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Discussion Starter #1
I have an interesting problem with my '05/automatic. If I turn the key to the "ON" position, then turn it back "OFF" without ever starting the engine, then the next time I start the car it won't idle. Anytime I take my foot off the gas (and I'm not rolling down the road) it will instantly stall, as if the fuel was completely cut off. Other than not idling, it runs just fine.

Now, if the car is in this non-idling mode and I rev it up to approx 4500 rpm while in "Drive", then it will go back to a perfect idle and won't give me any trouble until the next time I turn the key to "ON" without turning it all the way to "Start". Revving the engine while in "Park" doesn't fix it, only when in "Drive". (no, I haven't tried "Reverse")

This was an intermittent problem that just seemed to come and go occasionally, and I thought that I fixed it a few months ago when I replaced my battery. When it came back this last time I wrote down everything I could think of that I had done leading up to the problem and everything I could think of that I had done prior to it's being "fixed". A few experiments later and I have the situation described above. This is VERY repeatable. It never happens without me turning the key only to "ON", and it's always fixed by revving the engine in "Drive".

Anybody have any ideas of what could be the cause? Thanks in advance for your help.

BTW, I think that this may be the first time I've ever started a thread!
 

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I just about have the same issue. I don't know about the way I use my key each time, but every blue moon my 03 4wd E will not idle. It will start no issue, but die out when i stop of don't apply enough gas. The car cuts the engine and locks the steering column. Totally Blows, but has always fixed itself somehow. Could it be the battery? Or what? ANYONE PLEASE HELP!!!
 

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Have you guys run a cleaner, such as seafoam, through your fuel system?

I'm not the best at diagnosing things, but perhaps you have some kind of blockage that comes and goes.
 

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I would take a look at the condition of the throttle body to see how clean it is and clean it if needed. Also another thing that could be causing the "no idle" condition could be the TPS (Throttle Positioning Sensor). Perhaps others can weigh in as well but those are the two suggestions I have. Good luck and I hope you get it fixed. Let everyone know what it was.:D
 

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How long is the interval between turning the ignition on/off and back on? Did this just start since the weather turned very hot? How many miles do you have on the engine since its last engine service (not just changing oil and the filters)?

When I start the Element after it's been parked for a while, the initial idle speed is much higher than if I restart it when warm. The high idle is maintained for a while, then the idle speed drops down in stages.

If the engine had a carburetor, this would be controlled by a temperature-sensitive spring that positioned the throttle plate. Since the Element has fuel injection, this timed high idle must be a function of the emission control logic of the "computer". My guess is that the logic is controlled by the key position, a timer and feed back from an engine sensor, and the sensor is fouled or binding, creating an input that is outside the abilty of the EC logic to handle . The on/off/on action is bypassing the timer high idle step of the sequence. By revving the engine in drive you are completing the normal startup sequence.

I'm old school. When an engine isn't running right, my initial assumption is that it needs maintenance. Only after I've verified that maintenance is up to date would I look for a component failure.

I's start with an inspection, looking for evidence of a simple external mechanical /electrical problem. I'd do an eyeball tuneup inspection. I'd check the oil on the dipstick for evidence of excess carbon blow-by, and eyeball the air filter for unusual oil, carbon or dust I'd pull the most accessible spark plug and see if it had additive deposit buildup or was oil/carbon fouled. I'd do a swab of the exhaust and check for greasy buildup.

Next, I would clean the external surface of the engine and transmission and re-lubricate all the external moving parts. A layer of crud (oil+dirt) can do odd things to sensors. I'd measure the static voltage across the battery terminals and to ground. I'd clean the main electrical ground to the body and the battery connections.

Based on what I found during the inspection, I'd manually clean the throttle body, run injector cleaner through, and clean or replace the air cleaner and spark plugs and/or change the oil.

If none of this solved the problem I'd either start trouble shooting the emission control system or take it to a mechanic. In either case the engine would be clean, which would make further work easier, and a clean engine generally gets better service from a professional mechanic.
 

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I'm old school. When an engine isn't running right, my initial assumption is that it needs maintenance. Only after I've verified that maintenance is up to date would I look for a component failure.
That is the most accurate automotive statement ever made. ;-)

Often, I'm asked by someone why their car isn't running right. Most often, there has been poor or a complete lack of maintenance. I'm a maintenance freak (house, car, everything.) Maintaining can be enjoyable and certainly is better than the stress of failure and emergency.
 

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This was an intermittent problem that just seemed to come and go occasionally, and I thought that I fixed it a few months ago when I replaced my battery.

BTW, I think that this may be the first time I've ever started a thread!
My first reply here, and prowd new owner of 05 E awd lx.
Sounds like you need to relearn the idle....
First clue that tipped me off is that you replaced your battery, there are in several of the instructions for putting in accessories that I have read that requires you to reprogram the window down function and relearn the engine idle. My assumption is that your car is otherwise running in what I would call default, I am an old ford, mazda, vw, and toyota guy. The PCM has a default setting that it backs up to when you have not learned the car in a proper way or if there is some sort of system failure that it cannot recover from. Most cars these days have whats called adaptive strategy which means the cars learn as they drive to compensate for habits and wear. By turning the key on then off again, or a certain way, you may be bringing the car into a diagnostic mode called Key on engine off. This is a basic term that ford used so it may not apply but the idea is the same for OBD II vehicles.
So try this:
With all electrical items off start the engine and while in park or neutral and rev the engine to 3000 rpms and hold. Wait untill the radiator fan comes on, then release the throttle and let it idle for 5 minutes, if the fan comes on while you are waiting this five minutes you must not add that time in.
It is also possible that you are having a problem with a system piece such as the mas air flow sensor, or ignition, I am not an honda expert just rendering a opinion.


Give it a shot and good luck

Chris
 

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How long is the interval between turning the ignition on/off and back on? Did this just start since the weather turned very hot? How many miles do you have on the engine since its last engine service (not just changing oil and the filters)?

When I start the Element after it's been parked for a while, the initial idle speed is much higher than if I restart it when warm. The high idle is maintained for a while, then the idle speed drops down in stages.

If the engine had a carburetor, this would be controlled by a temperature-sensitive spring that positioned the throttle plate. Since the Element has fuel injection, this timed high idle must be a function of the emission control logic of the "computer". My guess is that the logic is controlled by the key position, a timer and feed back from an engine sensor, and the sensor is fouled or binding, creating an input that is outside the abilty of the EC logic to handle . The on/off/on action is bypassing the timer high idle step of the sequence. By revving the engine in drive you are completing the normal startup sequence.

I'm old school. When an engine isn't running right, my initial assumption is that it needs maintenance. Only after I've verified that maintenance is up to date would I look for a component failure.

I's start with an inspection, looking for evidence of a simple external mechanical /electrical problem. I'd do an eyeball tuneup inspection. I'd check the oil on the dipstick for evidence of excess carbon blow-by, and eyeball the air filter for unusual oil, carbon or dust I'd pull the most accessible spark plug and see if it had additive deposit buildup or was oil/carbon fouled. I'd do a swab of the exhaust and check for greasy buildup.

Next, I would clean the external surface of the engine and transmission and re-lubricate all the external moving parts. A layer of crud (oil+dirt) can do odd things to sensors. I'd measure the static voltage across the battery terminals and to ground. I'd clean the main electrical ground to the body and the battery connections.

Based on what I found during the inspection, I'd manually clean the throttle body, run injector cleaner through, and clean or replace the air cleaner and spark plugs and/or change the oil.

If none of this solved the problem I'd either start trouble shooting the emission control system or take it to a mechanic. In either case the engine would be clean, which would make further work easier, and a clean engine generally gets better service from a professional mechanic.
Well said my friend. You are definitely a man after my own attention to detail. My only caveat to this method is in a shop where the clock stands between you and your paycheque, it might not be ideal to go so in-depth with a diagnosis. But in theory, this is how I feel ALL vehicles should be worked on and cared for by technicians :).

Aside from ensuring the coolant level is OK and that the system has been bled of air, I think the problem with the Element may require a trip to the dealer to be hooked up to the HDS. Not trying to rain on the parade but with all the electronics on the Elements, some issues cannot be resolved without a scantool. Since most people don't have a Honda scantool at home and the E-Biz website and server to use in their garage LOL, some things should be checked off the troubleshooting list which require the HDS.

If this was in my bay, I would do the following before continuing with physical troubleshooting:

  • Perform a health check (scan all systems for DTCs)
  • Check data list for intake and idle sensors, especially throttle position
  • Check the immobilizer status to ensure it is not sending signals to prevent engine operation
  • Reset the ECM/PCM and perform the idle learn procedure
  • Update the ECM/PCM software (if available)

This would take less than five minutes in the shop by a tech and eliminates A LOT of potential problem areas. I know if battery voltage gets low enough, it can walk some systems like the immobilizer and idle air control down the garden path.
 

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my temp solution

Hey everyone thanks for your help and thoughts on what could be causing this. So far, heres what I did. First I cleaned up the engine t o get rid of dirt and dust that has accumulated over the last year. Then, on referral from my auto shop the last time I had an oil change when they told me that my battery was low and should be replaced, I went to sears and bought a Diehard Platinum battery based on another Forum user. I can't stand the low output and small battery size of the Honda battery. After installing that, my car was working 'as normal' as i have come used to it doing. No hesitation, no cut outs. It's only been 3 days so far, so lets see in a week right. I also performed an idle learn procedure and that seems to be normal now also. My next fuel stop I will also add some Techron fuel injector cleaner just incase there was air or gunk built up. Wether it happens again with a new battery is anyones guess. But so far so good. My thinking is that the battery was dying out and could not give enough charge to the alternator to keep the car running. I hope this is the case, in lew of super expensive repairs that is. Thanks again, any news i'll let you all know!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow! I turned my back for 4 or 5 weeks and a lot happened here! It seemed like nobody was going to reply to my original thread and I just gave up! Lots of good advice, thank you very much, but most of it isn't going to work for me!

I'm pretty good about maintaining my vehicles. All of the normal fluids and filters, etc. are taken care of on a regular basis. I don't think that there is anything that I don't take care of before the manufacturers specs say it's time. I don't know if I would be comfortable eating out of my engine compartment, but pretty much anyone who ever looks under the hood of one of my cars will comment on how clean everything is.

I hadn't considered the throttle/body/fuel issues. Since I am able to cause this problem by simply turning the key to "on" for a few seconds and then turning it back off I immediately thought it was electrical. "in2steam", you've sort of touched on what I think the symptoms actually are. The car behaves as though the system needs resetting and the idle needs to be retaught. I DID go through that exact process when I replaced the battery, including re-teaching the auto up/down feature of the drivers side window. But when I intentionally cause this non-idling behavior, the drivers window auto up/down feature works just fine! Also, I changed the battery, in part, because of this problem. It seemed to fix things for a while, but then it came back.

I think it's time for me to follow the advice of "genxdad". I'll figure out which Honda dealer is the least crooked and take it in. Since I can reliably cause this problem, it should be fairly straightforward for them to diagnose (I hope). I sure hate to let the monkeys touch my car, but I'm not sure if I have much choice! The really sad thing is that I live 2 blocks from a Honda dealer, but they are the biggest bunch of thieves I've ever met and there is NO WAY I'm going there! I'll go to the ClickNClack website and find a decent dealer.

I'll let you all know what happens. Thanks for the input!
 

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Wow! I turned my back for 4 or 5 weeks and a lot happened here! It seemed like nobody was going to reply to my original thread and I just gave up! Lots of good advice, thank you very much, but most of it isn't going to work for me!

I'm pretty good about maintaining my vehicles. All of the normal fluids and filters, etc. are taken care of on a regular basis. I don't think that there is anything that I don't take care of before the manufacturers specs say it's time. I don't know if I would be comfortable eating out of my engine compartment, but pretty much anyone who ever looks under the hood of one of my cars will comment on how clean everything is.

I hadn't considered the throttle/body/fuel issues. Since I am able to cause this problem by simply turning the key to "on" for a few seconds and then turning it back off I immediately thought it was electrical. "in2steam", you've sort of touched on what I think the symptoms actually are. The car behaves as though the system needs resetting and the idle needs to be retaught. I DID go through that exact process when I replaced the battery, including re-teaching the auto up/down feature of the drivers side window. But when I intentionally cause this non-idling behavior, the drivers window auto up/down feature works just fine! Also, I changed the battery, in part, because of this problem. It seemed to fix things for a while, but then it came back.

I think it's time for me to follow the advice of "genxdad". I'll figure out which Honda dealer is the least crooked and take it in. Since I can reliably cause this problem, it should be fairly straightforward for them to diagnose (I hope). I sure hate to let the monkeys touch my car, but I'm not sure if I have much choice! The really sad thing is that I live 2 blocks from a Honda dealer, but they are the biggest bunch of thieves I've ever met and there is NO WAY I'm going there! I'll go to the ClickNClack website and find a decent dealer.

I'll let you all know what happens. Thanks for the input!
I'm sorry to hear that the Honda dealers in your area have to be sorted by who will bend you over a barrel the least :-(. It literally makes me mad because here at my work, we pride ourselves on the fact that we're out to make a profit, but not that the expense of our ethics or honesty, or the happiness of the customer. We are a smaller dealership (five bays, four licensed techs in the shop including myself). We work like this...if a vehicle needs a part or will at some point in the future, we tell you how urgently and give you an approximate timeframe if possible along with possible reprecussions if the repair is declined. If it doesn't need it, we don't call it or we tell you it's okay today if you ask.

I think our difference is we're paid hourly. There is no incentive to try and "make hours" other than our bonus system which goes solely on your total time on a job and not upselling or parts commissions. While I do try to hustle because the extra $0.50-1.00 per hour is nice at the end of each month, I can still maintain the same quality of my work for the customer while helping the dealership make money at the same time. Quality AND quantity as they say.

The one problem I find with diagnosing things of this nature online is unless it's bluntly obvious or there is a very detailed and precise explanation accompanying the thread, it isn't the same as having the vehicle right there in front of you. I know there are some things on here I've read where if the car was in my bay, the troubleshooting process I follow comes automatically to me and I do it often times without thinking twice. But when I am sitting at a desk and actually have to run through it in my head, it's a different ball game LOL. I probably wouldn't do very well if I was a Tech Lin operator :lol:.

Something like the engine not starting could be linked to the electrical portion of the ignition switch even. If the contacts inside are weakened or failing, it may not start or it may cut out on you while idling or driving.

Good luck and hope the dealer you choose is good to you :).
 

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I am sorry to hear that you could not fix your problem, although I would still suspect a battery/ground/switch problem of some sort. I just mentioned the idle learn procedure as any easy avenue to help the computer level out. And maybe save you a few bucks.

I too worked in a dealership for nearly a decade, I worked in several lines primarily Ford, but also Mazda and VW. I was on the parts side and I saw all the sides, customers, techs and small shops. It paid like crap, I wanted to be a tech until I started to investigate the cost of doing so, I then decided to become a millwright instead. I can say that anyone who is willing to become a tech in this day and age is someone of special character as the support from the manufacturers seemed to be dwindling. I always loved the term factory trained, as we often had engineers that showed up from the factory(s) and our junior techs and oil changers were better suited to be fixing cars.

I also contiune to work for a local towing company and had about 8 years of AAA before we droped them. Dealerships can go both ways, I would ask friends, and do internet research, a simple look at the employee parking lot can say alot also. I always felt that the techs car was the last one to get fixed, if you see alot of old junkers that look like they are held together with duct tape then you may have a winner. Don't base your service experience based on your sales experience either as they can be two different worlds, I never held salesmen in high regard typically somewhere above lawyers but below politicians. Although there are a few exceptions to that rule.

For a flat rate tech finding a problem that is intermittent and can not be easily duplicated is the bane of there existence, they get paid when there wrenchs are turning not poking through a book or trying to duplicate a problem. A good tech with lots of experience may hammer your problem out in a matter of minutes, but they will expect to get paid for there experience not matter what. Sometimes they lose there rear ends though, typically more often then not, and may stop working on the vehicle until they get more time authorized. Its a hard call to make, I have seen very good techs get beat buy a 25 cent fuse days later.

Chris
 

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I am sorry to hear that you could not fix your problem, although I would still suspect a battery/ground/switch problem of some sort. I just mentioned the idle learn procedure as any easy avenue to help the computer level out. And maybe save you a few bucks.

I too worked in a dealership for nearly a decade, I worked in several lines primarily Ford, but also Mazda and VW. I was on the parts side and I saw all the sides, customers, techs and small shops. It paid like crap, I wanted to be a tech until I started to investigate the cost of doing so, I then decided to become a millwright instead. I can say that anyone who is willing to become a tech in this day and age is someone of special character as the support from the manufacturers seemed to be dwindling. I always loved the term factory trained, as we often had engineers that showed up from the factory(s) and our junior techs and oil changers were better suited to be fixing cars.

I also contiune to work for a local towing company and had about 8 years of AAA before we droped them. Dealerships can go both ways, I would ask friends, and do internet research, a simple look at the employee parking lot can say alot also. I always felt that the techs car was the last one to get fixed, if you see alot of old junkers that look like they are held together with duct tape then you may have a winner. Don't base your service experience based on your sales experience either as they can be two different worlds, I never held salesmen in high regard typically somewhere above lawyers but below politicians. Although there are a few exceptions to that rule.

For a flat rate tech finding a problem that is intermittent and can not be easily duplicated is the bane of there existence, they get paid when there wrenchs are turning not poking through a book or trying to duplicate a problem. A good tech with lots of experience may hammer your problem out in a matter of minutes, but they will expect to get paid for there experience not matter what. Sometimes they lose there rear ends though, typically more often then not, and may stop working on the vehicle until they get more time authorized. Its a hard call to make, I have seen very good techs get beat buy a 25 cent fuse days later.

Chris
While I agree with your stance on the trade completely my friend and salute a fellow tradesman, I have never been one for the "a tech's car that looks like **** means he's a good tech" theory. Personally, I think if you are in a trade and the object you own that is the basis if your trade is neglected and decrepit, to me that speaks volumes about the I tegrity and attention to detail you will have with my own vehicle. Kind of like how a landscaper's home ground are overgrown and wild. Sorry but a tech should have no excuse why his vehicle is not clean and well maintained. I have washed the Element and serviced it all while watching my little girl. I give her a blanket to sit on or my roller stool and she plays outside or in front of my bay at the shop if I'm there after hours. She actually takes an interest in what I do and is full of questions while I wrench (which is really nothing unusual or monumental LOL).

And before people start sayings it's because they're poor, I'm on my own income, purchased a good used Element, I have equal custody and access to my daughter and I manage to make ends meet while maintaining a pristine and almost always spotless Honda.

I take the same pride and care at work that I do on my own vehicle. And after hours if my Element needs a bath, oil change or brake service it will get it on schedule. IMO, a tech's own personal vehicle is a proverbial business card. Maybe I'm just a freakish exception to the rule but if you saw my Element in person and witnessed the work I do both at home to my own vehicle and to those of customers at work, it would make people think twice about choosing the lot with the Junkers in the employee parking.

Just my $0.02 which is not intended to offend anyone nor is it directed at anyone here.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
GenX, I wish you were working here!

I'm hoping that my problem will be easier than most to diagnose. It IS an "intermittent problem", but since I know what triggers it I can have it happen anytime I want. That makes it an entirely different issue from the perspective of troubleshooting.

Thanks again, everyone, for your help. I'll keep you posted!
 

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Believe me, I wish more dealers were like my work. There would probably be a lot less apprehension in people to put the care of their vehicle in the hands of the dealer.

P.S. Sorry for the shoddy grammar and spelling in some of my posts. I'm stuck using my iPod Touch at home here and I give up trying to edit on this this thing LOL.
 

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Believe me, I wish more dealers were like my work. There would probably be a lot less apprehension in people to put the care of their vehicle in the hands of the dealer.
Genx
I am out of the field except for anything little I may do on the weekends for the tow truck job, or my own vehicles now. Working on machines is a lot more of challenge, I take ownership of the machines, and I don't have to deal with a new owner 6 times a day.

It sounds like you are lucky then, all in all most dealers these days esp. the larger ones have gotten away from non ticket work, including the techs own car. The employees are a just a number in alot of cases, and managers typically let you know it several times a day. It was one of the reasons I left the field all together that and I was the one required to stay late and not make any money while they worked after hours. When I started in 92 we had 30+ techs on two shifts, and averaged around 70 tickets a day. We pretty much had one guy for each main area back then, and a few for general concerns. When the dealer closed a couple years ago it was down to 1 shift and about 8 techs, it was pretty sad to see.

Its not that I think that a tech is poor, albeit many are, its more along the lines of the ablity to make do with what they have, my best techs had the oldest junkiest looking cars, but they ran for years. My thoughts if this were a body shop would be entirely different though. Some techs had nice cars too, and many of us would buy on employee plans when the time was right. I have learned in life that looks are nice, but when I get in and turn the key and the car starts at 2:30 in the morning during a subzero snow storm with unplowed roads, that I am very content. The real fact of the matter is that there is so much information about every car every year that I really think its a impossibility for any one person to know allot about the vehicles that they work with. I personally love to hear people complain about the cost of something to be done, could really be anything like a remodeling job, they themselves are not either able or willing to do the work. They have not invested in countless thousands of dollars of tools, which in the case automobiles seems to change every year for that "special tool". And this precludes the actual now how, and then of course the experience and its lessons.
Chris
 

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Yes it's amazng how quickly people forget that they're coming to you for help yet they want insane deals or whine incessently about the cost. I've had to remind several people that the cost of diagnosing the MIL is set because the machine that does that and countless other functions costs thousands, not to mention the tech's training to use it, interperet the results and, if necessary, perform corresponding repairs.

When I mentioned after hours work, I meant simply to my own vehicle. Our owner gave us tech's each our own keys to the dealership. It's one of the fringe benefits of be g a small shop for sure in a city of only 43,000. I don't do side jobs there and out of respect to the owner for his generosity, the only vehicles we work on other than our own are family (spouse, parents, siblings or immediate relatives). LOL I'm scraping by here getting back on my feet after getting pounded by the financial tidal wave from school which I completed in December and I wish I could make some extra money on the side. I could probably make a nice second income if I had shop-like facilities at my disposal for working at home with =)

Oh and I guess I am just the freakishly anal exception to the junky tech cars rule :lol:
 

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Hello.
Well, I'm so glad that you're having the same problem. My '04 E, has done this to me 3x now and it has mysteriously corrected itself but this last time, it hasn't been so kind. I was about to try pulling the Idle Control Valve off today to clean it, when I found this thread. My husband took the E up onto the freeway and got her up to 4500rpm and then called me about 10mins later and said she's idling perfectly again?
I tried the "idle re-learn" sequence that someone posted on here before this and it didn't work. The 4500rpms in 'drive' works.
Why this is happening I don't know, but I go to my car on my lunch breaks and listen to the radio, thus putting the key in the 'on' position and then off again without starting the car. Maybe I hit the right combination of ons and offs after awhile to create this computer code that messes up the idle control?
At any rate, I'm so glad I haven't had to shell out money to get her fixed. We've changed out the spark plugs, and air filter, and cabin filters, and trannie fluid and brakes, all ourselves due to the wonderful information on this forum and have saved a ton of money in the process. Thanks to everyone for their imput.
Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm afraid that I haven't been a good "forum citizen"! I fixed this problem over a year ago and completely forgot to update this post!

The problem was caused by a dirty Idle Air Control Valve. I removed it from my car and tried to clean it, but wasn't happy with the result so I just bought a new one from the stealership for $130. The whole job took me a couple of hours and the car has been problem free ever since (some 50k miles). The post linked below contains good info for removing and cleaning the valve.

http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57729

Hope this helps!
 
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