Pushbutton Start Doesn't Always Do the Trick

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 27, 2016

Dear Car Talk:

I own a 2013 Honda Accord. It came with a pushbutton start. I put my foot on the brake pedal and push firmly, and sometimes it starts and sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't -- at least half the time -- I get a static-sounding noise. This has been going on for approximately a year now. At first, I felt it had something to do with the brake pedal (where on the pedal I pushed). Sometimes the pedal was a bit mushy, and I had better results if I pumped the pedal until I got firm resistance. It got to where this didn't help, so I moved my finger around the button from the center to all the edges. Currently, this is my method, and as yet, I haven't been stranded.

I've tried two respected local mechanic shops, and both said they couldn't find anything wrong. I've discussed it with a guy at the gas station where I get my oil changed, and he experienced the problem but didn't know what was causing it. I called the Honda dealership where I bought the car, and the guy who answered the phone said he had never heard of such an issue. I would like to get a diagnosis and cure. Thanks. -- Paul

Once moving your finger to different parts of the button stops working, I think your next step is three Hail Marys and a couple of Our Fathers, Paul.

Actually, I don't believe the brakes or your finger position has anything to do with it. Whatever it is, though, the dealer is your best bet. Just don't ask the receptionist next time.

If anyone has seen this on multiple cars and knows what's causing it, it'll be the dealer -- who services 2013 Accords every day. And since I presume it's still under warranty -- certainly, the problem began while the car was under warranty -- they should fix it for you, whatever's causing it.

So make an appointment with them. Make sure that the service representative writes on the repair order exactly what the problem is. That'll protect you in case they can't fix it this time and you still have the problem after the warranty coverage expires. And if you can get them to experience the non-starting condition with you there, that's even better.

It could be any number of things: a bad starter, a battery with a bad cell, a faulty brake-pedal interlock or neutral safety switch, or a physical problem with the pushbutton switch. Or it could be that the key fob is not communicating correctly with the immobilizer in the car (this prevents someone without the key fob from starting your car).

I've never seen this on a 2013 Accord, so I don't know precisely what's causing it. But your dealer needs to figure it out. It's Honda's responsibility, under its warranty, and you just need to insist that they give you a solution that doesn't involve sprinkling eye of newt on the dashboard. Good luck, Paul.

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