Weird keyless remote programming situation
August 23, 2009 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Follow me here: I just bought a used 95 Honda Odyssey van that is almost identical to the 95 Honda van I already have, but nicer. I'm trying to get the keyless remote for the old Honda to work with the new old Honda.

The guy I bought the new 95 Honda from said the he recently had a used replacement starter installed, because a new one was about $500. For that reason, it takes two keys: one to unlock it and one to start it.

I just got this new keyless remote for my old van and am now trying to program it to work with the new, almost identical van, but it doesn't seem to be working.

Could it be because the newly installed used replacement starter in the new Honda is not allowing the keyless remote to be programmed for some reason? Two keys to unlock and start seem to be a clue.

Also, I'm not positive that I am using the correct procedure to program it, but I think it's what worked last time. Here are the instructions I'm following. Thanks for any advice.

1. Open the driver's door.
2. Push the driver's power door lock switch to the unlock position and hold it. (Continue to hold the switch during this procedure.)
3. Insert the key into the ignition switch, then remove it. Repeat this four more times (five times total) within 10 seconds. (You must complete steps 3 and 4 within 10 seconds or the system will exit the programming mode.)
4. Insert the key into the ignition switch. After you insert the key, make sure the power door locks cycle to confirm that the system is in the programming mode.
5. Press the "LOCK" or "UNLOCK" button on the transmitter. All the power door locks (except the driver's door) should cycle to confirm that the system accepted the transmitter's code.
6. To program a second transmitter, press its "LOCK" or "UNLOCK" button within 10 seconds of programming the first transmitter.
7. Release the master power door lock switch to exit the programming mode.
posted by wsg to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
Could it be because the newly installed used replacement starter in the new Honda is not allowing the keyless remote to be programmed for some reason?

No. The starter itself has nothing to do with the problem you're having. You could put any brand, new or remanufactured starter in that car and the original keys should work just fine.
The guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Please, no longer listen to his advice about your Honda.

A car typically will have two key functions:
Keyless entry

Keyless entry is the little transponder that sends a radio signal to the car to open the door. At some point, your car will have been programmed to be receptive to the respective frequencies of your remote transponders.

Immobilizer is the ignition lockout system. Generally, there's a chip in the actual key and a read-coil in the ignition switch. A control module in the car is programmed to authorize x number of keys to start the car. The module uses the read-coil to interrogate the chipped key. If it's identity matches, the control module allows the car to start. It has absolutely no way of knowing if the starter is original or not. It doesn't care, either. It just allows current to flow through a relay or not, depending on the result of it's key being interrogated.

As far as programming goes, remote transponders will usually be pretty easy to program, especially on older cars. There'll be a song and dance, like the one you describe, but the security isn't so tight that you couldn't do it yourself, like if you change your battery and wipe out some vehicle memory or if a battery in a transponder dies. It might even be in the owner's manual.

The actual immobilizer is much more secure and you'll have to get a Honda dealer, an automotive locksmith, or a Honda specialty shop to program the immobilizer to recognize the keys. That typically requires a diagnostic computer with the correct software to interface directly with the immobilizer control module in the vehicle.

Seriously, the fact that the starter is used has nothing to do with having to use different keys with different features. I can't tell you how many starters I've installed and never come across anything like that. It simply isn't how cars work. Your best bet is to take the car and all of your keys for it to a Honda dealer or automotive locksmith and have them sort everything out. Be prepared for some extra diagnosis because, from what you describe, there could be something going on with a control module or some other piece of electronics. You could have a bad transponder, a bad antenna, a bad keyless entry control module (or whatever that vintage Honda uses), a bad read coil, anything. But whatever it is, you probably should have it looked at professionally, rather than take that guy's advice that it in any way has anything whatsoever to do with your starter. Because it absolutely doesn't.
posted by Jon-o at 7:51 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

By the way, it seems as though you went through this with your previous Honda. I'm gonna assume that the instructions you received via AskMe worked the last time, right?
Double check the batteries in the remotes. Those batteries can be really picky. They'll work fine at 3.0 volts, but not at all at 2.9. In fact, the packages come with two little holes in them so you can test the battery with a voltmeter before you open the wrapper, rendering the battery non-returnable. Try installing brand new batteries before you go any further.
posted by Jon-o at 8:07 PM on August 23, 2009

Thanks, Jon-o. I'll let you know.
posted by wsg at 11:10 PM on August 23, 2009

I tried the programming technique in the old Honda and it worked, so my method is sound. However, it would not work in the new one so, yeah, some professional help is required.
posted by wsg at 5:46 PM on August 24, 2009

So, it works in the old van, but not in the new one. That's totally weird. This sounds like a job for a Honda Pro.
Watch it turn out to be something totally weird, like one van is a 95 LX but the new one is a 95.5 split year EX and the new ones have a different control module that only responds to keys who's part number ends in a W because the frequency range is different from the older V suffix keys.
Oh, wait. It's not German.

You'll be fine! Good luck!
posted by Jon-o at 7:22 PM on August 24, 2009

Don't know if it matters, but the dinging alarm that is supposed to only ding when the headlights are left on or if the key is left in the ignition, dings all the time if the door is open, whether the key's in the ignition or not.
posted by wsg at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2009

I don't know exactly what kind of body control module exists in your Odyssey or what it is responsible for, but what your describing has a lot of the symptoms of a failure in that kind of system.
Late model cars will typically have one or more control modules that are responsible for all of the convenience and interior features. A body control computer (or network of computers) might operate stuff like lights, windows, central locking, ignition authorization, seat memory, windshield wipers, etc.
You could have a faulty module, or a communication fault between modules that's resulting in your erratic central locking and ignition functions, as well as inappropriate door chime. You also could have an electrical malfunction that results in an erroneous signal being sent to a control module, like a shorted wire could create the same circuit as actually putting a key in the ignition or leaving the lights on.

But, this is all guesswork and, given what you describe, it'd be hard to be specific about what exactly is malfunctioning in your van. You should find a shop that works on a lot of Hondas and take your Odyssey to them.
posted by Jon-o at 7:35 PM on August 27, 2009

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