Dr. Gizmo: Rear hatch of Honda Pilot EX fails to lock/unlock

The rear hatch in my 2014 Honda Pilot EX with a 3.5 engine does not lock or unlock with the button or my remote. My shop applied power to the solenoid actuator in the hatch. It works. Now they want to trace all the wiring to find the cause of the issue, but this will take a lot of time.

All the other doors lock and unlock normally. Have you ever seen anything like this before? – R.M., email

Yes, this type of problem has popped up in the past. This condition indeed is an inconvenience.

Since the actuator works, the cause of the issue is somewhere in the circuit. A technician will need to probe it to find the cause. This might be caused by broken wiring between the hatch and body. There is a flexible conduit that moves each time the hatch opens and closes. The wires within the conduit are prone to break. It’s also possible this is due to a poor ground, but, since the vehicle is only a few years old, corrosion at a connection more than likely is not the cause, but worth consideration. Also, a loose connection in a plug might be the issue. 

It will take time to probe the circuit, but it should not take hours of labor.

I have a 2009 Honda Odyssey Touring with a 3.5-liter engine and a broken timing belt. It has 120,000 miles on it. This is the second time the timing belt broke within 600 miles. A local independent repair shop replaced it after my vehicle stalled on the highway. It was towed to my shop that has been servicing the vehicle for a long time. They found the timing belt had failed. They replaced it, and all was well until the next time I hit the highway. The problem repeated. I was driving along when the engine stalled. I called my shop and had the car towed in. They found the same problem. This time, a different mechanic worked on the engine. He found the belt had broken again. He replaced it, and now the same thing has occurred. I had it towed to the shop. They are at a loss as to why this has happened again. They say it might be due to infrequent oil changes. I disagree.

I’m upset with my shop. I’m about to have it towed to a different shop. Do you have any suggestions why this is happening? – C.S., email

It might be due to infrequent or irregular interval oil changes, but maybe not. However, since your shop has been servicing the vehicle for a long time, they apparently have service history records supporting their assertions. Be this as it may, it is possible there is a defective part in the timing belt system causing the issue. It’s also possible a condition deeper in the engine, such as a failing camshaft bearing, is the cause. This might be due to restricted oil flow and pressure to a bearing due to a narrowing of an oil passage. If so, their theory might hold true.

To find the cause, a technician will need to perform an internal exam of the engine. The place to start is at the timing belt and move to the cylinder heads.

The turn signals quit working in my 2008 Infiniti G35 with 130,000 miles. I checked all the fuses. I did not see anything wrong but replaced the fuse for the turn signals to be safe. This did not fix the trouble.

The emergency flashers work fine. All the other lights work fine.

Is this problem caused by the switch? – T.L., email

This might be caused by a faulty switch, but, without tests to verify the cause, it would not be wise to replace it.

Also, if you are not an experienced automotive do-it-yourselfer, I would not recommend attempting the task. The air bag could deploy unexpectedly causing injury to you and thousands in repair to the vehicle. Not to mention it might not be the cause of the trouble.

Since the vehicle is about 10 model years old, it is possible the trouble is caused by a loose or corroded ground connection. It’s also possible the body control module has an internal fault. Additionally, the connections at the module might be corroded or loose.

You might consider wiggling the connections at the module. This might return temporary use of the turn signals, but a lasting repair needs the expertise of a technician.

My 2003 Dodge Dakota SLT with 181,000 miles and 3.9 motor hesitates and cuts out. This problem has been going on for the last few months. When I start the truck in the morning to drive to work it runs fine. It starts without a problem within a few revolutions of the motor. It runs normally. Once it warms up, it hesitates when I accelerate and it feels like it wants to cut out.

A few months ago, I put the problem into the hands of a reliable shop that has been working on it since then without success. They have replaced the distributor, intake gasket, oxygen sensors, fuel injectors, ignition wires, spark plugs, distributor cap and rotor, and they have done all kinds of tests in the shop and on the road. They have swapped parts from other vehicles to mine to see if the parts would fix it, but no luck. On the road with test equipment connected they have experienced the trouble, but have not found the cause. They say everything is set to factory specifications.

I love my truck. I’m not about to trade it. Can you help? – E.P. email

They have thrown a lot of parts into your vehicle and performed swaponostics in an effort to cure the condition. Analysis of the list of parts you presented reveals they have not replaced the camshaft or crankshaft sensors.

These little devils can pass tests and still cause troubles such as you describe. Perhaps your shop might consider testing the circuit and testing the sensors with a lab scope under close scrutiny. They might find a blip on the scope that confirms one of the sensors is causing the trouble. If so, consider installing original equipment sensors to cure the condition.

The 5.3-liter engine in my 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 developed a tapping sound, and the check engine light came on. I had it tested at an auto supply store. Code P0306 was found. The employee suggested I go to a shop for more testing. He said the code shows a bad lifter in the engine.

My truck has 143,000 miles. I have taken great care of it with oil changes every 3,000 miles. Until now, it has never had a problem. I have owned it since it was new. I have owned several General Motors vehicles and never had a problem like this before. My vehicles always have gone more than 200,000 miles without any problems like this. Before I go to a shop, does this problem sound right to you? – H.M., email

Congratulations for never experiencing a condition such as this with past vehicles you favor. Unfortunately, it appears this vehicle has developed an issue in the valve system. The cause of the issue might be due to a failing solenoid. Also, an ailment such as this might be caused by a failed hydraulic lifter or even an excessively worn camshaft.

Once an experienced technician performs diagnostics, he or she should be able to determine the cause. Let’s hope this is caused by a failed circuit or solenoid, as these types of problems do not require major engine surgery.

Yesterday, I had the oil changed in my 2007 BMW 328Xi. It has 137,000 miles. Immediately after the oil change, the check engine warning came on, the engine idle fluctuated and it stalled. I immediately returned to the quick lube shop, where they checked everything over but did not find anything wrong with what they did. They told me to go to a shop right away. I had the car towed to a shop that has been servicing it for a long time.

Today, tests found a problem with the mixture control. They installed a new MAF sensor and injected smoke into the engine. The new sensor did not fix the trouble. They did not find any leaks in the engine with the smoke. Now, they suggest replacing the valve cover and intake gaskets, but they are not sure this will fix the trouble. I don’t want to spend money unless they are sure of the cause. Have you seen anything like this before? Do you have any suggestions? – R.D.N., email

After all these years in this business I have not seen everything, but, after pondering over this dilemma, I do have a suggestion. Since your present shop is speculating over new valve cover and intake gaskets, it appears a technician thinks there is a leak smoke testing has not revealed. Before authorizing the work, he or she might consider a check of the oil fill cap. It might not be fully seated, or perhaps a seal is broken, or perhaps there is another issue with the cap, such as a crack. These conditions could cause the fuel mixture problem they are attempting to resolve. If the cap is the cause of the trouble, installing a new cap could be the fix. If so, consider saving it and a copy of the repair bill for a trip to the quick lube shop for reimbursement consideration.

Thank you for all the great questions.  Dr. Gizmo can’t wait to answer more.

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