2016-2021 Honda Pilot Engine Stop-Start Problems

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones


Lemberg Law is investigating complaints regarding engine stop-start problems relating to 2016-2021 Honda Pilot SUVs. Vehicle owners are reporting that the automatic stop-start capability doesn’t work and causes alarming safety issues. 

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Is There a Problem with the Engine in 2016-2021 Honda Pilot?

There is a major, ongoing problem with engine stop-start problems in Honda Pilot SUVs manufactured between 2016 and 2021. Complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) bear testimony to this.

The problem is linked directly to the Auto Start/Stop capability that is supposed to help improve fuel efficiency in Pilot Touring and Elite vehicles. In essence, when the driver enables the system, it automatically shuts off the engine and the vehicle stops. Then, when the driver releases the brake pedal, the engine automatically restarts.

There are numerous complaints relating to every model from 2016-2021. There is also an open investigation, NHTSA Action Number PE22005, No Restart After Auto Start/Stop Engages for the 2106-2020 models. Additionally, there have been numerous technical service bulletins (TSBs) every year except 2021.

Honda Pilot Stop-Start TSBs

The TSBs have changed over the years. For instance, the first American Honda (AHM) TSB in February 2017, tells dealers about customer complaints that the automatic idle stop function is operable.

“To fully understand the cause of this condition, AHM would like to inspect the vehicle prior to you attempting a repair of any kind.”

Then in 2018, a TSB tells dealers that AHM wants to “collect specific parts from the vehicle prior to you attempting a repair of any kind.”

The most recent TSB dated February 13, 2020 states that, “Customer should have been able to restart the vehicle by placing the gear into the Park position and pressing the Start button. To better understand the cause of this condition, AHM would like to inspect the vehicle prior to you attempting a repair of any kind.”

This clearly indicates that no resolution has been found up to this point.

Pilot Stop-Start NHTSA Investigation

This investigation was initially for Honda Pilot vehicles from 2016-2019. It is now also listed in the NHTSA 2020 Honda PIlot file. It was initiated after the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) received several field reports and 221 complaints that there was a start-stop engine issue.

Complainants allege that the engine won’t start on its own when drivers stop at a traffic light or road intersection if the Auto Start/Stop function is engaged. Some complaints say that a jump is needed for a restart.

What Engine Problems are 2016-2021 Honda Pilot Owners Experiencing?

There have been multiple ongoing complaints about every Honda Pilot from 2016 to 2021. There are far too many to mention. Here is a small sample.

2016-2017 Honda Pilot Engine Complaints

The first complaint about a 2016 Honda Pilot stop-start issues was made in August 2016. The Honda Pilot owner described how this happened twice in separate incidents, which he said were “a huge safety risk.”

The most recent was on June 16, 2022. “Multiple times the vehicle wouldn’t start. The start stop switch is the culprit after 7 months of dealing with it and taking it to (the) dealership finally. Car will cut off at (a) stop light but won’t turn back on. Takes like 4 tries to get it back on. Also at 126k or 128k engine had a knocking sound and needed (to be) replaced and it cost $7000. The air conditioning doesn’t work and this is very upsetting. This isn’t why I buy Hondas. The start-stop event happens everyday and every time I start the car and don’t deactivate the start/stop system.”

The most recent complaint about the 2017 model states, “Vehicle failed to restart after stopping at a stop light while auto stop feature was on (defaults on). Had to completely turn off (the) vehicle and restart it for it (for) engine to fire back up.”

And the theme remains the same.

Most Recent NHTSA Pilot Stop-Start Complaints

On June 15, 2022, an owner of a 2018 model complained, “Several times I have been driving with the auto stop on. When I get to a stop light or traffic light to make the stop, the engine shuts off as it should. When I let off of the brake and go to accelerate, the engine appears to start, then shuts all of the way off.”

The complaint continues, ending, “I have not gone back to turning the Auto Stop on because I feel this is a huge safety issue.”

The most recent owner of a 2019 model to complain says simply: “ Car does not restart after auto stop at intersections or traffic lights.”

The 2020 model is no different. A recent June 13, 2022 complaint states: “Start/Stop function engaged at a red light, stopping the engine. Engine would not restart. Car and driver were stranded in the middle of a busy intersection for almost 2 hours until (the) car could be jump-started. Car would not restart on its own, leading to a very dangerous situation for (the) driver and other motorists.”

So far, there are 2 complaints about stop-start issues relating to the 2021 model.

The first, lodged on May 10, 2022 states: “Engine shuts off when you are at a red light and you press the foot brake pedal hard. When you release the brake the engine starts. In my case the engine shut off and when I released the brake the engine did not start (and I) had to put transmission in park and then (I) did a restart.”

What Should You Do if Your 2016-2021 Honda Pilot is having Stop-Start Engine Problems?

There is no doubt that there are many owners of Honda Pilot SUVs from 2016- 2021 that have major start-stop issues. The TSBs indicate that Honda is aware of the problems but unable to solve the problems.

Are you experiencing stop start issues? You might have a lemon. Start by filling out our contact form or just by calling us for a free case evaluation. It won’t cost you anything because the law will make Honda pay the legal fees for your claim.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Feng C

    I have a 2021 Pilot and it just happened today when I stopped at a traffic light. The car won’t start after I stopped at traffic light. Took several times to push the engine button to get it back to start. Huge safety concern.

  • Michael M

    I have a 2016 Pilot Elite and had the auto start on, stopped in a drive thru and when the line started to move the car just shut off. I had to press the brake and try like three time to get it back going. Now I’m nervous to drive it anywhere! I was a loyal Honda guy but now I’ll probably just buy Toyotas.

  • Kathleen N

    My 2021 Honda Pilot SE will not restart after idle stop turned on. I received a recall letter to upgrade software for this issue. Done upgrading software but the issue is still happening now. Very disappointed!

  • Sammy

    Honda is a crap now these days. I have Honda pilot touring after spending $65000 in Canada most of its features are not working. First I had issues with Information system after fighting for 3 months finally they replace it but it still have issues after driving 2 to 3 hours there is no sound. They is a keep light on in parking gear shifter even the vehicle is turned off. Again need to fight for 2 months to replace it. Auto Idle never works it never stop even once after recall even after driving continuously for 45 minutes. This is my 3 and last Honda I bought. I bought another Lincoln and their service is amazing.

  • David H

    2019 pilot touring edition. Same auto start stop issue mentioned above as well as the transmission shifting randomly to sequential mode and requiring us to pull over and turn the car off and restart. We havee taken the car to the dealer several times only to be told there isn’t anything they can find.

  • Chris P

    I have a 2021 Honda pilot that currently in the shop for the auto shut off.
    When auto stop engaged, the engine turns off as usual , but when the brake is released, car goes to Neutral and will not restart.
    Has happened several times and definitely a safety issue.

  • Mo

    I have a 2020 Honda pilot elite. It has only 37k miles. I am very anxious because it won’t always start after turning off the vehicle, each time I need jump start it.
    For example, if I start car and drive it to go somewhere then stop the car little time later want to start to drive it won’t start. In this case I need to jump start.
    I checked the car battery and alternator. both are good according to the car standard mechanical measurements requirements. I checked voltages for the both , no concerns and issues but it still won’t start until jump started.
    Dealer updates the DB software. No benefit.
    Now I can see that, it’s Auto idle stope not working either.
    Hope Honda will find a solution for it otherwise company will lose its customers.

  • Kim

    My 2019 Pilot wouldn’t turn back on with the auto start stop at the red light on the way to work. Car went to neutral and then had a hard time starting, nothing like being frightened you’re gonna get slammed first thing in the morning. This is not the first time for me and now I am getting very worried for my safety! Not at all what I expected for a Honda. Sign me up for this case building to let Honda know this is not ok

  • Puja

    In 2022 while driving the car it stopped at several stop signs while the brake was applied at a red light and the error message popped up keyless start system problem. I have to turn it off and start it again to drive the car. The dealer inspected the car and found no issues and misdiagnosed it for the battery. However, the issues came back again while driving and I was stuck in the middle of the road and took it to the dealer they found the issue and changed the push start button on the car under the warranty. It had no recalls from the manufacturer whatsoever. My family was in danger all this time. any car could have hit us while driving in the middle of the road with underlying issues.
    Fast forward to 2023 March 18th, the car was in the park for an hour with my kids in there and it started blinking several lights, and error messages popped up like Transmission system problem, emission system problem, etc. It started to accelerate by itself and completely shut down. I thought it was a battery this time and I called my husband to jump-start the car, after 30 minutes I drove the car and it did not show any errors. once again on March 27th, I was driving my kids to their activities and while driving back in the middle of the road it blinked several lights, smoke came, and gave me a bunch of error messages like Transmission system problem, emission system problem, etc. Luckily I was almost close to the intersection of our house it started to make a loud noise jerking, and grinding, and I parked it quickly and it accelerated like someone was doing it. I was scared to death and turned off the car and got out of the car and is towed to the dealer and diagnosed with a P2652 code since the car is out of 5 years warranty they are refusing to fix it. I’m in touch with Honda and since the car has only 32392 miles and they are refusing as well. The car is at the dealer

  • Paul D

    My 2019 Honda Passport has been a disaster and has caused dangerous problems on at least 8 to 10 occasions. It will not start unexpectedly. Not a battery issue. I replaced it and no luck. I drive for an hour, stop for a coffee, try and restart it and nothing. Had to be jumped. We turn off the autonomous start because it would stall on us. Still has the problem. Going to do a honda recall on Tuesday feb 7th. If this doesn’t work then I’m going after Honda. This is not acceptable and very dangerous.

  • Chintal P

    I bought a new car in mid January 2022 and on the 1st of January 2023 my car shut down in the middle of the road while driving. It is nightmare.
    No warning or hazard lights working. I called 911 for police for further assistance.

  • Nick

    2017 Pilot idle stop came on and stared acting up like crazy. Now, the key will not respond. I’m in the middle of the street in Minnesota with temperatures below 0…dashboard light staying on. I can not even lock the vehicle.

  • Karla P


    I have 2017 Pilot that after entering in the Auto Shut off stage, upon removing foot from brake it turns engine off and reboots dash display requesting driver to depress engine start button.

  • Michael L

    I have a 2020 Honda pilot that the start stop wont let the car start sometimes. Boosting the car doesn’t even work. Starter just clicks. I ams having to hire a car hauler to take it to the local dealer. It has failed to start again today.

  • Tabitha D

    I also have a 2019 Pilot Touring model and have had multiple electrical issues and the engine shutting off completely at traffic lights. I just picked it up today after having the wiring harness replaced and when I got to a stop sign it died. It is back at the shop. Not to mention that the service department left it filthy! Am I outside of the lemon law rights?

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