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Honda Pilot Transmission Problems



  • Be careful with AAMCO. I would have been better off having the dealer replace my tranny when it went up at 138 k miles. It ended up costing me closer to 5 thousand, and within a short time I had to repace the torque converter TWICE. Ended up having to fork over another 1200.00 for that. If you do choose AAMCO, I recommende checking with the BBB about the particular one you select. They're not all the same in quality, which I found out the hard way.

    Good luck.
  • albert72albert72 Posts: 173
    edited February 2010
    My quest for a car continues. Looking at the Car Fax reports on some of the used Pilots at Honda dealers, some seem to have had their differential fluid changed at 10k or 20k. I have not read the owners manual (not sure it would even be listed in there) but it seems that differential fluid should have a life similar to tranny fluid and not need to be replaced at such a low mileage.

    When I see the differential fluid changed at these intervals, it gives me pause for concern. Am wondering if this is a tell tale sign of future problems and even more concerned that the differential fluid changes may not be showing up in the car fax reports of all the vehicles.

    Still thinking of biting the bullet and getting a new '10 Pilot but the leases stink right now. One dealer said they will get better when the new programs come out March 3 but who knows.

    If anyone can comment on my concerns regarding differential fluid I would appreciate it.
  • You actually SHOULD be looking for a Pilot with a differential (VTM-4) change within 15,000 miles. That's what the recommendation is for severe service, in my case, ours is operated under Normal conditions but I have always changed it within 15,'s cheap insurance...too bad there wasn't a way to have prevented the transmissions from going bad though.
  • albert72albert72 Posts: 173
    Thanks 12b

    Did not realize that it needed to be changed that frequently so now I look for that info on the CarFax report.

    Any guess as to how much a Honda dealer would charge to change the diff fluid?

    Is it every 15k? One posting said first change should be at 7500 because of the new differential, metal shavings etc and then every 30k thereafter.

    Do you know if the maintenance minder system would tell me when the change is needed?

    Appreciate your comments & knowledge sharing.
  • damon8damon8 Posts: 2
    edited February 2010
    So in addition to my incorrect gear ration I had a P0505 error. So I cleaned the rotary control valve. Before I dismantled the RCV I unplugged the battery. Once I got everything cleaned and back together, all my codes cleared. Even went to the smog station in CA and had the smog test done for registration. No codes, no errors, passed with flying colors. Didn't end up taking it to AAMCO, cause now there is no code and if there is no code, how do they know that there is a problem in the first place? Unless I drive it and try to force the tranny to slip, which is not something I am willing to do. Private party sale is looking like the best option now.
    200 miles + and still no codes or lights indicating failure.
  • On the normal schedule, the first change is at 15k, the second at 30k and then each subsequent is 30k apart.

    On the severe schedule, the first change is at 7500k, the next is at 15k, and then it is at every 15k after that. If you live in a snowy/icy climate where the VTM-4 is going to engage, it is probably advisable to lean towards the severe schedule. I have changed mine about every 20k.

    Here is a link to a 2004 Pilot Owners Manual, that may help as you look at the vehicle.

    Honda Dealers charge about $60 to $80 to perform it in Minneapolis. If you have someone else change it STRESS and get in writing that they will only use VTM-4 fluid from Honda and not ATF fluid in it. Bad news otherwise.

    I understand it is actually very easy to do yourself, but I have no desire, it's my wife's car and I'd rather spend the time with our kid. It comes in 1 gallon containers and the capacity is about 3 quarts.

    Good luck with your search. Other than the transmission, it is a fine automobile. We just put 97000 on ours and really the only other stuff I had done was shocks, struts, tie rod ends and a few other suspension parts at 90k and then of course tires at about 60k.
  • kcos, your story is a duplicate of mine, only my mileage is 107K. Did you receive any help from Honda? Obviously, the transmission is a dud with these vehicles. I was a big Honda fan until now. If Honda doesn't fess up, I'll never buy another one!
  • Unfortunately I too have had my transmission fail at just over 107 K on my 04 Honda Pilot. I wish I could say this has been my only problem. I have owned many vehicles over the years and have never had the problems that I have had with my Honda. Just before the extended warranty expired, the oil pan gasket failed, the rear main seal failed and the AC went out. Now I am being told that I need to pay $4400 for a new transmission. I contacted Honda after my dealership offered to take a whopping $600 off of the price. I am still waiting to hear back from Honda but can already tell you that this will be the LAST Honda I ever buy. I purchased a Honda based on their reputation as a reliable vehicle but have had just the opposite experience. Has anyone had much luck with contacting Honda? The woman I spoke with basically gave me a scripted speech and said not to look for Honda to pay much if anything at all.
  • gatdammitgatdammit Posts: 17
    American Honda was no help to me either. I asked her if she though 100K miles was considered the useful life of their drive train and she went right back to the script of "sir, this vehicle is out of warranty and American Honda is not inclined to assist..."; that's when I hung up.

    I got very lucky through a dealership that I hadn't spend a dime at. Push through the service department up to the regional manager. If you've taken care of it, especially at their service department, they usually cut you a deal.
  • We just got a new transmission and torque converter for our '03 Pilot with 79K miles. Thanks to reading this discussion...I mentioned to the dealer (quoting us $5200) that we would like to see what Honda can do for us. They said the goodwill credit usually only applies up to 7 years or 75K miles. They ended up working out a credit through their Honda representative and we paid $1800. Also, we had all our work and maintenance done through that dealership. We also called Honda ourselves but the service dept ended up helping us more.
    The new transmission is only warranteed for 36K miles which isn't something we wanted to pay $5200 for. At least now it may be worth something as a trade-in. If I would have known about this common problem, I would have traded it in last year as soon as I noticed the transmission slipping in 2nd gear (but before the engine light came on).
  • blackqtblackqt Posts: 1
    My check engine light came on yesterday. I am just so stressed out about this car. I have had problems with it since I bought it 3 years ago. I'm just tired and mad now.

    I will be going to my dealership today and hope that something happens that will allow me to get the car fixed, at least. Of course, I just don't have faith that I will be a repeat Honda owner. I used to only buy Toyotas but this new Honda had such rave reviews that I decided to try it. Now, I just don't see doing it again- unless the dealer works with me.

    I don't know why those people at American Honda even exist. They were absolutely NO HELP. Even though they knew this vehicle had transmission problems and they knew I had the repair patch done on the car - back in 2004 - before I owned it, it took me visiting sites to be aware of the depth of this problem. Maybe now that Toyota is facing such challenges, I can get a good deal.

    Hopefully, my dealer will step up and we will see....
  • casadedcasaded Posts: 1
    Replaced my transmission a few weeks ago because transmission would not engage Drive after stopping at stop signs. Did not fix problem, carried it back and service dept couldn't duplicate problem so I decided it was just a fluke, the new trans needed to be broken in, whatever. It has gotten progressively worse so I've carried it back and they still can't duplicate the problem. Please let me know what you find out.
  • Good that you can get just the torque converter replaced. I had heard from several other people that the dealers are requiring that the torque converter and transmission be replaced as a pair.

    Your Pilot was probably built in Canada or Alabama. Do you live in Hawaii?
  • aln2aln2 Posts: 1
    I bought a 2003 H P 2 years ago . It had had the recall oil jet installed but what a heck of a place to try to add fluid without contamination and frustration so I bought a $5 plastic oil pump that screws onto a 1 liter ATF container , changed the tubing to a smaller size and added the ATF through the dipstick tube . It was easy . Take care people .
  • At around 60K (a few years ago), my 04 Pilot was making rattling noises when idling. The dealer told us there was loose metal in the transmission and told me to let it go until it caused problems.

    Naively, I listened. Now, at 119K, the transmission is failing. I stopped going to that dealer for maintenance (for convenience reasons . . . they are about 15 miles further away and have worse hours). I'm hoping they will live up their word. I am hearing around $4.5K to fix with a rebuilt transmission. $2.4K for a used one (which, after reading this thread, I will go nowhere near).

    What I find really strange about this is that I checked my VIN on the Honda web site to see if they had addressed the transmission recall in my car. It says they had. So, either I got a really lousy fix pre-60K or they didn't fix it post-60K.
  • buddymbuddym Posts: 2
    I have come to believe that Honda is a 4 cylinder company at heart, and can't or won't build a transmission that can handle a V6's torque. Most Honda mechanics repeat the same line- "The 4 cylinder and transmission are bulletproof, don't touch the 6". A Honda mechanic friend of my dad's told him the current generation Ody transmission has an entirely different problem. Our Odyssey had a transmission fail just outside the warranty period (I had complained in warranty but was told it;s behavior was normal and since no light came on it was OK) and got a $2000 charge for a replacement. This "goodwill" was after multiple letters to corporate from myself and my attorney father. The tranny is acting squirelly again after 4 months.My sister's transmission was replaced ($800 goodwill) at 50K and again at 80K. My dad's previously asymptomatic Accord V6 tranny died on the way to the dealers when he was trading it.

    I have the Pilot combo in my Saturn Vue. At 50K it is rumbling intermittently in driveline at 30mph, it has a grinding hum in right front axle. Of course we are completely on our own here, with Saturn gone. We bought it figuring we were safe with a Honda drivetrain...

    After 20 years with Honda, I'll walk before I drive another one. I will try American again- even a Chrysler before I buy Honda. Corporate is incredibly rude and unsympathetic. Even my father who stuck with Honda because of the great treatment from his local dealer, says never again.
  • dfwhondadfwhonda Posts: 45
    The problem in my '08 Pilot does not seem to be similar to what others have mentioned in this forum, but I wonder if it is a precursor to bad things to come.

    A few months ago during a cold weekend we could not get the car to shift below D into D3, D2, etc., and since that time the transmission will not shift past D. I have been meaning to take the car into the service department before the odometer reads 36k miles, but have not yet gotten around to it.

    Has anyone else experienced a similar problem? Any thoughts appreciated.
  • nlv1nlv1 Posts: 28
    We also have a 2008 Pilot and I've noticed that it is easier to shift from D to D3/D2 by pushing down on the lever (with the back of my hand facing up) then pulling it to D3/D2 (as opposed to the usual way of pulling up on the lever with the palm up and shifting to P or R from D for example). Hope this helps, as I don't know if you've been able to shift to D3/D2 before that cold weekend you mentioned or if that was the first time you tried.
  • kpsmith999kpsmith999 Posts: 46
    The Honda Pilot and Acura MDX are basically the same vehicle. This problem seems to affect both models. Starting around 30,000 miles, I began to notice a vibration/grinding noise while accelerating through 35 to 40 mph. The noise would last for 10 to 15 seconds and then stop. I took my MDX into my Acura dealer at 35,000 miles while it was under warranty and they said they could not reproduce the problem. The problem continued to worsen however I was now out of warranty. I did some research on the internet and found 14 reports of the exact same problem on the NHTSA ( Out of 30 total complaints, 14 were this specific transmission problem. I also found a 2004 MDX service bulletin (#6003; NHTSA # 10022468) that states "Torque converter shudder or vibration between 35 and 40 mph". I presented this info to the Acura dealer and they acknowledged the problem and agreed to pay for 75% of the torque converter replacement (the care is 6 years old and has 45,000 miles). Why hasn't someone started a class action law suit regarding this problem given the significant amount of data pointing to a general problem?
  • 04txpilot04txpilot Posts: 1
    Got a Check engine light on my 04 Pilot with 101K. Bought it a year ago with 89K from a dealer used. Took into an alternative shop and they gave the bad news, needs a New Transmission and 2 motor mounts. Let me know it was under a recall and had the jet pack installed back in 04. Advised me to take it to the dealer and see if they would consider a goodwill repair job. I took it in and they confirmed it needed a new tranny. Quoted me 5,800 to replace and fix mounts. I asked about the recall and complained that I expected more out of a Honda car. I told her my expectations of Honda quality is seriously in question. I asked about the original jet pack installation and asked if they kept documentation of the transmission condition when the pack was installed (pictures, paper documentation, etc...). She said they did not but they did replace some transmissions due to the recall. I told her we have no idea what kind of damage was caused to the transmission before the recall and that i had proof of honda provided maintenance from the prior owner and that I felt Honda was partly responsible for this transmission going out early. Likened the recall to putting a band aid on a transmission that was poorly designed and letting them go out prematurely and putting the repair costs on their customers. I asked her to seek a goodwill repair from Honda and she said she would be happy to submit my claim. Got a call back the next day and Honda offered to pay 40% of the cost, would do the total repair for 3,500. Hope this helps anyone else that is seeking a goodwill repair!
  • kpsmith999kpsmith999 Posts: 46
    Just picked up my 2005 MDX from dealer after replacing the torque converter. It appears that the vibration/grinding between 35-40 mph has now been eliminated. For background, I reported this problem in March 2009, a couple of months prior to the expiration of my warranty. The service tech stated that he/she could not reproduce the noise I was hearing. Over a year later, the noise was now continuous. I took the vehicle in and this time the service tech could hear the noise. I was told that the vehicle was out of warranty (45,000 miles, but over 60 months) and that it would cost $2,000 to $3,000 to fix the problem. I opened up a case file with Honda America. After several calls, I was offered a repair for $500. I continued to complain and mentioned that I had uncovered over 100 complaints for the exact same issue. The Honda rep. still would not budge on the $500 cost to me. Finally, I mentioned that I might pursue a "class action suit". He said he would speak to the district supervisor. Miraculously, he came back and said that Honda America could cover 100% of the repair. I would suggest that anyone battling this issue out with Honda America mention "class action suit". There attitude seems to change quite significantly! Good luck!
  • kpsmith999kpsmith999 Posts: 46
    At last check, there were 15 complaints filed with the NHTSA (National Highway & Transportation Safety Administration) regarding the torque converter issue (vibration/shudder/grinding between 20-50 mph while accelerating). I would encourage everyone who is following this link to take a few minutes and file a complaint. The web site is as follows:

    Also, the NHTSA has issued a "service bulletin" for this exact same problem for all Acura's for model years 2003-2004. To view the service bulletin, go to the following web site:

    Enter NHTSA item# 10022468 in the "quick search" box. Once you get the record, click "get summary" and you will see the exact explanation as follows:

    "Torque converter shudder or vibration between 35-40 mph"

    This is exactly the same problem that is so prevalent with the 2005 and on Acura MDX and Honda Pilots. Do not understand why a service bulletin has not been issued for more recent model years???????
  • gatdammitgatdammit Posts: 17
    A couple months ago I wrote Consumer Reports asking them to research a couple threads and sites, including this one and ODI's. I'm a subscriber and trust CR's reviews, however, they still list the pilot and all other related V6's as "recommended" vehicles.
  • kpsmith999kpsmith999 Posts: 46
    edited July 2010
    To "gatdammit".....Is Consumer Reports applying the "recommended" designation to specific years or all years of Honda Pilots/Acura MDXs? I'm not sure if the more current model years (2008-2010) are impacted by this problem?? But certainly the CR repair charts for model years 2003 through 2007 should indicate a "poor" status for transmission reliability.

    For those who are interested, you can obtain the actual Acura/Honda Service Bulletin that addresses the Torque Convert issue and the repair instructions given to the Acura/Honda dealers if you Google:

    Acura Service Bulletin 06-003 pdf

    There is also a statement in the document that addresses "out of warranty vehicles" the the procedure for obtaining a "goodwill consideration" repair. It would appear that Honda/Acura was expecting a significant number of vehicles (both in warranty and out of warranty).

    I have a 2005 Acrua MDX that was one year "out of warranty" and through persistence and documentation from web sites such as this one and also the 15 complaints filed with the NHSTA, I was able to get Honda/Acura to move from not covering my $2,000 repair to covering 100% of my repair.
  • gatdammitgatdammit Posts: 17
    I just checked CR's site. It's still a recommended vehicle and all transmission categories are listed as "above average". Actually, the entire span from '03-09 is rated well above of the reasons I was confident buying it in the first place.

    CR seemed eager to investigate with reply e-mails almost immediately but I haven't seen any updates in their magazine or site.

    It also seems that MDX owners have had more luck than Pilot owners in the area of goodwill repairs, as it should be.
  • kpsmith999kpsmith999 Posts: 46
    I'll submit a negative report to CR to see what kind of response I get. There is no way that CR should be reporting a "above average" reliability rating for either the Honda Pilot or the Acura MDX. Regarding the "goodwill" repairs, I believe that this is a large enough problem that both Honda and Acura should have issued a repair recall for both in warranty and out of warranty vehicles. Both the NHTSA complaints and the various forums that follow this issue are all heavily weighted in the "transmission" problem category. Thanks.
  • donixdonix Posts: 16
    I have a 2007 honda pilot and stall at 29,000 miles transmission problem!!!! under warranty...and returned it after the lease end.. Also have a 2009 pilot with 27,000 miles its almost to 29,000 miles!!!! :confuse:
  • kel6kel6 Posts: 1
    what # did you call? Do you know if you had to have warrantee.
  • Just picked up my 2003 pilot from the dealer. It went in with complaint of grinding at 35 mph - I told the dealer it was the trannie. They called me and said it was 2 bad motor mounts and that the transmission sounded good. I paid almost $700 and the problem is still there - there is a trend here - what has helped others? Do you think I should trade it in and let them deal with it?
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