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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!
I just purchased my 2011 Honda Element EX and I am loving it so far.
Recently, in the past month, the car hasn't been starting on the first try and it makes an awful sound on the first crank. It doesn't sound like normal cranking. I recorded a video of the sound.


I am wondering if it might be the starter or something else? I recently changed the spark plugs and did the valve adjustments 2 months ago so I am wondering if it is related to that?

Any guesses would be appreciated.
Thanks!
 

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2007 EX AWD AT (two!)
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How many miles? What happens if you hold the key in the start position longer on the first attempt, does it eventually change to "normal" cranking? Does it only make that sound on cold (hasn't been driven for a while) starts, or every time? Doesn't sound like valve or ignition related noise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
135,000 right now. It doesn't turn to normal. It just keeps doing that. Usually only on cold starts. I just got the alternator checked and it is fine.
I appreciate the response 😊
 

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I suppose the starter is the most likely culprit. Maybe it doesn't quite mesh right the first time, and engaging/disengaging it the first time kinda resets it. Try just blipping it momentarily the first time, then see if the second attempt is normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your help! I really didn't have any other ideas what it could be. I'll try it out this weekend.
 

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2008 Element EX AWD TRP
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Random thoughts:
If the top of an engine is "dry" it will sound different before it starts.
Did you change your oil recently? Check the level?

That was a long crank before run than I am used to hearing. Try waiting longer in "run" before starting. If that eliminates the issue, check the fuel system from the filler cap and evap forward.

Did you use a torque wrench when adjusting the valves?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Random thoughts:
If the top of an engine is "dry" it will sound different before it starts.
Did you change your oil recently? Check the level?

That was a long crank before run than I am used to hearing. Try waiting longer in "run" before starting. If that eliminates the issue, check the fuel system from the filler cap and evap forward.

Did you use a torque wrench when adjusting the valves?
The oil level is good and it has about 30% life left. I haven't had that sound since I have been leaving the key longer in the "run" position. I may have to check the fuel system then. Do you know why that would effect it? And yes, everything was torqued to spec.

Thank you for your help.
 

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I can't think of anything in the fuel system that would do it. The pump comes on for 2 seconds when you first turn the key to "on". If the check valve in the pump has allowed the system to drain down some, I don't think you'd be able to hear anything as it fills again. If the engine isn't firing (because of lack of fuel initially), I don't think it is going to sound any different than normal cranking.
 

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The oil level is good and it has about 30% life left. I haven't had that sound since I have been leaving the key longer in the "run" position. I may have to check the fuel system then. Do you know why that would effect it? And yes, everything was torqued to spec.

Thank you for your help.
If leaving the key in run longer before cranking always eliminates the problem, and you don't experience any stalling or stuttering during operation, then your fuel pump wasn't able to provide enough fuel quickly enough initially for the engine to fire. If the issue recurs intermittently, suspect the ignition switch*.

You need 3 things for an ICE to run- fuel, air and spark at the right time

Anything that upsets the fuel/air ratio in the cylinders can prevent starting. Anything that impedes the fuel getting to and flowing though the injectors will restrict fuel from flowing forward, and anything that lets air in will accelerate drain back. While an electric fuel pump is capable of pressurizing the fuel line to the injectors within 1-2 seconds, if that line is full of air when it starts up, it will take longer.

My first guess is that when you shut off the engine, fuel is running back to the tank and air is being pulled in and when you try to start the fuel pump can't react fast enough.

After parking overnight or longer, turn the key to ON(II) and listen to how long the fuel pump runs before it stops. Do the same after the car has been parked for an hour. This should always be 2 seconds. If you try to start before that, the fuel pump may have not had enough time to pressuring the system under all conditions.

206020


*A failing ignition switch can intermittently prevent a relay from getting any, or enough current to fully pull. Depending on the vehicle the starter, plugs or fuel pump may not receive power. In the Element the fuel pump, injection and spark are all controlled through the ECM.

A failing ignition switch is sometimes accompanied by a high pitched buzz. My 2008 has that problem. It's always the first cold start of the day when it manifests, but not every day.

btw, It may not be related to your issue but don't trust the oil life indicator. The MM tells you nothing about the cleanliness of the lubrication system or the effectiveness of internal lubrication. It does not reliably indicate the condition of the oil. If you replace the oil, reset the maintenance indicator and leave the car parked in a garage for 6 months, the MM would say 50-60% oil life, whether the system were sludged or pristine, the oil clean or contaminated with water or gasoline. If your engine overheats badly, once or twice, the MM won't change the oil life
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow, thank for you the response!
I have lonely had it happen once during the past 2 weeks since I have been leaving it in the "on" position for a couple of seconds before cranking. I will pay attention tonight and listen to how long it stays on for and if it differs each time. I haven't notice a high pitch buzz in my car, but I will also listen fo that over the next week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I ended up replacing the starter and that stopped the grinding noises. I think the gears were not synchronizing correctly upon startup. The teeth on the flywheel looked good, a little shiny on some spots (maybe from the grinding) but I didn't see any damage. So far so good, I also replaced the ignition switch but it didn't help the problem.

I appreciate the help everyone.
 
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