Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
123,159 miles
Total Complaints:
62 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. had to be replaced (31 reports)
  2. rebuild of torque converter and transmission (11 reports)
  3. not sure (9 reports)
  4. replace transmission (8 reports)
  5. install factory rebuilt transmission (2 reports)
  6. replace 3rd & 4th gear solenoids on tranny (1 reports)
2003 Honda Pilot transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Pilot Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Nov 092011

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles


I had my Honda Pilot Serviced regularly. In fact, it had a service on 8th November 2011. Then on 9th November 2011, without any warning whatsoever, no warning lights, nothing...I was driving onto the on ramp of interstate 1 95 on a dark, foggy, rainy night. My 11 year old son was in the car with me. We were driving home from swim practice. The car made this awful rumbling noise and would not go faster than 20 mph. This was the journey from hell. I had my hazard warning lights on all the time, trying to merge into high speed interstate traffic while only being able to reach 20 mph is not good for my heart rate !! it took me well over an hour to drive 15 miles home. The car " limped" up my driveway. I tell you, if there had been a cliff handy... I would have pushed the stupid car over the cliff. I wish I'd never bought a Honda Pilot. I hate this car.

- , Exeter, NH, USA

problem #21

Nov 302009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I purchased a Honda Thinking it was a trustworthy car. Honda knows that the transmission is bad in the Honda Pilot but fail to do anything about it. I called Honda and they told me it wasn’t covered. The 1st time I broke down in Nov. 2009 about 90,000 miles, I was in Phila, Pa for my mother’s 75th Birthday party. I am a widow & travel with children with me in the car. The car jerked badly before we got on the highway it terrified us. I had to stay in Phila, for a week waiting to get my car fixed. I had to use my credit card & borrow money to pay for the repairs. Is Honda just like everyone else money, money, money with no concern for life. They need to reimburse everyone who had to pay to get their transmission fixed. Now here I am again Aug 2011 stuck in Richmond VA transmission out again. Shame on Honda how many people will be injured or die before Honda will do the responsible thing. I am still paying on the credit card from 2009 and still paying for the car. I thank God for keeping us safe. Praying Honda will pay.... I have never had a transmission problem with any other cars I have owned.

- , Phila, PA, USA

problem #20

Mar 012009

Pilot LX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Our Pilot has been family owned since new and was dealer maint. up to 80K miles. My wife and I bought it from her parents with 80K miles. It's hardly even needed any maint. done. I did the timing belt/waterpump/plugs @ 107K miles, the first brake job was done at 125K miles. We drive mostly highway.

Here's the catch:

The first transmission went out at 130K miles. Honda quoted us $3,700 to replace it with a factory reman. with a 3-year/36K miles warranty. We had them replace it because we didn't want to ever have to worry about it again. Honda ended up covering some of the cost so the bill was about $2,700. We though, "Things could be worse. It's been a good vehicle. Anything can break once. We like it, we'll keep it.".......... to be continued.....

- , Belle Plaine, MN, USA

problem #19

Jun 012011

Pilot LX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 172,000 miles


Here is a copy of my previous post: "Our Pilot has been family owned since new and was dealer maint. up to 80K miles. My wife and I bought it from her parents with 80K miles. It's hardly even needed any maint. done. I did the timing belt/waterpump/plugs @ 107K miles, the first brake job was done at 125K miles. We drive mostly highway.

Here's the catch: The first transmission went out at 130K miles. Honda quoted us $3,700 to replace it with a factory reman. with a 3-year/36K miles warranty. We had them replace it because we didn't want to ever have to worry about it again. Honda ended up covering some of the cost so the bill was about $2,700. We though, "Things could be worse. It's been a good vehicle. Anything can break once. We like it, we'll keep it."

Here is my current post: Now 2 years later @ 172K miles and the transmission needs to be replaced again. They won't cover anything because we have put 42K miles on it (we are out of warranty). They quoted us $4,700 this time. Now we think, "We don't like it, we wont keep it. Buying another Honda would be asking for trouble. They are extremely expensive to maintain."

Can YOU afford one? We can't.

- , Belle Plaine, MN, USA

problem #18

Jun 232011

Pilot EX-L RES V6, 3.5L; Sohc 24v

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I haven't had the transmission problem looked at, nor have I found out if any of it could be covered by Honda. Just upset that I am having transmission problems at 112K. That's way too early.

- , Centreville, VA, USA

problem #17

Jun 032011

Pilot LX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,721 miles

Transmission failed at 95,000. Nine months after the extended warranty expired. It was repaired by a transmission shop . This cost $3162 it then broke down two weeks later. I'm now returning to the transmission shop to get it repaired again. Fortunately it is under warranty at their shop, but is going to be a pain to be without a car in southern California.

- , La Crescenta, CA, USA

problem #16

Jan 212011

Pilot EXL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,626 miles


I took my Pilot in for the original recall on the bad transmission gear oiler right after the notice was sent out and received the update to the transmission. I remember being told not to worry about the repair being enough as Honda was extending the warranty on the transmission to 100,000 miles. I wish I had gotten that in writing. Had the flashing [D] about a year ago and was told it was no big deal. The transmission fluid has been replaced regularly by Honda. Within a few thousand miles of my last transmission fluid replacement and inspection my transmission failed. It felt as though 2nd or 3rd gear was gone. I limped it into the dealership and was given an estimate of $4400. I was given this whole "good cop , bad cop" routine where the guy helping me talked to his manager who then supposedly called "American Honda" to see about getting some percentage of the repair taken care of by them. I ended up paying 40% or $1680. Talking to other Pilot and Odyssey owners this sort of failure appears to be common. Honda did acknowledge that there was a problem back in 2003, but I am very disappointed that they didn't take care of obviously related repair in 2011. The very part that the recall referenced is what failed. This is my 6th Honda and because of their unwillingness to own up to this being their fault it will be my last. I hope the rebuilt transmission lasts longer than I have been warned by my regular mechanic. He says they can fail in as short as 18 months. I'm warning everyone I know about the unreliability of Honda transmissions and recommending they look elsewhere. I'm just waiting for the class action suit to start.

- , Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #15

Dec 022010

Pilot LS v6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

At 120,000 miles i noticed my honda pilot 2003 was slipping between 2nd and 3rd gears. I went on line and found out there was a recall. When I went to the dealer they said the recall had been addressed and that was not the problem. The engine light was on , on the dashboard. They replaced a solenoid switch and a transmission pressure switch for about $500. I drove the pilot that evening and the transmission continued to slip and the D light started blinking. The transmission became progressively worse with no help from the dealership. I contacted Honda customer service and I'm still waiting for a response. Not very happy with Honda right now. My chevy truck has 130,000 miles and still runs fine.

- , Johnstown, PA, USA

problem #14

Sep 262010

Pilot LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,894 miles

I am the owner of a 2003 Honda Pilot. Back in June, I took it to Community Honda in Whittier, California, and explained to them the problem I was having which I thought was transmission-related. On a moderate uphill climb, the vehicle slowed down to about 35 mph and I felt vibration and shaking. From a standing stop, the vehicle hesitated for a few seconds before shifting to the 2nd gear, and then again before shifting to the 3rd gear. When I got the vehicle back from them, they said that they tried to duplicate what I described but they didn't find anything wrong with the transmission and the vehicle. The problem came off and on until yesterday. I was again driving on a moderate freeway uphill climb when the vehicle shifted gears, slowed down to about 50 mph, vibrated before shifting again and picked up speed. I got fortunate that the vehicle behind me was able to slow down and did not hit my vehicle. It could have been a serious accident. This is when I noticed that the drive 'D' indicator was flashing and the engine warning light came on. I got off from the freeway and turned off the engine for about half an hour. When I turned the engine back on, the flashing 'D' disappeared.

I took it back to Community Honda today with the same complaints I told them in June, plus what happened yesterday. I was shocked to hear that my Honda Pilot needs a new transmission, to the tune of $4,100 plus tax. I bought the vehicle brand new in October of 2002, my first Honda, because I have heard the reliability of their products. It has been regularly serviced by Community Honda since then. I searched the Internet for the same problem on other 2003 Honda Pilots and I found out that it is very common for this particular model. What infuriates me is that Honda issued a Service Bulletin (06-003 dated June 9, 2007) for the 2003 Acura MDX which is basically the same as the 2003 Honda Pilot. This problem could have been avoided. Because of Honda's failure to issue the same Service Bulletin for the 2003 Honda Pilot, I believe that Honda should be paying for the transmission replacement on my vehicle.

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #13

Aug 202010

Pilot v6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Honda failed to own up to its transmission failure, there was a recall on the trany that they claim they fixed ??????????? Honda said it was my fault and had to pay over 5000 to fix the problem? I fixed it by a local trany mechanic, but still want justice to be served because of all the problems people are having across America with Honda! Can anyone help ?


- , Rockland, NY, USA

problem #12

Sep 152010

Pilot EX-L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


click to see larger images

transmission failure

The D light flashed on and off for a few months and the vr light was also on at one point then turned off after we had the fluid changed (no flushed) and like everyone else we had the D Light checked to no avail....

Now the Tranny is having shifting problems and has gotten worse, to the point of needing to be replaced.

- , Elk Grove, CA, USA

problem #11

Aug 232010

Pilot EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,131 miles

My 2003 Honda Pilot engine light turned on. When I took it to the dealer they told me that it was a Torque Converter System Failure and that I had to replace the transmission. They are quoting me $4,100 to replace where the manufacturer will only cover $1,500. I will be responsible for $2,600. I am now going directly to Honda to try to get them to cover more than what they offered to pay.

- , We, FL, USA

problem #10

May 012009

Pilot LX 6 Cynlinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

No previous signs of a transmission problem. While traveling on a major interstate, my engine light came on as well as the notification that I was in 4-wheel drive (which I wasn't) and the vehicle began jerking. I had to down shift to keep and reduce my driving speed to keep the vehicle moving. The following morning I took the vehicle to Honda, who first thought it was poor gas. Later the same day, they advised it was a transmission failure of the worst kind. Because all maintenance had been done at the dealership and maintained as scheduled, they paid for the transmission, provided a courtesy car, and charges us one-half the mechanics fee. I thought it was a fair deal.

- , Shreveport, LA, USA

problem #9

Apr 272010

Pilot EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

Similar to other complaints, I expected the Pilot to be kept and used for the long haul. I have had Honda cars in the past and put many miles on them. The pilot we purchased new and had Honda maintain until the warranty mileage expired. Still kept up with all the maintenance and service requirements. The recall for cooling and gear was completed by Honda.

Recently the transmission started shifting very strange and the truck did not want to go into gear. Drove to my mechanic (close by) and left it there. Found that the codes were transmission errors (no surprise there) and followed my mechanics advice for the repair facility. $2400 and 1.5 weeks later we got the vehicle back and began to question why a Honda product would be falling apart like this. The mechanic said our torque converter had failed and flushed parts through the transmission. The work was covered for 36 months or 50K miles.

Two weeks later the truck started lurching again. Back to the shop for another week plus in time. The torque converter liner disintegrated and so they rebuilt it yet again but while under the warranty. The most disconcerting thing about the trips to the transmission shop was the realization that about 1/3 of the vehicles there were Honda Pilots or Odysseys. I want to think the truck is reliable but my wife is certainly not convinced.

Honda's response to this point is that the only recall and problem they have is related to the recall they serviced for us. They still seem oblivious to the issue with their V6 drive trains in 2003 even though they are pervasive through all their car lines including my neighbors Acura which had to have the transmission replaced while still under 40K miles. Needless to say I am questioning "Honda Quality" and thinking hard about how nice my Toyota Camry has been through the last 200K miles.

- , Lewisville, NC, USA

problem #8

Apr 082010

Pilot EX 3471cc V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,245 miles

Complaining about louder whining noise from the transmission at our 60K maintenance service at the Honda dealer, the mechanic recommended replacement (4/8/10). On 4/28, the service mgr (having been informed by the Honda Rep) offered 50% help with cost of replacement. Unacceptable. We had previously pleaded our case to the service mgr about: 1) the recall kit installed last 2005 didn't work; 2) those failures prompting that recall in 2004 happened to vehicles over 60,000 miles; 3)all required car maintenance have been performed at the Honda dealer; 3) concern about failure that impact safety; 4) voiced concern about Honda's integrity.

At this time we will pursue further on this complaint to the Honda Co. and with NHTSA. It's shameful that we were told that the Honda Rep will not see customers.

- , Bend, OR, USA

problem #7

Jul 072008

Pilot EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

when I took the car in to Honda there were no offers for any kind of assistance to cover the cost. Considering my last 2 Hondas had over 185,000 miles each and never had this issue I had hoped for some kind of help. My next car will be German!

- , Scotia, NY, USA

problem #6

Jan 202010

Pilot EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,653 miles

Transmission was seizing and would slip out of gear into neutral while driving, would also lurch forward with big roar while driving. Narrowly avoided several accidents. My Extended warranty had just expired in December 09 and while Honda did pay for 90% of the replacement cost, I can't help but feel upset that a seven year old Honda with less than 80,000 miles needed a transmission replacement.

- , Santa Rosa, CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 152009

Pilot LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

2003 Pilot started shimmering at 29 miles and then at 49 miles, took it in and they had no idea what could be causing it. They would need to run diagnostics and test drive it. Well 2 days later transmission failure is the problem. After looking on the internet apparently it is a more common problem than they are willing to fess up to. I am so mad, we own 2 other Honda's and they are great, I tell people all the time how great my Pilot is. Not anymore. I bought the car for long term no more new car for me for 10 years was my thought. Save a little for the kids college. Brag that my car has 210,000 miles on it and now worries. Not the case. If Honda doesn't help with the repairs It will be the last Honda that I purchased.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #4

May 142009

Pilot EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Okay, I was surprised there were only 8 other complaints of the transmission issue on the 2003 PILOT but I'll chalk that up to folks perhaps not reporting the issue in the right places (other sites). I found a ton of them of them listed on another website (sorry, not trying to plug any other sites, so I won't list the name here).

Bottom line, I take the car to the dealer because the Pilot started falling/jerking into select gears. Mostly at 40 mph, but even on the interstate between 60-70 mph. When I say jerk, I mean making items in the car be thrown forward....It was BAD! But technically it was also 'driveable'.

Got it to the dealer who talked about "Goodwill Repairs" yet never bothered to contact Honda. The service guy sucked, what can I say. Anyway, after reviewing the transmission, they said it was shot. Honda "only replaces their transmission, never fixes them". The cost $3300+tax. Ouch! I did competitive bids but rebuilding it only came with a 12K mile warranty and I still have 18 months of payments (yeah, too much on a used vehicle, but I'm putting kids through school, blah, blah, blah)... The new transmission comes with a 36K mile warranty and should cover me until it's paid off. Small consolation right?

I write this though to say that I have just contacted Honda about a Goodwill Repair to see if they'll help at all. I doubt they will since I bought the car used, but we've had 4 Honda's and this is the 1st to have any issue. Our 01 Accord is soon to be replaced, and this will dictate whether or not Honda gets any more business from us.

For the Record, I DID have the transmission fluid changed about 3 months before it went bad. No issues until WHAMMO! So, Honda may ding me for that too saying "since we didn't change it, Valvoline may have messed it up".

I am trying to hang on to a sliver of hope they can help as that $3600 bill hurts! But, with the auto industry in terrible shape right now, I doubt they'll help many folks at all.

It's sad when US auto manufacturers can offer 100K+ powertrain warranties and Honda and such won't go beyond 50K. These are supposed to be some of the most reliable cars on the road. Lesson learned....

I'll try to report back as to what I hear re: Goodwill Repairs....

Thanks for letting me share/gripe!


- , Memphis, TN, USA

problem #3

Apr 132009

Pilot LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,523 miles

The "D" Light started flashing after about a mile normal drive had started. Engine and automatic shifting seems normal, no unusuals felt. I asked the dealer about it and their response was a usual reply, "money", $95 to run the diagnostic and we will go from there, which means "yes, more money". I went to some mom and pop repair service and they too wanted $85 to run diagnostic. Found AAMCO transmission repair shop and they ran the test for FREE and the diagnostic says liquid is full but smells burnt, Flare Slip Gear 1 to 2 and Flare Slip Gear 2 to 3. They offered me a full repair for $3,000 or replace the transmission from an old Passport for $2,000. That was too much for me, I just spent more that a $1,000 2 months ago to the dealer for check engine lights and other issues.There are more repairs needed left on other issues for another $1,000 according to the dealer. This car is a big purchase mistake of a lifetime I made. I will try to contact and work something out with Honda and see how they can help me get out of this mess. I will contact Honda Goodwill Repair I found here. I will be back for updates.

Update from May 26, 2009: As I have promised, I will come back to continue to tell my experience with Honda Pilot and repair shops. After I have AAMCO's diagnostics and report saying that the transmission has to be fixed or replaced due to "flare slips" and burnt liquid, this is the reason why the "D" light was keep flashing, (AAMCO gave an estimate of $3,000 to fix or $2,000 to replace from used Pilot), I brought my Pilot to the Honda dealer for a second opinion, now I am ready to pay $95 for diagnostics just to prove that the transmission is really needing replacement as what AAMCO said, I dont have that much trust on AAMCO I never been there.

After the dealer ran the diagnostics procedure, the report said that the problem is in the "Switch" and will cost me around $100 for that parts to replaced and the "Transmission Service", I have no idea what is in the transmission service, all I am concerned was to give them wider scope to see the transmission problem plus around $200 for the labor, but warned me that I have to bring my Pilot back religiously every 75,000 miles for the transmission check and service because the transmission "may" not gonna last long. And so I was temporarily relieved that I can still use my Pilot for at least another year before I can have the transmission fixed.

So I told the dealer to go ahead and replace the "swtich" and do the "transmission service" and labor for around $350. After they have "fixed" it, the "D" light flashing is gone (there was no signs of transmission problem when I turned the Pilot in except the D light flashing no other light were on too).

After a week or more while I was driving in the freeway I-5 on a 70 MPH and slowed down a bit there was a big BANG and jerk, it seems like my car suddenly switched gear from the 4th to the 3rd and back to 4 and 3 like 3 times and its back to normal, my speed was from 70mph to a sudden 50mph speed change in a split seconds. Luckily there was no one behind me. My family was so nervous that it felt like we were tossed really bad inside the car during the jerk. I continue driving and it happened again and again even I was only doing 40 mph. I noticed that when switching from a high speed gear to the lower gear it is will change the gears abruptly or prematurely, then back to the higher gear again, and if you continue it will switch back to the right gear without problem, and if I slow down the changing of gears prematurely happens, causing jerks. The faster you are the bigger jerk there will be. So I drove back home with care and emergency/hazard lights on with my gear on the D3 and speed of 40 to 45mph only on the I-5.

I sent the Pilot back to the dealer this morning, telling then the story. After two hours I receive a call telling me that the transmission has to be replaced, now they are talking! And they are trying to look for something to blame such as the transmission fluid was bad, they do not have records of my Pilot having them replace or check the transmission fluid, I do it outside to save money. I told them the pilot is just 7 years old, too young to get this kind of problem so I think I bought a lemon Honda Pilot. I asked the dealer why is it that the AAMCO detected the transmission is needing fix or replaced, while they only detected switch? The reason I brought it to the dealer to take their opinion because I have more trust with them hoping they can give me a right diagnostic and repair, to save me money and hassles, its their product, but it came out it is AAMCO knows the Honda problem more that the dealer do, it is AAMCO who can save me money and not take advantage of me. The dealer have me pay $350 for nothing and after a week they want me to pay $3,000, this is what I called taking advantage of their customers or they just don't have well trained technician and old fashioned diagnostic machine?

Now I am lost, money drained and have to be absent from work for all these hassles. Never ever buy Honda car or truck again.

- , Rowland Heights, CA, USA

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