What's wrong with my 2003 CRV? It stalls the first 2 or 3 minutes after a cold start.


Asked by Apr 07, 2009 at 11:00 PM about the 2003 Honda CR-V EX AWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

     The CRV stalls only on a cold start.  In the morning either backing out of garage and turning the wheel sharply.  Sometimes in the afternoon pulling out of the parking lot at work.  I've recently (2 months ago) gave it a tune up, fuel filter, and air filter.  I also read on another thread to clean the throttle bady and idle air control valve.  I did this about a week ago and it still stalls.

41 Answers


I suggest you scan the problem to be sure, but looks like O2 sensor.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

Hello, Already scanned twice. No codes. thanks Mike

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

If you have access to a scanner with a passive reader, you may want to look at your trim levels... If they are off to either extreme it may be your problem. Other than that, check vacuum lines

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

Thanks Adam, Wed. afternoon I should have time to plug it in again. Is a passive reader like a vantage meter. Also if it was the O2 sensor any chance it would not have read a code. thanks Mike

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I believe the vantage units can read sensor outputs, but I'm not farmiliar with it sorry to say, I bought a cheap OBD scan tool that plugs into a PC... It doesn't have many functions but it does all I need it to do. And yes the car will not always throw a code if the O2 sensor is cracked or fouled. They need to be fairly severely out of spec before a code is thrown. I forget the rule of thumb, but I want to say if the trim is more than 5% out of wack for an extended period of time, it may be best to pull the corresponding O2 sensor and inspect it. Sadly, I'm not the best at this kind of thing, but I'll help in anyway I can.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

thanks Adam

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

hmmm. you may have to rack your brain on this one- start w/ basics- i would start w/ electrical- battery may be no good- clean and tighten terminals- that would explain cold start- and stall around turns (loose conection wouldnt allow alternator to charge battery, and would also drain it FAST) sounds easy but start there- any transmission issues- hard shift, slow shift ect..

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

tell u what wrong tell all yall whats wrong GET A FORD

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

send back to the authorised honda agent..they have their own diagnostic tool to pinpoint the exact error code

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Only on a cold start? Maybe it's the water temp sensor. A bad o2 sensor would make it run too rich after the car was warm, so it's probably not that. It could also be a vac line. Hopefully it's throwing a check engine light (CEL code) that you can bring to a mechanic.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

No check engine light. No codes ever. Battery is two months old holding charge and terminals are tight. Still open for suggestions. Maybe I'll drop it at the Honda dealership a friend of a friend works there. Hopefully his scanner can pick up something mine will not. Also will check into an OBD scan tool. thanks again everyone P.S. Cody2410 I own two ford and fortunately there are running well.


Hello Adam4753, Where did you get your OBD scan tool. What should I pay for one. I've found them on the internet for around $89.00. thanks Mike

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Have you checked your idle control valve? or IAC? usually located on the intake plenum. Sounds like it could be blocked, meaning when it's cold it's not letting extra air into the plenum, there's a few guides out there to fix them :)

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

good idea..every make haf their own dedicated diagnostic tool..they may be able to detect wat aftermarket tool cant..


Vincent1045, I did last week. Cleaned the throttle body and the idle air control valve. I just took in apart and sprayed it out with trottle plate cleaner. It was a little gummed up, but seemed to clean up pretty good. Is there anything else I can do with the IAC other than replace it. I think I priced it at about $329.00. In some other forums I read where people replaced the throttle body and all the associated sensors. That still did not fix there problem. Something else. It was my first encounter with a 5 point torx bit. I guess Honda insists that I buy another tool.


Tom36, I think a trip to the dealership may be in order. I've never had a dealership work on my vehicles. What kind of price tag do they put on plugging in their scanner?

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

is it auto or manual, if its auto could be that you trans fluid is to old and not flowing around the torque convertor properly or the other may be a scan wont pick up if the computer itself is faulty (they cant self diagnose), otherwise it still can be your O2 sensor could be sending the correct signals so it wont pick up on a scan but still could be faulty hope that helps


I think it is the idle air control valve. I had this same problem on my M3, and i got it checked out and it turned out that the valve spring wasn't working right. Have that Checked out by your local Honda or Acura dealer. Hope that Helped, Blair


tranny flush sounds like a good idea ben. thats why i asked if there ar any shift probs- especially during cold start, if fluid is gunky before heating up the tcc wouldnt work. the clearnace is very thin. i gotta laugh at the o2 sensor because they are always the first thing people condemn. no offense here guys just telling you what i see on a daily basis. a faulty 02 or a good o2 wil almost always throw a code to the pcm. as for tranny probs they dont always throw codes but if they do they are monitored by the tcm (trans control module) which you may not be able to read with a cheap scanner. i would say deffinately not the 02 but if you can check them go ahead-( electrical is my specialty so i really want to know if this is the problem, i do hold the ASE cert in this area, so please let me know) your best bet take it to honda for a diagnosis and if you can fix it yourself-- good luck let me know how it works out!


i know we charge around 100 bucks--- pretty steep but a good obd2 scanner shouldnt run you less than $1500!


From some crappy Chinese knock off place.... I got it for I think $48 shipped I think this might be it. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/E-OBD-2-ELM327-USB-CAN-Code-Reader-Scanner-Diagnostic_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trkparmsZ72Q3a1171Q7c66Q3a2Q7c65Q3a12Q7c39Q3a1Q7c240Q3a1318Q7c301Q3a1Q7c293Q3a1Q7c294Q3a50QQ_trksidZp3286Q2ec0Q2em14QQhashZitem170318331256QQitemZ170318331256QQptZMotorsQ5fAutomotiveQ5fTools It's definitely not the best out there but it's better than most the handhelds... Honestly I think every DIY'er should have one, it takes care of almost every OBD standard code and sensor reading... Doesn't do the make specific stuff like ABS or Airbag, but it does enough...


http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Auto-Scan-Tool-CAN-Bus-OBDII-EOBD-Auto-Diagnostic-V1-3_W0QQitemZ180345026398QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotors_Automotive_Tools?hash=item180345026398&_trksid=p4506.c0.m245&_trkparms=72%3A1171|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318 Here's the same thing with more information... I can emphasize enough though that it is crappy... It does the job but I wouldn't trust it to survive falling off my tool chest onto a concrete floor...


do you let your car warm up first b4 you drive it? i would suggest getting a can of MOPAR combustion chamber cleaner. you spray it in your TB while your car is running. is cleans every bit of gunk out of your entire engine. you need someone to keep your engine running while you spray it to keep it from stalling. maybe use 2 cans if u have alot of miles, but id change your oil after 2 cans. my car used to stall when it was cold and i turned the wheel sharply. i had a bunch of fluids flushed as they were nasty and put a strain on the system, and used the mopar. you can only get mopar from chrysler dealerships of you're another garage, i dont know if they will sell it by the can. if not, pay the 40 to have them run it thru ur car


charge the battery


There are a few good suggestions about the IAC, your problem is leaning towards a sensor issue. If you are able to test the resistance of each sensor individually this may help you pinpoint the problem. If that dosnt work then just leave the engine running all the time to keep it warm and irritate the tree huggers! good luck .


If you can't improve the silence then don't say anything.


The silence comment is for Trevor664. thanks again for everyone for the ideas


It is an automatic. Never has had any shift issues. It even shifts fine right up until it stalls. After it stalls one time it runs fine.


When I let the car warm up it never stalls. That is why I lean towards the IAC or temperature sensor. Another possibility is the fuel pump. Has anyone heard of a fuel pump gradually going out. I had an Accord that would not start occasionally. Something was wrong with the fuel pump and it finally ruined the fuel pump relay. I replaced them both and it has been two years with no problems starting. thanks again for the help


if its only stalling when its cold i think its your coolant temp sensor. when your engine is cold it runs more rich. my other car stalled and bucked when i would drive it when it was cold. i had a cooler setting thermostat and my coolant temp sensor went out, so it was running rich alot and it would stall.


thanks Shiloh20 I'll check into it.


im still thinking towards tranny flush purely because if your fluid is gunked up to the shitter it will cause a stall i had a problem like that and the other thing could be the sensor may be reading fine but every now and again due to dust and grime (nostly in morning beacuse metal pins in connector have shrunk it may affext the signal resulting in the stall and not showing up on the test try disconnecting the plugs blowing into to them to clear them out and then try again the next morning hope that helps. ben

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

yes that very well could be the problem, i would recomend replacing the water temp sensor to see if it has trouble reacting to cold starts but could also be a problem in the computer that won't tell the injectors to run rich when starting. so check the water temp ending unit, i don't know much about honda's so i have no idea on where to find it. And to everyone else, an O2 sensor would have nothing to do with this specific problem, if there was a bad O2 sensor in the exhausts somewhere then you would also have other problems as well.


with the proper scanner you can watch that the sensors are doing and go from there but working in a garage for a living when a car comes with with problem with a cold start we normaly look at the ECT sensor first and see whats it's doing... it might think your car in warm and its not getting enough fuel till it gets warm


depending on how cold of a start we are talking about it could very well be the transmission fluid. the motor will not make as much power when its cold if the fluid is badthe strain of moving the car with the wheel turned tight could just be too much for the motor in its cold condition. i also agree withe the mopar engine cleaner. i have used that on lots of my cars/trucks. and it is great worth doing wether it fixes the problem or not you get more power and better economy. i know you have already been told tranny fluid thought i would throw in my 2 cents


thanks for all the ideas

Have you sorted the problem yet? I had same problem with 2001 auto after months of tests & changing some things no difference. This week it started to run like a tractor. More tests & a compression test showed Nil in 4 & low in 2. Head off, triangular chunk out of 1 exhaust valve & 3 others badly burnt. No compression test earlier as it only has 86,000kms on the clock, noone anticipated this problem. So much for a car to get me through retirement with no costly repairs eh. Good Luck. Needless to say with its age Honda can only offer their sympathy.


i had the same problem with my 1998 japanese import, it turned out to be caused by an exhaust valve burning out


Sometime cataliser when is old or damage can growing inside and this closing exchaust when car is hot this totaly shooting down engine . check this

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

In case anyone reads this, the poor running at cold start issue is a maintenance item. VALVE ADJUSTMENT. The exhaust valved get tight on these engines and need adjusting every 60,000 miles or so to keep them in top condition. Yes, you might get by for 150,000 miles before it acts up, better to do it before it acts up. Your valve cover gasket has started to seep by now anyway. Good time to change your VTEC filter screen, VTEC valve is behind cyl.#1 as you look at it under the hood. Just three bolts hold it in.


I have this problem a year ago and valve adjustment fixed the problem. I went to loose side in the adjustment to make the valve seat all the way. I advice to use Seafoam before valve adjustment.You have to fix this problem as soon as possible or you will also ruin your catalytic converter which other think it's O2 sensor problem. If this happen, you will feel like your engine is getting choke in the acceleration (clogged catalytic caused by poor combustion before valve adjustment). Change your cat or use Cataclean to clean the catalytic. First time I use it I followed Cataclean directions it did not work, second time I pour it to a quarter tank of gas and drive it to work everyday until empty. Your car might have different result, it depends on how bad is the gunk in the catalytic, mine probably really bad.

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