CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2009 Honda Fit idle problems?

I have a 2009 Honda Fit, purchased last November. A few months ago, it started doing this thing where I would be slowing into a parking spot with my foot on the brake, and it would speed up. The first time I steered it across my lawn. You guessed it, it happened when I was pulling up behind another car and I hit it. I was clearly pressing on the brake and not the accelerator, the car went only about 10 feet further than I wanted, and the air bags did not deploy. I was going about 5 mph and caused $2400 worth of damage. The dealer says there is nothing wrong with the car because there have never been any warning lights on. I did find a site on the Internet where they showed you how to adjust a too-high idle on the Fit which did not register on warning lights. Could this problem be caused by the idle? If not, what else? I don’t feel that I can drive the car again until this is fixed, and it only has 3K on it! Thanks for any ideas!

You cannot adjust the idle by yourself. This isn’t the old carburetor days when you adjust the idle by turning a screw. Your Fit’s computer controls the idle via the Idle Air Control valve. If you start adjusting things you’ll make a mess and void the warranty.

Does this vehicle have a mechanical throttle linkage or is the throttle electronically controlled? Manual or automatic transmission? At what speed does the engine idle? Normal idle speed should be around 700-750 rpm.

I suggest you report these incidents to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington, DC. You should also check the NHTSA website to see if there are any recalls or notices regarding the Fit.

Your dealer rep is blowing smoke. It’s a lie that a warning light has to come on to prove that there is something wrong with a system. There is something wrong with yours, and it’s a safety concern. Safety concerns get cars recalled pronto.
Call your car maker’s area (regional) representative. Use words like safety, and hazard to get their attention.
I don’t know how your brakes are power assisted…if electric or vacuum. If vacuum power assisted, a vacuum (air) leak in the brake booster, when you press the brake, lets a lot of air go into the engine intake, the engine adds more fuel to match the extra air, and you have a high revving engine which propels the car forward, suddenly.

Thanks for both of these useful answers! The car is still in the body shop, but I will use this info when it goes to the service shop for what they are calling 3000 mile servicing and I am calling fixing this problem or else. I’ll keep you posted on their reactions. The initial reaction of the service manager was no light, no problem, and you poor little old lady, you pressed the accelerator and shouldn’t be driving. Not the opinion of the police officer responding, who did not give me a ticket.

If it’s normal, then they should have no problem with letting you take another Fit out and testing it. Because I doubt that ANY vehicle that had this problem was “normal”, then it’d never make it to the streets of any country except China maybe

Wild guess, if you didn’t heel and toe (push 2 pedals w/ 1 foot), then the accelerator position sensor may be defective, sending go fast signal to the computer even when you didn’t touch the pedal.

Thanks again. The car is now at the service shop, and they are saying BEFORE they start checking it out that there is nothing wrong with it, that the idle jumping cannot be the cause of the car jumping forward. We are supposed to pick the car up Monday or Tuesday. We were trying to get the Honda District Manager’s number in advance to handle this, but Honda Customer Service 800# told me that the only way I can get the DM’s phone number is if the local dealer gives it to me, if they decide the car’s repair has not been resolved. Is this true? We are thinking of getting a lawyer up to speed before we go to see the service people on Monday. They would not let me have a loaner Fit to drive while this lengthy body work was going on, or any other loaner. Their official position now is that I pressed with my full weight on the accelerator and this is the only thing that would cause the car to go forward. I cannot believe that I did this, and certainly the car would have hit far harder than the <5mph that it did. Thanks for all your replies!

Here is an even-handed article from USA Today, 2004 on the “unintended, or sudden acceleration” problem: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2004-04-13-unintended-acceleration_x.htm
There are systems designed into the car’s engine management system which are intended to increase engine rpm. One is the idle air control valve. When it gets a control signal from the engine computer, it will increase (or, decrease) air flow, as the engine computer commands more fuel to go with that additional air.
The idle air control valve (iac) can fault, hang open, be erratic, etc. People who have had one hang open state that their car ran up to 25 mph, or lunged ahead, from a stuck iac valve. This fault may not set a code in the engine computer.
The cruise control is a well-known suspect.
Stuck throttles are a problem, never 100% eliminated, since the advent of throttles. Why are electronic throttles any different? To say that it doesn’t happen, isn’t proof, to me.

Thanks for that lead!! Shows they are lying through their teeth when they say that the car cannot move forward without the accelerator! This makes me more certain than ever that I need to sell the car and buy something older, without this feature–and with rubber bumpers like the CR-V that I hit.

Well they finally called and said the car is ready. They said no computer codes show, so the car is in perfect working order. They will not give me the Honda district manager’s phone number as the problem is solved to their satisfaction. I am too terrified to drive the car so it will be sitting in the driveway–assuming that we can get it to stop in the driveway!–while we contact a lawyer. Anyone have any better ideas? The insurance agent said to show them the article and information that you guys posted but I know they are going to laugh at it. Shall we call the National Traffic and Safety people?

Anyone,
Do you know of a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) which deals with stuck/sticking Idle Air Control Valves? Shelley04 needs it as proof that the car makers know the symptoms of a stuck/sticking IACV; or, other instances of lunging vehicles…
Also, who has had one stick, and what were the results?

I found that there are 17 items on the Edmunds CarSpace list that say it is the ABS brakes. No one mentioned getting any help from Honda despite repeated requests. I have filed a complaint with NHTSA just now. I was trying to get the dealer who sold me the car–not my local dealer who says nothing is wrong–to respond to this, but they are refusing to return my calls. We are thinking of getting a lawyer, and we will never buy a Honda again.

This whole problem has been delayed by the arrival of massive storms in our area which caused severe hail damage to the car and all cars in the area, followed by a record-breaking storm with sustained winds over 120 mph lasting 20 minutes. We’re getting the hail damage fixed. But we still do not know what to do with the car. The dealer has had it for three weeks and has driven it, but cannot replicate the problem. All computer checks say it is okay. We are going to have to pick up the car in the next few days. We are in a quandary. The dealer will certify that it is in perfect running order, so we can sell it or trade it in. The dealer wants me to trade it in on a more expensive car, and says they will give me a deal. I countered by asking them to find me a used Honda for less money; they say they will try but are not enthusiastic. We asked if one of the suspect parts can be replaced even though they seem okay, and they say Honda America will not let them do that. We offered to pay but it would be thousands of $$$. Lawyer says it is not an “interesting enough” case to pursue. So we can sell it outright ourselves–ugly to do in our area, with small population and prejudice against foreign cars–or wait for the dealer to find an appropriate used car. All the while resisting their blandishments to buy a new CRV or Odyssey! Anyone have any suggestions?

Nothing in the ABS brake system will make the car accelerate. Acceleration is strictly a function of the engine management computer. The Idle Air circuit could be the problem, or it could be something else. The dealer can’t find it if it never happens when they have the car.

Why are you waiting for the Honda dealer to find you a used car? You will wait forever. They have no incentive. Go car shopping, everywhere, until you find a car you like, new or used, then trade the Fit for it.

You’re never going to trust this car, so you’ll probably be better off without it. Demand for Fits is high. You should be able to make a deal.

I’ve already replied to Shelley04 on Edmunds.com, and I want to register my experience with the same problem on this discussion board as well.

I have a 2008 Honda FIT, base model, no cruise control, automatic transmission. I haven’t hit anyone or anything, but it’s a real problem and a safety issue. I also haven’t had anyone look at it yet. The first time it happened, I was totally startled, and thought perhaps I had stepped on the accelerator accidentally. But the next time I checked to be sure of what peddle my foot was on before mashing on that peddle with full strength to stop the car, and it was definitely on the brake peddle. Today it happened for the fourth time, so I decided to check the internet to see if there was a recall (no), or if others were reporting a similar problem.

The circumstances are the same–very low speed, engine idling until I step on the brake, then the engine unexpectedly revs up.

I’ll be taking the car to the dealer next week to have it checked, but already my expectations are low after reading these posts. Thanks, mcparadise, for tip about contacting the NHTSA.

We went to the dealer today and they will not do anything, and will not even give me a trade in price, citing the “serious hail damage”–which their body shop fixed to the extent that you cannot see a single mark in bright sunlight. [All cars on their lot and in this county were damaged by the same storm, and they are trying to sell theirs without fixing them.] There is someone coming from Honda America next Tues., but they don’t think he will have any different answer for us. They said that they are not aware of anyone ever having this problem with a Fit, they have no recorded complaints and they do not consider any online source a real incident. There are no TSBs on the Fit.

So we are going to have to sell the car on our own, and lose about $8K on the whole deal, plus the rise in insurance rate and having no car for more than two months.

There was a posted survey on the agent’s desk citing Honda as the 8th most trusted company in the US…

I See Shelley04’s Complaint (I presume) On The NTHSA Site.

“Blue car” should also register a complaint in order to help trigger an investigation.

I can’t help but wonder if “Chunky Azian” in a previous post, isn’t onto something. He expressed my first thought on this situation.
He said, "Wild guess, if you didn’t heel and toe (push 2 pedals w/ 1 foot), then the accelerator position sensor may be defective, sending go fast signal to the computer even when you didn’t touch the pedal.[/b]

I’m not saying that the driver is at fault, but in some cases there have been vehicles that were designed without enough distance between brake and gas pedals, the angle of the pedals or driver’s legs/feet is poor, etcetera. I have even pressed brake and gas simultaneously myself in a little car that I had to move when I had big, fat winter boots on. It is quite unsettling and I thought the same thing, at first I swore I didn’t do anything wrong, that the car accelerated when I was braking, but I actually did it with my feet.

As I said, I wouldn’t consider this to be the driver’s fault, necessarily. When the driver can drive most other vehicles without incident then one has to look carefully at that particular model. I believe this Fit is one of those little cars (We have none near where I live.) and it seems to me to me that this condition would be more likely in a confined space. Whether the car just accelerates on its own or the proximity of the pedals causes this, it’s my opinion that this isn’t the fault of the driver necessarily, and needs to be scrutinized.

CSA

We have the car back from the dealer and on the way home it pulled ahead as my boyfriend tried to slow to merge into traffic, so that it leapt into the lane. The Honda manager and all the staff there drove the car and said that there was no abnormal behavior.

Someone suggested the throttle position sensor but this car does not have one, according to Honda. Also they say there is nothing like an accelerator position sensor that you can push by accident. It is all done by the computer and they will not touch that.

I am quite sure that I did not push down or touch on the accelerator pedal by accident in any of the incidents. After the first time this happened, I would mentally check where my feet were when I went to press on the brake, The car does not go as far as it would if you touched the accelerator, or I probably would not be writing this. The policeman who came in response to my accident said it was impossible considering the small leap forward.

We don’t know what we are going to do with this car, as Honda now says they will not take it in a trade because of the “hail damage”–none visible, so we think they are using that to prevent it getting into another driver’s hands. I don’t know if I can honestly sell this car to anyone. My boyfriend wants to get some kind of reader to read the computer of the car to see if he can see why the computer does this, but I am afraid that this will void the warranty. We are very unhappy with the way Honda handled this, and afraid that others, like “Blue Car,” will also get into an accident with the car. Honda says there have been no other complaints like this about the Fit, so if there is anyone else out there who has had this happen, could you please officially complain?! It will never get changed until they see how many other people have this problem with the car.

For now, I have become a non-driving person who is paying $300/mo. plus car insurance for this privilege.

For the life of me, I really can’t figure out why someone would tolerate this type of problem on a 2009 car. As long as your state has a Lemon Law statute on the books, you should exercise your rights under the terms of that statute. Go to www.carlemon.com to see the details for your state.

And, if you would like to read an account of how I utilized the Lemon Law statute in my state, take a look at my lengthy post in the thread titled “2009 Tacoma Intermittent Starting Problems”. If it worked for me, it can work for you–as long as your state has a really effective statute on the books, and as long as you go about things correctly.

The circumstances are the same–very low speed, engine idling until I step on the brake, then the engine unexpectedly revs up.

If the Fit is throttle by wire, then there are likely to be TWO position sensors on the gas pedal for redundancy. The likelyhood of both sensors failing and indicating a erroneous gas pedal position is very, very remote. That more than one car has experienced the same failure mode is also telling.

Another possibility is that the gas pedal is not returning all the way when released. However, the engine would not be at idle if this were true.

IMO, the issue is likely to be a firmware bug in the throttle control algorithm. As you come to a stop, the engine must return to idle properly. When you step on the brake, this imposes a load on the engine that must be compensated for by the IAC function. If the idle servo has overshoot, this could explain how the engine revs up when the brake is applied under a very specific set of circumstances. The trick to getting this looked into is to find that set of circumstances so that it can be repeatably reproduced. Until then, they may not be witnessing the problem and will continue to deny any liability.