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2004 Honda Odyssey - Engine stops driving in drive mode at 20 seconds after start and picks back up

I have a 2004 Honda Odyssey EX with 6 Cylinders and approx 52000 miles on it. Last Sunday I felt while driving that the car is misfiring and may need spark plugs. The check engine light came on and started blinking, the TCS light came on too. Being Sunday the choices were limited so took my car to Sears Auto who replaced all 6 spark plugs and the O2 sensors based on diagnosis codes and the car seemed to be OK after that.

This week I find a new problem: Every time I start the car and start to drive without idling - around 20 seconds into the drive I lose engine’s capability to pull, the car stays on, the RPM drops to what would be at when it idles and even pressing the gas pedal does not do anything to the RPM. 2-3 seconds later I get full power and the car drives without problem.

If I idle the car for 20-25 seconds before I drive I do not encounter this problem.

If the engine is hot and recently driven I do not encounter this problem but if I leave the engine off for a few minutes I do get the problem.

I almost died last night as I did not idle the Car and tried to turn left and lost power while the oncoming traffic was fast approaching - luckily the car picked up power.

I need your help in guiding towards the problem - what it could be and what am I looking to spend to get the car fixed. There is no check engine light on. Please help.

Update 12/3/2012 - Took to Sears Auto yesterday for a recheck - they reset the terminals for the computer to learn itself again. Was able to recreate the problem but no Check Engine Light on but the problem persists.

The tech mentioned that he saw the code for Control Modulator in the past on my Car and I should go to dealership - is it possible?

Sorry, but Sears is NOT where you should get this issue diagnosed. You need a shop specializing in Honda’s, or a Honda dealer. Did Sears do the proper “idle learn” procedure? What is “reset the terminals”? Does that mean they disconnected the battery to erase computer memory? That usually doesn’t work, a scanner is needed to erase pcm memory completely, then a proper “idle learn procedure”, this year might require a learn procedure while driving. The pcm might need some updates, requiring a dealers help. If your spark plugs were original, they should have been good till 105,000 miles. The APP sensor, which is the electronic throttle, has to be moved to get to the back bank of spark plugs, they do fail, but did Sears do something to it? I’ve never seen both o2 sensors fail at the same time. What was the TCS code? How could it be related to misfire? Everything you’ve written says to me mechanics without the proper knowledge wasting your time and money.

The trouble might be due to a throttle position sensor making poor connection during that time or possibly a MAF sensor problem. I suppose the new front O2 sensor might be suspect also since the trouble didn’t happen until it was installed. It would be good to monitor the signal while the trouble is happening to see if it is the cause.

I’m assuming all the owner’s manual recommended routine engine service is up to date. This sounds like a fuel/air mixture problem to me. Either some kind of air leak, allowing air to get past the MAF unmetered, or the MAF itself is not working correctly. The first thing I’d do is visually inspect all the vacuum hoses and connections, and if they looked ok, I’d test all the vacuum controlled devices for a possible air leak. If that didn’t fix it, I’d probably test the fuel pressure at the injector rail.

I concur with @Conosco 's recommendation to find an inde shop which specializes in Honda, or if money is no object, take it to a Honda dealership. Sears is good in a pinch for a lot of commonly needed repairs and routine maintenance, the Sears folks seem to have good training there, but for something like this you’ll probably be better with a Honda specialist. Best of luck.

Thank you all, I agree with you all Sears is not a place to get this diagnosed. I too have a feeling I wasted this money at Sears. Definitely money is an object hence I’m driving an 8 year old car and trying to hold on to it.

Yes all the recommended engine service is up to date by Honda dealerships. In the past my wife has once driven with E-85 than 87 Octane as recommended. I suspect that was the reason why the spark plugs gave away before their end of life.

Thank you again, I can not print your comments and go armed with some information to an independent Honda mechanic or dealer.

Oops I meant to say I can NOW print your comments. Yes also all they did was disconnected the battery for 10 seconds and reconnected again for erasing memory.

Has anyone checked fuel pressure?

No, is there a sensor for that too?

Some cars have a fuel rail pressure sensor, but that’s not what I meant.
Has anyone hooked up a fuel pressure gauge to the fuel rail?

No one has looked that yet or even suggested that it should be looked. I’m sorry for showing my ignorance in this subject because I am.

Should I take it to a mechanic and ask them to check for fuel pressure gauge to fuel rail? Is it a simple or tedious job for them?

It sounds like the pros should take over now.
Checking fuel pressure is no problem for a competent mechanic with the right tools.
Anyways . . . a pro would start from the beginning, checking the basics.
And I think you should go to a dealer or an independent shop which is familiar with Hondas.
When you drop off your car, don’t influence their diagnosis. Don’t show up asking them to check your fuel pressure. Ask them to diagnose why your car’s running so badly. Let them figure it out.
I don’t know anything about a control module code, but . . . if the MIL was flashing, you had some serious misfires, at that time at least.

Thank you db4690 and others for your posts and guiding me to the right path. Your point is well taken, I did make a mistake for going with Sears auto and I will take the car to dealership or an experienced mechanic who deals with Honda.

I am experiencing the exact same symptoms on an ‘04 Odyssey. Curious what the outcome/resolution was for you? Thanks!