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CarComplaints.com Notes: We all want our SUVs to be able to stop on a dime, just not randomly and without warning. But that's what was happening to 2005 Pilot owners: their vehicles were slamming on the brakes even when they didn't. A government investigation of this problem led to a recall in March of 2013.

Another issue that keeps popping up is transmission fluid mixing with coolant in the radiator which is causing transmission failure, a costly repair to say the least.

9.6

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$3,278.00
Average Mileage:
118,262 miles
Total Complaints:
16 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission & radiator (8 reports)
  2. new transmission (3 reports)
  3. not sure (3 reports)
  4. replace radiator and flush transmission (2 reports)
2005 Honda Pilot transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Honda Pilot Owner Comments

problem #16

Sep 222014

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Our supposedly "reliable" vehicle broke down today after having it serviced at the Honda dealer last Thursday before our weekend trip. The technician told me I will be needing a radiator change in the future but it doesn't have to be done immediately. There is a small leak. It should be fine for the trip. Why didn't he tell me how IMPORTANT it is to change the radiator because, if not, it could kill the transmission... which is exactly what happened!!! I have lost faith in Honda... They should recall and fix this manufacture defect of the radiator leaking into the transmission!!! Make this right! This vehicle is no longer valuable in my eyes... Honda, you lost my respect!

- , Lockport, NY, USA

problem #15

Aug 272014

Pilot

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

I don't need to say much here as many of the end-users of this vehicle know exactly what I am referring to. And all of the stories are 100% similar to mine. I will say that I believe Honda should make it a requirement to change the radiator if it could damage or destroy a transmission.

My wife and I are both young professionals and will never buy another Honda again, unless we can be assured this issue has been fixed. Incidentally, I did call HONDA USA and they could not guarantee...so I told them I will not buy another. If the radiator goes. No problem, I don't mind paying for it...it shouldn’t result in the consumer having to pay for a major component of a vehicle because an engineer made a decision to build a part that could result in two systems failing because of cross contamination of fluids.

- , Waterford, WI, USA

problem #14

Aug 082014

Pilot EX 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

As far as I know, Honda had several complaints about this but failed to come up with a solution. My mechanic told me that he's seen this only on Honda Pilots and Nissan Pathfinders.

- , Moorestown, NJ, USA

problem #13

Jan 082014

Pilot EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

THERE ARE APPARENTLY A LARGE NUMBER OF US FOR WHOM THE TRANSMISSION HAS TAKEN OUT BOTH ITSELF AND THE RADIATOR - ON VEHICLES WE SPECIFICALLY BOUGHT FOR THEIR RELIABILITY!

THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS REPORTED ON THIS! http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/honda-transmission-problems-seem-to-persist/?php=true&type=blogs&_r=0

HONDA ITSELF ALREADY SETTLED A CLASS-ACTION SUIT ABOUT THIS, BUT WE ARE STILL SCREWED BECAUSE THEY DID A MINOR WARRANTY EXTENSION - AND ALOT OF US ARE EXPERIENCING THE FAILURE JUST OUTSIDE OF THAT EXTENSION!

HONDA -- DO RIGHT! FIX YOUR MISTAKES!!!!

- , Maumelle, AR, USA

problem #12

Dec 072013

Pilot LX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles

So I took my Honda Pilot to a dealership to do an oil change and transmission flush before my long trip from NY to NC. I wanted to be safe than sorry. After leaving the Honda dealership that morning, I headed off to NC, and in Delaware I see smoke from the hood. I'm thinking it's oil from the oil change, because sometimes that happens. After 10 miles, there is a plume of smoke coming from the back of the Pilot. I park it to see tranny fluid everywhere, but also including a greenish blue hue as well. My Pilot looked like it was shot in the heart, and bleeding everywhere.

Fast forwarding the story, I call in a tow, and get it towed to the Honda Dealership where I was, this was on a Saturday evening. Of course they are closed on a Sunday, so I had to wait until Monday to get the logistics. Turns out it was the Radiator failing, and I was seeing leaked coolant and transmission fluid. They quoted 800 dollars, but charged me 701. I guess I'm blessed based on the quotes I've been seeing here.

Either my transmission will go bad soon, or it will last. Who knows, all I know it's time to ditch it for another ride...and quick. Oh, and whenever I turn on the heat in the car, it smells like tranny fluid; the smell will not go away!

- , Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #11

May 152012

Pilot ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Honda does not deserve its good reputation. I will be sure to tell EVERYONE I know what a piece of s**t this car is.

- , Wallingford, CT, USA

problem #10

Nov 262012

Pilot EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

LAST WEEK MY WIFE NOTICED SUDDEN LOSS OF POWER TO OUR PILOT WHEN ON ERRANDS. THE CAR BACKED UP ON A STEEP CLIMB, LUCKILY NO ONE WAS BEHIND. SHE VERY CAUTIOUSLY DROVE DOWN TO NEAREST REPAIR STATION (<1 MILE). WE ALSO NOTICED A LEAK OF SOME KIND OF MIX FLUIDS (STRAWBERRY SHAKE) FROM THE RADIATOR OVERFLOW TANK. THERE WAS A PUDDLE ON THE GROUND. REPAIR SHOP DID IDENTIFY THE RADIATOR LEAK AND MIXING OF COOLANT AND TRANSMISSION FLUIDS. QUOTED $1600+ BUT GAVE NO GUARANTEE OF THE FIX. WE WENT WITH DEALER INSTEAD THINKING THEY MIGHT HAVE DEALT WITH THIS FAILURE BEFORE. DEALER HAS REPLACED THE RADIATOR AND FLUSHED THE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM 3 TIMES AT A COST OF $1100. CAR IS DRIVING OK AFTER 2 DAYS BUT HAVE TO SEE HOW IT BEHAVES WITH MORE DRIVING. WE ARE VERY SURPRISED THAT HONDA HAS NOT ACKNOWLEDGED THIS VERY PREDICTABLE ISSUE. IT WOULD HAVE SAVED LOSS OF HASSLE AND INCONVENIENCE IF THE RADIATOR COULD BE REPLACED AT 60K SERVICE FOR 2005 MODELS. SHAME THAT HONDA DID BREAK THE TRUST OF SO MANY PROUD OWNERS ON THIS ISSUE.

Update from Feb 26, 2013: Radiator was replaced by the dealer and transmission flushed 3 times (total cost of $1080).

Its driving ok now but the fear of stall of the vehicles continues each day.

- , Wilton, CT, USA

problem #9

Sep 202012

Pilot EX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,596 miles

We also had our radiator leak into the transmission. Honda service adjusters were no help. They were rude, denied that the radiator was defective & refused to even pay a portion of the repair. I had the car towed to a transmission shop that I have dealt with in the past & had them replace the radiator & rebuild the transmission.

We have driven the car for a few months since getting it fixed & the transmission seems to be slipping in reverse now but we have a one year warranty on the rebuild so I hope it will be fixed at no additional cost. Then we plan to sell it & get an American Van. We'll never have another Honda. They might look pretty but beware - Underneath the tin they are junk and not worth the hassle.

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #8

Jan 222013

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

My husband died and everyone told me to get a Honda...they are reliable and will last for years. I have loved my Pilot! Its roomy, we put on a hitch to pull the boats...never had a problem. daughter driving from the train station, 5 or 6 blocks, 2 weeks ago when the car shot up to H...and started spewing a chocolate milk like fluid everywhere. I am seeing here that this is a common problem. I had the car towed to my mechanic who says that the radiator and tranny fluids all mixed. I had to pay again to tow it to Honda who says that my warranty is no longer in effect. I had to pay another 120.00 just to have it diagnosed. I am going to Honda general as I see this as a recurring malfunction on their part...should hear from them today...I hear that the problem was a recall and has since been rectified for newer vehicles. I think Honda should replace both the tranny and radiator...despicable.

- , Stamford, CT, USA

problem #7

Nov 152012

Pilot LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 226,000 miles

Why couldn't I have found this BEFORE the tranny cooler let go? Everything like you all said. With one vehicle on the road and both of us driving to work over 40 miles one way, we could be in trouble. Thank goodness my wife was in the city when it happened and not on a side road at night driving home. I guess her Honda isn't that reliable after all.

- , West Lorne, Ontario, canada

problem #6

Jul 292012

Pilot V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I had just got some routine maintenance on car, to take to Florida for vacation. 2 days later the car had been driven less than 5 miles up the street and on the way home the car started over heating, the temp gauge shot up, My mother was driving the car with my daughter and pulled the car over immediately. Had car looked at and found out the the radiator failed causing the fluids to get into the transmission. My brother in law mechanic, thought he could replace the radiator and continuously flush the transmission, after doing this he said there is still radiator fluid in transmission and I would have to replace the transmission, which all of us believe the car is not worth it at this point, I bought a Honda because I wanted to drive this car forever, I found this website and found out this is a common problem with this year Pilot. I am so disappointed, I don't even know what kind of car to look for now.

- , Madison, OH, USA

problem #5

Aug 132012

Pilot EXL 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

WOW - I seem to have the same issue as many other 2005 Pilot owners! The radiator seems to have failed and transmission fluid has mixed with coolant in the radiator - chocolate milk in the radiator overflow. The car is at the dealership now, but it looks really bad. 86K miles - what a waste, and I think Honda should be taking this issue seriously. If you have an issue, please post a complaint!

- , Painted Post, NY, USA

problem #4

Sep 212011

Pilot EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I bought the SUV in 2005. I have always had the car serviced at the dealership. I had driven 20 miles from work, got off the highway and at the exit ramp the car would not move, though it was on drive. The A/T Temp light came on and I decided to get the car towed. The dealer called me to say that the radiator was broken and the antifreeze got mixed with the Transmission fluid causing the transmission to fail. He is now quoting a $5,000 bill to replace the Radiator and the transmission.

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #3

Sep 062011

Pilot EX L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I've had a similar situation as others. The vehicle lost power and after pulling over; turning the vehicle off and back on, it wouldn't shift into Drive. We checked the transmission fluid level and found it to be extremely low (although it had just been at the dealer for service 1 week prior). We added some fluid and it would shift into drive, however it would NOT shift into D3, D2, etc. Adding the fluid allowed us to drive to our hotel. The next morning, we checked the fluid level and discovered the chocolate milk. I immediately phoned my dealer and alerted them of the situation. They advised to have it towed home (Pittsburgh to Columbus, Oh) - not cheap! After having it sit for 4 days, they finally informed me yesterday that that transmission and radiator were both shot and would need to be replaced. When I inquired about the source of this problem, the answer was, "I don't know." When I inquired if they had seen or heard of this problem before, again they had no idea. So, I too had planned on keeping my Pilot for many, many more miles and never expected this sort of problem. I've owned 4 other Hondas and based on this experience, I won't be purchasing another.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #2

Jan 202011

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

My wife was driving our 2005 Honda Pilot home from work when she noticed the engine revving at a high RPM. No engine lights came on, but the vehicle was losing power and she could barely get it to the side of the road. After allowing the vehicle to sit for awhile it was able to be driven home. Once it was parked in the garage, a chocolate milk like substance was noticed overflowing from the radiator and reserve tank. We were able to get the car to a local mechanic (about 1 mile from our house). The mechanic confirmed what we feared: the transmission was damaged and it was caused by a faulty cooling system, where transmission fluid and antifreeze mixed in the radiator and transmission causing severe damage. He quoted us at $3,800 for all repairs associated with the problem, which included the cost of a used transmission from a salvage yard.

We contacted two Honda service technicians. One denied ever hearing of such a problem. The other confirmed he had heard about this problem with 05 Pilots and had seen the same thing with an 05 Acura MDX (sister car to the Pilot). Both technicians told us Honda would not be likely to help with the problem unless we could provide detailed service records at a Honda dealer showing all recommended maintenance had been performed on the car, and that still would not be a guarantee. My wife then contacted the dealer where we purchased the Pilot to talk to the owner, but we never received a return call from him or anyone else at the dealership. She then contacted Honda directly and they told her that although we have a power train warranty on the vehicle, Honda would not pay for the costs of the repair as the problem was caused by the radiator, which is not part of the power train (PS, we've financed two cars through Honda in the past 10 years so you would think they would treat a loyal customer with respect). The Honda representative was rude and unhelpful.

So now we are stuck with a car that we still owe $5800 on. Our local mechanic warned us to not opt for repairing the vehicle as he thinks there could be more damage to engine parts that might be undiagnosed. He is encouraging us to sell the car as is and try to break even with what we owe. This is a huge financial setback as we will have to purchase another vehicle but will have nothing to trade in to help offset the cost. We've lost everything we've invested in the car. Don't trust Honda. After doing research we've found their cars aren't as reliable as we thought and worse yet, Honda's poor customer service and unwillingness to acknowledge a common problem in their cars is shameful. Honda is a company that does not understand how to stand behind their product and properly rectify a situation that is the result of poor quality and engineering. Instead they allow their loyal customers to suffer.

- , Fly Creek, NY, USA

problem #1

Nov 052010

Pilot EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,600 miles

click to see larger images

leak from radiator failure leak from radiator failure

Radiator failed with zero warning leaking infamous Honda chocolate milk everywhere. Overflow tank was filled to the top with fluid. Towed to reputable shop and told the radiator had failed sucking coolant into transmission, that may or may not be ruined. Called Honda USA and was told that radiators failing at 71K miles was a-okay! In fact, I should be thrilled it lasted that long. Opted to have shop perform service. OEM radiator replaced, multiple drain and fills using Honda's ridiculously priced fluid ($244 in fluid alone). Shop doing the work was very honest saying it was a 50/50 chance the trans. would survive. About 250 miles later, transmission failed. Towed this time to Honda dealership. Honda USA currently refusing a "goodwill adjustment". The cherry on top of this poop sundae is that the service agent at the stealership is just as full of it as Honda USA. Called to inform me my "after-market radiator failed and leaked fluid into the transmission." Said I needed a new radiator and transmission for a total of $4,800. I let him lie for a few more minutes before telling him the above story. Also, the new radiator never leaked or overheated. After being caught, he relented slightly saying it needed to be looked at again to be sure. One week after the trans. died, still waiting word from Honda. Two tow trucks, two rental cars, and 2,000 dollars with no end in sight, I am truly regretting my faith in Honda.

Update from Nov 18, 2010: (pictures show leak from overflow)

Update from Jan 12, 2012: Honda gave me a goodwill adjustment, paying under half of a re-built transmission, from a dealership. Between two tows, 4 weeks of car rentals, a new radiator and half of a re-built transmission I spent $8,000 out-of-pocket. Honda USA rep denied this being a problem. One month later, The NY Times wrote a great article detailing the many woes of Honda owners. Please see my newest complaint for 1/2012. My 1 year old, re-built transmission with 5,000 miles on it has failed.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

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