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Honda Pilot Transmission Problems



  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    Pilot is predominantly a Front Wheel Drive SUV. The rear wheel engages in three scenarios:

    1. By pressing the 4VTM button on the dash. The rear wheels are engaged upto 16 miles an hour. Us this button to get out of a sticky situation.

    2. When accelerating to prevent torque steer and to improve acceleration.

    3. When slippage is detected by the computer.

    Other than in these three situations Pilot run on front wheels.
  • Thank you, mercara,

    Is there any negative to this? It would seem to me I'd save on gas as compared to AWD? Comments?

  • mercaramercara Posts: 291
    This is my first Honda and have owned three full time AWD vehicles. One was a Landcruiser and the other was is a RAV4 and also an ML320. I always preferred full time AWD since I the computer in part time units typically doesn't detect a skid until it starts. although in theory the computer should try to fix it in a few micro seconds.

    I would rather have the peace of mind of full-time AWD than a part time system like the pilots. But the pilot offered a great value and I decided to live with the part time AWD system. When I drive in the snow I am more careful and don't push the truck as much s I used to push my Landcruiser or the ML320. I have driven both those vehicles in heavy snow storms from New York to Washington DC and they both drove well. I have't done that in the pilot yet so I couldn't tell you for sure how the part time AWD system compares with the Landcruiser and ML320.

    But if I had a choice of two vehicles that met my needs and one came with full-time AWD, I would go for it especially if I live in the snow belt.
  • Had my Pilot in some snow last year (unplowed road with 1-foot deep snow for about 5 miles) and it did very well. Heard some of the harder-packed snow scrape the bottom of the body a couple times.

    Also tried out the Vehicle Stability Assist in an empty parking lot at a ski resort and it worked well, I couldn't make the Pilot spin-out. I turned-off the VSA and all four wheels are fully powered and will spin, just like a normal 4WD....made a couple "drift" loops just to practice my skid recovery. :blush:
  • Ahaymd,

    I have exactly the same problem as you had - same speeds and all. Would be happy to know how you solved yours...


  • I recently bought a Honda Pilot 2003, with approximately 130k miles. The 1st thing I did was to have the transmission replaced with a factory rebuilt one at Honda Carland in Roswell, GA.

    Less than 1k miles later, while drving on the highway at 65 mph, the VT-4 light comes on. I do not have to push the VT-4 light for it to come on, in fact it no longer responds to the bottom before or after it self-initiates. Sometime, it comes on even when the vehicle is just idling.

    I also began to notice a bit of a jerk when the car shifted up. This was intermittent, and sometimes occurred between 1st and 2nd, and other times between 2nd and 3rd. Occasionally I would notice it from 3rd to 4th. The problem is becoming more regular. When I slow down, the engine / transmission rumbles. Any suggestions?
  • wwitrakwwitrak Posts: 1
    I just bought a 2008 4WD Pilot. Wish I hadn't. The transmission is a real nuisance. The engine sound like is is dying because of the high rpm that is set to shift at 3500 rpms for 1st and second gears. It is not too bad with a light load, level ground, warm engine,,,but with any of the above factors added sounds terrible and hard to believe it won't cause powertrain problems later. The other major nuisance that bothers me the most is the chronic downshifting of the can't "coast into a red light or stopsign and actually have to keep your foot on the pedal to get there without clogging up traffic behind you. My dealer says, "tough luck" that is how they are designed. Seems pretty stupid with todays fuel economy worries.
    Speaking of fuel sucks.

    I regret buying this vehicle. I will give it a few weeks to see if I can get used to it, or just dump it and buy something more powertrain friendly. I drove a Toyota Highlander on vacation recently and it was way better. I bought the Pilot mostly because it had a better backend to haul stuff. Stupid decision.

    Avoid this vehicle.

  • I'm having the same problem and have been searching forums for the answer. I was trying to fix it and have figured it out. If you pull the shift arm in all the way it will only shift down to D. If you only pull it in half way it will allow you to shift to the remaining drives. I don't believe it is designed to do that. We have had ours for almost two years and it just started doing it.
  • bob11bob11 Posts: 18
    I need your help.
    i have honda pilot 2003 model, which has a transmission problem, and the dealership told me it needs to be replaced. Pilot has 166000 miles.

    With this many miles is it advisable to get the transmission replaced? or just replace the whole car. Meaning, how many other problems can i expect on this. I just had the brakes etc replaced for a 1000 $ a month ago. a 400+$ timing belt replacement is coming up in a month or two.

    Should the transmission be replaced at a honda dealership or other places like aamco.
    Without getting the transmission fixed is it possible to get the annual car inspection passed?

    what kind of warranty is typically offered on these replacement transmissions.
  • bob11bob11 Posts: 18
    hi i have a honda pilot 2003 with transmission problems which i have been told needs to be replaced.
    If i trade this car in, do i have to disclose to the dealers about the state of the transmission. If they dont ask then i am planning not to say anything about it.
    i dont have much experience in this area, do the dealers typically ask questions about the car that is being traded in?
  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    Get a new one because sooner or later you ask yourself the question why I am still driving an old car with new car payment per month which is the repair expense of this and that coming up one by one.
  • I bought my 2003 Pilot with 123k miles on the clock and the transmission was already shot. I tried to buy a new one from a dealer but they could only provide me with a reconditioned one. I did get that, and its been working very well over the past 20,000 miles, 1 year, including moderate offroading. Its out of the 3 months, 10k miles warranty.
  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    I think the 03-04 tranny was recalled by Honda. Check with dealership or owner link on VIN# whether it was doned.
  • I have a 2003 Pilot and have done all scheduled maintenance at the dealer where I bought the car. Last week, at 137,000 miles, the transmission started to slip. I took it to the dealer where they stated I needed a new transmission. I have a call in to Honda's regional office for NH and MA asking for some help. Has anyone had previous experience requesting help from the regional office? It seems to me a Honda transmission should be expected to last a lot longer than 137,000 miles.
  • I have a Pilot with 131,000 miles on it that just started to slip going into 3rd gear. My local Honda dealer told me the clutch plates were breaking down, and the only thing to do was to replace the transmission at a cost of $4500. Ouch. I'm told there was a recall on these, but I have never received such a notice and have owned this since it was new. Any help would be appreciated.
  • vancerdvancerd Posts: 1
    How did this turn out for you? I have a 2003 Pilot and the trans is starting to slip. I plan on calling Bob Lindsay tomorrow to see what they will do for me.
  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    Is the infamous Odyseey tranny problem migrated to Pilots? Don't forget to change the tranny oil every 2 to 3 yrs...
  • transprobtransprob Posts: 11
    My 2003 Honda Pilot( with 152,000 miles now) was checked for a recall in 2004, I was told it was fixed. I recently took it in to have it checked because a light was on and nothing was said about the transmission. Then a few days later I was on the highway going 65 mph and it jerked back and downshifted to 2nd gear. If someone was close behind me, it would have resulted in a crash. The NHTSA-office of defects investigation states that Honda power train automatic transmissions gear failure could result in lock up and result in crash. This is dangerous. I know someone with a 2003 pilot that it did cause a crash and the vehicle rolled. If you have a problem please report it to The National transportation and Safety Board -Automobile You can file complaint online. This is a major problem and Honda should back their product and replace these defective transmissions. They should last 250,000+ miles and not pose a safety risk. A class action lawsuit needs to be filed due to the # of problems. I have contacted American Honda @1-800-999-1009 Address:1919 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90501, but they were unwilling to accept any responsibility for this defect. If enough people are willing to report this problem to National Transportation and Safety board and the Better Business Bureau, we may be able to get Honda to cover this repair or replacement. Most of us bought Honda to get at least 250,000 miles out of vehicle.
  • hi just out of curiosity have you had the transmission fluid changed regular??
  • transprobtransprob Posts: 11
    My 2003 Honda Pilot was bought new and serviced by a certified Honda dealer, so unless they did not service to Honda specifications, it is unlikely that service is the issue, since I am the only owner. Any other suggestions?
  • transprobtransprob Posts: 11
    How do you get Honda to discount the transmission? They would not help me at all, not even a reduced cost of transmission?
  • transprobtransprob Posts: 11
    Was Honda any help with your transmission? I could not get any help, with all these problems is there any class action suit? There was one in 2006 and I think it covered the transmission replacement then.
  • I agree with the class action lawsuit. My 03 Pilot with only 60K miles started to show early signs of trouble. ATF has started to leak (well slow drip, for now) after we noticed that when shifted for the first time after being parked overnight (in the garage), it stalls/chokes the engine unless the brakes are let go all the way, which I think is unsafe. This problem started at around 58K. Also, a couple of times while going slightly above 65 mph, I noticed a sudden rpm surge - might have been a tranny slippage? I'm reluctant to have the tranny checked at this time after reading from the forum that dealers are asking over $4K if a replacement is warranted. This is not good and not something to be expected from Honda products. From here on, I'll start logging tranny troubles for my Pilot as basis for my future complaint to both NHTSA and BBB.
  • transprobtransprob Posts: 11
    I had the exact same problem with the same service history. Honda would not help at all and are unwilling to admit there is a problem with the 2002-2006 transmissions. They are not willing to stand behind their reputation. My mom got over 300,00 miles on her Accord, so I expected to get the same on the Pilot. I highly recommend you file a report with the NHTSA ( This transmission failure is a safety issue. You can look up a report on the same web site stating the gear failure can result in lockup and result in crash. This has happened to numerous Honda Pilot owners. Also you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau if Honda is unwilling to replace the faulty transmission. I am looking into a class action law suit. One was filed in Dec 2006 for the same transmission problem. Hondas # to file complaints is 1-800-999-1009, although they were not helpful to me. Their address to file a complaint with NHTSA and BBB is American Honda Motor Co 1919Torrance Blvd. Torrance, Ca 90501.
    Best wishes
  • transprobtransprob Posts: 11
    I expected the Honda dealership to change the fluids when recommended by Honda. They word told by me to check the fluids and they told me they did, so unless they did not do what they said they were changed or checked, next car I may ask to watch then while they service my car, because it seems that is the only way to be sure.
  • hi all, my pilot has about 74,000 and i am trying to decide what to do with it i have changed the transmission fluid twice now and each time there was metal on the drain plug magnet. Question is exactly what is causing the transmissions to fail? can someone tell me exactly what is happenning? thanks!!
  • aatlantaatlant Posts: 4
    My 2003 Honda Pilot needs a new transmission too. When my "D" light started flashing about 5,000 miles ago the service manager at my dealer said he had no idea what it was .. okay to ignore it. Can only wonder if I had done something sooner perhaps it was not need to be totally replaced.

    If anyone gets a classaction suit going count me in!

    In the mean time, I have a complaint in with Honda (800 number) because I feel the dealer was negligent in diagnosing the problem. What are the key words to use that might get them to start taking all of these transmission failures seriously?
  • tutemactutemac Posts: 1
    I also have a 2003 Honda Pilot - bought new. It has always given me problems with harsh shifting between first and second – but, have been told this is normal. Two weeks ago while driving the transmission starting slipping – the “D” light is blinking and the engine light is on. The codes were pulled and it showed #P0470. I’ve always serviced my vehicle in hopes that I would get at least 200,000+ miles. We did a transmission flush and it was reported that the oil smelled like it was burned. All codes were reset and it was fine for another 25 miles, when it slipped again and set off the blinking lights. I have been told that my only option is to replace the transmission - that these models have a history of problems. I have 157,000 miles on the Pilot – all highway. Since I am the original owner and have serviced my vehicle from day one, I’m unsure as to whether I should invest $3000 and have the transmission replaced with a rebuilt one or should I just trade it in for another vehicle and take my losses? Any suggestions would be appreciated. In the meantime, I will contact Honda next week and file a complaint as well.
  • baltovetbaltovet Posts: 9
    My 2003 Pilot transmission went up at 138,000 miles. The dealer at the time quoted me clost to 6K to replace it. I went to an Aamco dealer instead, which was just short of 5K. However, that was a big mistake because within 15,000 miles I was back there with a bad torque converter.......went up with no warning stranding me late at night. Since then, I've had another torque converter go, and then Aamco had to replace most of the internal parts again. They finally fixed it, but it cost me anonther $1100.00. If they can replace your transmission at the dealer for 3K, that's a decent deal. I now have 209,000 miles on my Pilot. I'm aiming for 350,000 so I can save up for that Maserati Gran Turismo in a few years when the kids are done college.

    If someone does get the ball rolling as far as a class action suit, I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon. I think Honda has a much larger problem with these transmissions than they want to admit to.
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