Acura MDX Key Problem- Urgent request please!

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481
Location
Vermont
Rather urgent request because this vehicle is for sale and we may have people coming to look at it this weekend. I am unable to gather more data or take a look at the vehicle again until tomorrow evening as I am at work at a remote site. I would have to ask my wife to gather any more information that may be helpful, after she gets home from work tonight. 2004 Acura MDX, approx. 190k miles. Vehicle has been well-maintained during our five years of ownership and all problems were addressed as soon as they popped up. Nothing like this has happened before; this vehicle has only needed basic wear items replaced plus a new heater/blower motor last winter. The vehicle was kept as a spare/weekend hauler and needs a new exhaust and new brakes, which we are unable to afford at the time, so that's why we are selling it. Car was running and driving normally when last driven about a week ago. Today I went to start it to get gas and gauges lit up but it wouldn't start. I thought perhaps the battery was dead. Hooked up to a charger which read 12.3V and 60% charge remaining. I charged it completely. Attempted to start again and had the same result. I noticed the green "key" warning light was on. It stayed on and blinked after turning the key to the off position. Checked the manual and it indicated a possible problem with the anti-theft system. I tried all three of the keys that we have and the result was the same. I did some reading online and most seems to be owners speculating over the cause and remedy with very few facts. It also seems there are no recent discussions of this problem. This is why I am motivated to ask the brain trust of BITOG for some concrete information. The most useful thing I saw online was someone saying to remove the key from its keychain, put the key in gently and not forcefully, and then try moving the steering column while turning the key. I tried all of those things with no luck. Any assistance is very much appreciated!
 
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9,410
Location
Canuck living in California
The light should blink slowly with the key off or removed. This indicates the system is armed. If you insert the key and try to turn on the car and it blinks fast, that's an indicator of a problem. I don't think solid key light means there is a problem, but my last Honda vehicle was a 95 with no such system, so perhaps Honda is different. When you say no start, does it mean no sounds at all when you turn the key? Or can you hear clicking? Do the lights dim/turn off when you turn they key? My first troubleshooting would be to make sure all grounds are making good connections and go from there.
 

methusaleh

Thread starter
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481
Location
Vermont
Thank you KrisZ. The light does blink slowly. There are no sounds at all when trying to start, no fuel pump or starter sounds. Just a fully-lit display. It remains that way until the key is in the off position, at which point all lights go out except the green key icon blinks for a few seconds.
 
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11,660
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NorthEast
Put the transmission lever in N and try it again The switch which determines if the vehicle is in the gear or not aka neutral safety switch malfunction will prevent the vehicle from cranking. So move the lever to Neutral if the Park is not working.
 
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775
Location
North of you Idaho
[quote=KrisZ]According to this vid, if the immobilizer doesn't recognize the key the engine will still crank, just not start. You can see the flashing key. This is correct. If the "Chip" in the key is not identified by the immobilizer, the engine still cranks over but does not fire/start. If the neutral position on the shifter does not allow the engine to crank, clean the chassis grounds with baking soda and water with a tooth brush. Clean at batt, and at radiator core support first, then try. If that not work, next clean ground at the block, then try starting. Goodluck! eta; remove bolts/nuts to clean with baking soda, then reassy.
 
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Messages
433
Location
Melbourne, Australia
You have a no crank, no start.. which could be caused by a variety of reasons. If you have already ruled out the battery, then the next few items could be: 1) Neutral safety switch 2) Brake switch (if the Acura normally requires the brake pedal to be depressed before you can start) 3) Ignition switch barrel contacts 4) Starter or solenoid You do need to get the issue properly diagnosed, anyone on here can only speculate what the real issue may be.
 

methusaleh

Thread starter
Messages
481
Location
Vermont
Thank you all once again for the great replies! I'm not home yet but my wife went out to try to start it again. Weather is much warmer today in case that played a role. No luck! The steering wheel doesn't telescope like the video above mentions, but it tilts. My wife tried starting the car with the wheel in different positions as well as turning the key while moving the wheel up and down, but no luck. She reports it appears there are a handful of Philips screws holding the plastic cover on the steering column, just in case we need to open it up and check the wires. I will try the neutral trick tonight, thanks again!!
 

methusaleh

Thread starter
Messages
481
Location
Vermont
Update...tried the trick of shifting to neutral and then starting. Same results. Absolutely no sound when the key is in the run or start positions. No fuel pump, no relays clicking, nothing. Next step I plan is to open up the steering column as time allows. Unfortunately I need to travel for work tomorrow night through at least Wednesday so this may be pushed to the back burner.
 
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9,410
Location
Canuck living in California
Originally Posted by methusaleh
Update...tried the trick of shifting to neutral and then starting. Same results. Absolutely no sound when the key is in the run or start positions. No fuel pump, no relays clicking, nothing. Next step I plan is to open up the steering column as time allows. Unfortunately I need to travel for work tomorrow night through at least Wednesday so this may be pushed to the back burner.
I don't understand why you want to mess with the column. Like the video mentions, if you had the immobilizer issue, your engine would still crank, just not fire up. To me it sounds like you are not getting any current to the starter. So instead of digging into the steering column, I would start checking fuses, relays and if you have 12V at the starter.
 
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Messages
2,234
Location
Texas
You have a bad battery. First you will need to replace it, then press the lock then unlock buttons on the remote with all of the doors and hood closed to reset the antitheft system, then it should start.
 

methusaleh

Thread starter
Messages
481
Location
Vermont
Wow, thank you wag123! We can only hope. I could pull one out of another vehicle just to test it. As far as the steering column goes, I was figuring to check for frayed wires. I do not hear the starter. So next thing to check after the battery will be the starter.
 
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2,234
Location
Texas
Originally Posted by methusaleh
Wow, thank you wag123! We can only hope. I could pull one out of another vehicle just to test it. As far as the steering column goes, I was figuring to check for frayed wires. I do not hear the starter. So next thing to check after the battery will be the starter.
You were not having problems with the car before this so don't go tearing into the steering column or wiring harness! It is the battery. Your car is displaying the classic symptoms that Acura/Honda products with antitheft systems display when they have a weak or bad battery. Jumping it won't work, you need to just go ahead and replace it or you will never be able to sell the car. Furthermore, even if you could get the car started with that bad battery in it, since Honda products have a battery excited alternator, the charging system probably wouldn't work properly and the car might throw a CEL. Just buy the cheapest battery you can find, I think your car uses a 24F. If you can find another 24F battery to put in the car to test it, the battery needs to be in excellent working condition and fully charged, forget what your charger is telling you about the state of charge.
 
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2,234
Location
Texas
Since we haven't heard back from you, I assume that replacing the battery and resetting the antitheft system solved your problem?
 

methusaleh

Thread starter
Messages
481
Location
Vermont
I apologize, I had to travel out of state all of last week and have had to work every day since I returned. I will update the thread Thursday most likely as I have the day off to tackle this.
 

methusaleh

Thread starter
Messages
481
Location
Vermont
OK, it's likely not the battery. I took a battery that was less than a year old and tried to start it and had the same results. Battery showed full charge before I put it in the Acura. Next thing I plan to check is power to the starter, based on a mechanic's recommendation. Meanwhile the poor car just sits in my driveway. If I can get it running easily I'd rather do that and not have to sell it for parts.
 
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4,609
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Southeast
Not sure about the reasons behind the battery statements above but these cars can be jumped just fine if the battery is low; I don't think this is a battery problem. Start with the simple stuff. check all fuses. swap the starter relay with a different relay (that's my guess at this point). of course, neutral safety switch has been mentioned. put a test light on the start command wire at the starter solenoid and check for power while the key is turned. If it's lit, it's the starter. If it's not, it's something upstream. steering column disassembly is not going to reveal frayed wires. These cars are well-wired and well put together. My wife had an 02, and my step daughter has a gen 1 now as well. -m
 
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