The Honda Pilot is a midsize SUV that offers lots of space, third-row seats and outstanding reliability.
But like other cars, it can have door and keyless locking issues from time to time.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common locking problems owners have encountered with their Honda Pilot and look at possible fixes.
Table of Contents
1. Honda Pilot Not Locking with Walk Away Feature
On some third generation Honda Pilots equipped with smart keyless entry, the walk away feature can suddenly stop working. This is often accompanied by an error on the dash indicating a ‘Keyless Start System Problem’.
Here’s how some owners of the Piloteers.org forum described it:
“I have 2016 Honda Pilot. Last week I got a keyless entry error light for couple of seconds and gone. Thereafter, key lock started working weirdly. So now when I am going away from my car it doesn’t auto lock. All the other function of the car works fine like unlock when in proximity, remote start, tailgate open etc.”
“The warning came on for about four starts, then disappeared. Hasn’t come back on in three days. Neither keyfob of ours let’s us do the walk away lock now. Beeps once, never locks or beeps again.”
“The warning came on for about four starts, then disappeared. Hasn’t come back on in three days. Neither keyfob of ours lets us do the walk away lock now. Beeps once, never locks or beeps again.”
The error message is actually caused by a faulty Start/Stop button.
This causes the keyless entry system to throw a code which disables certain features like the walk away locks.
If you replace the Start/Stop button and clear the codes, the walk away locks should start working again.
Some people were also able to fix the problem by just clearing the codes.
Disconnecting the 12-volt battery for 30 minutes can also help as it restarts the electrical system which can sometimes clear up errors and glitches.
Other possible reasons why the walk away locks stop working include:
- Faulty key fob
- Weak key fob battery
- Defective door, hood or tailgate switch
- Malfunctioning outer door handle
If one of the doors is open, the walk away locks won’t work. Even if all the doors, as well as the hood and tailgate, are closed properly, one of the switches might be telling the car that there’s an open door.
Honda also has a recall for the 2016 to 2019 Honda Pilot’s hood latch which has a defect that can potentially cause it to open while driving. This might be keeping the hood partially open and is disabling the keyless system’s security features.
2. Honda Pilot Door Not Locking
If your Honda Pilot’s door locks don’t respond to the key fob or the door switch, you might have a faulty door lock actuator.
Hondas typically have reliability and longevity issues with their electronic door locks. It’s not unusual to see a Honda Pilot with faulty door locks after only a couple of years.
Here’s how a few owners described their experience:
“2008 Pilot EXL having a problem with the driver’s door lock. The power lock switch and key fob does not lock or open the drivers door. The other doors lock. When I manually lock the driver’s door, it locks the others.”
“The other rear door (on the passenger side) won’t lock automatically with the remote or the master door lock switch. I can only lock it manually pushing down the tab on the door itself. All the other doors, including the one that was worked on, lock fine.”
Other signs of a bad or failing door lock actuator include:
- Strange electric motor noises
- Keeps unlocking on its own
- Becomes harder to move by hand
- Door doesn’t latch closed properly
- Won’t unlock electronically
- All door locks keep cycling while driving
A new door lock actuator isn’t very expensive at all. Installation may take an hour or so because it can be hard to get to even with the door panels off.
In a lot of cases, multiple door lock actuators fail at roughly the same time, which makes the job even longer.
Other common reasons for the door locks to stop working include:
- Blown fuse
- Faulty relay
- Broken door lock switch
- Wiring issues
- Disconnected locking mechanism
3. Honda Pilot Locking Itself
Honda Pilots have automatic locks that engage on their own under certain conditions.
Depending on the model, these can include:
- Going above 10 mph
- Shifting out of park
- Not opening the doors after unlocking the car
The first two can be disabled in the vehicle’s settings. In older vehicles, you have to program it manually by holding down the master door lock for a few seconds while the ignition is in the ‘On’ position. Specific details should be available in your manual.
If you unlock the doors using the key fob but don’t open any of the doors within 30 seconds, the car will also lock its doors as a security measure. The tailgate doesn’t count as a door so if you unlock the car and just open the tailgate, the doors will still lock on their own.
The car will also continually re-lock the doors every time you go over 10 mph if it detects that one of the doors is not properly locked.
If one of your door lock actuators is faulty and keeps unlocking on its own, then the automatic locks will keep triggering in stop and go traffic.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways you can deal with this issue:
- Disable the automatic locks
- Lock the defective door/s manually
- Replace the actuator
Other possible reasons why the doors keep locking on their own include:
- Stuck key fob buttons
- Wiring harness problems
- Broken door jamb switch
- Faulty door lock switch
- Loose or corroded ground wires
- Defective MICU (Multiplex Integrated Control Unit), otherwise known as a Body Control Module
- Aftermarket alarm system
If you’ve already tried several fixes and the issue still persists, take the car back to the dealer so they can scan for errors and narrow down what’s causing it.
4. Honda Pilot Door Not Unlocking With Key Fob
If you’re having issues unlocking your Honda Pilot’s doors using the key fob, it’s often caused by a weak key fob or car battery.
This can easily be solved in older models because you can still unlock the car using the physical key.
In newer Honda Pilots equipped with smart entry systems, the emergency key is stored inside the key fob. There should be a switch on the fob that you can press so you can get the key out from the top.
However, you may end up in a situation similar to this owner’s experience:
“I drive a 2008 Honda Pilot and a while back, the key stopped turning in the drivers side door. It wasn’t a problem as I just used the key FOB to open the door. Lately, the FOB has been acting up, culminating in a lock out in a Target parking lot last night.”
If replacing the key fob battery doesn’t fix the issue, see if the unlock button on the key fob needs to be cleaned or serviced.
If only one of the doors doesn’t unlock, then you might have a bad door lock actuator or a wiring issue.
The key fob can also act up if there’s something interfering with its radio signal, such as a mobile phone. Placing the fob right next to the driver side door handle should clear up any communication issues between the car and the fob.
5. Honda Pilot Not Unlocking With Key
The Honda Pilot’s keys and door lock cylinder can get worn out over time and make it more difficult to unlock the car from the outside.
This is more common with older generation Honda Pilots that didn’t have fancy keyless entry systems. Another thing that often goes out in these older cars is the ignition lock cylinder.
Here’s how one owner described their experience:
“The driver door lock cylinder on our Pilot has become a problem. Initially the key was just “sticky”, then it progressed to a point where it won’t turn the lock, then to a point where they key will not insert into the lock on a regular basis. Maybe 1 out of 20 insertions works smoothly, and will turn the lock.”
If it’s getting harder and harder to get the key in and turn it, you can lubricate the cylinder with some graphite or silicone lube.
If it’s too far gone, you’ll have to replace the lock cylinder. You can have it re-keyed so that you’re still using the same key for all the doors and the ignition.
During the winter the key cylinder can also get frozen stuck. Common ways to deal with this include:
- Apply some rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer on the key and the lock
- Heat up the key with a lighter
- Warm the keyhole with your breath or a blow dryer
It’s also possible that the door lock cylinder is not properly connected to the locking mechanism. You’ll have to take off the door panels and inspect for any issues like loose or catching linkages and rods inside the door.
6. Honda Pilot Not Locking With Key Fob
It’s fairly common to see Honda Pilot owners have issues getting their key fob to lock the doors.
Here’s how one owner described their experience on Piloteers.org:
“Saturday night I tried to lock the doors with the key fob (eventually tried BOTH fobs) and it absolutely will not lock the doors at all. Using the inside lock/unlock button will lock the doors, though.”
These issues are often caused by a faulty door jamb, tailgate or hood latch switch. If the car’s keyless system thinks that one of the door is still open or not properly closed, it won’t lock the doors using the key fob.
If your car has remote start, it also won’t work if one of the doors is open as a safety and security measure.
Normally, there should be a light on the dash or one of the cabin lights will stay on if one of the doors is still open. But a faulty or misaligned switch might cause these to not light up properly.
The locking problem could also be caused by a faulty key fob. The lock button might just be stuck and needs to be cleaned out. You can also just get a new key fob and have it reprogrammed for your car.
If only one of the doors isn’t locking with the key fob, it’s likely just an issue with the lock actuator or the locking mechanism.
7. Honda Pilot Tailgate Not Unlocking
Many Honda Pilot owners have encountered issues getting their tailgate to unlock or even open.
These tailgate problems are often caused by mechanical or electrical problems such as:
- Worn out keys or key cylinder
- Broken release handle or button
- Faulty or misaligned latches
- Issues with the door lock mechanism
- Defective tailgate or door lock actuator
Here’s how one owner described their experience:
“My specific situation. 2009 EXL, initially had an issue with the tailgate not actuating/releasing. Currently able to pop rear window and reach into emergency release panel to open manually. Tried jumping the wires coming from the switch and would not actuate, so I don’t think it is the switch. Now neither fob or door buttons will lock or unlock any of the doors.”
Mechanical issues aside, the Honda Pilot’s tailgate also won’t unlock if one of the doors is still locked.
If it’s caused by a faulty door lock actuator or some other electrical issue, you can try manually unlocking the faulty door lock to get the tailgate to unlock using the key fob.
If you need to quickly open the tailgate, go in through the back seats and pop off the plastic cover on the bottom of the tailgate. This will reveal the emergency release mechanism which you can slide free with a screwdriver.
8. Honda Pilot Not Beeping When Locking
Honda’s keyless entry system only beeps if you push the lock button on the key fob twice. This indicates that the doors are locked and the security system is armed.
“My 2004 Pilot has stopped sounding the horn and flashing the lights as it has always done. The doors do lock on the first push of the button but the lights don’t flash. On the second push, I can hear all the locks click but no lights flash and the horn doesn’t sound.”
If one of the door locks isn’t working properly and is staying unlocked, you won’t hear the confirmation beep. Try manually locking the doors using the key or the switch on the door panel before closing the doors, then push the key fob lock twice.
Newer Honda Pilots can also enable or disable the keyless beep in their vehicle settings. It may have been changed by someone else or it could have reset on its own for some reason.
If the car stops beeping altogether, it could be a wiring or speaker issue.
Here’s one owner’s experience:
“Had the same problem with my ’16 Pilot. After backing up into a small tree and denting the bumper, pressing the lock twice on the FOB no longer produced a beep. It wouldn’t even beep when the trunk lifted or closed.”
If you don’t see any wiring problems under the rear bumper, you can try disconnecting the 12-volt battery for a couple of minutes. This should restart the electrical system and its modules which can sometimes clear up glitches and bugs.