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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Apr 022009


  • 150,915 miles


My 2003 Honda Pilot had a transmission recall a few years ago, which was reportedly performed by Honda. 3-14-09 it was serviced by Honda, for a light that came on indicating a transmission problem. After the service, on 4-2-09, my husband was driving on the highway and the transmission locked up this almost caused a serious accident, on 275 during rush hour in cincinnati, due to a sudden slowing of the vehicle without rear brake lights indicating stopping or slowing. This is an indication that even with the recall alterations, the problem of transmission failure can occur causing a crash. Dh, a friend had a similar failure causing a crash with her three children on board, the driver experienced injuries in this rollover crash. Honda was notified and service personnel were advised and they are non responsive. This vehicle is designed for up to eight occupants making this a serious possibility for bodily injury. At the time of recall the correction for this failure was transmission replacement. There is a 30 day wait for rebuilt transmissions, evidently because this is a common problem. A friend with the same year Honda Pilot had the same lock up occur with her transmission and it did cause the Pilot to crash and roll over and the vehicle was totaled. There are many others with similar stories. Unfortunately Honda will not acknowledge the problem despite the safety issues.

- Hillsboro, OH, USA

problem #24

Apr 062009


  • 135,000 miles
Transmission failure on 2003 Honda Pilot with 135,000 miles.

- Washington, IL, USA

problem #23

Feb 112006


  • 35,400 miles
The car makes grinding noise under the hood when the car gently accelerates from below 1400 RPM to 1500 RPM. It started to happen around 30000 miles and happens frequently now (97000 miles). Dealer has replaced egr valve 3 times with no avail and they cannot replicate the problem. Sometimes the grinding noise lasts upto 5 seconds. The tachometer jumps up and down around 1500 RPM while making the grinding noise. The differential fluid was changed but noise still happens.

- Sykesville, MD, USA

problem #22

Mar 012006


  • 80,000 miles


The transmission warning light starts flashing after about 5 minutes of driving at highway speed, however, there is no effect on driving performance. We have taken the vehicle to our mechanic but he cannot find a problem when he plugs the data management system into the computer. While this problem has not affected our use of the vehicle directly, we are concerned that one day the transmission will seize up. For information, we had the vehicle checked when the transmission check warning was issued a few years ago (years before the problem occurred) and we were told by our Honda dealer that our transmission did not fall into the category that required remedial work.

- West Vancouver, 00, USA

problem #21

Nov 032008


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving approximately 5 mph on normal road conditions and proceeding from a stop sign, the engine began to rev. There was suddenly a 3-5 second delay before the vehicle was shifted into gear. The check engine warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel and it remained lit until the engine was turned off. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but they were unable to duplicate the failure. The vehicle was previously repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V176000 (power train;automatic transmission). On a separate occasion, the vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for identical failures. The technician recommended that the transmission be replaced. The vehicle is operable and has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 100,000 and current mileage was 105,000.

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

problem #20

Jul 072008


  • 93,150 miles
We purchased a used 2003 Honda Pilot in April 2007. We were aware that there had been a previous transmission recall in 2004 and our vehicle had been serviced as part of that recall. It is now July 2008 and we were just told by the dealer that services our car that the transmission needs to be replaced at a cost of $3700, and that price is after a $1000 contribution from Honda. The vehicle has 93150 miles on it. Clearly this transmission is defective. Honda should own up to a substandard transmission design and stand by their product and their customers. We are not satisfied with what Honda is offering us and will continue to negotiate with them. We have found many complaints online about the 2003 Honda transmissions and it seems this is a widespread problem. A wider recall should be issued on these defective transmissions.

- Northeast Harbor, ME, USA

problem #19

Jun 112007


  • 75,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving at various speeds, the transmission tends to hesitate when shifting from first to second gear. Occasionally, the contact has to place the vehicle into neutral and then back into drive in order for the transmission to shift. Several months prior to the failure, the contact noticed that the transmission was leaking. The vehicle has been diagnosed by the dealer, but the failure still persists. The VIN was unknown. The current mileage was 99,000 and failure mileage was 75,000.

- Pennington, NJ, USA

problem #18

Jun 242007

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles
(1)the transmission/gear light in the 2003 Honda Pilot with 83,000 miles (when in drive) began blinking. We called the Honda dealer and they said it indicated a problem with the transmission. The representative at the dealer said that 90% of the time it was the transmission pressure switch. (2)the car continued to be drivable. (3)the part was replaced by the montgomery, al Honda dealer for $180. Our concern is that this is a very common problem, but it is probably not being reported by many consumers due to the relatively low cost of repair.

- Brewton, AL, USA

problem #17

Apr 082005

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The vehicle was involved in recall #04176000 concerning the power train:automatic transmission. The cooling hose was replaced. The failure mileage was 76,000. The vehicle began having difficulty shifting gears. The failure mileage was 90,000. The vehicle would only shift into neutral or drive. The dealer diagnosed the vehicle as needing a new transmission. The dealer stated they were not liable as it was unclear if the failure was due to the previous recall. The dealer was willing to apply the part for free but will charge for labor. The purchase date and engine size were not available. The current mileage was 94,000. The consumer provided the repair invoice as well as the recall notice. The consumer was told an oil jet kit was already installed in the vehicle. Updated 05/13/07

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #16

Feb 092007

Pilot 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Honda Pilot recalled due to transmission problems; avery green motors in vallejo ca purportedly "fixed" the recall problem. Two years later, the entire transmission failed and was replaced, at my own cost of $4,700. Honda refused to assist with the cost, even though it was apparent their "fix" at time of recall was deficient. At same time, avery green did a periodic maintenance check, or which I was charged several hundred dollars. 3 months later, the power steering failed. Avery green failed to detect any problem with the power steering pump during the maintenance checkup. I am told the repair will be very costly as it will be necessary to replace both the pump and the drive train to which it is connected. This car is a lemon, and Honda should be required to do competent repairs under recalls and maintenance checks.

- Benicia, CA, USA

problem #15

Nov 092006

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,384 miles


I was coasting to a stop when the transmission in my 2003 Honda Pilot suddenly and abruptly down shifted. It was like someone suddenly jabbed the brakes on my car. I took the car into the shop for transmission replacement the same day. The check engine light came on and the drive indicator light started flashing on the way to the shop. Also the transmission stuck in second gear, the limp home mode, and would not upshift. The only way I could keep the transmission from violently down shifting or sticking in second gear was to manually shift through the gears. The dealer replaced my transmission within one week at a little over 48,000 miles because it was under extended warranty. The dealer now claims after my complaint they will warrant the replacement rebuilt transmission for 36,000 miles and three years. This helps, but Honda should give me the same extended 93 month and 109,000 warranty that will be given to numerous other Honda and Acura owners due to a class action suit. Today the american Honda motor company said they will not extend my warranty. Hopefully, someone will start another class action suit for Honda Pilot. The most important issue is that this poor Honda transmission design that is prone to defect is also a definite safety issue since it can take full vehicle control away from operators without notice. Perhaps all affected Honda and Acura should receive new redesigned transmissions.

- Springfield, VA, USA

problem #14

Nov 172006

Pilot 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,874 miles
Stepped on gas to accelerate, suddenly heard a loud noise - thought something got caught under car, but when I pulled over, there was nothing under. Took it to a local repair shop and was told that it was the transmission & that I would need to take it to the Honda dealer as this may be part of the recalled vehicles. So I took it to ball Honda on Friday, 11/17 & had henry as the service advisor. When I spoke with henry over the phone, he said that what was stated on the recall as the worst possible scenario happened to my vehicle. He then proceeded to order the transmission but had to wait for approval because of the high mileage on my car. He then said that it shouldn't be a problem, he just needs it approved. However, when I called back today, 11/20/06, I spoke with the service manager, scott moses and was told that Honda will not cover it as it wasn't part of the recall problem. Their initial diagnostics was this: Checked 2nd gear campaign - checked customer's concern on rack noise coming from inside transmission. Needs transmission. B: check 2nd gear campaign. Checked 2nd gear with led light. 2nd gear shows slight discoloration. He (scott) then proceeded to tell me that this was not part of the recall, and that, due to my high mileage, I've voided the warranty.

- Chula Vista, CA, USA

problem #13

Apr 012006

Pilot 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
Our 2003 Honda Pilot was part of the Honda recall of the automatic transmission. We took our vehicle to carl hogan Honda in columbus ms when we found out about the recall. The service department inspected the transmission for heat discoloration and installed an oil jet kit. In early 2006 we started having problems with our Pilot. It will intermittently surge and jerk between first and second gear and at times it seems to have problems going into overdrive. When these problems occur, the drive light will flash a few times then go out for several minutes before coming on again. We have taken our vehicle back to the dealership several times. Each time the service technician has hooked our vehicle up to a computer to diagnose the problem but each time has failed to get a code. The first time they hooked it up they did not get a code and when we got the car back the SRS light was on. We then had to get that repaired. The problem is now a weekly occurrence and we have been told that there is nothing the dealership can do until the check engine light comes on and they can retrieve a code. The jerking and surging is becoming more frequent and we feel it has become a safety issue. We were driving with our two small children today and made a left turn across traffic, the vehicle jerked, slowed down and surged. An oncoming car narrowly missed us.

- Columbus, MS, USA

problem #12

Oct 062006

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles
My Honda Pilot 2003 ex 5 speed automatic transmission was "repaired" under a prior recall by dealer in September 2004. On October 6, 2006, the transmission completely failed as I was driving down the highway at approximately 65 M.P.H. without acceleration, the vehicle lurched forward suddenly and hard, such that my seat belt did not catch me and lock and pushed me into the drivers wheel. When I got home, the car would not go into reverse and started to roll down the hill. I had it towed to the dealer, who told me that since they had fixed it in 2004 I would have to pay between $4,000 and $5,000 for a "new" transmission. I was never told of this defect when I purchased the car, although I was offered an extended warranty on the transmission, which american Honda's representative said I should have purchased and that said offer should have warned me of the transmission defect. I asked american Honda to repair it without cost to me, as the first repair was clearly defective, and I was told a "manager" would get back to me in 48 hours. I have now gone 10 days without my car. This is unacceptable. Had traffic not been light, the incident on 10-6 could easily have caused an accident.

- Benicia, CA, USA

problem #11

Oct 022006

Pilot 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles
: the contact stated in 2004, the recall notice for NHTSA recall # 04V176000 pertaining to the automatic transmission was received. The vehicle was taken to a service dealer, who installed an oil jet kit. This seemed to correct the problems with the vehicle. However, on 10/02/06, the contact stated while driving 30 mph, the vehicle slowed as if losing power then jerked violently while entering second gear. The vehicle was taken to a service dealer, who determined the transmission had completely failed. The dealer replaced the transmission, but informed the contact that there would be a charge for the labor. The contact spoke with both the service manager and the manufacturer, with no success.

- Upper Marlboro, MD, USA

problem #10

Aug 262006

Pilot 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,100 miles
In the summer 2004, I received notice from american Honda motor co., Inc. Involving an automatic transmission recall. My car was serviced for this recall on 10/12/04 by rensselaer Honda, my original dealer. They inspected my 2003 Pilot for the defect and installed an oil jet kit at 42,112 miles. This past summer(7/2006), now with 76,100 miles, I noticed that my car seemed to have a vibration or stutter when driving at 30 mph and again at 50 mph while trying to maintain a constant speed. On 7/6/06, I took the car in for service and asked that they check the transmission because the problem occurred while trying to switch gears just like the recall had stated. The service technician replaced the pgk valve and assured me that the problem was not the transmission. I called rensselaer Honda to see if they could resolve the problem and again asked that they check the transmission. They verified my concern and notified me that the transmission would have to be replaced. There was noise in the automatic transmission in lock up and the lock- up control solenoid valve needed to be replaced. The service director offered to pay for the cost of parts, but I would have to pay $1046.47 in labor costs. After investigating this transmission recall, I became afraid to Transport my kids in the car. I read that certain 2003 Pilot 5-speed automatic transmissions had engineering design flaws that had not been fully corrected as part of the recall process and that gear failure could result in transmission lockup, which could result in a crash.

- Voorheesville, NY, USA

problem #9

May 132006

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,500 miles
After receiving the transmission recall 04V176000 update the transmission on my 2003 Pilot ex-L failed. The problem consisted of the vehicle not change to and from second gear properly. American Honda is giving me the run around about addressing this problem.

- Canton, GA, USA

problem #8

Jul 272005

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
On multiple occasions the shift interlock will not let the car out of park, unless you hit the brake pedal 20-30 times. Has not been replaced due to Honda not being able to duplicate the problem.

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #7

Mar 092005

Pilot 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles
Automatic transmission on reverse shift wasn't work properly. It happened twice in the morning when I first start. The car woludn't move and locked up. I need to shift to drive gear than reverse. Some other time I have to turn off engin than turn on to move the gear. This was happen after recall for my Honda polit 2003.

- Poway, CA, USA

problem #6

Jan 032005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,270 miles
Recall campaign: 04V176000 automatic transmission second gear inspection. Tranmission slipping. The consumer stated that the slipping of the transmission happened intermittently. The consumers vehicle was serviced twice regarding the transmision, on the second visit, the consumer was told he would have to pay for the labor charges.

- Howell, NJ, USA

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