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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
122,250 miles
Total Complaints:
46 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace radiator and flush transmission (13 reports)
  2. replace radiator (10 reports)
  3. replace transmission & radiator (9 reports)
  4. not sure (6 reports)
  5. new transmission (4 reports)
  6. replace radiator and transmission (4 reports)
2005 Honda Pilot transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Honda Pilot Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #46

Nov 122019

Pilot LX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,356 miles


The Pilot was only average in terms of overall reliability and got terrible gas mileage. But it was running well up to the Radiation cooling line leak that trashed the transmission. Too expensive to fix such an old car so it had to be scrapped. Got $200 Cdn for it as scrap.

Other problems were starter motor, two power steering hoses, rear wheel bearings, power steering pump. The timing belt and water pump were done at about 173,000 kms and several brake pad and disc changes.

I never towed with it but have a brand new Honda Power steering cooler and tranny cooler that I want to sell. Never used.

- jim97, Ottawa, ON, Canada

problem #45

Apr 172018

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 187,000 miles

This is a terrible design. Combining the transmission coolant and engine coolant into the same core is just asking for VERY expensive repairs. I would love to see an aftermarket solution for this.

- Frank S., Arroyo Grande, CA, US

problem #44

Feb 182018

Pilot EXL

  • 180,113 miles

My wife was driving home, when suddenly her Pilot's engine and transmission malfunctioned and wouldn't move the vehicle. Called AAA for a tow to our mechanic. Saw what appeared to be transmission fluid on the road. Also saw a bunch of fluid in the engine bay around the radiator. Our mechanic found that the transmission cooler had failed resulting in the antifreeze going into the transmission and transmission fluid going into the radiator. The radiator and transmission cooler were replaced. The transmission and cooling system was flushed a couple of times.

Even for a vehicle this old, I'm concerned that there may be a defect in Honda's transmission cooler because this problem should not occur when following Honda's recommended service for coolant and transmission service, which was done with this vehicle.

- Ken H., Blackwood, NJ, US

problem #43

Sep 212015

Pilot EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 173,363 miles


In order to fix this issue I had to replace the radiator and flush the transmission many times.. I also added an inline filter.

Since this issue, I need to flush the transmission every 5k miles otherwise the transmission is not working as it should be. The oil is getting old quite fast..

50k miles later, the transmission still ok to drive around, but, I'm not towing anything with the Pilot anymore.

All this just because of a bad radiator design.

- Martin B., Ottawa, ON, Canada

problem #42

Sep 212016

Pilot EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

Came out of store notice mix of fluid on the ground open up hood, man came over took a look said not drive it looks like transmission issue had to get it towed,mechanic said antifreeze mixed into transmission fluid had to get new radiator and transmission flush 1 month later I'm hearing noises taking it back to mechanic hoping I don't have to get a new transmission. No help from dealer said there was not a recall on this car for this problem

- Nancy S., Chicago, IL, US

problem #41

Jan 122016

Pilot EXL 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,873 miles

Could have been prevented had Honda recalled vehicles with a the bad batch of radiators.

I would have gladly replaced the radiator at my cost had Honda told me there were multiple reported instances where leaking radiators were destroying their transmissions.

Poor customer experience.

- Michael E., Swisher, IA, US

problem #40

Dec 102015

Pilot EX-L 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 197,000 miles


Had the same problem on our other 2005 Honda Pilot EX-L, too!!!

- William R., La Grange, KY, US

problem #39

Oct 242014

Pilot EX-L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

This is another failure problem that I now know is common to this vehicle. Not much one can do except avoid Honda if you want to keep your cars beyond the warranty. Fortunately, the problem was detected while I left it for several months. The transmission fluid was all over the floor. Otherwise I would have driven it without fluid.

- Bruce H., Venice, US

problem #38

Oct 092015

Pilot EXL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,492 miles

Same problem as all the others. Pilot revved up to 5 rpm before it kicked into gear. Stalled on me one time at a red light then took awhile to get it going. Took it to the service center and they said it would cost $900 to replace radiator and flush both fluids. Not knowing yet if the transmission will need to be rebuilt..

I've lost all respect for Honda. Quality is not like they used to be.

I called American Honda to let them know of problem. Don't think they will do anything but, everyone needs to call them so they know more people have same problem. Get enough people they might do something. Flood them with calls.

American Honda


- Marnie D., Marysville, OH, US

problem #37

Sep 022015

Pilot EXL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

Like everyone else is saying here, had the truck in for inspection on Monday and on Wednesday I left a trail of fluid for about 1/2 mile right into my driveway. Liquid was coming from the right passenger side front wheel. Turns out the radiator was leaking into the transmission and the fluids were mixing. The mechanic said the radiator has to be replaced, the trans flushed 3 times and then they hope the transmission isn't involved. I'm going to freak out. We were in negotiations to trade it for a 2016 Pilot but after reading all of this I may go with something else. I'm PO'd.

- Terry F., Mechanicsburg, PA, US

problem #36

Mar 182014

Pilot LX 3.5L Litter

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,549 miles


I had the car only a year after buying it new. Still had 4 years of car payments on the vehicle and had to get it fixed. Had it towed to a Honda dealer near me where they confirmed my car mixed fluids.

The fix took a whole week and a lot of money! Also that Honda dealer left my can bone dry of any gas. So I had to not only pay for the fix but also drive to a local gas station to buy a gas can and gas just to get my car off the lot!

After said fix my transmission never felt right again.

- mesofrog, Galloway, OH, US

problem #35

Jun 132015

Pilot LX 3.5L Litter

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,665 miles

I had a to Replace the new radiator I had put in on march-18th-2014. So that is two radiators in less then a two year time. I also just before this paid a Honda dealer to flush the fluids we where still seeing a mix from the last radiator mix replacement.

That's when they informed us that the radiator that we just put in failed! So we had it towed to the Honda dealership that replaced it the first round.

When they looked at it said yes it did fail and that it was past the 12 month warranty. But I drove less then 10,000 miles on the radiator. So they where "nice" and covered all but 350$ of that fix. This time they didn't drained my fluids they "flushed" my fluids. Something Honda says to never do to a Honda engine. Because they recommended it I felt the best action was and "is" to do what they say. On pick up I was told that they looked at the transmission was fine and would work much better now...

A week later and 63 miles later my transmission is slipping now!

- mesofrog, Galloway, OH, US

problem #34

Apr 102015

Pilot LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

Same issue again! This time I have to replaced the radiator and the transmission needs rebuilt! I will never buy a Honda again, if I didn't owe on this car still I would burn it in my next Bon-Fire!

- jhelie, Great Valley, NY, US

problem #33

Mar 212013

Pilot LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Car would not move in gear, took it to a mechanic and they replaced the radiator and flushed the transmission.

- jhelie, Great Valley, NY, US

problem #32

Mar 312015

Pilot LX 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,100 miles

Same as the rest of the folks here. Radiator failed and the transmission fluid started to mix with the coolant. Coolant reserve tank was overflowing with the strawberry shake color looking fluid.The tech told me that transmission may go at any time and to sell the car as it is not worth fixing. Very disappointed owner of few Honda made cars (2002 Honda Civic LX,2002 Acura TL-S,2005 Honda Pilot LX and 2007 Honda Accord LX). I owned the Pilot for 10 years and it was always serviced at the dealer and I wanted to keep it for at least another 5 years. I don't think I'll buy another Honda any time soon.

- Benjamin V., Waltham, MA, US

problem #31

Nov 152014

Pilot EX-L 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,939 miles

When the radiator blew about 6 months prior to this incident, my mechanic told me that tranny fluid flooded the radiator and coolant entered the tranny.

He told me it was not a matter of if, but when the transmission would fail.

I got about 6 months out of my vehicle and it died when my family was on the highway. No gradual failure, just driving at highway speed and poof. Done.

- schwartzcy, Canton, OH, US

problem #30

Nov 142014

Pilot EX-L 3.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,500 miles

I was on my way home from work when I noticed I had no heat. Got home, popped the hood and low and behold a strawberry milkshake coming out of my radiator overflow. Only it was made with TRANSMISSION fluid. the radiator or cooling lines failed mixing the coolant and Transmission fluids. I knew better than to go to the dealer. I have a mechanic that specializes in imports. He has seen this before. New radiator, several transmission flushes, and coolant flush. Did timing belt while at it. Now I am praying Literally that the transmission is not damaged. I love this car, but now I am open to buying something other than a Honda. Honda knows they have a problem. I have seriously thought of a class action suit on this. This is outrageous, That in a few minutes you can do MAJOR damage to a EXPENSIVE car because of a design flaw and/or cheap parts. Don't drive it if this happens. Trailer it to service dept.

- Lee M., Brunswick, OH, US

problem #29

Nov 032014

Pilot EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

I love my Honda Pilot. I've always said I'll get another one when I'm through with this one. However, now I am not so sure.

I am a graduate student, so obviously I'm poor, ha ha. I've had my Pilot paid off for about 3 years. We all know what happened to my car since it's the same "chocolate milk story" as everyone else.

I am faced with dilemma to fix it or sell it as is for cheap to put down on another vehicle. I have been quoted $3,500 to $4,200 to have it fixed with a rebuilt transmission.

I feel that Honda should definitely fix this problem or they should have sent out a recall and it all could have been avoided. I hope this issue is fixed with the new Pilots.

- megd, Coshocton, OH, US

problem #28

Sep 222014

Pilot LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

Our supposedly "reliable" vehicle broke down today after having it serviced at the Honda dealer last Thursday before our weekend trip. The technician told me I will be needing a radiator change in the future but it doesn't have to be done immediately. There is a small leak. It should be fine for the trip. Why didn't he tell me how IMPORTANT it is to change the radiator because, if not, it could kill the transmission... which is exactly what happened!!! I have lost faith in Honda... They should recall and fix this manufacture defect of the radiator leaking into the transmission!!! Make this right! This vehicle is no longer valuable in my eyes... Honda, you lost my respect!

- mpeacock, Lockport, NY, US

problem #27

Aug 272014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

I don't need to say much here as many of the end-users of this vehicle know exactly what I am referring to. And all of the stories are 100% similar to mine. I will say that I believe Honda should make it a requirement to change the radiator if it could damage or destroy a transmission.

My wife and I are both young professionals and will never buy another Honda again, unless we can be assured this issue has been fixed. Incidentally, I did call HONDA USA and they could not I told them I will not buy another. If the radiator goes. No problem, I don't mind paying for shouldn’t result in the consumer having to pay for a major component of a vehicle because an engineer made a decision to build a part that could result in two systems failing because of cross contamination of fluids.

- Randy S., Waterford, WI, US

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