Notes: We all want our SUVs to be able to stop on a dime, just not randomly and without warning. But that's what was happening to 2005 Pilot owners: their vehicles were slamming on the brakes even when they didn't. A government investigation of this problem led to a recall in March of 2013.

Another issue that keeps popping up is transmission fluid mixing with coolant in the radiator which is causing transmission failure, a costly repair to say the least.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
95,189 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.

2005 Honda Pilot brakes problems

brakes problem

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2005 Honda Pilot Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #39

Jul 262010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 57,738 miles


Going 30mph vsa light came on and brakes locked. Towed to dealer. Per report battery voltage failure, ECM/PCM failure. Brake switch failure, can relation failure, internal power source failure, ABS modulator function test abnormal. ABS control unit replaced.

- Biloxi, MS, USA

problem #38

Feb 132013


  • 118,000 miles
First incident, my wife was driving approximately 45 mph when 2005 Honda Pilot began to vibrate and make a "groaning" noise or a noise almost like when you drive on a gravel road. 2005 Honda Pilot was also (while vibrating and making noise) abruptly slowing down/ stopping without depressing the brake pedal. It would also do this while applying the accelerator. Second incident was later that same day. I picked the 2005 Honda Pilot up from my wife as she was now to afraid to drive it. After about 10 mins of driving, I was doing about 55 mph and the 2005 Honda Pilot made the same noise and vibration as described above and also slowed down abruptly as if I hit the brakes(which I didn't). About another half mile was a traffic light as I began to slow down for light I applied the brakes gently and as I applied the brakes the brake pedal left my foot and the 2005 Honda Pilot came to an abrupt stop. This happened two more times so I pulled into a parking lot because I did not feel safe driving at that point. When I stopped in the parking lot I noticed my vsa indicator light was on. It would not turn off until I turned the 2005 Honda Pilot off. Same day I took my 2005 Honda Pilot to the local Honda dealership and they have not been able to reproduce the symptom.

- Panama City, FL, USA

problem #37

Jan 212013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 106,250 miles
Accelerating at relatively low speed, usually just after stopping, heard audible "pop" through car radio, ABS and emergency brake lights came on. Car braked rapidly, even though foot was on accelerator and not touching the brake pedal. Forced car to almost a complete stop. This same sequence of events happened three times within 30 minutes. Pulled car into parking lot and called Honda service dept. They had never heard of this happening and car was towed in to run diagnostics. Service dept drove car around for over three days and was unable to duplicate issue. They had some ideas to cause, but since they couldn't get it to repeat, could not fix anything.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #36

Nov 152012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles


Driving along and my vsa light comes on, the brakes grab and the vehicle swerves as if I have suddenly slammed on brakes. My foot is on accelerator at the time not the brakes. Live on an icy, winding road with lots of semi truck traffic. Very scary. Happening every single time I drive now. Once the vsa light comes on and the brakes lock momentarily the vsa light and warning light stays on till vehicle turned off. First time the vsa light came on there was no locking of brakes. Just the light. Now the brakes lock up momentarily every time I drive. Extremely concerned for my safety.

- Silverthorne, CO, USA

problem #35

Jan 142013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 121,000 miles
Yesterday was the most recent occurance of a problem that has been ongoing (but random, not constant) since September. We purchased the car in July. The Pilot has been slamming on the brakes randomly by itself. It has happened while I gently applied brakes and also while I've been accelerating. The first couple times it happened there were no lights on my dash but then the vsa light came on. It went off again after turning the car off and back on. I had my brakes, pads, and rotors changed and the brake lines flushed. Since then no lights have been on. Then yesterday, very suddenly, the car began slamming on the brakes. It happened while I was turning into a shopping center and if there had been a car behind me I'm sure I would have caused and accident because the sudden braking was so severe. I coasted for a bit, tried to reapply the brakes gently and the car broke again throwing me forward. In total, it "stopped short" about 5/6 times before I was able to get to a parking spot. It happened while both braking and also trying to accelerate. When the brakes are applied by the car, it is accompanied by a loud rumbling sound and sensation. Something similar to going high speed over a rumble strip for a long time. No lights are on my dash now and I was able to drive the car home without incident. Driving my car is like playing russian roulette. Most of the time it drives great and I love it, and then out of the blue the car brakes at inappropriate times and intensity. It feels like driving with an instructor who suddenly slams on the brakes regardless of what you may be doing.

- Gainesville, VA, USA

problem #34

Oct 072012


  • 170,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that while driving 50 mph, the brakes engaged independently as the ABS and vehicle stability warning lights illuminated. The vehicle spun in full circle three times before stopping. The contact had to disconnect and reconnect the battery in order to release the brakes. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and was told that every code for the brake system showed up when performing a diagnostic test. The dealer could not determine what caused the failure, but suggested they replaced the vehicle stability and ABS modules. The dealer could not guarantee that the repair would remedy the failure. The failure and the current mileages were 170,000.

- Brandon, MS, USA

problem #33

Jan 082013

Pilot 4-cyl

  • 165,000 miles


Driving on the highway at approximately 45 mph, my Honda Pilot abruptly pulled to the left. It felt like the anti lock brakes actuated. The vsa and triangle light illuminated. The Pilot was pulled off the highway where it stopped. The ignition was turned off and on an the condition cleared.

- Aiken, SC, USA

problem #32

Jan 092013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
While driving a short distance away from my home the car's brakes locked up on their own. The next 1/4 mile while trying to reach a safe place to pull over the brakes would lock and unlock without warning. Once pulled over and noticed the vsa light was illuminated. After then reading the owners manual I followed the instructions to turn the vehicle off and then back on. At this point the vsa light was off and I was able to drive back home without another incident. Very concerned to drive vehicle again since if this were to happen on the highway or major road an accident would be likely. I have two children 2 and 4 years of age and this is the vehicle we use to get them around. Thank you for your time and review of this issue.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #31

Jan 022013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 196,750 miles
I was driving under slightly wet conditions at a fairly low speed (approx. 25 - 30 mph) and the car seemed, momentarily, as if the left front tire had gone flat and an indicator light with a triangle and an exclamation point and the vsa light simultaneously came on. I pulled over, checked the tire, turned the car off, restarted it and everything was fine for the rest of that day. The next morning, I experienced the same thing after the car had sat all night. After turning it off and back on, the indicator and vsa lights were out, but then came back on less than 30 minutes later while idling. The weather conditions this day were cold, but dry. I made an appointment and took the car to leith Honda. I experienced the same condition while driving it to the dealer. The service advisor told me that there was no indication of a problem and the car's computer didn't indicate that the vsa had even been on. I picked the car up that night, after they had closed, and experienced the problem less than 15 minutes after I left the dealer. I then experienced it again the next day, after a cold start, and then again today, also after a cold start, but this time while idling. This is a scary and potentially dangerous situation and there are lots of reports about this problem floating around the internet. My particular experiences haven't been as bad (yet) as others have described, but the symptoms are the same (front brakes momentarily locking and steering pulling, in my case, to the left).

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #30

Oct 042011


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that when driving at various speeds, the brakes would engage independently. The contact mentioned that the vehicle stability control, vsa and the vsa activation indicator warning lamps were illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 100,000 and the current mileage was 115,000.

- Vernon , NJ, USA

problem #29

Dec 082012


  • 120,000 miles


While driving at low speeds (20-50 mph) the car makes a low grinding noise and rapidly brakes/decelerates without the brakes being touched. This has been happening on and off for years; however, recently it has been happening on a daily basis. The driver (myself) and the passengers (usually my two children) in the car lurch forward as the car unexpectedly brakes. The brake lights do not come on when this happens. This is a major safety concern for my family and I. this is our family car and I am very afraid to drive my children anywhere in this car with the frequency of these incidents. In fact, on December 8, 2012 another car almost slammed into the back of us. I have done some research and have found that other 2005 Honda Pilot owners have had the same exact problem.

- Chestertown, MD, USA

problem #28

Nov 012010


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that the vehicle made a grinding noise and the brakes activated erroneously, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop. The failure recurred several times. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic where the failure could not be replicated. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 100,000 and the current mileage was 120,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Chestertown , MD, USA

problem #27

Nov 292012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
I had been driving the car for nearly an hour. I came toward a stoplight, put the brakes on, which seemed to function fine. Then when I went to accelerate the car jarred to a shaky stop- almost like the anti-lock brakes were working. I took it home, stopped the care for a few minutes and then decided to take it back out to see if it would happen again. I drove it for about 5 minutes and came to a stop sign. I came to a complete stop and then when I went to turn I accelerated briefly and then the car came to a stop- like someone had stepped on the brakes but I did not step on them. The car never stopped running or never stalled, I just had no acceleration for a moment. I then drove the car immediately to my mechanic down the street from my house. One of the mechanics drove the car with me in it for several minutes and could not get the problem to happen. He dropped me off at my house and when he was accelerating out of my driveway I saw the car come to a complete stop but no brake lights went on at the back of the car. He was able to back into my driveway- the car never shut off and still functioned- and he asked me if that was the issue and I said yes. Since then we have had it a transmission place where the mechanic was not sure what was wrong and we then had it towed to the nearest Honda dealership where we actually purchased the car. They have never heard of this issue either and currently cannot get it to happen to them. And now I have no car and will not drive this car until I know it has been fixed.

- Holbrook, MA, USA

problem #26

Dec 042012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
Beginning 12/06 the car would slam it's brakes on, independently, when making a left turn. It happened a couple times and the dealer could find nothing. After having it happen yet again, and after detailing how this problem nearly took my life, Honda agreed to take the car and the service rep. Would drive it. I was fortunate and it happened to him very quickly. Under warranty, 1/25/07, a ABS/tcs/vsa modulator was replaced. Now five years later the car has decided that if it can't independently slam it's breaks on, well, it will just independently speed up instead. Again, when making left hand turns. Guess what, now we are out of warranty and Honda is out of caring. I would be very curious to know how many people Honda has hurt or killed, just no one figured out why in the world the driver sped up or suddenly slammed on the brakes.

- Sour Lake, TX, USA

problem #25

Jun 222008


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that while driving 45 mph, the brakes engaged independently. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnosis but the failure could not be replicated. The brake pads were replaced but the failure recurred. The manufacturer had not been notified of the issue. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 90,000 and the current mileage was 175,000.

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #24

Oct 302012


  • 155,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that while driving approximately 35 to 40 mph, the brakes suddenly engaged. The driver noticed that the vsa warning light illuminated. The driver was unable to move the vehicle which was later towed. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnosis. The vehicle was never diagnosed due to the contact seeing an investigation opened in regards to NHTSA action number PE12028 (service brakes, hydraulic:antilock:control unit/module). The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure and current mileage was approximately 155,000.

- Lawrence, KS, USA

problem #23

Sep 122012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 119,000 miles
We recently purchased this car used from anderson Honda of palo alto. On several occasions the vsa has engaged for no apparent reason at speeds ranging from 10-35 mph. The vsa engaged at slow speeds when turning and at the faster speeds on the straight-A-way. When the vsa engages the vsa light and warning light turn on. The lights do go off after the car has been turned off and at rest for a few minutes. Most often when the vsa engages the car shudders slightly, both the brake and the gas pedal shudder and vibrate. The car feels like it is slowing momentarily. In the most recent episode on Nov. 27. the car was traveling 35 mph down hill and the steering pulled slightly to the left.

- Redwood City, CA, USA

problem #22

Nov 232012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Driving along a two lane highway on a 20 degree morning and coasting around a gently curving corner to the right at 45 mph when an unexpected jarring and pulling to the left occurred coupled with a loss of speed and the vsa letters and a triangle indicator lights lit on the dash board.. needless to say this got my attention and luckily nothing was coming from the other direction. I had not touched the brake pedal until after the initial problem occurred and when I saw the lights and went along maybe 200 to 300 yds it did it again which got me very worried. I pulled over and turned the engine off and tried to reset the car but to no joy so I drove the remainder of my commute to work with the very same lights left on. The remainder of my drive was fine but not sure if I am safe driving with this anomaly and especially the sudden self braking, when will it happen next?

- Barrington, IL, USA

problem #21

Jun 152012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 205,000 miles
My wife and I have had multiple incidences with our vsa system in our 2005 Pilot over the last several months. While driving anywhere from 5-40mph, the car has locked the brakes and steering. It seems to happen randomly with no prior indications. I did a bit of research online and found no solution to my problem. I saw that the NHTSA was looking into the issue as of October, and I am hoping to find a solution soon. This is a serious issue that has the potential to cause a fatal accident if it happens at the wrong time.

- Casper, WY, USA

problem #20

Sep 102012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
I saw on the news that the NHTSA was investigating a brake issue on the Honda Pilot 2005. I experienced a similar issue but thought it was a glitch as it only happened one day (although it happened twice that day). I've finally gotten around to filing an official report both with Honda and NHTSA to hopefully aid in the investigation. The braking issue happened on two separate occasions on the same day, roughly 2 months ago. The first incident happened on the freeway. I was going the speed limit when all of a sudden I felt like the car completely lost power. The lights on the dashboard flashed, my speed decreased suddenly although I still had my foot on the gas. It only last a few seconds and then I regained control of the vehicle. An hour later, when I was off the freeway, it happened again, but this time I was going 25 miles an hour driving on city streets. Same exact issue where it felt like the car computer shut down with no power for a few seconds. It hasn't happened since, but I'm very scared that it may happen at any time again. We only have one car and have a 1 year old. I hope Honda and the NHTSA make progress into identifying the issue. Please let me know if I can contribute any more information. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- El Cerrito, CA, USA

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