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Honda Pilot Transmission Problems



  • I just filed a complaint with NHTSA as suggested by other posters. Description reads as follows:

    "Transmission was slow to transition to 3rd gear while going approx. 30-35 mph. A few days later, the "D" light started flashing, but when car was turned off, it did not go on again. Took it to my mechanic thinking it was a "3rd switch" issue I had read about on car sites. My mechanic said one solenoid was cold, while another was hot. He took it to the dealer to run the codes and get a second opinion. The dealer says it needs a new transmission. My mechanic picked the car up and on the way back, it started shifting from 4th to 1st or 2nd gear on the highway. He said he almost smacked his head on the windshield it jerked so hard. This marks a very rapid decline over less than a week and after my mechanic thought the issue was not the transmission. I believe the car was part of the 2004 transmission recall which was serviced by a Honda dealer."

    Question: For those who have gotten a rebuilt transmission, how long is it supposed to last? I just got a local quote in Arlington, VA for $2,450 installed w/ one year warranty. It sounds good, but I can get a low mileage used transmission for 1,000 less from an Internet site. That one has a 2 year warranty but has to be shipped and installed locally. It now seems like I have to pick the lesser of 2 evils. Any helpful comments are appreciated!
  • My 2003 Pilot original transmission had essentially the same problem at 138,000 miles. I didn't know these transmissions were having a problem at the time, as the Honda dealer said this was one of the first he'd seen. I was quoted nearly $6000.00 by Honda, so I had it done by Aamco. Unfortunately, the particular one I used was not very reliable, and I had two torque converters fail after that. I now have 220,000 miles on the tranny, and it runs well, but does make a slight whine (which I can't now remember when it didn't). I realize it could go any day now, but I just keep my fingers crossed, and watch closely the fluid level. My advice for the repair is this: Whichever shop you use you check out first and try to make sure you have one that is on the Better Business Bureau list. You will have many fewer regrets if you do.

  • My first "replacement" transmission from Honda, refurished by Honda, lasted from 60K miles to 115K it was good for 55,000 miles. Sad and pitiful. My "new" one now (replaced at 115K) has 3K on it and I worry everytime I drive the car that it's going to go again at some point. The new one downshifts at weird times, like if I'm going down a slight grade on the expressway at 60 mph and lift off the gas. Again I say...Honda should be completely embarrassed and doing anything to fix this design screw up......but they aren't. In fact, the service guy told me the zone guy "scoffed" when told that I thought Honda should pick up at least 75% of the cost of the 2nd replacement tranny. Unreal attitude and I just shook my head. And I'll keep shaking it as I buy a Toyota, Subaru, or perhaps Mazda next. Who needs this?
  • American Honda is the most absurd malfunctioning machine of a company I have ever encountered.

    I switched from an 01 Volvo to an 04 Honda Pilot specifically for the reason that I would not have to shell out so much money for repairs. I wanted something reliable so I bought the Pilot with 70k miles on it and then at 90k the transmission completely went out. There were no signs of it slipping but the engine light came on, so I was on the way to Honda when it just completely went out. It was towed to Honda where the mechanic quoted me 4258 for a new transmission. He did not check for discoloration in the fluid even though he was well aware of it being considered for a recall. I had it towed to another guy who looked at it said there was no jet kit installed and that it burned out due to heat damage to the second gear. Exactly the way it is supposed to burn out if it was under a recall. Now Honda is saying that it is not within the VIN recall, but my mechanic looked it and my VIN falls under the Odyssey recall which I am told is the same transmission. Any thoughts?

    My original case manager would not call me back after leaving four messages so I escalated it to her supervisor. Her supervisor switched me to another case manager who was completely unreasonable. He started yelling at me and I told him I was recording the conversation and he immediately stopped and said that was against policy and hung up. I then tried to get in touch with the supervisor again but couldn’t so I left a message. I waited for three business days for her to call me back and then I called in trying to get the contact info for her supervisor which they would not give me. She called me back an hour later but nothing is resolved nor will I think it be resolved. Any advice on how to proceed or will Honda win on this one?
  • jensadjensad Posts: 388
    What state do you reside in? Some states like Ca have "lemon laws" which may help you to get some positive action. I am pretty sure that you must follow a procedure that will require you to contact a, then b, then c before you can get into the legalise.

    If that happens then maybe a lawyer can help. We own an 04 Pilot and (knock on wood) have had no issues with it. I have played the 'game" of contacting a, then b, then c..... and finally something was done years ago to fix our problem on another car which owned.

    Good luck to you and from our experience, just keep playing the game, go thru the procedure and see what happens, and lastly if necessary get legal help. Hope it don't come to that.

    Good luck to all and stay safe.

  • jvan5jvan5 Posts: 1
    Have you had any luck with Honda? I have a 2004 Pilot and my vin # is not within the recall but having the issue with 2nd gear. Local dealer said nothing they can due and gave me a price of $3,940 to replace with rebuilt trans.
  • wdp1wdp1 Posts: 1
    Similar problem. My transmission coil failed and mixed the coolant with the tranny fluid. It destroyed the transmission. With parts and labor a local Honda dealer quoted me at $8,000! Filed a complaint with the BBB and NHTSA. Called American Honda, but no help offered because I was out of warranty. Anyone interested in filing a class action?
  • ddareddare Posts: 1
    2004 Pilot with 86K miles. A few months ago I noticed a hesitation (shudder) between 1200 & 1300 rpm. This happens very consistently whether cold or hot. I took it to the dealer, they ran tests, and proposed changing the torque converter. I have been reading about the EGR valve and wonder if that could be the issue.

    Any comments?
  • Just found this thread, and at least I feel better knowing I'm not the only one in this boat. My '05 Pilot LX began displaying shuddery 3-4 shifts beginning around 38K miles. Took it to the dealer then; they told me they could find nothing wrong and couldn't duplicate the behavior. They re-flashed the transmission computer EEPROM and reset it to factory default. All was well for about 400 miles, and then the behavior began anew.

    The problem only happens under part-throttle acceleration shifting from 3rd gear to 4th. It goes away immediately if I ease off the throttle, at which point the shift completes successfully.

    I now have 68K miles. Luckily, I sprang for the 10-year/100,000 mile extended warranty at purchase, and I am now going to pursue this problem with a vengeance until it is fixed. This is my wife's primary vehicle and I do not wish her or my son to be stranded or hurt because of it.

    (My personal car is a '63 Studebaker. This, I can fix myself. There are no computers within a thousand yards of it.)
  • I am having the same problem at the 1100 RPM level. I hear a grinding noise. When we drive around town in the lower gear we do not have a problem. We have been doing this for around 15K miles. Our 2004 now has 90K. The Honda mechanic told us that it was the torque converter and that the transmission needs to be replaced. How much did they say the torque converter would be and can they just change that part out with out changing the transmission. Let me know what you found out about the EGR and will that fix the problem. Hope to hear from you soon.
  • I just encountered the same problem with the VTM-4 and transmission lights with the rumble. Can you share what you did to fix it. Thanks.
  • D,
    Any luck getting an answer to the VTM-4 / transmission / rumble issue?
  • My '04 Honda Pilot EX-L had exactly the same problem at just under 90,000 miles. The torque converter was the problem, but Honda had redesigned the torque converter and transmission so a simple replacement was not an option. The local dealership gave me a quote of $3800 and change and offered no help whatsoever. I appealed to the service manager to contact Honda but was give a flat 'No!'. I contacted Honda USA directly and was able to relay my experience and was treated very well. In the end Honda USA paid 35% of the bill. While I wasn't pleased that the tranny failed before 90K, I was treated well and they did help some despite the car being well out of warranty.
    Imagine my consternation when, only weeks later, the transmission refused to engage Drive after backing out of my driveway! I took it back to the dealer who looked at it and said that they could not duplicate the problem. One of my classmates from tech school replaced the transmission, so I know it was done correctly. I think it is a linkage problem (internal or external). Just yesterday it decided not to fully engage Drive after leaving the driveway. After shifting back to Neutral and then to Drive it worked normally. I am leaving it at the dealership tonight for appointment for tomorrow to see if it will malfunction when cold so my friend can tell me what is wrong with this thing.
    This definitely the last Honda automatic transmission I will ever buy! The standards seem to be bulletproof but the automatics stink.
  • I had the same problem. Did you have any luck with Honda? I would be interested in filing a suit since I have had no luck myself
  • gmoney2gmoney2 Posts: 31
    Tranny on my '03 Pilot needed to be replaced at 37K miles...that's right, just 37k (this happened 2 years ago). I was just outside of the warranty, but luckily Honda picked up the whole bill, and it didn't cost me anything. I tried to get them to extend the powertrain warranty to 100k miles since it was absolutely absurd that a tranny would last less than 40k miles, but they said no dice, and I should just be thankful they paid for this one (which I was). That was 2 years ago, and I have put a little over 20k miles on the rebuilt tranny they put in, and haven't had any problems...but I am still pretty nervous about it, especially given all the problems people seem to be having.
  • it's unfortunate that I had to join this forum and equally unfortunate that my first post will be another story of a shot '03 Pilot tranny.

    Recently got the erratic down/missed shift on the highway. This one happened when coming back on the gas at about 45 mph in D. My wife (yep, family car with 2 young children in the back) also reported it shifting weird. I took it for a spin and it slips/hesitates on the 1st-->2nd shift, and the RPM's really race between 2nd & 3rd. D3 is a bit more manageable than D, but it's not pretty. Sometimes there's a hard clunk when coasting to a stop and reverse tends to take a couple seconds to engage. Wife reported a flashing D once, and I pulled codes P1750, 0730 and 0780. The 1750 was related to a pressure sensor and was the cause for getting my hopes up that it wasn't shot. Changed the 3rd/4th pressure sensors hoping for the best. No dice. I even ordered the shift solenoids because I just couldn't believe a Honda tranny could go this early. I've since sidelined it having luckily just bought a back & forth to work car...another Honda! Oh, own an Acura, too...

    My Pilot has approximately 112K miles. 2nd owner - Honda Certified and dealer maintained by previous owner. It also had the jet kit recall and I serviced the transmission and rear diff twice in 40K miles of owning it. This is such a kick in the junk as I battled an EGR valve problem for over a year (I have the fix on that if anyone else has the MIL, VTM-4 lights and misfire's with codes around a steady 45 mph).

    She's heading to the dealer tonight for official $150 diagnosis in which I know what they are going to say: "You need a new transmission". This is merely a costly formality on the road to the Honda Customer Service Hotline for aggressive negotiations. I will also be filing the above mentioned NHTSA and BBB complaints.

    This should be at class action level. Again, there's no telling how many just purchased a transmission thinking it was something they did wrong. Like many before have stated, I bought a used Honda because of the renowned reliability. I've owned my Acura for 4 years (no drivetrain issues) and just bought an Element for getting around. This is depressing for those of us buying into that legendary reliability and I do believe they were just covering their [non-permissible content removed]es with the 04 jet kit recall.

  • Hello; I am new to this forum and find it very informative....thanks to all for posting.

    I have an 03 Pilot with 65K miles on date I have had no trouble, knock wood, however my Pilot was included in the 04 recall and was repaired. (not replaced).

    Is everyone who is having problems had their vehicle recalled and serviced and should I expect these problems as well?

    I am a bit freaked out after reading all the posts.....I did have my trans fluid replaced as part of the 45K service but not since......I suspect I need to.
  • As I stated, my Pilot had the jet kit recall done and I've double checked, it's there. There was a recall that went along with that early on in which 03/04 Pilot tranny's that had over 15K miles were supposed to have there 2nd gear clutch pack inspected for scorching. You can look those recalls up on this site and check the Honda Owner's Club site to see if those recalls were performed on your vehicle.

    My transmission and rear differential was serviced twice in 40K miles since I purchased it. It hualed my wife and 2 young children in a very local town/highway environment. The only towing I ever did was pulling the smallest trailer u-haul rents with maybe 500 lbs of luggage in the back. That only happened once and my Pilot didn't even have a trailer package until I installed it.

    I guess what I'm saying is, Good Luck.
  • So, I'm having a little trouble locating the service history from the previous owner. When I was in the process of buying it, the seller gave me the name of the dealership he got it from and they confirmed for me that the transmission and rear diff had been serviced. I called that dealer back and now they say there's no record of them ever servicing my Pilot.

    All I have to go on is the transmission recall that is listed on the Owners Link site and my records of service starting at 75K miles.

    What do you guys think my chances are American Honda will pony up if I can't confirm it's service history before I owned it? Any pointers on how to attack this in general without geting laughed at?

    Oh, anyone know of a resource for hunting down a used vehicles service history?

    thanks in advance.
  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    If it is serviced by any Honda dealers they should be able to see it by seaching the VIN# even not serviced at its own place. Plus you can find them on CarFax.
  • Most of the dealerships in the area where the car was originally registered only kept records for 3 years, including the one I'm positive told me my tranny had recently been done. Carfax only shows the service I did after buying it.
  • Heisman from AHC on assistance with my transmission failure (03 Pilot with 112K). I'm going through the dealer to see if their regional rep can get anywhere but I just moved here and have only been to this dealer to diagnose the failure.

    the writing is on the wall...
  • I never win anything but took a shot at going through a dealer that I've never spent one dime at, minus the diagnostic fee. The service manager, J. Horst, was very accommodating and he said he'd give it a shot. I faxed him all my receipts and service manual showing where I had done the maintenance myself with Honda fluids/parts receipts. To my surprise, got a call back a couple days later and they agreed to do the $4300 transmission swap for $2575. Now, I know there's some markup involved and that's not the cheapest initial quote but, it's worth it for the 3 yr/36K mile warranty that comes with it.

    So, screw American Honda and score local dealership. I'll be writing Honda a nasty letter of what they consider "reliability" and "customer service" and I strongly encourage anyone with similar problems to visit the NHTSA ODI site and file a report of your failure.

    Keep those receipts because I smell a class action brewing. Oh, we were two steps away from buying one of the Japanese competitors that offers a 10yr/100K mile warranty...
  • albert72albert72 Posts: 146
    Am thinking of buying a certified 07 or 08 Pilot. While this protects me financially (at least in theory) from transmission issues, what I really want to know is if Honda has changed the transmissions in the 07 & 08 Pilots so they do not have the same problems as the older units.

    From reading this board, most of the problems reported are from 03-06 and not much reported for 07-08 models. Not sure if this is because the older units have higher mileage or because the transmissions have been fixed on later models.

    Any comments and feedback are appreciated.
  • 07's are different, although probably related fundamentally. But, as the displacement and power has grown, so does towing rating and you would assume that the transmission would be beefier.

    Problem is you probably won't find many, if any, 07's with 100K miles, the average failure point of 03/04's with this problem.

    If you really want an MDX, I would recommend a Cert Pre-Owned. They come with extended factory warranty. You might be able to negotiate an extended powertain warranty if you voice concern about the trans and the salesman sees its the only thing blocking a sale.
  • albert72albert72 Posts: 146
    Thanks for your response. You make some good points. The certified Hondas have the 7 yr/100k warranty on the drivetrain. I would only keep the Pilot up to 100k and then sell or trade it. My concern is the hassle of the car braking down and the time to get it fixed. Time for me is almost as valuable as money.

    I like the MDX, it is a nicer vehicle but am not in a position to spend that kind of money they are asking for them. Typically they could knock $5k off the price of used and still make a profit based on residuals, reconditioning and certification but with the new car business hurting, they are trying to make up their losses with used vehicles.
  • jensadjensad Posts: 388
    Dear Albert72

    I offer this which assisted me in buying an new 08 Acura RL. I looked at the sticker prices at my local dealer, then I went to Consumer Rports and paid about $ 20 for one of their new car buying rpts.

    Then I sent out emails to every dealer in the Bay Area CA. I asked them for their best price. I got a variety of prices within two days.

    I remembered an old friend that was also a BMW sales manager who told me that their dealership played with about 20 % mark up.

    So long story short, after haggling with the Acura sales person/his manager and threatening to walk out, my wife an I purchased a RL with tech package, sticker price $ 52000 for $ 42500 plus tax. And I realize that there are posters here who probably got a better price, however for two days of work sending out bids, and two hours "negociating", we saved SOME money.

    Also my wife bought a 06 Pilot and we negociated a discounted price of $ 30000 for a EXL which had a sticker price of $ 35000 plus taxes.

    When my bride of 45 years finally wants another new vehicle, and if she wanted an MDX, I would probaby sell private party her 06 Pilot and then purchase the MDX. And I will do the same procedure plan to purchase it at a discount.

    I posted this to help other buyers, and I didnot puff up prices ect, and no I don't work in the industry. Good luck to all and I wish all of you well.

  • kcoskcos Posts: 1
    I own a 2003 Honda Pilot EX. Somewhere over 120K miles, the transmisson began slipping. As soon as I took off from a stop, the engine would start to rev and it would not shift into second gear. This only happened a few isolated times at first, and no lights came on, so I didn't think much of it. Over time, it happened more often, then finally my engine light came on. I took it to my certified Honda mechanic and was told they were getting transmission codes. I was told it was rare to be able to repair a transmission, they usually had to be replaced, to the tune of $4k!!!!! We've owned Honda's for over 20 years because they were supposed to be reliable cars. We've always maintained our Honda's meticulously, with certified Honda mechanics, so I was shocked to need a 4 thousand dollar repair at 125K miles.

    We don't know yet if we are going to get any help from Honda, but I can say we as a family wil be extremely disappointed if the don't take care of the problelm, and they will lose us as loyal customers. Obviously from what I've read there have been other consistent Honda Pilot transmission problems. They also have a track record with Honda Odyssey transmissions failing from 1999 - 2001 years, and Honda ended up extending the warranty's to cover their transmissions. We'll see what happens.
  • I wouldn't spend $4k to fix a car with 120k miles -- just trade it in for a new / certified used vehicle. I just traded my 2002 Audi A6 with 120k miles for a new '10 Pilot 4WD Navi -- the dealer gave me a very good price ($5k), considering the car needed about $4,800 of repairs for emissions / torque converter issues.
  • Just got back from my dealer. P0730 Incorrect Gear Ratio. $4500 to replace. Called American Honda, was told that because my car was nearly 100,000 miles over the 3yr/36,000 mile warranty that there wasn't anything they could do for me. Car has 126,600 miles on it and other than the transmission the thing is good to go. Dealer offered me $2500 trade-in for it. I'm gonna take it to AAMCO and see what they say. I'd like to get it under 2k, doesn't seem unreasonable to me, but we'll see.
    Private -party sale with disclosures may be the way out for me.
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