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Honda element 'pulsing'

I really need some help.
I put my Honda Element in storage for 6 months while traveling.
Upon my return I found the battery was dead (expected that) and have that fixed, But, the big problem is the engine light is on steadily, and the car hardly drives. It “pulses” , or wants to go, even with brake on. I have to put it in neutral at stop lights, as I am afraid it may take off. When idling, it pulses.
I accelerated while in neutral and the highest i could get it to go was 5k, pulsing the entire time.
If anyone has any ideas, please pass them on…I do not have the money to take to an expensive place, for expensive work, and am hoping it is poor gas remaining in tank or something little like that! Someone suggested I put a product into gas tank called Heat. Any ideas?
Thanks so much,

You likely have something stuck under the hood or some critter snacked on a vacuum line. Try a good mechanic. It is not something i can diagnose from what you can say here.

I’m assumng the car ran fire before 6 months of storage. With gas in the tank that is 6 months old, I wouldn’t try to revive that gas. Draining the tank and putting in fresh gas should help get the engine running smooth again.

The first thing is to find the codes for the check engine light. Autoparts store will often do this for free for customers. Get a list of the corresponding codes, then post them here. The experts here know how to interpret these.

The symptoms sound like a fuel/air mixture problem. I expect you’ve got something gummed up in the fuel injection system. Just running plain 'ol fresh gasoline for a week or so may be all you need. If that doesn’t fix it, if the codes don’t tell you what is wrong, consider to ask our mechanic to check the fuel rail pressure. You may have a fuel pump on the fritz or a clogged fuel filter.

thank u so very much! i am totally out of my element (:slight_smile: here, so any info i can get i really appreciate!
will do what you suggested.

I have to agree with George, fill the tank and drive it as much as possible. Just adding fresh gas, even a few gallons might help it run a little better. If the drivability improves enough to be bearable, then drive it as much as possible to run the tank down to close to empty as quick as possible, then fill up again.

If the drivability doesn’t start improving with fresh gas, or the check engine light does not go out after the second fill up, then go to a parts store like AutoZone and get them to read the codes for you. They should give you a printout from the cash register with the code at the top, a definition of the code and recommended solutions. The only thing we need is the actual code. It will be a P and 4 numbers, like P0300 or something like that.

Aged gasoline can definitely cause problems and especially so if there is Ethanol involved.

I’ve had some gasoline turn to utter garbage in 4 or 5 months on some of my project stuff.

I’m not that big a fan of Heet as an additive and a more superior product would be Berryman B-12 or SeaFoam.

you should have wrote before you put your honda in storage

You may know this already, but if the check-engine light starts flashing, then you need to stop driving the car to prevent damage.

For future reference, if you do this again, a cheap battery tender will keep your battery from getting discharged (which can easily kill it). You should also add fuel stabilizer.

Thank you so much! I did happen to know about the flashing, but only because someone mentioned it to me.
Please, never assume I know anything about any of this, as I don’t!
I think this web site is amazing, that people will actually help one another, and I thank you again.

If what you mean by “pulsing” is that the idle is “hunting” Hunting is when you have the vehicle in neutral and the idle goes up and down…up and down…quickly and repeatedly…Its does not settle down into a normal steady idle. IF THIS IS YOUR SYMPTOM…then the solution is rather straight forward and easy. Hopefully this is what you are describing.

ALMOST ALL HONDAS will “hunt” when the coolant system develops an air bubble in the system due to coolant loss. What occurs when you lose coolant is that an air pocket develops in the system…this causes the engine temp sensor to NOT know how hot or cold the engine is. This is due to the temp sensor being at the high point (geographically) in the cooling system… WHen the temp sensor is NOW in an air pocket and not submerged completely in coolant…the temp sensor has its probe in AIR…not coolant… In a Honda this is a big NO NO… SO what you need to do is completely FILL the cooling system…AND THEN OPEN THE AIR BLEED NIPPLE USUALLY LOCATED NEAR THE THERMOSTAT HOUSING… Hondas have bleed nipples because it is imperative that the temp sensor be submerged in coolant so that it can get a proper read on engine temp.

SO fill the radiator…fill the overflow resevoir and start the car to warm it up…Locate the bleed nipple and open it up… You should see bubbles of coolant come out…along with AIR…when the bleed process is completed PROPERLY…you will see a steady line of solid liquid coolant come out of the bleed nipple…AS SOON AS THAT HAPPENS…the engine will settle down into a proper steady idle for you.

Do your homework I have outlined here and let us know what you get…if that doesnt do it… There are other avenues to go down for this one…as there are several potential causes of this issue. SO give it a shot… The other but less likely suspect is the Mass airflow sensor is dirty or a mouse built a nest inside your intake boot where the MAF is located… So in this case remove the intake tube where the MAF is and make sure it is clean and clear… YOu can spray the MAF sensor with brake cleaner…and or MAF cleaner spray…they are basically both degreaser sprays… Id go with the coolant first and then the MAF…