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Sound failure, Honda Pilot

Last year, I purchased a new 2006 Honda AWD Pilot EXL. I added a Compass mirror and back-up sensors. The vehicle also came with a back up camera and a navigation system. Except for a blown fuse (front console) the vehicle was problem free.

Then, a few months later, the car suddenly developed a total failure of the sound system when the engine was started. The failure is not predictable, but it occurs roughly about 5-10 percent of the time on start-up. The failure is a total loss of sound from the radio, CD, navigation system and all voice systems. It should be noted, the navigational display and system still work properly but it will not take voice command inputs.

However, after a few minutes or a few miles on the road, you will hear a strong distinct ?pop? through the speakers, then miraculously; all the voice systems work properly and will continue to do so until the engine is turned off.

So far, the car has been left twice at the local Honda dealer. The only difference from our use is that the dealer problem solves, with the car connected to the Honda diagnostic system. To date, they can not duplicate the problem. During our first visit, the main computer was replaced. At home, the next day, on start up, the sound failed and did so several times in the days that followed. The car is currently at the dealer and the problem has still not been reproduced.

Any suggestions? Other than buy a Garmin system and a portable radio?

Hey guys and gals, surely someone has an idea! As an update, the Pilot returned from the dealer and again they were unable to duplicate the problem. Previously, I kept a log of the failures. After two weeks, the sound failed 36 percent of the time on start-ups. It will return to normal sound after 10-15 minutes. THE Honda big guys thought it might be the sound damper, a device that adjusts the sound level, as the engine varies it speed. I cringe when I think of that. So, the damper was removed, tested, and it worked fine!

After a year, the only variation from the typical sound failure occurred on one start up, the sound failed, BUT it then produced a sound from the right front speaker which resembled a heart beat HTG! On voice command, the radio was turned on. The heartbeat increased! Then, on voice command, the radio was turned off. The sound decreased but was still discernable. About four minutes later, it produced a very loud ?thump? and the sound worked perfectly till the engine was turned off. As an aside, all the voice commands work, but on commands requiring a sound input there is only silence. I have started the log again. So far there has been one failure out of three starts. The dealer had the Pilot for three days and never reproduced the problem. Based on our observed 33-36% failure rate, that is statistically impossible. Right? I refuse to do a T-Test!

Currently my plan is to again maintain the log, to see if anything obvious happens and then return the Pilot. If it stays the same, the dealer will replace the radio and navigation system? Does anyone have an idea besides it being haunted by the ghost of a Samurai Warrior? Honda has been very good about it and even though they haven’t been able to reproduce it, they haven’t called me strange to my face yet. I am beginning to feel like the wife in Gas Light…

What if I videotaped every start up? What should I tape?

If you added the mirror and backup sensors yourself, you might want to un-do those from the car and see if the problem goes away.

Under what conditions did that fuse blow? Did you replace it yourself with a quality fuse (Littlefuse, Bussman, etc) ? If you pull the fuse that blew what are the symptoms? The same as what you get on occasion? You might try replacing the fuse with another spare or swapping that fuse with another of the same rating - but don’t pick anything critical.


almost sounds to me as if you may have a speaker wire short to ground intermittant,the audio and nav are tied into the same amp,and if a wire shorts to ground from just one speaker,the entire system will go into protect mode.and turn off all sound output,and inputs.yet all will remain on. I only say this because you mentioned a loud pop noise then all worked again. I’ve run into this prob on a few vehs over the years,and the obvious was overlooked. and poss an internal failure of the system,internal ground. good luck

This really sounds like an amplifier failure. The amplifier may be part of the head unit or separate. I don’t for sure on this vehicle. Obviously the dealer guys need to just drive it back and forth to work a few days to reproduce the problem. I know they don’t like to do things other than read their computer screen, but this calls for some alternate approach. The computer will not detect a bad amp or shorted speaker wire. In most cars the computer doesn’t have anything to do with the audio.

I have a home audio amplifier that is failing in a similar fashion, fortunately for me if I just leave it powered on it keeps working. Some house guests turned it off this past weekend and it took about 10 minutes before it would stay “on.” With a car you don’t have the option of leaving on.

I purchased a new 2006 Honda AWD Pilot EX, and my radio does the same thing.
I do not have navigation, compass mirror, or backing sensors/camera so it has to be in the radio CD changer part, an amp or something.
It happened again this morning, but this time I drove for 30 minutes and the audio still did not come back. I need this to happen close to the dealership.
If you figure it out please let us know, and if I get this fixed I’ll post what was wrong.

From an informed ex-Honda-Supported-Company Employee- Automotive Retailer in a hyphenless way, i can tell you the source of your troubles or rather annoyances. The compass mirror and the back-up system have nothing to do with it and do not interfere with other systems. The amplifier also has nothing to do with it, it is generic, mass-produced, and very dependable, albeit underpowered and un-inspiring. Its strange how people come-up with innovative answers to cover up for a refinement defect. Do not feel like you are driving alone with this concern, you may be surprised in fact at the percentage that do not! In 2006 the Pilot introduced in all their models a Variable Cylinder Management feature to its engines that would de-activate half of its cylinders under low or no load conditions in an effort to stay competitive in fuel economy. It would essentially keep the intake and exhaust valves closed for the 3 cylinders, not injecting fuel into the cylinder, and maintaining an action-reaction inside the cylinder itself. Sounds nifty doesn’t it. Well it gets more complicated than that. For anyone owning a base model Chevy/Geo Metro from the 90’s, you can attest that a 3-cylinder inline engine falls short of smooth operation. Of course, its a logical imbalance, especially when the engine is not timed or built for exclusive 3-cyl operation. Well the Vibration/Harshness/Noise experts at Honda came up with a way to minimize or possibly eliminate these effects. For starters, engine mounts were filled with gels or semi-solid liquids/materials to counter the additional vibrations imposed and sensors that would maximize the benefit of the technology without compromizing the reliability of the technology. This solution did its job. No harshness is caused by this, which leads to the noise. An engine running on 3-cyl and with inherently improper timing would dramaticize combustion noise/mechanical noise etc… -engine noise to keep it simple. This led Honda engineers to add additional sound insulation elements as well as an active noise cancellation system in the car to opppose the ones heard in 3-cyl mode. Wonderful idea and well thought out and certainly the technology was there. Not very often i can say this as once a loyal employee and customer, but Honda messed things up, well… overlooked something rather. This is the problem that you’re facing. Noise cancellation devices effectively work on their own, and are more complicated to work efficiently. Honda attempted to integrate this device using its stereo speakers to adjacently with music playing, navigation speaking/talking, put out the noise cancelling waves. That my friends creates a lot of room for error in getting it to work properly. They did it for 2007 but in its first year out, the aforementioned integration posed some issues and contributed to the majority of the systems malfunctioning. You may drive at whatever speed, listen to whatever music, or input whatever direction, load/no-load, it doesnt matter, the system just sometimes failed randomly. It can’t be explained when it would, and thats why you have a hard time replicating it, not to mention good ol’ Murphy’s Law. What some dealers would do, as recommended by Honda was not to fix it or look into fixing it as it was waaay over the skill/experience of the ordinary tech and would, i suppose, result in a complete teardown of the vehicle or hours of intricate labor that would drive the warranty/Recall costs for such a repair to the point or irrationality. The result was to de-activate the system altogether, or at least the noise cancelling part. Surprisingly, there wasnt a lot of difference in driver noise perception as a result. Good job Honda for doing everything else perfect. My suggestion, go to a competent Honda dealer, they can pull up the resolution in their database, and follow the procedures given by Honda. If for some reason in the meantime you find something different is the issue, let me know. Obviously i have way too much time on my hands for writing such a lengthy explanation and turn away the idea of learning something new.

hello, your blurry paragragh,is excellent,to say the least. I was just curious ? how you know its not the AMP? without seeing the said vehicle?and testing the vehicle ,Im sure you know(and I only say this because you’re BLURR) was so well stated.just curious are you a Honda REP.?

complete teardown of what components,? theres not a FLAT RATE tech in the world that will ever go to that.thats why the conn locations are in the service manual.hence we study the diagram,know how the circuit works,then do the specific diag.and come to a reasonable conclusion.

I have the same problem with my 2006 Pilot EX-L. The sound does not come on though the audio system and the navigation seem to be working. Then the sound comes on after a loud pop and everything sounds normal. I have had this vehicle since 2006 this has happened twice to me in the last 2 months. I have tried pushing the various buttons and switching on and off the audio system but this did not help. I have just had to wait till it magically comes back on. I am not sure as to what is wrong and if I will be able to convince the dealer that something was wrong with the audio system. Any idea as to what could be wrong? Looks like more people with this model has had the same experience? Any new suggestions?

I have to add to my previous posting that my 2006 EX-L does not have a variable cylinder management feature-it is a 4 wheel drive model and I have made absolutely no changes/modifications to my vehicle.