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Honda Pilot Care and Scheduled Maintenance

Some of us were evidently successful in getting NHTSA & Honda to recall a safety defect in the 2003 Pilot (timing belt tensioner pulley misaligned, which may lead to a crash). You should be getting a letter in the mail soon.

Now we owners of the Pilot need to email NHTSA the following message, or a version thereof. Email the message below to: (alternatively, use the web form on NHTSA safety hotline site at

Message that needs to be conveyed to NHTSA by as many Pilot owners as possible goes as follows: "The 2003 Pilot headlights are very weak and do not sufficiently illuminate the road ahead. This creates a very serious driving hazard on the freeway especially at speeds as high as 70 mph. The Pilot's headlights fail to illuminate the curves in the freeway, and consequently, Pilots can veer off the highway and get into crashes. Apparently, the Honda company is aware of this problem but has chosen not to take any action. We appeal to NHTSA to urge Honda to recall and replace the defective headlights".

Feel free to modify the message above. Thank you.



  • My Pilot has 2500 miles and I asked the dealer to change the oil because I could not find any 5-20W oil in any local stores. He flat refused stating it has "special break-in oil". Has any one heard of such a thing. By the way, it gets 19.5 to 21.5 MPG, I had to pay $500 over MSRP to get the first one in my community, it has DVD which works great, and it has been flawless.
  • The statement your dealer made regarding the "special break-in oil" is correct. I have a 2003 Pilot and the operator's manual as well as my local dealer specifically states that you should not change the oil until 7500 miles under normal driving.

    I payed MSRP for EX-L w/DVD at Wilde Honda in Waukesha, WI (Milwaukee). They will not charge over MSRP and did not push any accessories on us, however we opted for the running boards, mud flaps and cross bars to complete the exterior look. We added the cargo cover and all weather floor mats to the interior which have proven themselves useful during snowy days.
  • gimmetorqgimmetorq Posts: 2

    I'm currently considering the Honda Pilot LX to replace my wife's aging minivan. I got couple of maintenance related questions about it:

    - It seems the 3.5L has a timing belt instead of a chain. What is the recommended replacement interval?
    - Does the auto tranny has a drain plug?
    - Anybody has a link to an online manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule?

  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,020

    Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email,, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

  • Is there a rule of thumb on scheduled maintenance -- dealer vs. local mechanic? Every time I take my car to the dealer for maintenance I feel like I'm getting taken.
    Any suggestions on whether I am better off with one vs. the other? Thanks.
  • There is a standard maint schedule for 15K. Call a few Honda dealers and ask for a guaranteed amount for the entire scheduled maint. Choose the best price. Go with Honda on this one since the VTM fluid needs to be changed. Oil changes can be done anywhere, but make sure the filter has a check valve in it. With the cheap filters used by some quick lubes, there is not check valve and the engine starts with less oil flow than necessary. Since 80% of engine wear occurs at startup, this can be significant. My dealer charges 24 for the Pilot. That includes the filter, washer and 5 qts of 5w20. You will pay the same at most quick changes places and I will bet you don't get a new washer(possible leaks) and you will probably get 10wsomething.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148
    As always, check your owner's manual. There are 2 maintenance schedules. 1 is the maintenance schedule set by the factory (the one in your manual), and 1 set by the dealer. Most times, when you ask for a 15k service, the dealer will give you THEIR 15k service and charge you accordingly. You have to ask for the specific items listed in the owner's manual only and that will reduce your bill.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • This is my first time posting, so I hope I'm doing this correctly. I recently got my 2003 Pilot and at the 3 month mark, the dealer is asking that I'm suppose to be coming in for a oil change. I read on my owners manual that for normal driving conditions it's 6 months or 6K miles. The severe driving conditions, it's best to get the Pilot services every 3 months or 3K miles.

    Well I drive in urban Houston, TX. I think I'm suppose to be under the guides of the normal condition, but not for sure. Then I got friends that tell me that you should get oil changed every 3Months or 3K miles no matter what.

    Does anyone have any comments?
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148
    as far as first oil change, go here to check out a recent discussion on this.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • Does anyone know about a change to the 2nd row seat in 2004. They now supposedly slide making the 3rd row more usable?

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148

    these last couple of messages are really making me think we need to combine these discussions. What do you think, host?

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • You will find that the entire state of Texas, as big as it is, fits very neatly into the "severe conditions" category. That is due to the heat, not to mention the traffic and polution you have their in Houston (and we try to top you on here in DFW). ;-)
  • Does anyone know if it would hurt the engine if I use 5W-30 weight oil insted of 5w-20? I too am finding it difficult to locate in stores and have 2 cases of 5w-30 at home.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148
    It won't hurt the engine.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • after driving my 95 vw and listening to the maintenance techs there they claimed that most oil filters are changed and replaced with ones that last 3000 miles. But vw used a 7500 mile filter. I use this 7500 mile schedule and my car is at 121k no problems. So it's a money thing, you have been trained to get your oil changed every 3000 miles, take a minute and ask how long is filter life? My guess is dealers are shying away from oil changes due to joe schmoo 10 buck oil change and are going to hit you with other charges that are far more profitable.
  • My Pilot is due for a 30,000 maintenance. I have received conflicting info on changing the differential fluid. One dealer told me I needed to change it at 7,500. Another told me I could wait until 45,000.
        Any advice on what absolutely needs to be done at 30,000? Thanks.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148
    Check your owner's manual. Its all in there. But, to answer your question, the differential fluid is supposed to be changed every 15K miles based on normal driving conditions (7500 under severe conditions which are detailed in the owner's manual).

    You can also go to and click on the Owner's Link. Sign up there and you can view a good bit of info about your car, including maintenance. But I'll make it easy just this once ;)

    here is the list from that site for 30K under normal driving conditions:

     Replace engine oil.
     Rotate tires (follow pattern on page 311 in your Owner's Manual).
     Replace engine oil filter.
     Check parking brake adjustment.
     Inspect brake hoses and lines (including ABS).
     Check all fluid levels, condition of fluids, and check for leaks.
     Inspect exhaust system.*
     Inspect fuel lines and connections.*
     Inspect cooling system hoses and connections.
     Inspect front and rear brakes.
     Inspect tie-rod ends, steering gear box and boots.
     Inspect suspension components.
     Inspect driveshaft boots.
     * = See information on maintenance and emissions warranty, last column, page 273 in your owner's manual.
     Inspect and adjust drive belts.
     Replace dust and pollen filter.
     Replace air cleaner element.
     Replace rear differential fluid. (Necessary for proper break-in of the VTM-4 rear differential.)

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • rlonn1rlonn1 Posts: 106
    Is this hard to do, and how do you get to it????
  • rlonn1rlonn1 Posts: 106
    I am using the 3 step Meguiar's Deep Crystal Carnauba Wax. I only use step 2 and 3 since the Pilot is brand new. Just wondering what others may have found to work the best for you. Looking for a DEEP RICH SHINE!!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,148
    I have no idea. Never looked for it. On our Forester it was under the dash on the passenger side. On my volvo its under the hood near the passenger firewall. So in both cases they were in the same general area, but accessed from different sides of the vehicle.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

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