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 1 of 6)

problem #105

Jul 042014


  • 154,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that the vehicle decelerated from 65 mph to 30 mph without warning. An independent mechanic located a failure code at the transmission speed sensor. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 154,000.

- Lanham , MD, USA

problem #104

Mar 082010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles
Automatic transmission began failing at 89,000 miles then finally failed around 94,000. When I took the vehicle into the Honda dealer he did not mention any recalls and he failed to mention that there were any problems. All he was interested in is selling me a brand new Honda or a new transmission. I had to get it rebuilt and now at 101,000 the shudder between 40-50mph is starting again so I know it is a matter of time. I feel the transmissions on these vehicles are defective and Honda needs to make good on their defective product.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #103

Jul 012011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
My 2003 Honda Pilot with 76000 miles has started to make a vibration and noise while traveling at a steady speed anywhere between 30 - 50 miles per hour. The dealer says that it could be a problem with the torque converter but he is not sure. At times the sound is faint and often times it is quite loud. The dealer is quoting around $2100 to fix it. When I researched on the internet, I found quite a few people with the same complaint. Honda needs to issue a recall.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #102

Jul 162011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


2003 Honda Pilot started to sometimes drop out of gear. Feels like car is in neutral. I step on gas, can hear engine rev, but feels like transmission has disengaged. I have to coast over to side of road, place car in park and then in drive again to correct problem. When tranny is not acting up, I also have noticed the car shakes around 50-60mph. D was flashing and engine light on first time tranny disengaged, so I took car to me mechanic, who told me diagnostics were telling him car needed new sensors, which he replaced. Went upstate, thinking prob solved, well, I almost caused a pile up on gwb in New York with car dropping out of drive again at about 45mph, nowhere there to pull over, so I had to stop car in middle of road, drop it into park, then move it into drive. This time no flashing D or check engine light came on.I brought it to Honda. They told me they would check the tranny. The only thing they found wrong was tranny fluid was slightly overfilled, so they drained some fluid. They did tell me if problem persisted I would need a new tranny and also needed new engine mounts on my 8 year old car with 103,000miles. Next day problem was still there! meanwhile I had dealer check on the price of new tranny..4,700.00! was very upset to find all of the other complaints on this and many websites. I called Honda dealer, told them I felt Honda should issue a recall on this ongoing problem with the 2003 Pilot, and other models. They asked me what I would be willing to pay for the repairs.I told the man, if they are negotiating a price on a new tranny, then Honda knows there is a problem with the transmissions in these cars.I explained to him I've already spent $700 on sensors at my mechanic, and another $250 with his service station on this tranny, and would not pay any more than $500. Next day got call telling me they wouldn't give me anything toward new tranny.very unhappy Honda not making good on an obvious defect in these trannys! no more Honda for me.

- Riverhead, NY, USA

problem #101

Jul 182011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 136,000 miles
This vehicle make has a serious safety issue. Many times I have been in heavy traffic and had to make an emergency negotiation of the roadway to avoid being involved in a major collision. The Honda Pilot's automatic transmission slips out of drive, into neutral, with no warning and at varying speeds. This problem has been ongoing for two years. It happens at slow speeds (I.e. 25 mph and also at highway speeds 65-70 mph). Transmission fluid has been power flushed and filled by an ase certified dealer. Fluid was noticeably dark. Mechanic thought the problem is a combination torque converter lock-up issue as well as a transmission issue. Honda states that this vehicle was serviced for a factory transmission problem recall, however, this was prior to me purchasing the vehicle.

- Oak Creek, WI, USA

problem #100

Jun 192008

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
Twice had transmission failure in 2003 Pilot. First at approximately 68,000 miles and second at approximately 120,000 miles (approx 60,000 per transmission). So much for Honda reliability! tranmission replaced first time by dealer at the cost of extended warranty payment. Second replacement dealer would not assist and had to fight to get Honda to assist. After a lot of effort and follow up on our part, Honda agreed to cover half of cost. A simple search of the internet will result in a multitude of complaints on multiple websites...clearly Honda does not want to admit to problems with this transmission due to cost involved if they cover the repairs.

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #99

Jun 152011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles


Consumer owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. Transmission is shot. Will not go into 2nd gear. Car reaches very high RPM's then will jerk. This happens when car is heated. When car is finally in 2nd gear, it will slip and fall out. Soon after, car will not reverse. Very scary and could of been fatal. Transmission is completey shot. Took very good care of this car, original owner. Honda will do nothing to cover the cost even though my car has a recall on the transmission and the symptoms are exactly what the recall is about. Honda is not caring about their customers.

- La Canada, CA, USA

problem #98

Jul 022011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 165,630 miles
2003 Honda Pilot ex-L res sudden transmission issue-transmission started slipping, not shifting, revving extremely high and not shifting into the highest gear at all. Car is jerking on major highway and almost stopping itself in its tracks by downshifting from 60mph into 2nd gear. 24hrs later, the car won't even go into reverse. Very scary 2 hour pa turnpike ride when this suddenly started happening. Never had one problem before, at all, but that was scary. The vehicle has 167,000 and has been wonderful up until yesterday. Glad we made it home safely. On to Honda tomorrow............

- Nj, NJ, USA

problem #97

Jan 152011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
Jan, 2011 (odometer ~61000 miles.) check engine light turned while exiting from highway. Feb, 2011 dealer confirmed that 1. transmission fluid is turning brown, 2. diagnosed problem with the gear in the transmission. They reset check engine light. April, 2011 experience difficulty with vehicle. Vehicle did not response and wanted to stop while merging into street road and accelerating from around 10 mph. May, 2011 (odometer ~62500 miles) engine light turned on again while merging into highway at about 30 mph. Since then we are experiencing sudden stoke while the transmission is changing gear. Called Honda customer services and was informed that we have two choices, either complain to CEO of Honda America or to better business bureau ----------------- did some research on the internet and noticed that there are many other owners experiencing transmission failure / problem with the Honda Pilot. Also, there was a recall notice in 2004 on this vehicle regarding insufficient fluid flow in transmission (NHTSA reference #04V176000). -------------- I did regular maintenance at the dealer. I suspect that the problem that I am currently experiencing with the vehicle is related to the same recall back in 2004. This vehicle has a design fault in the transmission. -------------- - Honda should issue another recall on the vehicle. - Honda should replace the transmission free of charge and refund the cost for diagnostics. - in addition, Honda needs to have a major change in how they handle the customer complaints, instead of referring us to their CEO or better business bureau.

- Palo Alto, CA, USA

problem #96

Apr 192011


  • 136,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving approximately 40 mph, the contact smelled a strong burning odor inside of the vehicle. The engine warning indicator illuminated and remained illuminated until the engine was turned off. The transmission would not shift into third or fourth gear. In addition, the vehicle failed to accelerate over 40 mph. The vehicle was previously repaired in January of 2005 for a recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V176000 (power train:automatic transmission) however, the remedy was insufficient. The vehicle was not further repaired. The failure mileage was 136,000.

- Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #95

Oct 052002

Pilot 6-cyl

  • miles


2003 Honda Pilot. Consumer states mechanical problems with the vehicle the consumer stated the drive light began to flash intermittently from the beginning of ownership. The dealer told the consumer it was related to the gas cap not being secured properly. However, once the transmission was replaced the light no longer flashed. On August 19, 2003 the vehicle was taken to the dealer due to a hesitation issue, but the dealer was unable to duplicate the problem. Four months later, the check engine and SRS lights illuminated. Also, the vtm lights were flashing. On September 8, 2005 the transmission light began flashing. The consumer was informed that a special part had to ordered. The consumer also stated the power steering pump and gear box had to be replaced. Also, the egr, V-tec seals and O-ring were all replaced to rectify the engine light problem. The timing belt and left and right control arm links were replaced. The inner and outer cv boots were replaced. On February 8, 20011 while driving 70 mph, the transmission suddenly downshifted almost causing a complete loss of control of the vehicle. The next day, the vehicle was taken to the dealership, where the consumer was informed the transmission had failed again.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #94

Oct 202010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
2003 Honda Pilot (automatic transmission) has a shudder in the transmission between 29-49 mph. The shudder was first noticed when the odometer had about 130K miles. We were told to change the transmission fluid, but we had recently had the transmission serviced at Honda dealer. If you ease off the gas the shudder will stop. It only lasts for a few seconds, but it is very noticeable shake. We have been told that the transmission needs to be replaced. A well maintained Honda vehicle should not be needing its transmission replaced at 130K miles.

- Corryton, TN, USA

problem #93

Feb 042011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
While traveling on the highway in 2003 Honda Pilot, going approximately 60 - 65 mph, the car violently shook as if the brakes had been applied. Minutes later, it happened again so we exited the freeway and continued slowly. Once home, there was a hesitation when shifting to reverse and it actually rolled forward for a few feet. We could hear it slip into gear after a few seconds with a metallic ping or thud. The next day, we noticed the gears slipping when accelerating around 40 mph. Took the car to renton Honda and they surmised it could be bad gasoline. After paying for a diagnostic test, they determined a new transmission was needed at a cost of $3500 (with a goodwill discount). This car was purchased brand new, has never towed anything, and has had every scheduled maintenance at the dealership. This is why they offered the discount. The car has 117,000 miles and has been pampered. This Honda isn't living up to the hype!

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #92

Jan 152011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 126,800 miles
2003 Honda Pilot ex experiences shudder/vibration between 35-40 mph, lasting in duration of 5 to 10 seconds. Drain of transmission fluid revealed friction material present. Dealer suspects torque converter failure, same as Acura MDX.

- Valparaiso, IN, USA

problem #91

Jan 052011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 127,500 miles
The 2003 Honda Pilot I own is on it's second transmission. The vehicle becomes disabled and the "D" light flashes on the dash indicating the transmission has failed. The Honda dealer says that the transmission must be replaced again. Two transmissions at only 127, 500 is a sign of problems with the design and manufacture of the transmission itself. I believe Honda should recall all 2003 & 2004 Honda Pilot for transmission replacement for the remainder of the useful life of the vehicle.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #90

Dec 102010


  • 87,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Pilot. While driving approximately 25 mph, the contact noticed that the check engine warning light illuminated. The dealer and a private mechanic performed a diagnostic test. Both test revealed code P0730 which means that the vehicle could have a faulty transmission shift control system, low transmission fluid level, or poor electrical connection. Both sources advised the contact that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired nor was the manufacturer notified. The current and failure mileages were approximately 87,000.

- Litchfield Park, AZ, USA

problem #89

Sep 102010


  • 102,000 miles
Total transmission failure after only 102,000 miles 2003 Honda Pilot.

- Cincinnati , OH, USA

problem #88

Dec 022010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 132,598 miles
2003 Honda Pilot transmission failure while driving. Was at dealership for transmission recall in Oct 2004 and to replace a transmission gear pressure switch in December 2010.

- Johnstown, PA, USA

problem #87

Nov 182010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
Car clunked when accelerating, seemed to be slipping when shifting into gear, happened here and there and then happened more often. Told by the dealer that it needs a new transmission.

- Roselle, NJ, USA

problem #86

Apr 152003


  • 35,000 miles
I purchased the 2003 Honda Pilot in November of 2002. At about 32,000 miles, a "shuttering" began to occur at lower speeds. (15 to 35 mph.) I have taken the vehicle back to 3 different Honda dealers over time and none acknowledge the issue. Stating it is not observed when in shop. I had mentioned to the last dealer that a close friend purchased a 2009 Honda van that is now being recalled for the same "shuttering" of the transmission and he was told the computer needed to have a program update. The dealership, davenport in rocky mount, nc acted as if they had not heard of this recall and did as the other dealers, nothing.

- Roanoke Rapids, NC, USA

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