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Honda Pilot Driver's Seat Catches Fire

solosolo Posts: 48
edited February 2014 in Honda
This morning (very cold in
chicago) I warmed up my 04 Pilot for about 10 minutes. I returned to black smoke inside the car and a small flame about 2 inches high coming out of the leather on the drivers seat bottom!
Turned off the heated seat, blew out the fire (luckily) and scooped out melted foam with my fingers. The car reeks! Now have a 2 inch diameter hole in the leather. Has this happened to anyone else? The car is 30 months old but has 50,000 miles. Whats anybody's guess that Honda will help me out on this.


  • I came here looking for an explanation for the same problem you describe on my '04 Pilot. Fortunately, I realized the drivers seat has an unbearable hot spot before it caught fire. The heated seats were my favorite feature, but have become unusable. My vehicle just turned over 40K, but the problem started at about 37K. One spot gets so hot I am sure it would burn my skin if I left it on. Your misfortune is my lesson. May be time to contact dealer for a solution.
  • solosolo Posts: 48
    To vapilot,
    Your reply is the first in over a month since I reported it, so maybe this is not a widespread problem. However, before my seat caught on fire I also had that same kind of 'stinging' feeling in my right leg. I thought maybe I was just sensitive to the heat and disregarded it and turned the seat off. So my advice is to not leave the seat heat on if unattended. Since i was out of town, I took the car to a different dealer than where I purchased the car and they would not have any thing to do with it. (Naperville Honda in Rockford Illinois) Have not been able to get to my dealer yet. So have been driving with a 2in. hole in the right center of the leather. Of course I have not turned on the drivers side heat again. The passenger side seems to work ok. Hope this helps and hope to hear from others. KEEP THE SEAT OFF. SOLO
  • suv4betsysuv4betsy Posts: 38
    I had a similar incident with my old 96 VW Passat, drivers seat seemed to get really hot one day driving with it on, turned it off and after that point it never worked again. I was told by dealer later models had a replacable heating element, mine must have been sewn in, too expensive to replace, I did without. VW Passat - lemon on wheels, sold it after many repairs at 70K.
  • Was the seat any more comfortable afterwards?
  • solosolo Posts: 48
    Good point!
  • I also have an '04 Pilot and for at least a year I have been unable to use the heater on the driver's seat. It gets so incredibly hot, I feel like it will burn through my pants. After reading this I'll definitely make sure to not use it at all!
  • I just had the same problem with my '05 Accord with 43,000 miles. I made a report to NHTSA and sent an e-mail to the dealer. They have since contacted me and will be inspecting the vehicle for corporate on Monday. I will let you know how it goes.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Are you guys having this problem with the setting on LO or HI? If I'm not mistaken, LO runs the heater at lower power, but continuously. HI runs off and on, but at a hotter temp when it is on. Maybe it's not cycling off and on in the HI position?

    I'm not an expert, and I don't even have heated seats in my Honda. Just a passerby hoping to ask the right questions to help you find the right answers! :)

    Have a great day!
  • solosolo Posts: 48
    Hope my post back in February saved some burnt vehicles. I must report that the dealership I bought the Pilot from (Fletcher-Jones) in downtown Chicago took care of everything! Even with a warranty long expired. They have been very good to do business with and I highly recommend them. The service manager is honest, which is a rarity.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Please fill out a review over in Dealer Ratings and Reviews too. Thanks!
  • Our 2004 Honda Pilot has this problem. We bought it from Joyce Honda in Denville, NJ and they first told us it had no problem, then a 'quality control' expert in a suit went for a ride with us- he turned it off before we had traveled 500'.

    We bought the 100K, bumper to bumper warranty from Joyce Honda. The list of exclusions does not include heated seats.

    So far, here is where we are:

    1: "There is no problem, you are imagining it"
    2: "There is a problem but it is normal wear and tear"
    3: "Bumper to bumper coverage will not cover it because it works. It heats."
    4: "Honda USA will not cover it because they do not want to admit liability"

    The seat heater is unusable, it causes pain. And obviously, it also causes fires.

    I am glad to see Honda in Chicago took care of an owner and am not done trying to get Honda to make good on my Pilot. So far, we are working with Joyce Honda with no good news.
  • Today, Joyce Honda called and said they would resolve the problem if I leave the car with them for a few more days. We own an 05 Odyssey, 06 Odyssey and have an s2000 in the family, so we are very happy to see both the dealer and US Honda step up.
  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    No fire here but when my wife's '05 was in the shop in December to have the defective driver's seat cover replaced, the technician discovered that the seat heater had "melted." It was too was replaced under warranty.

    Scary thought there.
  • I never thought about the seats catching on fire but my 05 seats used to get pretty hot. On the subject of the seats. My dealer also replaced the driver's side seat because of "crappy" leather. That's why we went with cloth on our 08. :shades:
  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    Toyata Highlander has MULTI-STAGE HEATED front seats.
    Can turn the heat down If it is too hot.
    Just a laugh, will Honda promote the excessive heat helps blood circulation in the butt area and thus heals hemorrhoids?
    Maybe Honda can name them "ALASKAN" version on Pilots equippd with heated seats.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    The Pilot has a Low and High setting, it's not just "on."
  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    If it did have a low setting, then I don't understand why people complained it too hot (why not set it from high to low), and some even said they can't use it (is the low still too hot to use?).
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    It should be pretty obvious that the seats getting THIS hot have problems with the heating elements in them. Did you read the previous posts?
  • zoneiiizoneiii Posts: 1
    I realize that this is an old thread but I'll respond anyway. Are you sure you mean Honda of Naperville in Rockford, Illinois? There's a Honda of Naperville in Naperville but I don't know of one in Rockford. The reason I ask is that I have dealt with the Naperville dealership and they have exceeded my expectations. In general, automakers will take care of defect that involve safety and your problem certainly does involve safety. (I'm glad I read it because I will be watchful for the same problem with my '04 Pilot and, in fact, the seat can get uncomfortably hot.) After I bought my car, I accidentally punched a small hole in my leather driver's seat when I left a screwdriver in my back pocket. I went to the dealer I bought the car from (Honda of Naperville in Naperville) to get a price on a new seat. To my amazement and delight, Honda offered to replace the seat no-charge! Not only that, but they told me to come in the next day and the new seat was installed within an hour! That is the type of service that assures that I will buy my next car from them.

    I hope you resolved your problem to your satisfaction.
  • ejyyejyy Posts: 2
    I have a 2005 Honda Pilot, 60K. While driving to work one morning with the seat heater on high, the top of my back felt like it was burning through my coat and the car filled with the smell of burned plastic. The seat was so hot I could barely touch it. After taking it to the dealership, they said that the element was bad and it cost $671.00 to fix. They couldn't explain why a fuse or something didn't go before it got that hot. I still can't believe that there has not been a recall on this. Very dangerous.
  • solosolo Posts: 48
    Wow, its been 3 years since i posted my pilot drivers side seat caught fire! You had the same symptoms as me.. My 04 had about 60,000 miles at the time. My dealer in Chicago, Fl etcher- Jones fixed the heater and ALSO the burnt leather seat was replaced at no charge.
  • ejyyejyy Posts: 2
    I just filed my claim and reported this safety defect with NHTSA and the American Honda Motor Corp. I have never owned anything other than a honda and buy them based on safety, reliability, etc. It truly is sad that this has not been recalled - I guess there has not been anyone severely hurt/died from this for it to be "dangerous enough" to warrant a recall. AHM said they will get back to me on monday with the regional claims person to discuss further.
  • My 2004 Pilot had the driver's seat wiring break and short out when the car was very new. It burned a three inch hole in the seat and padding. I heard a dealer part-counter worker say the 2005 had warranty coverage extended on this issue, but I have been unable to verify this.
  • broellbroell Posts: 1
    My 2004 Pilot Smoked up this morning on low. I guess I will call Honda and see . I noticed it heating up (real Hot seat) seems like on half the thing dosent work and other half over heats, before but mis judged warenty by 10K and missed out. I need to call my Insurance agent and see what he says about smoke in my car ! I parked it away from the house just in case

    I'll keep you all posted :)

  • lrotalrota Posts: 18
    I am having the same problem as other have noted here. 2004 Pilot with 39K miles. Drivers seat heater becomes dangerously hot on right side of seat cushion. We have stopped using the seat heater due to concern. I see that the NHTSA complaint databse has several complaints on this issue for 2004 and 2005 Pilots. I called Honda Customer Service. I got a call back from an upper level representative who was very rude, refused to acknowledge any problems with the seat heaters and refused to remedy the situation. They will not extend the warranty for this issue even after I told them that it was safety issue and there are other identical complaints for this problem. I plan to escalate with certified letter to Honda Customer Service and to NHTSA. Class action lawsuit time?
  • rf530rf530 Posts: 4
    2004 pilot, 62,000 miles original owner. Recently my wife started complaining that the right side of driver seat cushion is burning hot. We don't use it anymore and I will be following up with Honda on this.

    Please provide any updates with dealer/Honda USA and I will do the same.

  • lrotalrota Posts: 18
    3/13 Update - Since corporate district customer service rep refused to provide any warranty or goodwill on this obvious early safety defect, I then took it to local dealer. They quickly acknowledged that there was a problem as they felt the hot spot. They told me they would contact factory and get back to me. Next day they called and said factory wanted them to take apart the seat and identify exactly what was going wrong. They would not charge for diagnosis. They found damage to heater element and to foam in seat ( melted). Dealer told me they would find out from factory if they would cover anything. That afternoon, factory told them they would cover 90% of parts and labor to replace all damaged items. As the total bill for parts and labor came out to about $950(!!!), I accepted their offer as the Pilot is a 2004 and out of warranty. I thought it was fair to pay the $95. Kudos to the local dealer for getting factory to pay up for an obvious safety problem even if our of warranty. I just read today that Mazda has issued recall for RX-8 or for fires in their heated seats and are suing Magna who supplies the heaters for their seats.
  • lrotalrota Posts: 18
    Our hot spot is at same exact location you and others describe ( right hand side of drivers seat bottom cushion). Do not use your heater until it is repaired..there have been fires. Also, you can go to the government website and print ourt reports from about 4 other 2004 and 1 2005 Pilot owners who have had fires or smoke. All complaints tend to be on 2004 Pilots with 30000 to 50000 miles.
  • lrotalrota Posts: 18
    Update 3/18 - Instead of working with corporate customer service, who refused to acknowledge any problems or offer to investigate, I took it to local dealer. They confirmed that seat heater was getting dangerously warm. They contacted factory and got factory to pay for 90% of parts and labor which I thought was far considering it was technically our of warranty ( but low miles , 39K). So kudos to the local dealer!
  • gmac10gmac10 Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 pilot, I noticed last winter that the driver seat was getting too hot. I have set up an appointment with my local dealer (HVAC lights ALL went out). They said they would take a look. Will update post after the inspection.
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