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 4 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #45

Aug 152009


  • 85,284 miles


Car jolted forward while driving on the highway. Very scary. It didn't shift properly afterwards. While pressing the accelerator on a slope, for example, it didn't shift and then jolted forward. In one occasion that I put the car in the R gear, and it didn't go backwards. Checked with a Honda dealership, and told that the entire transmission needs to be replaced.

- Westford, MA, USA

problem #44

Aug 172009


  • 138,400 miles
Our 2003 Honda Pilot locked up on the highway due to transmission failure of the 2nd gear. We were traveling in the 3rd lane over 60 mph when both front tires locked and we skidded to a halt in less than 200 yards on the highway. Prior to our vehicle breaking down, there were no signs of danger, no unusual sounds, no blinking lights or any hesitation with the car. Our vehicle had 138,400+ miles and has been serviced regularly according to Honda's recommended maintenance schedules, including all transmission fluid changes. On May 7, 2004 with 36,384 miles, our vehicle had received a retrofit of the A/T oil jet kit due to Honda's 04-021B safety recall on the automatic transmission second gear. Luckily no one was injured and there were no other vehicles involved in the incident. The car behind us stopped just in time to avoid a collision. Our car could not be rolled into the breakdown lane as both front wheels were locked and we were stranded in the 3rd lane. A police officer was called to the scene and logged the incident as a disabled vehicle. The officer requested for immediate towing since we were in a dangerous location. The car was towed to a Honda dealer, who provided the following diagnosis and estimate: "transmission internal failure both front axles twisted needs 2 tires - flat spots alignment $5,199.14 plus tax" we opted not to repair the Honda and instead purchased a new non-Honda vehicle and received a trade-in value for ¿as-is¿ condition.

- Redding, CT, USA

problem #43

Jul 262009


  • 111,000 miles
I am the original owner of a 2003 Honda Pilot that has been serviced regularly. I was on ca highway 80 when the "D" light suddenly started flashing then the gears started to stick. The car would not go into overdrive and I had to suddenly slow the car on the highway to 40 mph. I pulled off as soon as it was safe and was unable to put the car in reverse nor get it into overdrive. Had to drive it at an unsafe speed on the highway to the nearest repair station. Honda is not acknowledging this defect now that the car has 110,000 miles and I have to replace the entire transmission.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #42

Jul 312009

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Honda Pilot transmission was replaced. Consumer request a refund for the transmission work that was a safety recall. The consumer stated there was no reverse gear and the vehicle jerked when switching the gear forward. The dealer diagnosed the problem as internal transmission failure.

- La Habra, CA, USA

problem #41

Jul 152009


  • 115,000 miles
Transmission problems, slipping not going into second gear, experienced intermittently, brought in for repair in May 2009 dealer could not find a problem. Transmission problems increased in June, "D" light flashing, slipping near accident trying to pull into traffic and transmission did not engage engine just revved; dealer replaced a part for $800. Transmission problems increasing in frequency, more slipping not going into gear more near accidents pulling into traffic, dealer now notices problem, dealer says we need a new transmission.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #40

May 102009


  • 110,259 miles
NHTSA recall campaign number: 04V176000 this recall was performed on my vehicle, now the vehicle has started slip and shift hard, the vehicle has had issues with the "D" flashing during normal driving conditions, but resets when the car is shut off. I'm afraid that the as state on the recall consequence: Quote: "gear failure could result in transmission lockup, which could result in a crash." I did some research about this and there several hundreds if no thousands of people with this issue.

- Hagerstown, MD, USA

problem #39

Jun 282009


  • 140,000 miles


2003 Honda Pilot 140K miles. Transmission slips out of gear when accelerating. The "D" indicator began to flash then the car would act like a manual transmission trying start from a dead stop in 4th gear.

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #38

Jun 172009


  • 132,500 miles
Transmission failed to engage next gear slipping. Was merging highway traffic and hardly avoided another car coming from behind me. Seen other customers complaining on 2003-2004 Pilot transmissions fails same way soon after 100kmiles.

- Thomaston, GA, USA

problem #37

Apr 162009


  • 95,000 miles
2003 Honda Pilot. 2nd gear going out. Seems to have chipped teeth on gear. I contacted Honda. They told me that my Pilot had already been looked at back in 2004. My mechanic says that this is without a doubt a direct result of original recall on this model. This all began with my "D" flashing. Now my second gear is grinding and about to O out.

- Farmington, MO, USA

problem #36

Jun 102009


  • 84,985 miles
Our 2003 Honda Pilot's (with 85,000 miles) check engine light came on approximately 6/1/09. We recently just purchased this Pilot and are the second owners. The car was bought and serviced at the local Honda dealership right up until we bought it. Anyhow, we were driving on the highway and the car began to downshift and the car slowed down rather violently as we pulled off on the exit ramp. The rest of the drive home the transmission was shifting and down-shifting quite roughly. Where it gets really interesting was that this vehicle had a recall on the transmission in 2004, warning that the transmission could have "gear failure and lock-up causing a rear-end collision." But the local Honda dealership informed us that the recall is totally unrelated to our transmission problem and that we are responsible for the entire cost of repair.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #35

Jun 052009


  • 95,000 miles


2003 Honda Pilot, 95K miles, transmission light came on and then started flashing, slipping or popping between gears, acceleration is gone, went downhill very quickly. I logged onto various websites and see the same transmission problems reported by many early model Honda Pilot owners I am extremely disappointed as I expected a Honda to be top notch.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #34

May 192009


  • 86,000 miles
Feb 2009 noticed transmission was periodically slipping at 86,000 miles, 1000 over extended warranty. Did not malfunction when my mechanic checked it. I was passing a truck going uphill at approximately 65mph when the transmission downshifted to first gear on its own and slammed to almost a complete stop. Everything in my car was thrown forward. Took it to a mechanic where I was traveling and he recorded the code P0730, problem in shift control system. Back to my mechanic again for solenoid replacement. Still not shifting properly. Called Honda Corp and was told that I had to take it to a Honda dealer. Honda diagnosed as needing new transmission. I provided all records for proof of maintenance. There is no proof that the "fix it" was ever performed on the transmissions recall. I am out over $2500 for a problem that Honda has acknowledged responsibility for in the past but is choosing to look the other way now. I am thankful that I did not crash when the transmission malfunctioned.

- Medford, Or, OR, USA

problem #33

May 152009


  • 115,000 miles
Blinking D light on 2003 Honda Pilot transmission. Dealers say they don't know the cause. Edmunds forum full of same complaint, same evasive answer. Transmission about to fail.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #32

Jan 142008


  • 162,525 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving approximately 60 mph, the gears failed and the transmission locked up without warning. The dealer stated that the vehicle was previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission); therefore, they would not assume any additional responsibility for the repairs. The contact would have to pay $3,500 to have the transmission replaced. The vehicle has not been repaired due to the cost. The VIN was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 162,525.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #31

Apr 202009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving between 15-20 mph on normal road conditions, the automatic transmission hesitated intermittently when shifting from first to second gear. There were no warning lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an independent transmission shop for diagnostic testing. The technician stated that there were mechanical failures in the transmission. Through online research, the contact discovered NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train;automatic transmission). The authorized dealer was notified and stated that there was an earlier recall repair performed on the vehicle in 2004; however, it has not corrected the failure addressed in the safety recall. The vehicle has not been repaired. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 81,000 and current mileage was 82,000. Updated 6/01/09 updated 06/02/09.

- Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #30

Apr 262009


  • 134,500 miles
The Honda Pilot 2003 which has 134500 miles on it started to rev up while accelerating and lurching forward violently. Once while trying to get on the interstate the vehicle violently stall as if put in a neutral and lurched back to 50mph speed in few seconds. Luckily not body is behind but would have caused a crash. Had the vehicle to Honda car dealer who serviced the vehicle 1 week back and they said transmission needs to be replaced and was quoted $4000 for the repair. Called Honda customer service and complained about the transmission issue and the sr checked with his supervisor and said they are not going to repair or replace the transmission parts.

- Buford, GA, USA

problem #29

Apr 182009


  • 157,000 miles
I am the original owner of a 2003 Honda Pilot with an automatic transmission problem. I travel frequently and currently have 157,000 miles on the odometer. My vehicle has been serviced as required and properly maintained. It has always given me problems with harsh shifting between gears, but due to lack of any code warnings, I've been advised by the dealer and personal mechanics that there were no concerns. As the primary driver of a vehicle, one can sense any changes in how an automobile drives and at 50,265 miles, I began to notice a change with the shifting of gears. Again at 87,767 I expressed concern, but still no codes. At 103,226 miles, my concerns grew and further checking and diagnosis indicated that there is hard shifting between gears, but no indications that a replacement of transmission was needed. On April 18, 2009 while traveling on the highway, I pressed the accelerator and experienced the engine ¿revving¿ as though it was in neutral - there was no power. I had a total of 6 passengers in the vehicle. I maneuvered to the breakdown lane and restarted the engine. I brought the vehicle in for service and was advised to have the transmission replaced. On April 29, 2009, my vehicle was taken to a reputable transmission company to have the transmission replaced at a cost of $3,500. I purchased the Pilot confident that I invested in a vehicle that will provide me assurance of no major powertrain issues. I felt strongly about Honda's reputation so this is quite a disappointment. Upon researching this problem I have found numerous complaints from 2003 Pilot owners with transmission failures (see edmunds.com forums). Is anyone reviewing the potential liability involved with the failures of these transmissions" especially since I've experienced the loss of power and navigation ability! a potentially dangerous accident could have occurred. Are there discussions for a transmission recall"

- Morris, CT, USA

problem #28

Apr 242009


  • 109,000 miles
While driving 2003 Honda Pilot check engine light came on and engine revved up while seeming to coast and then jolted forward. Car has 109,000 miles. Brought to dealership and was informed there was an internal issue with transmission and failure of control module. Entire transmission needs to be replaced. According to dealer repair shop it was coded as an incorrect gear ratio. This should not be happening to a vehicle which has been serviced regularly and only driven on paved roads.

- Silverdale, WA, USA

problem #27

Sep 232008


  • 75,000 miles
Car started to ride rough at 75K miles with "D" light flashing intermittently. Dealer mis-identified the problem for about 5K miles but eventually determined that the car needs an entire new transmission. Car now has just over 80K miles. Very short life for a transmission.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #26

Apr 142009


  • miles
My 2003 Honda Pilot was recalled for a potential transmission failure. The inspection/remedy was performed in 2004. Now the transmission has failed with the exact same failure the recall was intended to remedy. While traveling a dealer in miami (brickell motors) worked with a regional Honda rep and offered a 50% reduction in the cost of a rebuild transmission. Upon returning home the local dealer (coggin Honda) worked with a regional Honda rep and only offered a 5% reduction. Learning this we contacted the original dealer (brickell) and were informed that we had to bring the car back (100 miles away) before they could ask the rep again for assistance. No guarantee on what would be offered. Contacting Honda usa we were informed that there would like likely be no further offers but the original dealers offer should be good for 30 days. We escalated this to a case manager asking that the 50% offer be made good at our local dealer (coggin). In the interim we must retrieve the car with the transmission that was recalled for a potential crash hazard. This car should be provided a new transmission as per the recall number 04V176000.

- Hobe Sound, FL, USA

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