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Unique Car Starting Problem

I have been having an odd problem with my 2006 Honda Element EX-P (automatic)

The vehicle has trouble starting. Especially when it is cold (either the vehicle sitting at non-freezing temperatures for a few hours or when it is actually freezing)

The problem has gotten progressively worse. I haven’t been able to figure out what it is

Initially, the car took a few attempts to start. Cranking would start out ok but eventually die off, leaving a dead key. I’d have to take the key out, and repeat about 3 times and the car would start fine.

Then it took 4-5 tries. Car would crank for less and less time. I’d still have to take the key out of the ignition and wait half a minute between attempts.

Lately the car doesn’t crank initially. It is a dead first key twist. then it gets progressively better at cranking.

The car doesn’t just endlessly crank. It starts and winds down until dead within a few seconds no matter how long I have the key turned for. When the car starts, I smell some fumes but it isn’t gas or any other smell I recognize.

The car had $1700 in maintenance done this past May (brakes, axles, etc.) The car was starting fine in the warm weather. And the car still will start fine if I drive if for a bit, turn it off for a few minutes, and start it back up.

The battery, starter, and ignition are fine (based on testing the battery). Pushing on the accelerator while turning the key doesn’t help.

There are 2 error codes, P1009 and P2642, which I believe are for the Variable timing control and oil pump. No error codes for the fuel pump. I have looked into the codes and their symptoms, and have no problems when the car actually runs, which the P1009 code would show as losing power, irregular revs, etc. So that is another bit to the confusion.

It’s going to the mechanic soon, but I’d like to see if I can tinker with it a bit and see what else I can learn. Your thoughts?

Ask your mechanic to test fuel pressure because the symptoms are similar to a bad fuel pump.Replacing it might solve the problem.

Will do, thanks! forgot to mention that there are 2 error codes, P1009 and P2642, which I believe are for the Variable timing control and oil pump. No error codes for the fuel pump. I have looked into the codes and their symptoms, and have no problems when the car actually runs, which the P1009 code would show as losing power, irregular revs, etc. So that is another bit to the confusion. Adding to OP now.

A simple valve adjustment is probably what it would need according to carcomplaints.com.Most of the starting problems was resolved after that.