starter Motor Service and Repair Procedures Replacement
Starter Replacement

1. Make sure you have the anti-theft codes for the radio and the navigation system, then write down the frequencies for the radio's preset buttons.
2. Disconnect the negative cable from the battery, and then disconnect the positive cable.

pic 1

3. Unlatch the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) cooler hose clamp (A), then disconnect the starter cable (B) and BLK/WHT wire (C).
4. Remove the two bolts holding the starter, then remove the starter.

pic 2

5. Install in the reverse order of removal. Make sure the crimped side of the ring terminal is facing out.
6. Connect the battery positive cable and negative cable to the battery.
7. Start the engine to make sure the starter works properly.
8. Enter the anti-theft codes for the radio and the navigation system, then enter the customer's radio station presets. Reset the clock.
9. Perform the powertrain control module (PCM) idle learn procedure, and power window control unit reset procedure.


I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

Take care and God Bless,

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Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 AT 8:04 PM

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