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really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
120,243 miles
Total Complaints:
53 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. had to be replaced (26 reports)
  2. rebuild of torque converter and transmission (11 reports)
  3. not sure (8 reports)
  4. replace transmission (5 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 1 of 3)

problem #53

Dec 222014

Pilot EXL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles


Initially the engine light on dash came on and my mechanic checked my 03 PILOT out and added some transmission fluid due to level being slightly below recommended level and reset light and the vehicle seemed fine for about a month. Now the light is back on and I have noticed that upon acceleration at higher speeds it seems as though transmission is slipping and when I ease off and reapply it usually will engage but the RPM gauge rises much higher than usual, upon doing so and the vehicle seems sluggish.

I am original owner and bought new from Orr Honda in Texarkana, TX and all the recommended service and repairs have been done. Upon researching I have found numerous complaints of this and some very nearly resulting in crashes due to sudden loss of speed and tranny slipping out of gear. It has been suggested that this in fact is originally an electrical issue that leads to a more serious mechanical problem if it is left unaddressed but apparently the patch job and recall Honda issued on this model Pilot in 04 NHTSA ref # 04v176000 was inadequate and this model, and possibly others, have a very serious and costly design flaw that Honda refuses to acknowledge and should be held accountable for and made to issue another recall and replace these faulty transmissions and torque converters.

However, one forum post recommends replacing the 3rd & 4th gear switches on the tranny at first sign of a problem as well as a complete fluid flush which entails 3 drains and refills and also to thoroughly inspect the lines running to them that control the flow of fluid to all parts of the tranny. I am attempting the less invasive things first even before going to Honda dealership. I called Honda America and was told the recall on my VIN was done and that any further issue with it would be at my expense. Well, we'll see about that. If these less invasive attempts to solve this do not work I intend to take all of this information to an attorney and request class action suit for the obviously faulty and dangerous issues that are posted on the internet on reputable sites, which state have cost consumers out of pocket, sometimes thousands of dollars that Honda should in fact pay for, just like the design flaw they finally had to own up to on the faulty air bags on some of their vehicles, mine included.

Sounds like a lemon law thing only most, but not all, of these cars are just out of manufacture's warranty and/or extended warranty but well under what is expected one should get on properly serviced transmission on a Honda. This most likely will be the last Honda I purchase.

- , Hope, AR, USA

problem #52

Dec 082014

Pilot EX-L 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

2003 Honda Pilot has been a car with too many problems. It had almost 10 recalls over last 10 years. The latest is P730 error code and slip between gear 2 and 3 of the automatic transmission. When I checked with a mechanic he suggested that I have to replace or rebuild transmission. Since there was a recall in that area, he put me in touch with a Honda maintenance rep. After hearing all, she said that the replacement cost will run more than $4500.

If you search in internet for "2003 Honda Pilot transmission problems" you will get numerous posts about transmission failure when it reaches 125000. I have been driving Hondas for more than 17 years and all my cars were Honda. With this experience I am going to jump ship and buy something else.

- , Dublin, CA, USA

problem #51

Aug 042014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I have 2003 Honda Pilot- EXL. In last few months the car stalls when I was in traffic jams with Engine and Battery lights on. This issue happened for few months and I took to a mechanic, however he didn't find anything wrong. Car then ran fine for next few months.

Now for last two weeks things have gotten worse. Last Sunday, while I parking the car in my garage the car stalled with Engine and Battery light on and then wouldn't turn on. I took it to a mechanic and he did some cleaning and car started again, however continues to stall. Took to a dealer and paid $140 and he found a lot of things wrong. Head Gasket Leaking Internally. I have been doing regular service. My mechanic says that transmission needs to be replaced, however he is not sure that will completely address stalling problem.

I now have a dilemma whether I should fix this car and/or buy a new one? Car has only $120K miles and I feel it has a lot of life left. My belief is transmission is bad and reading through the internet it seems 2003 Honda Pilot had bad transmissions and Honda should own and fix the problem. Thoughts/suggestions are welcomed.

- , Shrewsbury, MA, USA

problem #50

Mar 112014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 192,000 miles


2003 Honda Pilot. Transmission giving out after 190k miles. Lock actuators on right side don't work.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #49

Jun 072014

Pilot EX-L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 158,151 miles

I have taken care of this car. I have done all the required maintenance. And I have loved this car. I am freaking out at the potential cost of this. But check this out. Last week my husband's car, a 2000 honda odyssey, transmission failed and we traded the car in so I could get a 2012 honda pilot that we could not afford. We have had the worst month anyway. His mother passed away, costing 1000 in plane tickets. Then I had to put my dog to sleep, then my son got suspended from school and now the transmission on the odyssey. Well we figured it out and I loved my pilot so much I bought another one and gave mine to my husband.... Loving it for one week till Saturday when the transmission went out on my 03 pilot...ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS TWO TRANSMISSIONS IN ONE WEEK!!! The quote from the dealer is 5093$$. We literally don't have the money! We work different schedules and we work 30 miles from home. Wtf are we supposed to do now.

- , Newport News, VA, USA

problem #48

Apr 232014

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

Ourisman Honda Service are CRIMINALS. They refused to help with a known defective transmission issue with the 2003 Honda Pilot. Quoted $4,700 for a remanufactured transmission and told me their cost was $4,000 just for the part. This appears to be an outright lie. The worst part is that we have spent $1,000's of dollars for overpriced service on this vehicle over the past 10 years and have been loyal customers. When we needed Ourisman to step up and help make this know defective problem slightly better - they tried to gouge us even more.

American Honda was even less help. We contacted them and requested assistance and they quickly dodged the request. Instead they hid behind the legalese while avoiding the know defective issue.

AVOID OURISMAN and OURISMAN SERVICE at all COSTS or it will COST you. Their behavior is CRIMINAL.

- , Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #47

Mar 082014

Pilot EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 158,000 miles


Just bought this 2003 pilot. drove it after buying it around 200 miles when the atx light on the dash started coming on while driving on highway. I did as owners manual said pull over put in park. If light stays on turn off moter and restart to se if light goes off. I always did. This happened around 7 times the day it started. I didn't drive it again until I took to a honda cirtified mechanic. They changed the fluids on the transmission and transfer case. The next day I couldn't get it up a small incline. It wasn't shifting into 2'or 3rd. I have to take off like I'm in a race in first then when reaching about 30 I can let up quick on the gas to get it to up shift bypassing the dead gear. After taking it in to get the code run on it again I found out ALL 2003 PILOTS were under a MANDATORY SAFETY RECALL ON THESE TRANSMISSIONS. Even in the honda dealer notices they told the dealers that if the new remedy wasn't done correctly the tranny would fail. They want $4421.99 to fix THEIR MISTAKE. I was a mechanic in the military. When I got out I worked for indipendant garages as well as dealerships. I had worked my way

up to assistant service manager before switching trades. I'm retired now and disabled. I can't believe I got took buying this thing. I did a car fax on it checked consumer reports, and found nothing about transmission problem until after buying it. Now I have a $6000.00 driveway orniment. NOT A HAPPY CAMPER> FIRST HONDA OF ANYTHING I'VE REGRETED BUYING. I've had several honda motercycles, cars, generators ect. but this one and year are apparantly extream lemons.


problem #46

May 062012

Pilot V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

On May 6, 2012, my husband and I were on I-75 heading to our Goddaughter's First Communion when our 2003 Honda Pilot started to produce black smoke. We were traveling at about 70 miles per hour. There was no warning, no slipping of gears and we only had 115,000 miles on our Pilot. We were 2 miles from our home and were able to drive it onto our driveway.

We had it towed to our mechanic and were told the transmission needed to be replaced at the cost os $3,500 to $4.200 depending on if it was rebuilt, used or new. We were in complete shock. We have every record of oil changes and transmission flushes etc. This car has been well taken care of. I asked my mechanics if they tried to flush the transmission fluid and see if that was the problem. They did the flush and said it was driving OK and I could take home but they were unsure as to the transmission lasting.

I drove to work this morning, and just before I arrived to work, ( about 20 mile commute), the engine hazard light came on and another hazard light VTM-4 (I think). I pulled over and walked to my work. Now I need to contact AAA to have the Pilot towed AGAIN to the shop. Before I call I got on-line to see what the hazard code was and this web site came up with LOTS of complaints just like my 2003 Pilot.

What I do not understand is why Honda is not fixing this problem.The reason I purchased the Pilot was because of the good reputation the company has for reliable vehicles that last. Has anyone been able to get Honda to repair the CLEARLY FAULTY and DEFECTIVE transmission!

- , Florence, KY, USA

problem #45

Dec 172009

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

I purchased the 2003 Pilot in 2002, after owning 4 previous Honda products, expecting to drive this until I had 200,000 miles on the odometer, just like all my other Honda autos. In December, 2009, after driving the car from Dallas to Santa Fe and back, I noticed some minor slipping of the transmission and took it to the dealer. They did $1700 in repairs, indicating that this was the least costly solution. I wish I had checked online to see that this was a common issue with this model year; I would have chosen replacement of the transmission at that point and saved myself these costs.

A few days after picking the vehicle up, I was back at the dealer, and they replaced the transmission with a Honda rebuilt one, adding approximately $5K to the cost and providing a 36K warranty. In August, 2012, while driving down I-40 in New Mexico, the engine light again came on, and other than that sensor light, the car had been driving just fine. I took it to dealer in Santa Fe within a few days of the sensor indicator coming on. The dealer indicated that a new transmission needed to be installed. I was amazed that another transmission was required after less than an additional 40K in driving.

I have been driving it with no apparent issues since August, waiting to return to my Dallas dealer. Took it in this week there, and they indicated that it does require a new transmission. It was just over the warranty's mileage so the dealer attempted to have Honda provide some replacement assistance. Honda NA indicated that it was out of warranty and there was nothing they can do. I called them directly, telling them that this is the 5th Honda in my family, that I "sell" Honda's to all my friends and family, and that I have converted several friends and family members to driving these.

Most of the mileage on this auto is highway miles and I have all the necessary service done at the proper intervals. I have a friend who purchased a 2005 Pilot who has had no similar issues. The customer service rep at Honda NA indicated that if it were up to him, he'd just keep driving until the car had serious transmission issues, which is what I will probably do. Based on the lack of support from Honda on this issue, this will be my last purchase of their product, unless they really come through with a deal on a replacement vehicle or repair/replacement assistance.

As someone who works daily in providing excellent customer service in the financial services industry and who always keeps our Customers in mind when resolving a situation, I am deeply disappointed in this situation. We need to have the auto industry regulated as much as the financial services industry now is. Where is the auto industry equivalent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? I detest additional government regulation, but when a company refuses to support their Customers-for-life, I believe additional regulation is necessary.

I am perplexed as to why Honda would choose to send a Customer to a competitor when they probably have 4-5 more future purchases of their products at stake. All auto makers are building quality products and Honda no longer has the edge in product quality and reliability. They will regret this decision at some point in the future. I will never purchase a model during it's initial release year. I can't help but wonder if the recall on the transmission is not a huge part of these future issues that people on here have indicated.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #44

Oct 292012

Pilot LX 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,000 miles

I can't believe it!!! So my rebuilt transmission from December 2009 lasted 54,000 before going belly up again. Hard shift to 3rd. Starting to race at a stop sign. Honda Dealer said a re-manufactured transmission would be $5,080 (3,800 + special shipping). The Dealer had a transmission on the shelf that his Transmission Specialist had rebuilt for $3400 installed. The Aamco quote for the rebuild was $2,445 but that does not include hard parts, if needed. I tried to get it done under the warranty, because it just shouldn't be failing again! No go. But, I know the Aamco person doing the re-build this time (very good mechanic). Okay, so $1,350 in extra parts to make it last a long time per my friend. Hmmm, now the on-the-shelf one at the Dealer sounds like a better deal, but its a wash with the Aamco $450 to re-install if I change my mind. With tax it should be about $4,175 now! Crap. I still cant replace the HP for that cost (at least I paid it off in February 2012).

Aamco called me to say that they found evidence of radiator fluid in the transmission (housing). And that if I want this transmission to last I need to replace the radiator either with external radiator or replace the existing. Another $600. I believe my total will be close to $5,000 now. I'll add the radiator compliant separate. My guess is that was the problem that screwed up the original transmission and the 1st rebuilt one. This sucks!

- , Kirkland, Washington, USA

problem #43

Dec 042009

Pilot LX 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


I bought my HP because three people at work had them and raved about low repair history for Honda. I needed a new family car that I could depend on not having to fix and that could also get us skiing. I bought it with 59,000 from a private party. At 87,000 the transmission started to go out. Yes, it had fluid. The Honda Dealer also confirmed that some sort of 3rd gear "kit" had already been installed. The kit was only thing that could find out about back in 09. Aamco rebuilt the transmission and with the extra parts (of course) ended up costing a$100 more than the dealer. How frustrating! I like the HP a lot, but still... Ended up with a "free" 36/36 warranty.

- , Kirkland, Washington, USA

problem #42

Feb 102011

Pilot EXL 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Was a honda customer until i got this Pilot. had 6 Accords, and 2 Civics.

Honda has to recognized they messed up. i was their customer for life. Now went other route with my last 2 cars, and have diverted MANY people away from buying them, over 20 of peers came to me for advice on Honda and Acura ended up with other brands.

Really disappointed about their brands.

- , Chester Springs, PA, USA

problem #41

Mar 052013

Pilot EX 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Well my son drives a 2003 Honda Pilot which he purchased used with 70,000 miles on it-- now has 150,000 miles. Has not had lots of problems with the vehicle but has had to deal with a couple of recalls. He is living and working in the Boston area now-- from Oregon. Has been having some serious issues with car-- Honda dealership told him that it needs a new transmission at a cost of $ 6,000 ! They told him that it would be silly for him. to replace the transmission....hmmmmm . Wondering if they are just trying to get him to purchase a new vehicle. I have priced transmission replacement at various Honda dealerships here in Oregon and they quoted varying charges BUT were willing to price match!!! I believe that the Ma Honda dealership is NOT being totally honest with son--gee I wonder if they realize that he needs a reliable vehicle to drive back home to Oregon after he completes temporary work assignment.... can get transmission replaced in Oregon for $ 4,000 !!!

- , Columbia City, OR, USA

problem #40

May 092013

Pilot EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

This is the third Honda Vehicle I have owned, and up until then never had an issue of this magnatude.

Without warning, the transmisson light came on, A/T Temp. There was no loss of fluid, but the transmission

just burnt up in it. After looking online i see ALOT of other customers have had the same issue out

of their 2003 honda pilot. I contacted HONDA.COM and because i never bought the vehicle new They would not help at all. The vehicle has 136,000 miles on it, and the person/supervisor at Honda stated they look at different things when seeing if they will help owners of hondas, like mileage, and if i bought the car new or Original Owner and keeping up with normal maintenance. All of these things are true But since i am not the original owner, its kinda like Honda Corporation is Prejudice against Pre-owned honda Vehicle Buyers.

- , Berea, KY, USA

problem #39

Feb 272013

Pilot EX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 226,324 miles

Our transmission is having a hard time shifting through all gears. Even at parking lot speeds. I hope Honda can do something to make these last. At least last more then 110k miles. Another Greedy Corporation

- , Sequim, WA, USA

problem #38

Apr 012011

Pilot ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

Never had a problem with the Pilot besides your normal wear and tear until the transmission failed us. Since then we have had nothing but problems. It's never been right after the transmission. I have always taken great care of the car. Oil changes were done every 3,000 miles. Tune-up was done at 75,000 miles. Honda's are suppose to last forever. I should not be having problems with my car. There is 130,000 miles on the car and I am not sure if it will last another year.

- , Babylon, NY, USA

problem #37

Oct 152009

Pilot V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

So my '03 Honda Pilot had the tranny replaced in '09 & now is getting replaced again. My family and I were on our way to the mountains & were 600 miles from home when the tranny went out on I10. We are getting it replaced by Aamco for $3500. This car has been so problematic. I was so excited when we purchased this CERTIFIED car, but will NEVER purchase another Honda again.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #36

Dec 152012

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,022 miles

My Honda pilot has cost me tons of money to fix every now and then. The latest dilemma is I brought my two kids,their grandma and my wife for Christmas shopping with my little military pay at loydminister Alberta from CFB Cold Lake .We had the Christmas shopping done and ready to go home ,my Honda pilot didn't start. I got stranded with 79 yr old grandma two kids and my wife in a very freezing cold weather.i had to towed away my Honda and go and rent a hotel for the night at cost of $107.00 and the next day which was Sunday there were no car rental place that opened so in order for us to get back to CFB Cold Lake I had to take a taxi which cost me $230.00. Now I'm all pay is done I'm now don't know how I'm going to spent the rest of the Christmas holidays with my kids . I also have four more days work and I have to take taxi to and from to work on top that.

What I'm intending to do now is I instructed the towing company to drop my vehicle to Honda loydminister and get it fixed by the recall.,since it is already listed as recall numbers S73 and S74.. Please help.

- , Cold Lake, Alberta, canada

problem #35

Dec 012010

Pilot EX-L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Transmission began slipping out of 2nd gear occasionally. The problem worsened and our local mechanic had it rebuilt.

Update from Oct 24, 2012: Transmission failed again about 2 years later at 140,000 miles. My local mechanic said his research revealed that hairline cracks in the transmission case can cause loss of pressure. Since he had done the work for the original transmission rebuild 2 years ago he offered to change this one out without charging labor. The dealer is charging $3,360 for a factory rebuilt transmission with a 36,000 mile parts-only warranty which my mechanic will put in without a labor charge. The parts guy at the dealer said that the original problem with these transmissions was a 4th gear oil piping that Honda recalled but the recall didn't completely fix.

This really seems like a Honda problem and I agree with others who suggest Honda should do more to compensate its customers for these faulty transmissions. On a good note, my mechanic is excellent, goes out of his way to offer low cost solutions, and always treats me fairly. The shop is called Triple-A Automotive in Davis, CA if anyone is interested.

- , Vacaville, CA, USA

problem #34

Aug 242012

Pilot EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

The whole idea of buying a Honda was for mechanical reliability and longevity. An otherwise a great SUV but plagued by Tranny problems. Now that I have the issue, I am finding on the web that this is a common Honda Pilot issue. I was hoping to buy another Pilot (Almost did last weekend) but after reading the extant of the Pilot transmission problems, I have decided to go with either Toyota or ford.

Honda will loose reputation if they don't address these kind of issues. I am getting a quotes of $3500 to $4000 to rebuild the tranny.. the KBB value on this car is $4800. I really don't want to buy a new car. I was hoping a Honda will run till 200K miles. I service it regularly and change tranny oils every 30K miles. This is a unacceptable quality issue by Honda

Sam Seelam

- , Downingtown, PA, USA

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