ANNOUNCEMENT: The Car Book 2018 is now online!

Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. Notes: Beware the 2003 Honda Pilot once the odometer reaches 100k miles, when two problem defect trends have shown up: transmission failure & ignition switch problems.

Typically a locksmith can fix the ignition switch or it can be replaced for around $700. However the transmission failure is a far more expensive problem, with the average repair cost at well over $3,000. A major transmission recall of over 1 million Honda vehicles back in 2004 dealt with transmission damage due to overheating, but 2003 Pilot transmissions have continued to fail.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
122,551 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 engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Honda Pilot:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Honda Pilot Owner Comments

problem #19

May 012018


  • 149,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving various speeds, the engine emitted a loud unidentifiable sound that startled the driver. The dealer (capitol Honda, 745 capitol expressway auto mall, san jose, California 95136) was made aware of the failure and was provided with video/recordings of the failure, but could not determine the source of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 149,000.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #18

Feb 242018


  • 145,000 miles
The cars transmission is not working adequately the gears won┐T go while in 2nd and third or reverse

- Chula Vista, CA, USA

problem #17

Jun 012017


  • miles
The truck hesitates in order to get it to move you have to take foot off the gas pedal.happens a lot when driving.sometimes it stalls....driver side rear body mount is rusted out

- West Deprford, NJ, USA

problem #16

Jan 272016


  • 161,000 miles


In the morning, on January 27, I had my 2 year old and 4 year old in the vehicle and I was driving my son to school. Less than a mile from home, going between 30-35mph, I tapped the brakes as I approached a bend in the road and after a brief initial pause (as you would expect), the car suddenly started rapidly accelerating - I started pressing the brakes to no avail - vehicle did not slow down - at this point I was in the curve and was unable to keep the vehicle on the road. I hit a small tree and continued careening out of control until I crashed in a ditch, hitting a wood hydro pole (thankfully not concrete) - both airbags deployed - I suffered a broken ankle, bruised ribs and seat belt abrasions - my 2 year old required stitches on her eye lid and eyebrow due to impact with her cup that she was holding at the time (we're lucky her sight wasn't affected). My son suffered no physical injuries but 1 month later is still talking about it. Vehicle was a complete write off. Had approximately 161,000 miles at time of incident. Cruise control was likely on but wasn't in use. Similar issue happened on 2 previous occasions. 1st at least 8 months ago and then again about 3 weeks before accident (was going to address with dealer at next oil change) but on two prior occurrences surge occurred when brakes were tapped to disengage cruise control - same pause/surge but not nearly as intense and stopped immediately when brakes were pressed again. After the accident I noted that there are several reports of the same thing happening to other people. No idea how fast it was going when it crashed but it "felt" like at least 50mph. This is terrifying when it happens, I don't want to see this happen to anyone else. I shudder to think what would have happened if this had occurred at an intersection or on the expressway - we might not be here... also mailing letter to manufacturer.

- Sarasota, FL, USA

problem #15

Jun 082015


  • 128,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Pilot. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 30 mph and the accelerator pedal depressed, the vehicle stalled as the check engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was restarted. The contact mentioned that the check engine warning light illuminated several times. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 128,000.

- Jasper, TX, USA

problem #14

Dec 182012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
Owner driver was stopped on red light along with 20 other cars, the driver was last in the lane and other driver did not applied brakes, this vehicle was banged from the back. Body damage was repaired by westminster Honda in costa mesa. California, body repair cost of $ 3,500 was paid by insurance company of the person who was at fault, the auto transmission replacement cost of $ 6,500 was recovered from the me who was not at fault. The question is at that time the air bag was not deployed because of fault" after that I got recall notice from american Honda for two air bags driver side and passenger side, the notice came in the month of January 2015, first they delayed the repair task by making an excuse that they are very busy and first appointment is available on February 28 th at auto nation Honda in gilbert AZ then I got an E mail and a call from dealer that the parts are on back order, and they would not know when part will be available. After that I called american Honda, they have intervened and assured me that auto nation Honda will call me to schedule appointment again. Then I gave 4 - 5 calls to auto nation Honda, till today as of April 19th this repair is not fixed even though all parties know that this is critical to the life of drivers and passengers in this vehicle. Now I am in round rock Texas, so I will need to see new dealer will somebody control these auto companies and dealer for compliance" thanks

- Round Rock , TX, USA

problem #13

Oct 302014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 119,000 miles


Failed front and side engine mounts on Honda Pilot 2003. This seems to be very common among other Honda Pilot owners.

- Hopkins, MN, USA

problem #12

May 112011


  • 170,000 miles
Car ran away in reverse as if it had a mind of its own. Full weight on the brakes but the car kept accelerating. Crashed into utility pole encircled with old car tires. Car bounced off and then crashed into the pole over and over again. Hit gear shift into forward. Engine screaming really high revs, car raced forward and I did everything I could to avoid hitting parked vehicles and a pond as car kept going faster. With nowhere to head but golf course or highway, I steered onto a farm field and drove a half mile until I was able to pull out the keys from the starter which stopped car. I did not think I was injured at time but I ended up with whiplash which meant I lost about six months income. Honda refused compensation, or paid for any of the repairs of the car with exception of the key interface for starter. Honda claimed that nothings wrong with car. Said had my foot on accelerator. However, Honda dealership charged me more than $3,000 to fix a completely destroyed braking system how could I have had my foot on the accelerator and destroyed the brakes? Honda refused to buy my car and decommission it because they said car was perfect. Downright rude afterward. I did not let anyone else drive the car and used it as infrequently as I could. Seven months later, I was in an underground parking garage and same thing happened. The car accelerated into thesolid concrete wall just four feet ahead. The impact destroyed car. Front end crumpled in, the engine damaged and all airbags deployed. This from a four foot collision.

- London Ontario Canada, IL, USA

problem #11

Aug 072014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 141,706 miles
I am the original owner of a 2003 Honda Pilot. I am an older, cautious driver and have babied this vehicle, doing all regular service at the dealer's, so it would run in top shape for many years to come. Around six months ago I noticed at lower speeds (20-30 M.P.H.) the vehicle shudders. To counter the problem I have to accelerate and then it goes away. I have had the dealer check it three times and each time they say they cannot replicate the problem, which is hard to believe. Last week the D light started to flash. I took it into the dealer right away and they said it was a sensor. I asked if that could be making the car shudder and they said probably. I had them change it and the shudder has not gone away. This morning it was particularly heavy so I called the dealer again and they gave me the american Honda number. I called them and they said the dealer should look at it. I've seen so many other people have the same complaint and I'm very concerned this is a safety issue that Honda is choosing to ignore; a little like other auto companies have done over the past few years until a fatality happens. As I carry my family in this vehicle and I am particularly concerned.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #10

Jun 012013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
Front motor mounts broke and needed to be replaced. Appears to be a known common problem with Honda Pilot. Never happened on any of my other vehicles.

- Brookfield, CT, USA

problem #9

Jun 202013


  • 209,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. The contact was able to start the vehicle 10 minutes later. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection where they stated that the ignition cylinder lock needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 209,000.

- Chelesa, MI, USA

problem #8

May 202013


  • 59,286 miles
I also had both my front and side engine mounts go bad and I had to fix the problem I paid $934. I have 3 children that sit in this vehicle at all times so if I know that there is an issue especially with the mounts that hold my engine I have to fix it went to my local Honda dealer dealt with the recalls that came up and had them service the transmission fluid since it was there. I am sure that I got robbed but, what can I do have to keep my kids safe. Husband said, that the mounts should last alot longer he knows a lot about cars have other cars over 180K and mounts are still original what is going on Honda getting junky on us. I hope they can fix what is going on too many tranny problems and engine issues. Shame on you not happy at all been a civic, Accord owner also....

- Granada Hills, CA, USA

problem #7

Aug 122011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
The key had trouble turning in the ignition. It got worse over time. Eventually the key wont turn at all. Looked up online and saw many complaints of the same problem with the same model and make of our vehicle. Had it fixed in 2011 and it cost over $500. Now in may of 2013 it's happening again. Sometimes it takes over 10 minutes to get the car started with trying to turn the key over and over again which I'm sure it's just making it worse and worse.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #6

May 132013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
Engine revs at 25-30 mph, and RPM's shoot up. It appears it won't change gears.

- Cedar Point, NC, USA

problem #5

Apr 052013


  • 175,000 miles
I have read on this website and on others that there has been a problem with the engine mounts breaking. I brought my car in for service and, sure enough, my engine mount has broken. The car has never been in an accident and is driven on smooth roads daily. This is a danger to the safety of the driver and passengers in the car. This is a common problem and needs to be recalled.

- Smithtown, NY, USA

problem #4

Apr 152013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 57,500 miles
I own a 2003 Honda Pilot with 57,000 miles on it. After taking it to a Honda specialist for scheduled service, the technician reported that the front engine mount & side engine mount are both broken, with a repair estimate of $503.30. The vehicle has not been in a collision, has had all its scheduled services and in no way should the engine mounts be broken. This is a major issue and Honda should be looking into repair as it seems to not have been properly installed to be broken with such few miles.

- Mckinney, TX, USA

problem #3

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 #2

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 #1

May 152012


  • 168,920 miles
Took Pilot in for headlight recall wiring replacement. Mine had connector completely melted. Replaced. Was told on pickup that all three engine mounts were broke! that explains the clunk with acceleration. I drive this Pilot like an old lady going to church. How all three are broke at the same time the odds are too high for that! bad design"? poor materials??"called Honda mum is the word, no recall on engine mounts, go figure for sure.

- Douglass, KS, USA

Not what you are looking for?