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 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #32

Sep 012010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


The Pilot shudders going at slower rates of speed at pretty regular instances. My mechanic informed me that the torque converter, possibly the whole transmission needs to be replaced. I was also informed that this is a very common problem with 2003 Honda Pilot.

- Geneva, IL, USA

problem #31

Jul 172012


  • 160,000 miles
Have had this vehicle since new. Had the 2nd gear recall done as required at about 30,000. At 96,000 that tranny went out and had a "rebuilt" installed by sunset Honda slo, ca. Under warranty. At about 150000, D indicator flashed meaning sensors on tranny needed replacement.now experiencing loss of drive, sometimes when coming out of stop, engine just revving but no drive, also, as happened to my wife yesterday, when going at about 35, loss of power/drive occurred. This could show that I need an actual decent new tranny put in! I have yet to visit my well qualified and non Honda dealer mechanic! I have been a Honda owner since 1992 and this will be my last Honda ever! the reliability is over with and they are way overpriced.

- Arroyo Grande, CA, USA

problem #30

May 042012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 114,800 miles
The transmission would not change to a higher gear causing the engine rpms to increase dramatically. I was almost rear-ended by the automobile behind me. Eventually the transmission did find 3rd gear. This situation has happened numerous times since the initial episode. The transmission problem always occurs with the second gear. Once the gear wouldn't change while I was merging into interstate traffic. I could have easily been killed. I took my vehicle to my dealer, crown Honda of durham, nc, because I had purchased by Pilot from them as a new vehicle, had the 2004 transmission 2nd gear recall "fix" performed by them, and had them perform all regularly schedule maintenance for the first 5 years. I also had maintenance records showing that I had performed all maintenance as required by Honda for the past 9.5 years, including having the transmission fluid replaced. Although they didn't deny knowing of the many transmission failures of Honda vehicles, they refused to replace my transmission at no cost or at a discounted cost.

- Chapel Hill, NC, USA

problem #29

Jun 042012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 165,000 miles


Shuddering and jerking while shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. Also does the same in reverse. Car would not accelerate on highway on-ramp. While at high highway speeds, car felt like it fell out of gear and lost power, until the gear engaged again.

- Dixon, CA, USA

problem #28

May 012012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
I originally had the 45-50 mph horrible shudder, but Honda did fix that issue and they said the hubs were defective. At 117,000, the transmission started to skip and jerk horribly and the revs spiked. I drove to Honda and they said the trans needed to be replaced for $5,000. I had it rebuilt by aamco for $2,700. Within 15,000 miles, the flashing D and vtm-4 light would start coming on. I drove it to aamco while the flashing D was ocuring and they could not find a problem and no error codes. I have preceeded to drive and replace the trans fluid every 20,000 just in case, to be safe. The flashing D is annoying. I have started to sense the shifting at 2 and 3rd gear to be getting rougher over time. I foresee number 3 transmission coming soon. Honda America Corp would not help saying the car is out of warranty. The funny thing is that I mentioned all the people on-line complaining about trans issues, the reply: "Honda does not see an increased amount of claims on any transmission issues on the Pilot". what liars! I've owned 4 Honda before and the quality is gone. I won't buy Honda again.

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #27

May 082012


  • 124,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that she arrived at home and forget to shift the vehicle into park. The contact was able to successfully shut the vehicle off and remove the key from the ignition, even though it was not shifted into park. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was contacted and informed the contact that there were no recalls addressing the failure. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 124,000.

- Washington Terrace, UT, USA

problem #26

Apr 152012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 113,100 miles


I am experiencing shudder or problem changing the gear. The engine lights is on now and not clearing up. I have seen the same problem on line from other people and all pointing to a problem with the transmission with this model.

- Union, NJ, USA

problem #25

May 042005

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 15,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated the door locks would not lock and the windows sporadically failed to open and close. The contact also mentioned while driving various speeds, the transmission would shift into gear. In addition, the lights within the buttons on the dashboard stopped working and there was an electrical short in the air conditioner fan. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 15,000 and the current mileage was 120,000. Updated 05/15/12 *

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #24

Mar 152012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
When the car is accelerating, between either 2nd and 3rd gears, the transmission slips and will not engage. The RPM's go up to about 6000 because it is as if it is in neutral. If the car is shifted into neutral and back to drive, the Pilot will begin to drive normally. If the driver lets up off the gas completely and RPM's fall all the way down, it will sometimes re-engage. The Pilot has done this 6 times in the last 3 weeks while in traffic. There was a recall on Pilot transmissions but Honda has no record of it being done and was told ours did not show up in their system although it was on all 2003 Pilot. We have only owned the car for 5 months after buying from a local Honda dealer. The Pilot has been serviced regularly.

- Oviedo, FL, USA

problem #23

Feb 282012


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that the second gear of the transmission burned out, causing the vehicle to jerk while driving 25 mph uphill. The dealer was notified regarding the transmission failure who advised the contact that there was a recall related to the failure under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission). The vehicle was repaired under the recall however, the failure recurred. The dealer advised that the contact would be responsible for any further repairs because the vehicle had already been repaired under the recall. The manufacturer was notified who confirmed the dealer's statement and offered no further assistance. The failure mileage was 130,000 and the current mileage was 135,000.

- Shelton, WA, USA

problem #22

Mar 052012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 139,438 miles


I took my Pilot in for a slipping transmission. I was told I had bad motor mounts and that was allowing the transmission to slip. I spent approx. $3600 to have the motor mounts fixed, timing belt and water pump, front struts, etc. Fixed. The problem started again, this time, getting a flashing "D" light. Took it back in for failure to fix the problem. Had 4th gear pressure gear replaced for cost. I now have a check engine light on posting a code of P0730, "incorrect gear ratio". I have been into Honda 4 times for this issue including today, and I was told I need a new transmission. I am out of warranty of course, but I know there are many, many complaints regarding this particular issue. I do not have the money to replace a faulty transmission that was built poorly. I am worried I might get into a crash because of this. I am contemplating hiring a lawyer to resolve this issue.

- Oak Grove, MO, USA

problem #21

Sep 142011


  • 115,000 miles
Transmission started slipping with only 115,000 miles. Had to replace transmission for $4,000. I purchased it for reliability & this is the 4th Honda I've owned. Leaves bad taste in my mouth.

- East Ridge, TN, USA

problem #20

Mar 172012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 86,600 miles
Highway driving, vehicle suddenly lurched forward after an engine hesitation (heard a loud noise, passenger thought the vehicle had hit something...felt under passenger side footwell.) drove home, next day there were problems getting the vehicle into reverse. Again, it lurched into reverse and made a loud noise. Immediately taken to dealership with only one "racing" engine noise at 35mph. Diagnosed with code #P0740 (torque converter) requiring complete transmission replacement. Vehicle is original owner/all recommended service at correct time intervals (including a double transmission service done at 60,000 and 77,000) no paperwork indicating 2004 recall service was done, however dealership insists it was completed (they're still looking for paperwork.) only major repair: $1100 repair done 82,400 - leaking transmission fluid (replaced front pump seal, O-ring on converter and rear main) now, 2200 miles later, transmission is out and must be replaced. Dealership quoting $5200 (not including labor), after discussions with Honda they have offered to cover 40% of repair price (not including labor). I had a reasonable expectation that the transmission would last longer than 87,000 miles, considering the regular maintenance and safe driving record. Thankfully, I have all repair/service paperwork and will be going to BBB arbitration, as suggested in the Honda warranty handbook. Also, extremely thankful there was no accident/injury/death related to this severe transmission issue (had I been at full highway speed, 65mph, the outcome may not have been so positive when the vehicle's transmission hesitated and then surged.)

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #19

Mar 032012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 156,000 miles
Just started having transmission problems. 2003 Pilot ex with only 150K miles, just started slipping. Going 65mph on the freeway and suddenly it feels like I slammed on the brakes, and engine revs without changing speed, like, I just shifted into neutral. Took the car into Honda and they are telling me it will cost $4500 to get a remanufactured transmission, not a new one. Since I bought it from its original owner I asked if the car was brought in on the recall in 2004. The original did not remember, but I called the dealership and they said yes but could not provide me with a date it happened. Now I'm a little worried.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #18

Feb 242012


  • 125,000 miles
While driving along a road at about 30 mph, there was a very intense loud vibrating noise under the front console of our 2003 Honda Pilot. It was very intense and loud and lasted about 10 seconds. We pulled over and looked but couldn't see anything visibly wrong on the outside. Then the next morning, when pulling it out of our parking stall, it did it again. The first time, we had driven it for a week straight(after buying it) without hearing a problem. Then it happened twice. After looking through multiple forums on this issue, it sounds like there are quite a few people who have had the same problem with the Acura MDX and with Honda Pilot. If there are so many issues, obviously it's a factory defect.

- Provo, UT, USA

problem #17

Apr 092009

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 121,000 miles
Bought used 2003 Honda Pilot in March 2009. Had to replace transmission in April 2009. Purchased a new transmission for over $4,000 to get a 3-yr, 36,000 mile warranty. Previously owned a 2003 Honda Accord (bought new) that had the transmission replaced under warranty in 2006. Didn't think about Pilot having the same transmission, or I would never have purchased the Pilot. Now at 166,000 miles my drive light is blinking again, but of course the warranty is out on the transmission!!

- Godley, TX, USA

problem #16

Feb 222012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
Transmission locked wheels, shifted to several different gears while at moderate speed (appx 45 mph).

- Wauwatosa, WI, USA

problem #15

Feb 012012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
My car is experiencing a weird slipping on the transmission, it doesnt seem to change gear sometimes. Its always the 2nd gear going to 3rd gear when it starts slipping. But when I stop and pull over for a minute and drive the car, the problems goes away. Also the airbag warning turns on and off for some reason. I called Honda a few months ago and asked if my car is included in the recall but I was surprised they said no. I just dont know whats going on with this car.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #14

Feb 072012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Vehicle almost stalled in a busy intersection, check engine light came on and vehicle engine was revving at a high RPM. Had a friend check the code with a scanner which came back with code PO740 -torque converter solenoid circuit. I think this is a safety issue and should be covered by the manufacturer. It's just a matter of time before someone gets killed because of this issue. Called american Honda and said there were no recalls on this issue and did not offer any suggestions. Did a search on the internet and found I was not the only person having this issue. Very disappointed with Honda - will not be buying any Honda product in the future.

- Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #13

Oct 012011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 158,000 miles
Vehicle transmission would not shift properly in lower gears; vehicle would not downshift to first gear, but would remain in neutral. Intermittently, vehicle would shift from first gear to second gear, then slips into neutral (engine would continue to rev, but vehicle would not move). Intermittent 'clunk' as transmission moves from one gear to another. When vehicle does not shift, poses a safety hazard as you cannot merge into traffic; or vehicle would not accelerate when attempting to merge, and would remain in neutral, holding up traffic behind. Highly dangerous condition, as driver cannot depend on vehicle to accelerate when required.

- Alameda, CA, USA

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