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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
122,857 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Honda Pilot drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Honda Pilot Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #67

May 112011


  • 170,000 miles


Car ran away in reverse as if it had a mind of its own. Full weight on the brakes but the car kept accelerating. Crashed into utility pole encircled with old car tires. Car bounced off and then crashed into the pole over and over again. Hit gear shift into forward. Engine screaming really high revs, car raced forward and I did everything I could to avoid hitting parked vehicles and a pond as car kept going faster. With nowhere to head but golf course or highway, I steered onto a farm field and drove a half mile until I was able to pull out the keys from the starter which stopped car. I did not think I was injured at time but I ended up with whiplash which meant I lost about six months income. Honda refused compensation, or paid for any of the repairs of the car with exception of the key interface for starter. Honda claimed that nothings wrong with car. Said had my foot on accelerator. However, Honda dealership charged me more than $3,000 to fix a completely destroyed braking system how could I have had my foot on the accelerator and destroyed the brakes? Honda refused to buy my car and decommission it because they said car was perfect. Downright rude afterward. I did not let anyone else drive the car and used it as infrequently as I could. Seven months later, I was in an underground parking garage and same thing happened. The car accelerated into thesolid concrete wall just four feet ahead. The impact destroyed car. Front end crumpled in, the engine damaged and all airbags deployed. This from a four foot collision.

- London Ontario Canada, IL, USA

problem #66

Sep 012014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • miles
My Honda Pilot shutters at 25-50 mph I had it check with my local dealer Honda and it seems like its coming from transmission issue's.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #65

Sep 012014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Anywhere between 35-50 mph I get a shudder that sounds like driving over a rumble strip on the freeway. The problem started out to where it sounded like a gush of air was flowing underneath the car for about 15 seconds, then progressed to a rumble strip noise. At that point, I had it looked at. Mechanic says failed torque converter and will have to replace transmission. I have 132,000 miles on the car. Haven't contacted Honda as I'm the second owner and have read in many different places on the internet that Honda won't acknowledge the problem. Mechanic warned that the transmission will go at any time now and the car isn't safe to drive. I've decided if the transmission is going to fail at 132,000 miles, I'm not taking the chance of putting more money into it, only to fail again (several complaints about people ending up with several transmissions installed by Honda with subsequent failures). I've owned three Honda. The lack of response from Honda on this issue across the board means they lost me as a customer.

- Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #64

Jul 202014


  • 142,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving approximately 60 mph, the contact downshifted and the vehicle automatically shifted back into gear. The failure occurred twice. The dealer stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 142,000.

- Layton, UT, USA

problem #63

Jul 042014


  • 154,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that the vehicle decelerated from 65 mph to 30 mph without warning. An independent mechanic located a failure code at the transmission speed sensor. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 154,000.

- Lanham , MD, USA

problem #62

Apr 012014


  • 160,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that while driving various speeds, the transmission suddenly slipped between gears. The contact mentioned that the failure was experienced multiple times. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and stated that the vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 04V176000 (power train). The approximate failure and current mileage was 160,000.

- Waynesborro, VA, USA

problem #61

Oct 052013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles


My Honda Pilot starts slipping when it changes from 3rd gear to 4 gear. Now it starts shaking/jugging. With speed 60mph or 65 mph, it is very dangerous if it starts jugging because you never know how the car behind you reacts and your car will do.

- Coconut Creek, FL, USA

problem #60

Jul 032013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Transmission slips when going around 30 miles. I have changed the transmission fluid multiple times. It seems like this year Honda Pilot has a lot of transmission issues like this.

- Hilo, HI, USA

problem #59

Jun 032012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 104,955 miles
Transmission slipping, not shifting as it should.

- Beaverton, OR, USA

problem #58

Sep 162013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 37,000 miles
Loud scraping noise comes from car during cruising at around 35-40mph around 2000rpm. Car seems to stutter at these speeds causing abrupt vibrations. Other drivers have reported the same occurrence, many report it is from a bad torque converter.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #57

Jun 012013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


Car starts shimmering at 35 - 45 mph. Had mechanic check car and said no mechanical issue. Had new tires put on car. Still shimmering. Have similar characteristics as others on the Honda web site that mentioned that the diagnosis is a bad torque converter. Strong shimmer at 35 - 45 mph intermittent problem.

- Brookfield, CT, USA

problem #56

Nov 132011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
1. fall of 2011, when attempting to pick up speed car would began to sputter and shake. For safety, I wouldn't drive faster than approx. 35 mph. Arriving at my destination, I put the car in park, took my foot off the brake. The engine revved and surged forward several times. Fuel injection cleaner remedied this. 2. 2012, when initially accelerating, gears would roughly change with a thumping sound. While driving and picking up speed, car would rev loudly. Brakes were applied to keep it from lunging forward. (very scary), but maintained control. Checked transmission fluid level, added 1/4 qt of transmission fluid. Problem persisted. Engine warning light came on. Drove it to the Honda service department. Mechanic checked and test drove car. Advised about light flashing when in drive-(this had not occurred).they couldn't find the problem. Engine warning light reset. Returned to service department one week later when engine warning light came on again. Mechanic test drove and again couldn't find a problem. Warning light reset. Approx. 3 weeks later, warning light returned. Continued to drive cautiously. On Aug 20, 2013 (driving approx 20 mph) three houses from my home, my car changed gears with a loud clunk (sounded like something broke). I turned into the driveway and haven't moved or driven it since. My Honda Pilot has approx. 65,000 miles on the odometer. I believe Honda Motors and dealerships are aware of this recurring defect with the Honda Pilot models and is deliberately ignoring the consumers of their product. I've received several notices from Honda dealers stating my 2003 Pilot is in high demand. I am angry that I'm stuck with this wreck, but glad this junk was not passed on to someone else. In the meantime I'm without transportation and maybe forced to purchase another vehicle. Very depressed.

- Ypsilanti, MI, USA

problem #55

Jul 222013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 78,785 miles
2003 Honda Pilot transmission started slipping in low gear after engine warmed up. Whenever vehicle is going from a stop to movement, such as red lights, stop signs and traffic, vehicle doe not click into gear right away. Took vehicle to Honda dealer who stated transmission needs to be replaced at a cost of $4100 + 12 hrs labor for installation. Vehicle only has @78,00 miles on it. Luckily my transmission has not seized as many others have on the highway causing grave safety concern.

- Stewartsville, NJ, USA

problem #54

Jul 222013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 157,349 miles
We purchased our 2003 Honda Pilot ex-L new at danbury Honda on February 20, 2003. We have had ongoing issues with the "D" or drive light flashing intermittently since the car was new and had it checked at the dealer each time, with a report back that there was nothing wrong and it would go away. The dealer has done almost all of the preventative maintenance to our vehicle and we also do proactive care to our vehicle. Most recently we spent a good amount of money on repairs to the transmission through Honda dealerships in delray beach, Florida (disaster there) and danbury, ct. We are now being told we need a new transmission, only months after putting a lot of money into the car. Had we known we would be spending this kind of money (about $5K), we would have traded the car in. However, we are now caught in a financial burden with having to put a new transmission in the 2003 Pilot, which we think should be part of a recall based upon all the on-line research we've done. Can anyone please assist?

- New Fairfield, CT, USA

problem #53

Apr 122013


  • 109,000 miles
We bought a 2003 Honda Pilot in 2006. 3 months ago we found out it had been recalled in 2004 for the powertrain. That apparently was fixed at that time. In April, we had an issue with the rpms showing 3000 while we were driving only 35 mph. We took it to the dealer who informed us that the powertrain needed to be replaced. This cost us over $6,000 to replace including over $700 to lease a car. American Honda said that the warranty had run out and that it was a high mileage vehicle and they would not cover the cost of the repair. Our question is why would the powertrain have to be replaced a second time within a 9 year period. The 109,000 miles on the vehicle is within if not lower than the national average. Granted, a 10 year old vehicle will probably not still be under warranty. However, if the powertrain was fixed under the recall in 2004, should it need to be replaced again?

- Marion, IA, USA

problem #52

Sep 012010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 93,500 miles
The motor mounts on my wife's 2003 Honda Pilot were replaced in 2010 and I was informed today by the dealership that they need to be replaced again. This vehicle had approx 93500 miles on it when it was replaced the first time and now three years later has 140,939. I have been told by Honda customer service that the mounts are warranted for 12 months. The vehicle is used by my wife to drive 20 miles roundtrip to work and on our trips. The vehicle is not used for towing and is not equipped with a tow receiver. Additionally, the ignition switch was improperly designed with a split wafer mechanism which according to the dealership and two local locksmiths wears out prematurely and causes jamming of the ignition cylinder as well as wedging of the keys in the ignition cylinder. Lastly, when a transmission recall was done on the car in 2005, it was done improperly. The recall specified a oil jet be installed on the transmission to lubricate the 2nd gear. The problem is that the hose used to connect the transmission fluid supply line to the transmission used a straight transmission hose which had to be bent 90 degrees in a distance of approx 2 inches to be installed. This causes the hose to be kinked and restrict the flow of fluid. Honda won't correct the problem or acknowledge the repair should have incorporated a formed elbow hose instead of a straight hose to ensure proper flow. Now Honda is telling me they don't have a representative in New Mexico that I can speak to about the above issues. My case number w/Honda is [xxx]. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #51

Jun 152004

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
Trans. Shuddered at 30-40 mph. Recall #04-021 done 8/23/04 (oil jet kit installed). Didn't solve problem, which has gotten worse until now (06/13) and happens at all speeds. Very common problem with Honda of that year (2003). Car now has 125K miles, Honda refuses to fix as recall, wants to replace trans. At my expense.

- Pacifica, CA, USA

problem #50

Mar 292013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the transmission failed without warning. On a separate occasion, the passenger side relay speaker caught on fire. The fire was contained by the contact. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis where it was advised that the wiring needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Pheonix, AZ, USA

problem #49

Apr 242013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 113,805 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that the check engine warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The contact stated that the vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 04V176000 (power train) but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure and current mileage was 113,805.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #48

Mar 302013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 158,237 miles
While driving at 40-45 mph with shift lever in "D" the vehicle began to shift down a gear very hard and then back into the previous gear. It does this repeatedly. Was told by a Honda dealer repair shop that the transmission needs to be replaced. The car has been well maintained. The transmission on a vehicle like this with 160K miles should not be failing.

- Riverbank, CA, USA

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