really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,603 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Honda Pilot Owner Comments

problem #15

Aug 012012


  • miles


A couple of years ago, we had our mechanic (who worked with a locksmith) rebuild the ignition switch because our keys were failing to turn the switch, making it impossible to start the car. This repair cost us about $400. We also had new keys cut. Now the problem has resurfaced. The keys are not worn, but they are still unable to turn the switch unless they go in "just right" -- which means 15+ minutes of fiddling with the key to start the car -- and sometimes it just doesn't work at all. The locksmith will charge us another $400 to rebuild the switch again -- or we can pay $535 (plus tax) to the dealership to have them replace it. [this does not include the door locks, by the way, which would still have to be opened with the old key -- and cost another $400 to replace.] we have started leaving a key in the ignition at all times to ensure that we can use the car. Once we get it in there, we just leave it there. We drape a small towel over the steering column to hide the key, but there it stays. It's a ridiculous situation, and we are not alone. I see a lot of people complaining about this online. Why has this not been recalled?

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #14

Mar 252014


  • miles
Issue with Honda Pilot's ignition switch not fully engaging the park position. Received recall paper work ordering this issue to be fixed at local Honda dealer free of charge. Recall paper work was signed by [xxx] chief recall management division. Local Honda dealer, williston Honda and Chrysler performed the recall service on April 4, 2014. The recall job for a Honda Pilot was botched. The service mechanic refused to fix. Requested management to investigate this issue. As of today April 18, 2014 an answer to fix or not to fix this issue from the management of williston Honda and Chrysler has not been given. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Williston, ND, USA

problem #13

Feb 052014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 165,000 miles
The ignition switch for the vehicle suddenly wouldn't accept the key. Researching the issue online, www.piloteers.org/forums/14-problems/27572-2003-Pilot-ignition-switch-problem-solution.html, I found many other references to the exact same problem. Only 160,000 miles on vehicle and in excellent mechanical condition so very unexpected and serious defect. I have two other vehicles with over 250,000 miles and never had this concern. New ignition parts installed over $500 and told me to save my paperwork as there should be a recall on this. I'm fortunate it was daylight, I was at work, and had aaa in order to get the vehicle towed to the dealer. Please force Honda to issue a recall on this ignition switch problem.

- Aptos, CA, USA

problem #12

Oct 032013


  • 90,000 miles


In April of this year I brought my 2003 Honda Pilot in to the dealership for a recall concerning the ignition switch interlock. After that, it was difficult to put my key in the ignition, but if I jiggled it enough it would finally go in. Now my key does not even go in at all. The Honda dealership said that I need the ignition switch assembly changed, but that it is not covered by any recall. It seems like this is a fairly common problem among other owners of the 2003 Honda Pilot. To be stuck somewhere with my kids in a car that won't start because the key won't go in is a scary thought. It has almost happened to me more than once.

- Hilo, HI, USA

problem #11

Dec 212010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • miles
Certified letter (7011 0470 003 0649 3438) from attorney representing his client regarding paid repaired work he had done to his 2003 Honda Pilot and later received recall notices about the problem; he is seeking reimbursement. On December 21, 2012, the key became stuck in the ignition, and could not be removed without the assistance from the dealer. The dealer informed the consumer it would cost $624. 41 to fix the problem, despite the fact it was a known defect, which apparently resulted from an improper setting of the cable connecting the shift lever to the transmission at the shift lever bracket, which was a common problem with Honda vehicles. After the consumer paid for the repairs, he received a recall notice from Honda concerning the ignition interlock switch on his vehicle.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #10

Jul 052010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Honda Pilot. Consumer writes in regards to defective ignition switch. The consumer stated when her husband returned to the vehicle 30 minutes later, he discovered the vehicle had rolled backwards on an incline in the parking lot, coming to rest against another vehicle, which caused damaged to the front of that vehicle. The consumer stated she was able to remove the key from the ignition, even though the gear was not in park. The consumers husband informed her, there were three other occurrences prior to the accident, where the vehicle would roll backwards, anywhere from a few feet to a few yards.

- Moorestown, NJ, USA

problem #9

Jan 222013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles


There is a problem with the ignition switch on my 2003 Honda Pilot. When I try and put my ignition key into the ignition switch, it requires several attempts before it actually goes in to the key slot without resistance. It is as if one is putting the wrong key into the wrong key hole. When it does finally go in, it may take several more attempts for the key to finally turn and start the vehicle.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #8

Nov 232012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 154,500 miles
I was unable to start my car due to faulty ignition switch. I found myself stranded, with 4 young children, and in the cold-unable to even run the heat. The key issue was reported to Honda and I was waiting for help from the company due to the known defect in the key/ignition tumblers, as widely reported to me by a locksmith and a dealer. Honda has been unwilling to issue a recall notice regarding this defect.

- O'fallon, MO, USA

problem #7

Mar 152012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While parked with the key removed from the ignition, the vehicle rolled away in reverse independently. The vehicle came to a complete stop when it traveled over a curb on the opposite side of the street. The contact entered the vehicle and noticed that the gear shifter was still in drive. The failure recurred twice on separate occasions. The contact also experienced difficulty turning the key in the ignition. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The mechanic stated that the ignition switch would have to be replaced. After the repair, the contact noticed that she was unable to remove the key from the ignition unless the vehicle was shifted into park first. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 130,000....updated11/21/12 updated 11/30/2012

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #6

Jun 052012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated the engine was turned off and the key released from the ignition switch upon removing, even though the gear was shifted into the drive position. The vehicle began to roll and came to a stop once the brake pedal was depressed. The gear was then shifted into park. There was currently an open investigation associated with NHTSA action number PE12026 (electrical system:ignition:switch). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000. Updated 10/31/12

- Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #5

Aug 122012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 162,000 miles


2003 Honda Pilot ignition switch problem- the first day I was having problems inserting key into ignition and had to jiggle it around in order to turn it to start the engine. The next day the key would go in but it would take several attempts and at least 10-15 minutes trying to start the ignition. I was getting stuck in store parking lots and at home. Now the key goes in and doesn't turn at all. The steering wheel is also locked as well as the gear shift so there is no way to put in neutral to tow it.

- Dunedin, FL, USA

problem #4

Jul 312012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 113,546 miles
The ignition switch locked up and the car would not start. I was stranded at work for several hours. Honda needs to do something about this issue. We should not have to pay $600 for a repair they are well aware do to a parts defect. Previously the vehicle also had started to roll back on the inclined drive way when I removed the ignition key with the shifter still in drive.

- White Plains, MD, USA

problem #3

Sep 102010

(reported on)

Pilot 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Honda Pilot. Consumer states problem with vehicle ignition the consumer stated he was able to remove the key from the ignition, even though the vehicle was not in park. The dealer found the interlock system had an internal failure. The consumer was informed his vehicle was not on the recall list.

- Naples, FL, USA

problem #2

Feb 142010


  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact was able to remove the ignition key when the shift lever was not in park. He didn't realize that the vehicle was not in park when he turned the ignition off. The vehicle rolled backwards and crashed into another vehicle. There were minor damages to the vehicle. No one was injured. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that they would replace the ignition switch for $564 at his expense. There were no recalls for his year, make and model vehicle for the ignition switch. The manufacturer stated that there were no recalls for the ignition switch. He was also told by the manufacturer that if it does become a recall to keep his receipt and he would be reimbursed. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 72,000.

- Jackson, MS, USA

problem #1

Mar 042010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated while driving 25 mph the vehicle felt as though it was surging forward. The contact pulled over and put the vehicle into park and the RPM's started to rev-up on its own. The contact has taken the vehicle to a local mechanic for a diagnostic test. Thecontact stated the vehicle has many safety problem and thinks the manufacturer should be responsible for the repairs. The failure mileage was 120,000. Updated 05/06/10. The door lock cylindeers and ignition switch was replaced. The engine and steering locked up and the vehicle would not start. The key door lock broke and had to be replaced. The heater motor failed. Updated 07/06/10.

- Windsor, CA, USA

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