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Discussion Starter #1
So, I just got this car a couple days ago...

I just drove it home, parked it, manually locked it with the switch on the drivers side door, had one foot out of the car, and it started cranking like it was trying to start!

I'm sitting there with the keys in my hand (not in the ignition at all) going WTF is happening right now?!?!

It tried for 3-4 times (with no success) before I intervened by putting the keys back in the ignition, and starting the car up normally (it started fine).

Then I tried to repeat it... did the exact same thing... turned it off, locked the door, etc. And I couldn't get it to do it again.

I am baffled and creeped out. What is the deal? Is there a chance someone has a remote starter on it or something? where would i even look for that? I do not have a remote starter remote, just the basic three button acura one where one of the buttons isnt actually a button apparently.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Mystery partially solved. There must be a remote start somewhere on it. I figured out that if you hit lock and unlock a few times in a row, it tries to start up three times. It doesn't actually start, but it tries, then apparently leaves the headlights on so your battery runs dead... Convenient.

So i guess the question is... where is this thing, and can i either make it work and actually start the car, or uninstall it easily?
 

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2004 Acura MDX Touring w/ RES & NAV
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I’d go to a quality stereo installation place and ask them to either uninstall it and charge you to repair the wiring (I’m sure it’s a mess, it sounds like a poorly done and now old and shorting out or rodent munched on setup). Probably the cheaper version that you could get use out of would be having a new install of a decent auto start controller and expect them to give you the “do you know what we found and how jacked up it is?!” look.
I always wanted a auto start setup for my MDX but never felt convinced any of the places I visited was quality enough to go cutting and slicing what is arguably the central nervous system of a car. I’ve had two cars that had crappy stereo installs and that was enough work sorting through to make me think twice about aftermarket shops.
Quick question...you have a aftermarket remote/ fob with the car now right? I’m just thinking if you don’t then maybe replacing that is part of the issue. Sometimes when those aftermarket units get installed you can’t use the factory system fobs anymore because they run “dual” but not the same signal.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the input. I do not have an aftermarket remote... Just the standard Acura one.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Well, i did a bit of digging around under the steering column today... I found the remote start module. Its a Voxx Model: AS9076. You are correct about it being a mess. The wiring is not neat at all, zip ties and electrical tape everywhere. There is a toggle switch to disable it that's hidden in the mess of wires that turns it off. And I actually found one of the keys taped up in the wiring down there! I presume because its a transponder key setup and it needs to be nearby for the car to turn on.

I want to look further into this and possibly remove it or clean it up myself, but its too damn hot out to be crunched up in there today.

Edit: The plot thickens... i couldn't stand it so i went and got that other key out of there. It was just jammed into a mess of wires and had a wire wrapped around the back end several times and taped on. I presume this is some sort of jury rig to make it start without the key in the ignition that has since failed. Also, the key does not fit the car... maybe they just found a random Acura key and reprogrammed it? Starting to regret this car purchase...
 

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Wow, that does sound like a hot mess. (I have a auto start on my 2002 and the installer by passes the key transponder for starting.) That install in yours sound like an inexperienced home install. Try disconnecting the power wire to the unit and see how the car behaves. If its fine then I'd be confident to rip all of that out. If not I'd take it to a professional.
 

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2004 Acura MDX Touring w/ RES & NAV
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Sorry for a depressing comment but I got a story for you.
My only concern is this...and this is really rare but it happened to a friend. He had this issue and was wondering why he would wake up and leave for work and he was on Empty! He also went through a couple of batteries in a few months. The wire job was so bad that it would either crank over and over again or it would run all night till the gas ran out (in some cars it doesn’t take as long as you think it would).
I would first, always keep the parking break FIRMLY on (just in case). A way you can tell since it’s summer (depending on how far the car is away from your house at night and how safe your neighborhood is), keep the windows down some and the radio on loud. If it starts by itself randomly you’ll hear music blasting. I know what I’m saying sounds ridiculous and a bit of a far stretch but a crappy home job with a low quality system can spell all kinds of weird happenings. It took him a lot of time and money to figure it out. And also...how new is the battery? If it’s brand brand new, they may have been hiding the auto start issue and the kill switch won’t resolve it. I just told my wife your story and she remembered my friends car. She said, “oh yeah, “Christine”!” That’s what his wife nicknamed it because his wife parked it facing their house in the driveway with the lights on AUTO. Their kitchenette was at the top of the driveway and while they were eating dinner the car started and the lights came on shining through the window! She was so freaked out she nicknamed it after the movie and never drove it again. LOL
Good luck with the rewiring, I couldn’t do it. Being upside down and on your back like that would kill most lower backs.
 

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Yeah, that key was no doubt there just to provide the necessary transponder chip. And it would make it dead easy to steal your car, too (just like a '70s car at that point). ;-)

If there IS a bypass on the autostart module, and you can keep it bypassed, I'd suggest just cleaning up the wiring (clean, dress, solder, heat-shrink) and securing everything where it won't get into trouble. I'm guessing that if you start tearing it all out, you may create a bigger monster than you have now...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the input and spooky stories guys. For now I just took that spare key out of there, turned the switch off to the remote start, and closed it all back up. The car seems to work fine with no ghosty issues, so I think I might just try to forget the remote start is there and get on with my life.
 

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Your starter was installed and hooked into your factory lock setup. You hit the lock on the FOB 3 x and your car will attempt to start. If it does not start, there is likely an ignition wire faulty or the hack job immobilizer is not up to snuff. I bypassed the factory setup on my old 2001 neon by cutting the chip out of the key and gluing directly to the ignition switch.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How close/where does the key need to be for it to read it? It's definitely the immobilizer stopping it. A green key symbol flashes up on the dash.
 

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Yes, then that is likely your issue. I used a 556UW bypass when I installed mine in my 05 MDX. It uses a relay and a pickup coil to mimic the key in the ignition. I just ground down my valet key and put it inside. I am not sure how close it needs to be, but you can experiment by using the remote starter with the key in hand somewhere near the ignition switch. BTW the remote starter should switch off when you press the brake pedal.
 
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