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2005 Honda Element - Crank No Start After Clutch Installation

Engine Cranks but does not Start 2005 Honda Element

We received a request to help a shop diagnose a no start vehicle that was sent to them by a neighboring repair shop. The vehicle was a 2005 Honda Element that would not start after a clutch replacement.

We received a request to help a shop diagnose a no start vehicle that was sent to them by a neighboring repair shop. The vehicle was a 2005 Honda Element that would not start after a clutch replacement.

Actually, after the vehicle was towed in, when the shop attempted to start the vehicle, it did start and run, but as soon as they tried to drive into the service bay, the engine stalled.

The shop mentioned when this occurred that the malfunction indicator light (MIL) flashed erratically and became dim. Also, the anti-theft warning light illuminated. Rolling the vehicle back and forth seemed to cause this problem to become sporadic, but the vehicle never ran properly.

Since the transmission had just been removed in order to replace the clutch, a look at the power and ground cables were in order. Inspection of the main ground cable showed it to be connected at the wrong location; also, a mass of electrical tape was wrapped around the middle of the cable. Using a DVOM, we asked the shop to check voltage drop between engine and body while cranking the engine, but no voltage drop was present. Together, we checked all the grounds for voltage drop; again, there was no voltage drop.

After moving the location of the ground, the no-start symptom vanished. The shop could no longer reproduce the symptom. During a road test, the MIL came on and the speedometer did not work. A quick scan found code P0720 for the outputshaft speed sensor (OSS) (also referred to as the vehicle speed sensor (VSS)). The wiring to the sensor was checked; power and ground were good. But there was no output signal from the sensor.

Seemed like the problem was found, a faulty sensor. The shop felt confident, they ordered a new sensor and we asked for a follow up to confirm.

Damaged Vehicle Speed Sensor (OSS)

During sensor replacement the shop found the tip of the old sensor was crushed and missing pieces. They immediately reached back out to us to share this info. We knew right away what had happened, the outputshaft speed sensor (OSS) on these models use a washer between the bell housing and the sensor to set the gap. Without it, the sensor can make contact with the flywheel ring gear. One more simple part needed, a small washer and the vehicle was fixed.

This is not the first time we have seen this happen; in the past we have had shops call with shorted 5 Volt refences caused by a broken and shorted OSS.

Damaged Vehicle Speed Sensor (OSS)

Missing Washer (replacement part)

Location of Washer When Installed

New Sensor with New Washer Installed Location

Sometimes the trickiest vehicles are the ones with faults so obvious once we locate the root cause. 

Need help diagnosing a Honda vehicle? Contact Autologic for help.