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Old 08-13-2010, 04:41 AM   #1
EOC Rank: Hydrogen
2003 2WD DX AT
Galaxy Gray Metallic (GG)
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 2
03 Element strange ignition problem & sound

Hello all, this is my first post, great site here!! My 03 E does not start on the first try, sometimes 200 tries later it works. I turn the key to start and hear a buzzing noise from around the steering wheel area. It does it every time I turn the key to III. I'll get a BZZ..BZZ...BZZ until i turn the key the same way and finally get the car to start normally.

My battery is brand new, alternator is fine. Starter is hard to test due to location on the E. Any other ideas (relays, ignition components)? Im mostly lost and have been to a few mechanics, they all say "Wow, I've never heard that before." I don't want to change a starter for $700 if it's something easy.

I have not ever been stranded due to the problem yet, but it's getting worse not better. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks and have a great day.
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Old 08-13-2010, 07:05 AM   #2
EOC Rank: Oxygen
2004 2WD EX AT
Nighthawk Black Pearl (NBP)
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Location: Suffolk Virginia
Posts: 527
starting problems

You have a new battery and that is a good thing. You may want to double check all your connections to ensure they are corrosion free, clean and secure. Corroded and/or loose connections can prevent electrical components from functioning properly. Start with the battery connections. When you are confident that all the connections are good I would then look at the condition of the starter. Usually a starter has to be removed to be tested. You did not mention how many miles you had on your E. Hope this helps.
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Old 08-13-2010, 07:59 AM   #3
EOC Rank: Nitrogen
2006 4WD EXS AT
Atomic Blue Metallic (ABM)
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Location: Mass.
Posts: 6,242
Sounds like the contacts in the ignition switch are going bad.

Or the relay is sticking open.

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Last edited by Dom.five; 08-13-2010 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 08-13-2010, 08:36 AM   #4
Tim Vance
EOC Rank: Iron
2008 SC 2WD 5AT
Galaxy Gray Metallic (GG)
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Location: Hamilton, Ontario
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I remember seeing a post about this some time ago, and have the exact same sound...
It's actually a common thing...

you are turning the key too slowly - the ignition is making initial contact, and you get the bzzz noise. Just turn the key quickly thru this, and you won't hear the noise so often. It will still happen, but it's normal

As to the E not starting, that is another issue, not related to the noise from the ignition. What do you mean, it won't start?
Are you turning the key all the way thru the bzzz noise to the start position, or holding it at III while it buzzes??

you need to turn the key quickly, thru the buzz, all the way to start...

I'll have to see if I can find the previous posts - edit - found it - look here
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Last edited by Tim Vance; 08-13-2010 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:56 PM   #5
EOC Rank: Helium
2009 *Former Element owner
Rallye Red (RR)
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Idaho
Posts: 116
starting problem

I have a starting problem but very different. My Honda dealer has not been able to figure it out.
GEt in, insert key, try to start, turns over but does not start. Turn key off, all indicator lights blinking, clicking sound from passenger side (computer?). Try starting a few more times and it finally goes. Sometimes after one of these incidents the gauges are not working, no backlight when I turn the headlights on, radio works but no backlight, brake light is on. After a few minutes or a few miles, everything comes on to normal. This is an inconsistent problem, it is not related to the car being locked. I have just recently noticed that the key indicator may be on and if so, the problem occurs. This has probably been so since the problem started but I just noticed it.(I usually just get in, stick the key in, turn it and expect to go somewhere.)
Also, the instrument panel does not have a backlight unless the headlights are on. The dealer says that I have never had a daytime backlight but I think I did. I noticed it after not driving for a month so maybe my memory is bad.
The rest of the problem started a couple of weeks later with what I thought was a dead battery. Battery was replaced and the car started but then the problem now continues to occur.
I cannot find a relationship to rain or shine, parked inside or out, locked or not.
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Old 11-07-2014, 04:06 PM   #6
EOC Rank: Hydrogen
2003 4WD EX
Shoreline Mist Metallic (SMM)
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Location: NYC
Posts: 4
Buzzing fixed

I had the buzzing issue during ignition for some time now - started about a year ago on my '03 E with over 125k miles. In the beginning it buzzed on the 1st attempt and eventually got worse where it would take over 10 tries. I read several post about turning the key faster and it worked. However, my friend, who is a Honda mechanic told me the buzz is caused by a warped contact on the ignition switch. The part is called a steering switch (part no. 35130-SAA-J51 - item 7 on the diagram). He told me this will eventually break if left alone. Rather than get stranded with a dead car, I ordered the part and was able to replace this "plug" within 45 minutes. I am happy to report the buzzing is GONE!

To replace, you have to remove the steering column cover (3 screws on the bottom of cover). Pop off the bottom cover and locate the switch which is on the driver's left side. The switch is fastened with 2 screws (1 on left side and 1 on the bottom - the bottom screw was trickier to remove). Swap out switch and that's all. See pictures. I also disconnected the battery just to be safe.

This is where I ordered the part:
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Old 11-07-2014, 04:09 PM   #7
EOC Rank: Hydrogen
2003 4WD EX
Shoreline Mist Metallic (SMM)
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Location: NYC
Posts: 4
Buzzing fixed

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Old 11-07-2014, 05:27 PM   #8
EOC Rank: Neptunium
2004 4WD EXS MT
Fiji Blue Pearl (FBP)
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Thanks for the post, LumGY.
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:27 PM   #9
Blaine B.
EOC Rank: Hydrogen
2003 4WD EX AT
Royal Blue Pearl (RBP)
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Northwest Indiana
Posts: 89
Interesting. Thanks!
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