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:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
100,100 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Honda Pilot Owner Comments (Page 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #45

Feb 012012


  • 110,000 miles


Started experiencing a shudder when accelerating between 35-40 mph. Apparently, this seems to be a large problem with the 2005 Honda Pilot. The issue is intermittent and two shops were not able to reproduce the issue. Both shops told me they have seen this issue before in the Pilot and MDX. The problem is still intermittent but getting worse.

- West Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #44

Aug 082012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,504 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that while attempting to accelerate from a traffic stop the vehicle hesitated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnose that the coolant fluid was in the transmission and transmission fluid was in the radiator. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance. The failure mileage was 129,504 and the current mileage was 130,500.....updated 10/11/12 updated 10/16/2012

- Babylon, NY, USA

problem #43

Aug 132012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
2005 Honda Pilot - seal or transmission cooler failed and leaked transmission fluid into the radiator. No warning lights or indicators were evident. Owner noticed leaking fluid from the radiator overflow. Both parts now require expensive replacement. Vehicle has 86,000 miles and never experienced issue before. However, there are several posts on the internet concerning the exact same issue, with little or no apparent acknowledgement by Honda of this broad issue.

- Painted Post, NY, USA

problem #42

Jul 042012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles


The vehicle started to "shudder" at medium speed, and two to three days later while accelerating to highway speed the transmission blew up, creating loud banging noises and spilling transmission fluid onto the roadway.

- Oconomowoc, WI, USA

problem #41

Jan 012010

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I started noticing a vibration at 34 to 45 mph. It was definitely caused by a malfunction under the hood. It causes my 2005 Honda Pilot to vibrate, shudder and hesitate at that speed. I have to take my foot off of the accelerator pedal before it will stop. It happens continuously at that speed.

- Peck, KS, USA

problem #40

Jun 132012


  • 77,145 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that he noticed there was a puddle of a red colored fluid under the vehicle. In addition, the contact noticed that the automatic transmission cooler had leaked into the radiator. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and inspected. The dealer stated that the failure was common with the vehicle model. The vehicle was repaired by replacing the upper and lower hose, the radiator, the thermostat and the automatic transmission. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The current mileage was 78,500. The failure mileage was 77,145.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #39

Jul 062012


  • 106,750 miles


2005 Honda Pilot with 106,750 miles. I was stopped at the red traffic light, when the light turned green, vehicle would not move. I changed gears from park to drive and vehicle would still not drive. Vehicle towed to nearest Honda dealer. Dealer informed me that there was a leak in the transmission cooling line in the radiator. Coolant fluids mixed with transmission fluid. Dealer will replace radiator($400), refill coolant, replace thermostat, atf lines, changed atf fluid 3 times to remove contaminants. Total labor $685, total parts $800++. I've been searching online and this seems to be a major issue with Honda Pilot, Acura MDX and Honda ridgeline. Radiator/transmission cooling line leak is a safety issue especially when driving in an interstate highway.

- West Orange, NJ, USA

problem #38

May 012012


  • 54,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contact stated that, while driving, the vehicle made a loud noise as if there was a flat tire. The front and rear driver and passenger side tires were changed however the noise persisted. The contact stated that when attempting to brake, the vehicle would shake abnormally. The vehicle was taken to a repair shop and inspected. The failure was related to the transmission and the 4X4 feature. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The approximate current and failure mileage was 54,000.

- Huntington Park, CA, USA

problem #37

Dec 032008

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
Was driving along a main road in Delaware, and my "D" light started flashing. I looked it up in the manual and it said the transmission problem. The light went off after I shut the car off and turned it back on. It has came on a handful of times, but shuts off after I turn the car off and on. I now am experiencing a hard shift, and a shuddering (almost like it is going to stall), and a clucking noise. I have done research and realize there has been many more complaints with this issue in the 2005 Honda Pilot.

- Atglen, PA, USA

problem #36

Apr 012011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Its a known issue transmission has problems in 2005 Honda Pilot, causes a real bad shudder.

- Gatlinburg, TN, USA

problem #35

Apr 282012


  • 67,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. While driving approximately 20 mph, the engine power reduced significantly and without warning. The contact continued to drive and upon reaching the destination an inspection underneath the hood was performed. The contact noticed a dark brown milky substance leaking from the radiator. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who advised the contact that the transmission and engine would need to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 67,000.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #34

May 082012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 139,000 miles
Transmission cooling portion of radiator failed causing transmission fluid to leak into the radiator and mix with coolant. Transmission drained and caused car to stop. Introduction of antifreeze into the transmission caused damage to the transmission resulting in need to replace transmission.

- East Stroudsburg, PA, USA

problem #33

Apr 192012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
While driving in a residential area, my 2005 Honda Pilot slipped out of gear multiple times and finally would not drive at all. I pulled the vehicle to the side of the road and shifted it into park. I waited a few minutes and tried to shift back into drive. The vehicle shifted into drive, but was unable to drive more than approximately 15 mph. I drove the vehicle in this manner for approximate half a mile to my destination. From there I had the Honda Pilot towed to an repair facility. The mechanic inspected the 2005 Honda Pilot and informed me that the vehicle's radiator had failed internally. This allowed the engine coolant and transmission fluid to mix. Subsequently the coolant was circulated through the transmission and had caused damage to it. This is what had caused the vehicle to slip out of gear and ultimately render it unable drive.

- Lowell, MA, USA

problem #32

Apr 162008

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 37,228 miles
I had to replace my radiator at 37228 mileage and 85031 on 2005 Honda Pilot. The radiators are failing at the transmission fittings attached to the bottom of the radiators. There are several thousand complaints about this issue and Honda is denying there is a problem. The problem is the transmission cooler is built into the bottom of the radiator. The cooler sits in the bottom of the radiator. There are two transmission fittings on the out side of the radiator that attach to the transmission. This brings transmission fluid in the radiator cooler, cools the fluid and returns it to the transmission. Now inside the bottom radiator sits the transmission cooler which is just a small pipe witch is attached to the transmission fittings. When the fluid enters the radiator cooler it gets instantly cooled and returned to transmission because the cooler is submerged in radiator fluid. This is because the bottom of the radiator is the coolest at the bottom. What's happening is the transmission fittings are rusting away and failing allowing radiator fluid to enter the return line to the transmission. When radiator fluid enters the transmission the transmission is done. You need a replacement. These problem is happening to several Honda and Nissan. The two car company's use the same manufacturing for the radiator. The company is dense. The failing on Honda and Nissan. If you look into this matter you will see how many people are affected by this. I replaced two radiators for this truck so far. Please look into this problem for $1400 so far. There is a defect with this radiator and Honda refuse to do anything about it. People are spending thousands of dollars for something that could be fixed by Honda and Nissan. Please issue a recall with this issue. Thank you

- Levittown, NY, USA

problem #31

Jul 022011


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Honda Pilot. The contacted was driving 30 mph when the vehicle started shaking as the gears were shifted into a higher gear. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated they could not duplicate the failure. The vehicle was then taken to a local mechanic who inspected the vehicle and advised that the torque converter was defective. The manufacturer was notified of the failure who advised the contact to take the vehicle toa second dealer for further inspection. The vehicle had not yet been repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 90,000 and the current mileage was 122,000.

- Villa Hills, KY, USA

problem #30

Mar 162012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 96,500 miles
Traveled ~15 miles at highway speed. Exited highway onto secondary roads thru a busy town. Traveling approx 30 mph. Car shuddered and speed dropped to about 10 mph. Transmission wouldn't shift out of low with RPM approaching 4000 RPM. Stopped at light, car stalled all sensor lights came on and flashed. Got it restarted, had to put in low to it moving at ~3500 RPM, went a block to get off the main road into parking lot. Cooling fan running, but temp gauge showed no issue. Puddle of brown fluid formed under passenger side front of engine. Looked like fluid sprayed through front passenger side of engine compartment no indication on sensor lights or temp gauge that anything wrong prior to stall and all sensor lights came on. Had car towed to Honda...they diagnosed as 2 transmission cooling lines burst mixing the transmission and cooling fluid. Fix options...1) flush cooling & tranny system 5-7 times, replace radiator, filter, and lines for $1600-1800 but won't know if transmission needs replacing. 2) full replacement of radiator, lines and transmission $3800 or if option 1 chosen and subsequently transmission needs to be replaced it would cost the initial $1600-1800 plus an additional $4000 for a total of approx $5800. No indicator from dealer of the problem history for this vehicle. Had previously complained about shudder and the dealer replaced a wheel bearing first, then when kept complaining they replaced my rotors saying the rotors had warped...after being resurfaced only ~3600K miles prior. Learned lesson....investigate any problems on -line before you accept the dealer explanation.

- New Windsor, NY, USA

problem #29

Jan 092012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
There is an obvious shudder when my Honda Pilot reaches 35-40 mph, I have 107,000 miles on the Pilot. We just started feeling the shudder so I decided to go online to see what could possibly cause this before I shell out tons of cash on a bunch of "well this should fix it" and it doesn't. I binged "my 2005 Honda Pilot is shaking when I drive" and about the 5th site down I found a site that contained complaints about my issue only they called it a shudder, now I'm terrified because the individuals on this site have had complete transmission failure and I now know that the little shudder that I feel is the only warning and I still don't know how long I have and I can get a rebuilt transmission but that is doomed to fail also. Honda is in denial about the situation even though several have called and asked for assistance with repairs and complaints about how much the repairs are and how people are placed in danger because of the failure, I am afraid to let my newly licensed 16 and 17 yr old drive the car because drivers education didn't teach them how to handle transmission failure and I don't want them hurting themselves or anyone else. This is a safety issue that requires a new transmission replacement, not a patch or code or a rebuild that's going to breakdown after a few ten thousand miles. Clearly this is a problem and some investigating on behalf of the consumer needs to be done to keep us safe.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #28

Dec 182011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
The first incident occurred while traveling at highway speeds. The car violently jerked forward 3 times and came to a complete sudden stop on the interstate. Luckily no one was following too close or we would have been rear ended. My foot was on the accelerator maintaining a steady speed, and it was like I stomped on the break rapidly three times and then the car came to a complete stop. We took the car to the Honda dealership and they could not repeat the issue but said that the battery wasn't putting out the proper amount of amps and was likely resulting in the computer sending faulty messages. They replaced the battery. The car seemed to be fixed when the battery was replaced, but then the issue recurred about two months later at the end of February 2012. While accelerating at about 30 mph, the car violently came to a sudden stop in the middle of the road. Again, we were lucky to not be not rear ended. We took the car to another auto shop, but they weren't able to duplicate the issue. They assessed the computer and noted a faulty egr valve and replaced it. The car drove fine for two weeks after that, then the issue recurred for a third time, again at about 30 mph. The same thing occurred; the car came to a sudden stop in the middle of the road after the sensation of stomping on the breaks several times. The car is in the shop again, and they can't recreate the problem. Their assessment is leading them to believe there is a faulty ABS switch or brake booster. After several failed repair attempts, we aren't confident that anyone knows what the problem is. However, if you read the forums online, this is a problem that has been reported by dozens of people with my year, make/model and at the approximate mileage as my car. If we continue driving the car, we are scared we may injure ourselves or others.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #27

Jan 172011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 77,565 miles
Driving along and close to home felt a pop and noted the temp gauge in hot range of my 2005 Honda Pilot. I have 77,565 miles on it. In my driveway noted a gray liquid under front right side of vehicle. On inspecting in engine area noted the gray liquid overflowing from rad overflow container. Oil level ok but noted no tranny fluid in it. Towed to service station. It was determined that the transmission cooler located in the radiator had failed, mixing up the fluids. Total cost $1900 with multi flush. I had coverage of transmission in effect but Honda said not part of transmission. I have attorney now working on this case for me. The transmission has been shifting poorly before and now worse. Took to Honda dealer to check out. They said no problem that they noticed. With only a few weeks left on the warranty I took it to a professional tranny center and paid $50 for a diagnostic. The report noted an internal failed in the transmission and a need to replace or rebuild unit. Back to the Honda dealer with the report. They looked more closely and agreed that the transmission needs replacement. Under Honda care they replaced with a rebuilt unit. My case with Honda paying me back for the initial repair is still being handled by my attorney. I feel that the transmission cooler is an important part of the transmission unit. No one at Honda is able to tell me if my rebuilt is under any kind of extended coverage. Still waiting to hear from the dealer.

- Feeding Hills, MA, USA

problem #26

Nov 012011

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 51,000 miles
I began to experience a slight shudder when vehicle speed reached 35 mph. Not sure cause at the time so had tires and wheels checked and had mechanic try and replicate. No indication of a problem was noted and frequency at first was occasional but began to increase in frequency and duration. Problem has become worse but always between 35-45 mph and disappears as speed increases. I have contacted dealer and was informed that there had not been any unusual increase in problems like this and would have to check it out. Also informed no existing recalls or notices were on file. Contacted my transmission service rep. And was informed the transmission was very likely failing and would probably need to be replaced. His estimate to replace $4000-$4500 ! 55,000 miles on vehicle"????"

- Spring Creek, NV, USA

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