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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: [email protected] (alternatively, use the web form on NHTSA safety hotline site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/email.cfm).

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?

  • 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: 29,006
    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.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • 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: 29,006
    as far as first oil change, go here to check out a recent discussion on this.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • 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: 29,006

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

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • 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: 29,006
    It won't hurt the engine.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • 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: 29,006
    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 hondacars.com 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.)

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • 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: 29,006
    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.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • sjwsmwsjwsmw Posts: 131
    VTM-I just got my 15K done. They forgot to change the scheduled VTM fluid. When I called back, the manager told me most folks balk at the cost(~65.00) additional to change it, so they more often don't do it. I haven't used the VTM at all, so it shouldn't be any problem is what I was told. But it all depends on how much you use it, as stated above, it could require it more often under heavy usage.

    Dust Filter-My salesman suggested not waiting until 30K but rather do it at 15K and showed me an example of one he had. So I requested it and they charged ~40.00 for the part and 75.00 to put it in. I asked if I could do it, and the guy said the first time requires removing a dash crossbar that is part of the molded dash, this part is not put back, only used for molding reasons. The next time it isn't an issue and should be do-able by a non-trained person. It is behind the glove box and requires removing the glove box door.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    don't know how much I would trust any of that info given the fact that my dealer has typically been overpriced but still only charges $50 for that VTM change. PLUS, that pollen filter only retails at full price for under $35. you can get it at http://handa-accessories.com/pilmaint.html for about $25.

    The Vtm unit engages upon acceleration on a regular basis, so you don't need to go "offroading" to use it.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • sjwsmwsjwsmw Posts: 131
    Thanks Rob, I don't intend to have them change the VTM nor install the filter again, that, I can do on my own!
    Thanks for the link.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    no problem.

    but i do strongly suggest you follow the manufacturers suggested maintenance and change that fluid. You certainly don't want to have something go wrong and have them tell you "hey, you didn't change the fluid, so you are not covered under warranty." Better to be safe and fork over the $40, $50, or $60 now.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • terumi1terumi1 Posts: 130
    Below is a copy and paste directly from Honda. Got to


    Register and go to service/maintenance link. Click on FAQ's. You will find the answer to the oil usage questions (doesnt say need 5w-20. Just says you need specific ratings on the oil you purchase).

    Of note is that someone (dont recall who) posted a msg saying they had never heard of a, "special oil". I too, had never heard of it. And was going to change my oil at 1000 miles. Now, I wont. Turns out that Honda DOES put some additives in the oil for that first oil change. And they tell you (as others have posted), not to change the oil for the first 7500 miles.

    See the copy and paste below and go to the hondacars.com web page for complete info.


    Why should I wait to change the oil the first time?

       Your Honda engine was delivered with an oil that is specially formulated for new engines that have not yet developed their "natural" wear patterns and may contain minute particles from the manufacturing process.

       American Honda strongly recommends this special oil be left in the engine long enough for these wear patterns to develop, usually until the first maintenance interval specified in your Owner's Manual, based on your specific driving conditions.
  • Does anyone have any suggestions for de-icing compound? I don't mind scraping my windows, but I would like to avoid scraping my side mirrors. (I've got an EX cloth, so I don't have the heated mirror option).

    Has anyone tried the off the shelf products? Is there a cheaper homebrewed concoction that I can keep in a spray bottle (i.e. alcohol & water)?

    Any thoughts?
  • Recently experiencing a hard time starting the engine on cold mornings. On some occasions, it takes 4 to 5 tries and pressing down on the accelerator. Anyone have any insight into why this may be occurring? Also to note- had the last oil change done at a quick lube shop where they installed another brand oil filter. I recall someone posting up a comment advising to use genuine Honda filters because they have a "check valve". Is this true and would a generic filter be causing these starting problems?
  • It's that freezing, dry air in your eyes, that makes it so hard to stare. Besides, Mom said staring is rude in any weather! ;-)

    A similar discussion has just taken place over in the Odyssey forums. Their conclusion (solving some folks' long-cranking times), was to turn on the key without engaging the starter and leave it a few seconds (look for lights to come on on the instrument panel and wait for some to go off as a gauge) and then engage the starter. It seems that the fuel injections system primes itself (or something similar) during those few seconds and then starting should be much easier. There was also the warning not to pump the accelerator with a fuel-injected vehicle.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    i've read the same solution but different reasoning. some folks are of the opinion that its due to the security encoded keys used in these vehicles. in any case, we had the hard starting problem when we first got our pilot. i read about the issue others were having and now have gotten myself and my wife into the habit of inserting the key, then closing the door and putting on the seatbelt or just wait a few seconds before turning the key. haven't had much of a problem since (although my wife claims one day she had a different starting problem but never before or since - but that's another story).

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • Maybe you meant this too, but they were saying to turn the key on (not just inserted), but just don't do the extra turn to crank the starter...

    BTW: On my Yukon XL, I've noticed that the starter cranking is semi-automatic. IOW, I flick the key to the starter position and release, but the starter will crank as long as necessary -- even though I have released the key. I haven't tried it because I don't want to risk damage, but I also suspect it will cut off when appropriate even if I tried to hold it on the starter position...
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    actually, I wasn't even thinking about turning it at all. Maybe I'm remembering incorrectly, but I believe some folks thought if you stick the key in and wait for the glowing ring around the ignition to go out, then turn and start it, it would be fine. The Pilot is my wife's and I only drive it every other weekend or so, so I'm certainly no authority. I don't even wait most of the time since I'm used to my car where that is not necessary.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • While moving furniture my rear right side tail light was bumped and now cracked. Has anyone ever had to replace theirs? easy? I have a 2004 Pilot LX.
  • I haven't had to replace any parts on the Pilot, I don't even own one. But, I would suggest that if you are looking to do it yourself to try to find your parts on ebay. I know from reading another Pilot board that parts are pretty readily accessible. Just a suggestion and good luck.

    Grand High Poobah
    The Fraternal Order of Procrastinators
  • skoonjskoonj Posts: 4
    qbrozen and dako_tian:

    haven't had time to check back on responses to my posting. Belated thanks for your suggestions; I'll try getting in the habit of delaying the start after inserting the key.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    no problem. let us know how you make out. its always nice to have confirmation to these things. makes me feel more confident that my wife won't get stranded somewhere. ;)

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • p04p04 Posts: 6
    Dealership now has a deal with KREX to offer 180-day roadside assistance and oil/fuel additives with regular services. Cost is 14.95.

    Has anyone had experience with this?
  • I have a 2004 Pilot and for the life of me cannot locate the hangers for hang clothes on! Normally they are on the handles above the rear seat windows (like the ones I have in my accord). I took it to Honda dealership and they did not know either. What am I missing? In the owners manual they say they are there... even have arrows pointing to them. I don'e see them are they hidden somewhere??
  • ssmintonssminton Posts: 155
    If the Pilot has hanger hooks, I haven's seen them. I hang drycleaning on the handle itself and have been doing so for quite some time. At first I thought it was a hassle. Now that I am used to it, I prefer it over traditional hooks. It is stable and holds lots of "winter" weight. I have had no problem with hangers tearing up the handle, or clothes slipping.
  • markludmarklud Posts: 41
    Hope this is not a silly question. Last year when I was at an auto parts store I looked up Fram oil filters for my Pilot. I saw Fram PH3593A as the correct part. I bought several of them because they were at a good price. Now I see that Fram uses a different filter, PH7317. What's the deal? I don't even see the 3593 filter, it was a bigger filter.The 7317 is half the size and more money. I wrote fram, but haven't gotten a response. Anyone notice this?
  • What product should I use to clean the leather seats in my '04 EX-L?
  • lok888lok888 BostonPosts: 1,788
    Any leather care product should be fine. Many in the market contain vole and pH balanced. I use Turtle Wax leather cleaner and conditioner (not 2-in-1 formula), spray bottles. They give no chemical smell and no greasy surface.
  • Hi,
    I just had my 30 K honda pilot 2003 LX service done, and while driving the car back home the maintenance required light came on. Does any one have any ideas about what might be the problem. Thanks.
    Just an update -
    My pilot has so far been doing well with no problems other than routine maintenance. Gives an average of 18 -20 mpg.
  • lok888lok888 BostonPosts: 1,788
    The service people probably forgot to reset the service light. The owner manual should tell you how to reset it. My friend's Accord got the same thing before. BTW, what services that you need for 30K and cost? My brother just got a '04 Pilot.
  • Yea the light needed to be reset. i was able to do that myself, thanks for the help.
    for the service the honda dealership followed the plan in the owner's manual. tire rotation, rear differential fluid change, brake fluid and transmission fluid change was included. it cost me 304 dollars in SW missouri. cant go wrong with honda pilot.
  • I have a black ex-l and cannot seem to wash it without leaving some sorta water film and streaking after drying. Also, I've noticed some fine scratches (which may have resulted from using one of those broom washers at a car wash in Montana). Looking at the Pilot from the front or rear is fine. However, when I look directly at it from the sides, it looks like a crappy wash and dry job. Will waxing (which I have not done yet) get rid of the film/spotting/streaking? Am I doing something else wrong?
  • bob11bob11 Posts: 18
    I was driving down a hwy recently and my car seem to pass over a dead animal most likely a deer on the rt wheels. I heard a loud noise and thought one of the tires had blown. I pulled over and tires checked out OK, however i saw that the front passenger seat airbag on the side had come out after tearing the seat. this is not the huge front bag. Its a small bag about foot long. I believe its the bag for side impact. There was no side impact on the car what so ever. I had a carry bag on my seat at the time this happened.
    Following questions arise.

    is this something honda warranty should cover. I am within the 3yr/36000 miles.

    The SRS light has stayed on since that time.
    Does this mean that the other air bags might not deploy god forbid there is another collision.

    Thanks for the answers in advance
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 29,006
    i replied to your same post on the problems & solutions board. so i won't repeat myself here.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • In looking at my 2005 Honda Service History Book I noticed the following:


    Oil is required to be changed every 7.5K but oil filter is only required every 15K.


    VTM fluid is changed at 15K, then 30K then every 30K there after. I am not sure why there is 2 cahnges in the first 30K of miles.


    Trans Fluid is changed at 45K,75K,105K,120K,135K I am not sure why the 1st change is after 45K then every 30K until 105K. Then they sugest on changing every 15K to 135K, but don't list this fluid changing at the 150K service.
  • wvuproudwvuproud Posts: 2
    I just purchased a used 2003 Honda Pilot and the dealership has ordered an owner's manual, however until that comes I have noticed a light sometimes comes on that references side air bag off. Can anyone tell me what this is and what might be causing it to come on and off?

    Also there are three small buttons on the same console as the two interior lights by the rearview mirror. Do these serve any function? I appreciate any help.

    Confused in Pittsburgh!
  • srl99srl99 Posts: 37
    In our 2005 EX-L the side airbag light comes on
    when there's something detected too close to the
    (passenger) window, such that the side airbag
    is disabled (safety reasons).

    As the dog occasionally sits in the front seat
    (I know, my bad) - I would like to know how to
    totally disable the passenger airbag - my pickup
    truck has a switch for this purpose.

    If your overhead console is the same as ours those
    buttons are for 'homelink' a garage door opener remote.
    A web search will likely find you programming directions.

    There's a Honda Pilot (ORG) web site which has
    a scan of the pilot owner's manual - I think it's

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