Keyless Start System Problem (Meaning, Causes & Fix)

Here we’re going to take a look at the keyless start system in the car. This system can stop working prematurely, and this is a known fault, especially in the 2016 – 2017 car models.

If you are experiencing problems with your car not starting using the engine start/stop button, this is because you have probably lost the use of your keyless start system.

Upon failure of this system, when you press down on the “ENGINE START/STOP” button to start your engine, nothing will happen, and an error message will pop up telling you that there has been a keyless start system problem.

This article will explain the possible causes of a keyless start system problem and how to resolve it.

What Causes Keyless Start System Problem?

A keyless start system can fail for many reasons. The causes can range from some poor coding practices to inconsiderate end-users performing various tasks in an incorrect order.

In the following list, we break down possible causes, starting with the most common causes of the keyless start system problem and ending with potential issues which may be instantly ruled out if not applicable:

1. Faulty Key Fob Battery

The car key fob is a necessary piece in the keyless entry/start system. It needs to have enough power to send signals to your car’s keyless start system to start the engine.

Unfortunately, if the battery in the key fob dies, then your car will not be able to receive these signals. Also, if your battery no longer supplies enough voltage for the system to work properly, it will cause the signals to be weak.

The ignition sensor will not detect a weak signal, so the engine won’t start. A keyless start system relies on an electronic signal to operate.

As such, it is strongly recommended to always check your key fob’s battery before taking your vehicle to a technician for the “keyless start system problem” you are currently experiencing.

You can check the battery’s voltage by connecting it to a voltmeter and then comparing the reading provided with what is stated in your manual. If the reading is lower than the standard, you should think about performing a key fob battery replacement.

Causes of Keyless Start System Problem

2. Malfunctioning System’s Sensor

As you probably already know, your car sensor receives signals from a key fob and instructs the control unit. In case of a sensor malfunction, two probable reasons can be attributed to it.

First, some accidents can cause them to malfunction, or they may get buried in dirt and not be able to detect any fob signals.

If you have a keyless start system problem in your vehicle, something is likely wrong with the sensor. If buried in dust, you can clean it off with a cloth; it will probably work perfectly fine again.

But if it’s damaged, there’s no way of repairing it; you will have to replace it with a new one.

3. Problems With the Brake

As earlier mentioned, the push-button start system only works after pressing the car’s brake pedal. However, sometimes you may find it hard to apply reasonable force when pressing the button.

Therefore, to solve this problem, there are a couple of solutions that you can try out. The first one is applying more pressure on the brake pedal correctly.

Secondly, you need to tighten the cables of your brakes with an Allen key for better control over your car.

4. Software Issues

Does your vehicle’s keyless start system stop working when you try to push the button many times? It may be because of a software glitch.

If a software glitch caused the keyless start system problem, you can essentially “reset” it by using the key fob. By exiting and re-entering the vehicle with your remote, the car will be able to pick up new signals from it, which will fix the issue.

5. The Starter Is Bad

If your push-button starter keeps coming on and off, it’s probably a problem with the starter. To identify whether or not the keyless ignition system is to blame, you can try jump-starting it directly.

If the push button still doesn’t start the engine, there’s a good chance one of the starter’s components is faulty.

Many parts inside starters cause them to break down. For example, the ignition switch might stop transferring power effectively when it wears out, causing the starter to have less contact.

If this happens, you will need to open up the keyless start system box and examine each part until you determine which component has malfunctioned. If a part is broken somehow, you need to replace it to solve the keyless start system problem.

Also Read: How to Start a Car with a Bad Starter (9 Fast Ways)

6. Faulty Car Battery

Your keyless start system needs sufficient voltage to work. It may not work if the battery powering it is faulty. Fortunately, you can use a voltmeter to check if it’s at a decent enough level by checking your battery’s voltage.

If it’s below 12V, you’ve got a bad battery, and you should have it replaced immediately to make sure that other parts of your engine running on electricity aren’t affected negatively.

A jumper wire or another vehicle’s battery can jump-start the vehicle if a new battery cannot be obtained straight away. However, this is a short-term fix and should be handled by someone with enough knowledge.

7. The Keyless Start System Fuse Is Blown

The keyless start system utilizes voltage to function, so it’s fitted with a wire fuse to protect the electronic ignition system.

However, any time the electronic ignition system receives excessive voltage, the wire fuse will blow up in order to protect it.

So if your car won’t start even after you put your key into the ignition and try turning it on, check if there is an open gap between the wire and the fuse. A narrowed gap would indicate that the fuse has blown and needs to be replaced.

8. Faulty Wires

Suppose you experience a keyless start system problem whenever you push the start button, and the engine doesn’t crank.

Usually, this occurs because the wires have worn out over time, causing reduced voltage and thus affecting the system. If you suspect something is going wrong with your keys, use a voltmeter to check if your wiring still has enough voltage.

If it doesn’t, there is no current flowing through; this must be fixed immediately since it will only worsen every time you attempt to start your vehicle.

9. Cold Weather

Did you notice the keyless start system problem After driving in cold weather? Well, In cold weather, the car may not start. It does this because it needs more voltage for everything to work.

This is because cold temperatures slow down chemical reactions in your battery and make it hold less power than normal; since the keyless ignition system requires a certain amount of voltage, you might find that you cannot use it when the weather is cold.

Fortunately, the issue will usually disappear once the car warms up a bit or if you have enough voltage to compensate for what was lost due to the cold temperatures.

Nevertheless, you should park your car under a covered area in colder seasons to minimize the issue.

Also Read: Car Hesitates to Start (10 Causes & Solutions)

How to Fix Keyless Start System Problem

How to Fix Keyless Start System Problem

1. Make a Warranty Claim

Suppose this issue is mainly occurring in 2016-17 Honda Pilots before taking your vehicles to a mechanic for proper diagnosis and repair.

In that case, it’s important to confirm whether your specific vehicle comes under warranty for keyless start security systems. If your model does fall within a warranty period or extended warranty, you should contact the manufacturer for assistance in fixing the issue.

2. Replace the Start/Stop Switch

When your car is out of warranty, you must troubleshoot errors occurring by yourself or with the help of a mechanic. This can be most commonly caused by a faulty START/STOP switch that needs replacing.

The replacement procedure is done with a Phillips screwdriver and requires removing the glovebox, starter assembly, and steering column assembly.

Here are the steps:

  1. Take off the dashboard cover on the passenger’s side.
  2. The dashboard trim panel on the passenger’s dashboard must be removed.
  3. Unplug the connector after you have taken down the dashboard center panel.
  4. To access the screws for the middle trim on the dashboard center, pull back the right side of the driver’s lower dashboard cover.
  5. Remove the humidity and temperature sensors.
  6. Unscrew the screws that hold the dashboard center middle trim, then take it out.
  7. Remove the ENGINE START/STOP switch assembly from the center middle trim on the dashboard.
  8. The harness connectors should be disconnected.
  9. A new ENGINE START/STOP switch assembly needs to be installed.
  10. All parts that were removed should be reinstalled in a reversed order.
  11. Use a diagnostic system to clear all DTCs.
  12. You need to verify that the engine start/stop switch now works and the error message on the dashboard has completely disappeared.

Check out this video for more tips on how to replace the start/stop switch

3. Key Fob Battery Replacement

If you have obtained a used or secondhand car, chances are the batteries powering the Key Fob to unlock the doors are dead. However, it is an easy DIY job to replace these batteries quickly.

You will need a CR2032 battery and a small screwdriver for this task which should take 10 minutes to complete.

Here are the steps

  1. Remove The key assembly from the Key Fob by pressing the button.
  2. You can use a prying tool to open your key fob or forcefully pry it open from within.
  3. Install a new battery and cover up the assembly, ensuring all clips are tightly fastened.

Honda Pilot Keyless Start System Problem

If you have a Honda Pilot keyless start system problem, there are several possibilities. First, you need to check if your car’s key fob battery has died for starters.

If that doesn’t seem to be a problem, you should inspect whether there is a burnt-out circuit board within the fuse box near the steering wheel.

With a screwdriver or a pry bar, carefully pry the dashboard up and away from the seam to open the fuse box, then find and pop open the fuse panel on your dashboard.

To check your vehicle’s fuse:

  1. Start by identifying the fuse you need by checking the back panel or using the car’s manual to find it.
  2. When you’ve found your fuse, push down on any exposed metal strips; if you notice any exposed metal strips connected with two small pins to the side of each section in which the fuse is located.
  3. Inspect the fuse to see if it is blown and replace it if necessary.

Honda Pilot Keyless Start System Problem

Why Does My Honda Civic Say Keyless Start System Problem?

If you notice that your Honda’s keyless start system is not working and the screen is showing a message like “keyless start system malfunction” or “keyless entry problem,” it’s then it’s most likely due to a dead battery in your key fob or remote start button.

When the battery dies and you try to start your car without replacing it, the engine won’t turn over.

If you’ve tried this and your Honda Civic still won’t start, it could be because of a problem with the Engine Start/Stop switch. The Engine Start/Stop switch is located on the console between the driver’s seat and gas pedal.

When you’re driving, it should be in the “Start” position so that if your key fob battery dies or if you accidentally press your remote start button twice (which would normally lock your doors), nothing happens—your car doesn’t start up while someone else is driving it.

Conclusion – Keyless Start System Problem

As easy and convenient as keyless start systems may be, sometimes you run into some unexpected problems. Nevertheless, It’s important to understand what might cause the keyless start system problem and how you can solve it to be ready when you’re faced with such a problem.

Generally, one of the most common problems of the keyless system is mostly caused by a malfunctioning fob battery, software issue, a bad car battery, etc.

By checking, repairing, or replacing any of these parts, you can resolve the keyless start system problem and keep your emotions intact while behind the wheel.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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