really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
121,441 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 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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

problem #47

Jan 152013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 203,000 miles
Sudden downshifting and shuddering, check engine light came on and difficulty in shifting. Engine light remained on and occasional shifting problems for a few weeks until checked by dealer - PO740 and PO730 needs transmission replacement and engine mount. Same problem as a 100 of others. Original owner fully dealer maintained for 10+ years, even with fairly high miles well maintained transmission should not fail. Honda dealer quoted $5500 for Honda rebuilt transmission with no mention of any assistance or of the well known and frequent occurrence of this issue. A definite safety issue as simple luck this didn't occur on the highway at greater speed in high traffic I frequently drive.

- Windham, NH, USA

problem #46

Aug 052010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles


My Honda Pilot is now at 75,000 miles. I obviously don't drive it a lot. Thank goodness because it has had so many issues. For the last 25,000 miles and 3 years, it revs up and down when stopped anywhere like a light or stop sign or in the pickup line at my child's school. I have to put it into park and press the brake while in park to be sure it doesn't leap forward into another vehicle. I've had this looked at on three different occasions and they fix it for about a day. I've been told its an ongoing known issue with this car. So, why has it not been addressed?

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #45

Jan 172013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
I parked my car outside a local store with a nearly zero decline. After entering the store and beginning to shop - a fellow shopper came in to tell me that my car had rolled backwards and hit another vehicle. Luckily there was no major damage to either vehicle. When I entered my vehicle the gear shift was in fact in park but the car had rolled back anyways and stopped only because it hit another vehicle in the parking lot.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #44

Oct 262012


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While parked, the contact noticed that the vehicle began to roll backward. The contact was able to enter the vehicle, place her foot on the brake pedal and shift the vehicle into park. The contact noticed that she had removed the key from the ignition prior to shifting into park. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000.

- Gainsville, FL, USA

problem #43

Jan 142012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that he parked the vehicle in a residential carport. Approximately thirty minutes later, the contact went back to the vehicle and noticed that the vehicle was no longer parked in the carport but had rolled away and crashed into a tree. The vehicle was placed in park and the keys were removed from the ignition when the contact exited the vehicle. The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash scene. The police were not contacted. The vehicle was later taken to a local mechanic for repairs to the external damages of the hatch back door and rear bumper. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not inspected for the roll away failure. The failure mileage was approximately 95,000. The current mileage was approximately 102,000. Updated 12/06/12 updated 12/06/12

- Marion , AL, USA

problem #42

Mar 142012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles


I pulled the vehicle into a parking space and turned the key off. I got out of the car and the car began rolling backwards. It rolled down a small hill and smashed into a vehicle in the lot below. It appears the steering column allowed me to remove the key without putting the vehicle in park

- Morristown, NJ, USA

problem #41

May 172012


  • 63,545 miles
I have the same problem with the transmission and being able to remove my key even when it is not in park that has been reported by others. Its led to an accident and a near one.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #40

Sep 032012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 128,000 miles
The transmission of my 2003 Honda Pilot died. When I went to a message board at edmunds.com I found that there have been a lot of other people that have had the same problem with their 2003 Pilot beginning with 90,000 miles. Honda checked my second gear that they did recall but claim that the problem is not with that gear. A reputable transmission mechanic that rebuilds transmissions, recommended by two mechanic friends of mine, agrees with Honda, that it has failed completely. For a company that prides itself for a supposed excellent mechanical maintenance reputation, I and a lot of other Honda owners are sorely disappointed.

- Wurtsboro, NY, USA

problem #39

Jun 182012


  • 220,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that while driving 55 mph, the transmission would not shift into any gear. The vehicle was taken previously to the dealer in 2004 for a recall repair under the NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train: Automatic transmission). The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for this most recent failure. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 220,000.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #38

Sep 092012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 143,400 miles
The transmission suddenly starting slipping without any warning and struggled to get over a viaduct with no power to accelerate. The transmission started slipping without any warning and the engine light came on. Drove the Pilot slowly home and took to shop. The transmission fluid had been changed at 90K. The pressure switches were changed but did not work for slippage. The transmission was broke and needed replacing. This vehicle had all recalls completed.

- Columbus, NE, USA

problem #37

Aug 172012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 65 miles
I recently bought a used 2003 Honda Pilot from [xxx] of colerain in Ohio. The car has 137,000 approximate miles on it. They wanted me to pay over 15,000 for the car and finally after debating for hours over 4. they sold me the car out the door with no warranty offered for 10,500. I was very happy and I have 2 children and one on the way. I bought the car on August 5, 2012 less than two week go by and I am driving home going 65mph on 71 and the car jerks down gears to 30 miles an hour in a split second. My neck and my back are both hurting and I do not want to sue nor try to get rich off of this. My complaint is, I took the car to[xxx] of colerain the next morning they said the transmission was bad and they could do nothing for me. So basically they said I will have to pay for a $7,000 dollar repair. I left the car there and came home did all kinds of research found that car is up for recall on the transmission and thousands of people have the same issue. They even have a facebook page dedicated to fixing this problem! how can Honda keep these vehicle's on the road" if my 17 month old would have been in the car with me she would have maybe broke her neck. Go drive 65mph and throw the car in reverse that is what happened to me! and they said I bought a certified used Honda? so what do I do ? who do I call? and why can they sell me a car in such a state" with over 4 recalls on parts and one being potentially fatal. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Cincinnati , OH, USA

problem #36

Mar 082011


  • 89,000 miles
Car "shudders" at 40-45 mph. Honda has had transmission problems with the 2003 Pilot and Odyssey. When this happens the car shakes like it is falling apart. Approx. Cost to repair $4,000.

- St. Peters, MO, USA

problem #35

May 182011


  • 136,000 miles
The transmission would not go in reverse and early was slipping when I was on the high way.

- Oviedo, FL, USA

problem #34

Jun 012012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 101,900 miles
2003 Honda Pilot exl transmission problems, requiring replacement at 101,950 miles in June of 2012. The problem started with a single transmission slip and severe hard (shift) engagement while accelerating between 40 and 45 mph. This problem happened intermittently for about two weeks and progressively increased in occurrence. Then reverse gear selection started slipping and failing to engage. From that point on, the Pilot transmission began consistently slipping and slamming (hard shifting) all gears (including while in D1, D2 and D3) and the longer it was driven, the worse it got, even slipping and slamming the downshift gear changes making the car unsafe to merge into traffic and drive on the road. The hard shifting was becoming so severe that it felt like transmission gear tooth failure was eminent. No check engine lights, no flashing 'd' or trouble codes on the PCM were found, even with all of problems. The Honda dealership where the car was regularly serviced recommended replacing the transmission with a 'remanufactured Honda transmission' at a cost of over $6400, with no assistance from Honda corporate. Filing a complaint with Honda corporate only added to my disappointment, where the Honda representatives I dealt with appeared to be more concerned about trying to turn a profit on replacing the defective transmission rather than being concerned about treating their customer fairly and or losing customer loyalty. Note, this Pilot had the transmission 2nd/3rd gear oil-jet kit recall performed in 2004 and apparently, it only postponed failure of the transmission. Also, this Pilot was never abused, always driven on paved roads, never towed anything and never had to use the vtm-4 wheel drive lockup mode. The transmission and differential fluids were replaced every 30,000 miles with Honda fluids per the recommended maintenance schedule.

- Casselberry, FL, USA

problem #33

Sep 012011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 144,685 miles
Vehicle shudder/shake starting at 50 mph. Advised needed new transmission. Called Honda to check if recall or would be reimbursed. Told no and said wanted problem on record. Replaced transmission at own expense $3045. Drive light periodically flashes. Have not repaired as >$300.

- Roanoke, IN, USA

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