really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
87,807 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Honda Pilot Owner Comments (Page 3 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #65

Apr 082009


  • 115,000 miles


My 2004 Honda Pilot makes a loud rattling or vibrating noise that I can feel when the car is going about 35 - 60 mph. I notice it daily on my way to and from work. Since I live where there is no Honda dealer nearer than 150 miles, I've asked local mechanics to try to determine the source of the vibration. I've found out that the problem may be a bad torque converter, and will be quite costly to repair.

- Alpena, MI, USA

problem #64

Aug 012003


  • 90,000 miles
2003 Honda Pilot transmission failure at 90000. Seems that the recall fix did not work. Just do an internet search and you will see how many of us have had to pay thousands of dollars for Honda transmissions. Second to third gear is the problem. You did force them to recall the Odyssey problem it is time for action for us Pilot owners.

- Waukesha, WI, USA

problem #63

May 072010


  • 105,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While traveling at speeds of 25 mph, the contact attempted to accelerate the vehicle would not accelerate over 25 mph. In addition, the gear shift selector would not shift into first, second or third gears and the check engine light would sporadically illuminate on the dashboard. The dealer informed the contact that the transmission had failed and would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The current and failure mileages were 105,000.

- Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #62

Apr 032010


  • 106,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving at approximately 75 mph, the contact heard a loud bang from the engine compartment and when he attempted to shift into neutral, the vehicle moved in reverse. The contact coasted the vehicle to the side of the road and turned off the ignition. When he restarted it, the vehicle functioned normally but a few minutes later, the problem occurred again. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealership where he was informed that there were no recalls on his vehicle. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The current and failure mileages were approximately 106,000.

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #61

Apr 012010


  • 128,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Pilot with 128,000 miles. While on the highway, speed about 60 the car slammed and the speed came down 20 mph in a couple of seconds. I was lucky no one was behind me or it could have been a serious accident. Transmission needs to be replaced.

- Lumberton, NJ, USA

problem #60

Sep 012009

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Consumers 2003 Honda Pilot automatic transmission failed. Consumer found an affordable auto shop and learned that the vehicle was under warranty when the information was provide to Honda consumer was denied warranty service. A mechanic informed the consumer, there was a recall on the vehicle, regarding the transmission in relation to the second gear, the consumer stated he was not aware of any recalls on the vehicle, as a notice never came in the mail. The mechanic confirmed the vehicle met the recall outlined in the notice he found online. Honda informed the consumer the claim was denied because the problem did not meet the recall requirements issued in 2004. According to the invoice, the transmission diagnosis stated the transmission overheated. It also stated a list of parts that were replaced on the vehicle, mainly the secondary shaft 2nd gear and the counter shaft 2nd gear.

- Miles City, MT, USA

problem #59

Mar 232010


  • 128,000 miles


I have a 2003 Honda Pilot that is having transmission problem. It is slipping gears and bogs while driving. I have notice that their was a recall on this car andi guess it was taken care of but the problem still exit.

- Hanford, CA, USA

problem #58

Mar 232010


  • 128,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Pilot that is having transmission problem. It is slipping gears and bogs while driving.

- Hanford, CA, USA

problem #57

Feb 012007


  • 127,000 miles
2003 Honda Pilot transmission: My transmission continues to slip in 2nd gear. I have replaced numerous items on the vehicle - steering column, motor mounts, etc. The list is numerous. I have had transmission problems almost since the beginning of purchasing this vehicle in February 2006. The dealer never told me that the 2003 Pilot had any type of transmission problems. I know as a consumer, I should have done my own research, but I had always heard excellent things about Honda. My transmission continues to slip, after revving. I took it to the dealer and even then they never said anything about problems. I had my repairman look at it because I was concerned. He is the one that told me this vehicle had transmission problems & all dealers were aware of it. I bought the extended warranty when I purchased the car - but of course, it is no longer valid. I am really upset because I drive my 2 children and the transmission will just stall in the middle of traffic - won't leave 2nd-3rd gear. It just revs at about 20-30 miles. It happens quite often and now the check engine light is coming on. The message boards say this is the end of the line. I will attempt to speak with my local dealer. I contacted american Honda who basically offered no assistance. Now, I am learning about the horrible things that have happened with the Honda 2003 Pilot transmissions and am just disappointed that in the effort to make money, no one thought of consumer safety. Obviously, Honda recognizes that this is a huge problem and still they are not offering any help to consumers. It is appalling. My car did have the Honda repair patch for the transmission in 2004 according to american Honda records, as the transmission had a problem even then. Of course, I have the car fax report and it didn't show this information. Is there somewhere else that you can track repairs on used vehicles?

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #56

Feb 132010


  • 87,000 miles
There are several issues: 1. the problem began with the key not fitting properly as it once did, perhaps after several attempts. When I turn the key or put the key in the ignition it won't turn to get the vehicle started. I turned the steering wheel all the way to the left and it doesn't matter. The Pilot still won't start. When reading the manual, it's a push sign under the ignition but this isn't addressed in the manual. It doesn't tell you the purpose of the push sign. I've tried everything to get the key to turn and I've let others try also. And it doesn't work for anyone. The steering wheel is turned all the way to the left but the wheels are not and it won't turn to the right it all; it's locked. The vehicle won't go in neutral, so I can roll it or nothing. 2. there is knocking noise that is louder when you accelerate on the left front side perhaps it's coming from the drive-train or axle on that side, almost sounds like something is loose and may fall off. 3. the radio turns off for a few seconds randomly and it may not happen again for a while and suddenly does once again. 4. the lock and handle to the glove compartment broke off and cannot be opened. 5. the wire to control the handles for the rear seats to recline and fold down broke from within the seats. I looked inside it's the piece of plastic to hold the wire in place that broke, there needs to be a better replacement part made of steel not plastic. 6. the floor mat sticks in bunches causing the carpet to soil can be hazardous I.e. Toyota, only remedy is to replace the floor mat for the truck entirely, very, very expensive... 7. when it reaches 30mph it shakes and you can hear a loud noise like you're driving over something ridged it's scary. 8. the button for four wheel drive does not function 9. the chrome on the door handles peeled off tearing the skin causing injuries to the hand, my finger still feels tingly and numb. Please help!!!

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #55

Feb 062010


  • miles


I owe a 2003 Honda Pilot. In 2007 I complained to the Honda service center of a grinding noise several times but nothing could be found. On 2/6/2010 my transmission failed. This problem was reported several times and the dealer could never find a problem. Now since the warranty has expired it is my problem. I have read of the same situation happening to many people and believe it is a problem with the Honda transmission.

- Walnutport, PA, USA

problem #54

Jan 162009


  • miles
My car had a transmission recall notice in 2004. I took the car in July 2004 and supposedly the problem was corrected. However, after that time, my car seemed to downshift very roughly and was jerky when putting into gear. Last year my transmission locked up while going down a hill. While, the car behind me did not hit me, my abrupt halt caused at least 3 cars behind me to rear end each other. I had the transmission replaced but I am starting to feel some of the old shifting issues again. I'm hoping it doesn't die.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #53

Jan 192010


  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving 35 mph the transmission started to slip. The check engine light came on and the vehicle became difficult to accelerate. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer who stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The contact is familiar with numerous complaints regarding the transmission failure. The contact is concerned about the safety risk since the lack of acceleration could cause a crash. The failure mileage was 95,000.

- Destrahana, LA, USA

problem #52

Jan 052010


  • 112,700 miles
2003 Honda Pilot ex-L res; automatic, 112,700 miles. Transmission began slipping while shifting from 2nd-3rd with the selector in drive. Shortly there after at roughly 60 mph on the highway we experienced a jarring downshift from 5th to 2nd gear with a loud mechanical "thunk", then immediately back to a higher gear, maybe 4th. The truck decelerated so fast and harshly that my wife and 2 children were thrown forward into their seat belts and all items from the floor and back seat were thrown into the front of the cabin. This mishap was unsafe on the highway and I could honestly see this causing an accident under the right circumstances, for instance, merging onto a highway. The maintenance indicator lamp ("mil") illuminated and the transmission mode selector began flashing the drive ("D") indicator. We immediately pulled off the highway and parked the vehicle at our home a short distance away. The clutch slipped between the first 3 gears below 40 mph on the short drive home. The dealership pulled code P0780. No associated fluid leaks and the transmission fluid was still pink and didn't smell burnt. 3 service technicians test drove it. As soon as the transmission warmed up, it displayed the same behavior reported above and the last test drive barely made it back to the dealership. Dealership recommends replacement of transmission for $4,293. The truck was serviced per Honda's recommended maintenance/service schedule with Honda genuine fluids and parts. The last transmission/ rear differential service was approximately 9,000 miles ago in January, 2009. This vehicle also had the transmission fluid jet kit performed in 2004. I will also be filing a complaint with the better business bureau due to the unusually high amount of 2003/2004 Honda Pilot failed transmission reports I have read on a number of online forums. Most vehicles that experienced the same failures had between 90K-130K miles. This is unacceptable and should reach class action level.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #51

Nov 142009


  • 165,000 miles
2003 Honda Pilot LX 5 speed automatic transmission slipping and changing gears on its own without warning. Transmission failure.

- Claremore, OK, USA

problem #50

Oct 032006


  • 98,000 miles
2004 Honda Pilot, transmission problems!!! Honda said we need to replace your transmission... we had a flashing D light for many year on & off again... they said the recall was done.. my repair record as follows: Honda West augs 1/2003 a intermediate maintenance, throttle body service, rear differential service, ac replace ventilation filters, invoice total paid by us $353.10. 10/03/2006 had front brakes done at star import service, they noted {no codes stored for engine or transmission. Possibly cleared @ dealer "?") 08/13/2007 star imports service to check trans light flashes on sometimes, they scan transmission for code and stated on invoice none present..02/18/2009 hondatronics service, check transmission operation, changed transmission fluid twice, we paid 198.13.. June 16, 2009 check D light flashing.. it is now 10/2009 and D light is flashing again and we are told we need a new transmission.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #49

Mar 012009


  • 70,000 miles
For the past 6 months, I am having this blinking "D" light on the transmission while driving on my 2003 Honda Pilot SUV. I believed this has to do with the premature failure of the transmission that could cause serious injury to passengers and yet there is no recall yet by Honda America to alert the owners of this serious defective transmission problem on this 2003 Honda Pilot car.

- Arcadia, CA, USA

problem #48

Sep 302009


  • miles
2003 Honda Pilot w/45,500 miles hesitation/surging while maintaining speed or while lightly accelerating from maintained speed. Humming noise during hesitation/surge. Very noticeable between 25-40mph. Advised by Honda dealer that transmission needs to be replaced. I am the original owner of the vehicle.

- Parma, OH, USA

problem #47

Sep 212009


  • 118,500 miles
Transmission was slow to transition to 3rd gear while going approx. 30-35 mph. A few days later, the "D" light started flashing, but when car was turned off, it did not go on again. Took it to my mechanic thinking it was a "3rd switch" issue I had read about on car sites. My mechanic said one solenoid was cold, while another was hot. He took it to the dealer to run the codes and get a second opinion. The dealer says it needs a new transmission. My mechanic picked the car up and on the way back, it started shifting from 4th to 1st or 2nd gear on the highway. He said he almost smacked his head on the windshield it jerked so hard. This marks a very rapid decline over less than a week and after my mechanic thought the issue was not the transmission. I believe the car was part of the 2004 transmission recall which was serviced by a Honda dealer.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #46

Sep 062009


  • 88,000 miles
200 Honda Pilot... transmission has been slipping... holding gear before lurching to next gear... same with slowing down... pretty alarming... was told that I need a new transmission at a cost of around $3000... car only has 88,000 miles on it... very frustrating... Honda should replace these on their dime.

- Louisville, KY, USA

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