Notes: The 2012-2013 Honda Pilot have a small complaint trend of owners reporting the engine hesitates sometimes when accelerating.

While it's not a widespread trend with the Pilot, it's a little concerning because of the possibly safety ramifications. While it's certainly something to keep in mind, most Pilot owners are not experiencing this problem.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
6,161 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.

2013 Honda Pilot drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2013 Honda Pilot:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2013 Honda Pilot Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #41

Aug 282016


  • 51,000 miles


Engine/piston/ring issue. Rings not aligned properly in one of pistons ( factory/assembly error) resulted in oil leaking and thrown on engine, caused 2 spark plugs to fail, this caused engine light to come on and then the vsa and vtm-4 came on and the eco light stopped working...we were travelling 70 miles an hour on highway. We were really afraid when the vtm-4 light came on! we had to pull off road, for fear of ruining the 4-wheel drive system, we didn't know what was happening.. we couldn't get the lights to go off, finally vtm-4 light went off and on the other lights stayed was confusing.... because the lights were false indicators due to being connected to the engine light. This malfunction caused the vsa and vtm-4 and eco light to come on falsely. Creating panic while travelling 70 miles an hour on interstate. Creating the false impresssion that the 4-wheel drive system had been activated while travelling at a speed of 70 miles an hour. Suggestion:.... engine light should be separate from other warning system lights..this incident occured approximately 300 miles from our home on a Sunday..we took automobile to dealer Monday a.M. and had repair of piston/ring gaskets etc it was determined the other warning lights were false indicators...

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #40

Aug 012015


  • 28,000 miles
When my Pilot goes into eco mode there is considerable vibration that can be felt in the steering wheel, gas pedal, interior door panel if your leg is resting against it, also there is enough reverb in the cab that at times it can irritate your inner ear. Its the worst around 45 to 65 but can be felt at most speeds. It doesn't matter whether its city or highway its present whenever eco is on at cruising speed. I took my Pilot to the dealer I purchased it from to give them the opportunity to trouble shoot the issue. Initially I thought it was the transmission but they said it was the engine going into eco mode and that it was normal. I have never had a vehicles engine produce the amount of vibration that this one does and to be told its normal to me is unacceptable. I have since read many threads and complaints about this same issue on the internet. This needs to be addressed with Honda and they need to provide a solution. We bought this vehicle in the summer of 2015, have owned it less that a year and this issue makes it a very undesirable vehicle to own and if Honda doesn't provide a solution for this we will most likely get rid of this vehicle and never buy another Honda again nor recommend this manufacturer.

- Kendall, NY, USA

problem #39

Feb 032016


  • miles
I purchased my 2013 Honda certified pre-owned in August 2015. Test drive was short and felt no issues. Felt the shudder on a highway drive the next day. Now I question if the salesperson knew this would be noticed and deliberately made the test ride short to avoid this being noticed. I even asked her about the vibration issue from reports I had read about before the purchase. I was told this was not an valid issue and that she had owned a Pilot and never felt anything. The car was brought back and a software update was done as well as fluid change in trans within the first month. It still had the shudder. After driving for a few weeks to give it a chance to prove itself and it not me "looking" for a problem I called and spoke with the service manager to report this and inform him I would coming back when my schedule allowed. It is getting more frequent and it does not seem to matter whether in eco mode or not. The shudder usually happens around 38-42 mph. But will begin anytime the vehicle cruises in any speed range continually. At higher speeds I can feel my skin shake like one of those fat burning shaking belts from years past. (just so you know I am of average build without excessive body skin.) brought the car back a second time. That was today Feb. 3, 2016. Went for ride with the service manager. Told him it seems to be getting worse. His conclusion was that this "shudder" was a "characteristic" of my $28,000 purchase. My 1999 Suburban that I traded in had a better ride. Very disappointed with Honda. I am going to another dealer to get a second opinion.

- Princeton, NJ, USA

problem #38

Jul 312015


  • 33,000 miles


Parked on level paved shoulder of small-town 2-lane road in upstate NY. Placed truck in park, and verified truck shifter in park. Left truck idling in park to keep A/C going during brief stop to walk to rear passenger door to hand item from rear floor back to toddler. As I approaced rear door, truck (without being touched/bumped) engaged and began driving away under power, not rolling. Chased truck and partially jumped in (short legs). Attempted to put truck in park to stop it, but shifter in park already, refocused on trying to turn off keys. Truck had enough torque to drive across 2-lane road, fully/easily drive over curb, then drive down into gully with me only partially inside. When truck got stuck at bottom and stalled, finished climbing inside and turned off truck. Re-verified shifter still in park. Witness and husband also verified shifter still in park. Managed to just avoid hitting big tree and setting off airbag. Toddler uninjured, I didn't appear injured at time, but legs and knees banged up requiring doctor's visit. Vehicle towed out of gully and superficially repaired enough to cautiously drive home to md for full repair.

- Hanover, MD, USA

problem #37

May 122015


  • 30,233 miles
This vehicle seems to have a design flaw. Many threads exist online discussing the same. The vehicle exhibits strange behavior when shifting from P to D and lurches forward. In addition shifting between gears is problematic at times. Lots of shuddering and vibrations. I have take. To dealer on 3 separate occasions with no success in getting repaired. Dealer does not acknowledge problems. I beleive this is a safety issue and needs to be addressed. Thank you

- Hackettstown , NJ, USA

problem #36

Nov 082014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 16,750 miles
Purchased vehicle used as a Honda certified vehicle on 10/23/14. During test drive we did not notice vibration in drive train - possibly because fluids were cold. During a road trip 2 weeks after above date, we noticed a vibration in 51, 52, 53 mph range. Felt like transmission or torque converter was trying to shift up or down. Took back to dealership and explained problem, service writer took for a test drive and explained that he felt it was when engine was going into "economy" mode and half the cylinders were shutting down."??" on a later road trip on more open highway, we noticed same vibrations in 61, 62, 63 mph range - I watched the econ. Dash light and it didn't necessarily change when we felt vibrations. Took back to dealership and I drove vehicle while service writer watched, looked, and listened. He said he could feel vibration but until a warning light came on, they might spend many hours/days trying to find problem but not locate it. We are keeping our fingers crossed that nothing serious develops and endangers lives or vehicle!

- Hartford City, IN, USA

problem #35

Oct 262014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 24,000 miles


Turned on the car and backed out of my driveway, which is sloped so it does not require any acceleration. Shifted into gear on the street and began to roll forward. Applied pressure to the accelerator and noticed that the car was not responding at all - engine was not revving, car was not moving forward despite flooring the gas pedal. Stopped and shifted into reverse and had the same problem. Simultaneously, several warning lights appeared including vehicle stability control among others. Eventually had to leave the car disabled on the side of the road and have it towed to a local Honda dealer, where they were unable to replicate the problem. After 3 days, they "reset all the computers" and told me the car was fixed. Same problem occurred 2.5 wks later. Again, dealer could not replicate the problem. However, they replaced the "box" which the accelerator connects to and told me the problem should be fixed. 3 days after returning the car to me, the same incident occurred a 3rd time. This time the vehicle fluids were also overheating. I left the car running until a Honda technician could come and take a look and see the problem in action. Unfortunately, he shut the car off upon arrival and then was not able to recreate the problem. Honda has now had my vehicle for 8 days with no progress. Their only suggestion is to uninstall the remote starter which came with the car when I purchased it new. They have no evidence that the remote starter is causing the problem and have not offered to compensate me in any way for its removal. Car is only 1.5 yrs old. Updated 12/22/2015

- Norwalk, CT, USA

problem #34

Jul 012013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 200 miles
Any time eco mode vcm (vehicle cylinder management) engages engine shudders and entire vehicle vibrates until eco mode disengages upon increased acceleration.

- Manchester, ME, USA

problem #33

Mar 082013


  • 5,500 miles
Intermittently when starting to drive after being stopped at light or stop sign the engine will hesitate and bog down for a few seconds before it "kicks in" and then there is a "surge of power". this is very annoying and also very dangerous as someone could easily get rear-ended or worse yet get caught in the intersection in oncoming traffic. There is also vibration and shutter at certain speeds and seems to be worst when eco mode kicks in and when driving conservatively. There is also a pull in the steering upon acceleration.

- Punta Gorda, FL, USA

problem #32

Feb 012014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 4,500 miles
Sometimes when starting out and making left or right hand turn after being stopped at a stop light or stop sign, the engine will hesitate and bog down for a few seconds before it "kicks in" and then there is a "surge of power". this is very annoying at the least and also very dangerous as one could easily get rearended or worse yet get caught in the intersection in oncoming traffic.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #31

Dec 072012

Pilot 6-cyl

  • miles


2013 Honda Pilot. Consumers write in regards to vehicle shudders, pulsates and vibrates intermittently during normal driving conditions. The consumer stated the shudder, pulsating and vibration occurred intermittently during any and all driving conditions. The consumer was informed by Honda representatives ad technicians that vibration was caused by the variable cylinder control system and it usually started after 1000 miles. The consumer was informed Honda was working on a fix, but may or may not have a solution in the future. Also, there was a very distinct and constant pull to the left in the steering system. The fuel system alert light illuminated after the tank was filled with gas. The consumer was instructed by the dealer, to remove and replace the gas gap. The alert light went out. The consumer stated the vehicle shifted harshly and it felt as though he transmission was failing. The consumer stated the problem became worse as time went on.

- Oregon City, OR, USA

problem #30

May 022013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
My daughter was backing out of the garage onto a sloped driveway, applied the brake, shifted into park gear selector, exited auto to retrieve something from garage. Noticed the car rolling, attempted to get in the car, as her two children were in the rear (ages 6 &9).car rolled over her leg, resulting in major compound fracture, resulting in extensive surgery, metal rod and screws in her leg. Car rolled backwards crossing street into ditch. Police report indicates engine was still running with gear in reverse. Honda case #[xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6). Updated 10/21/2014

- Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA

problem #29

Jan 152014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 4,000 miles
While driving in Florida and Louisiana, I noticed a low-frequency buzzing sound and vibration which could be felt through the steering wheel and floorpan. I believe it is associated with the variable cylinder management (vcm) feature. It could be felt when the vcm transitioned from 6 to 4 cylinder mode, with the RPM of 1700-1900 and speeds of approximately 25, 45 and 60 mph. It would occur with very light accelerator pressure, just maintaining speed, and disappear when accelerator pressure was increased, causing it to downshift and/or the vcm to transition back to 6 cylinder mode. This problem is less evident here in Colorado springs (6000 ft elevation), which I cannot explain. I did not have this problem with a 2008 Pilot nor a 2008 Odyssey, both of which had a similar vcm feature. My local Honda tech could "not duplicate" my concern and said it was "operating normally". the transmission also "hunts" between 4th and 5th gear.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #28

Feb 162014

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 11,800 miles
When shifting from park to drive, vehicle emitted audible noise from within cabin and outside that sounded like a cluster of fast metallic clapping/snapping noises. The noise was accompanied and followed by an observed shake and hesitation to engage the vehicle. Eventually, the motion to transition into a zero gas coasting speed, was accompanied by a lurch to vehicles default drive when pulling out of a driveway. The first noticeable incident of this behavior was experienced in the November 2013 time frame, while in a drive-thru at a restaurant, when shifting from park to drive, and after ordering, the vehicle lurched forward while performing this transmission shift. The vehicle is with the dealer for a repeat service call to observe this pattern of shift change behavior. There may have been a few more incidents of this happening, but these two are the most noticeable that can be recollected at this time.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #27

Jan 082014


  • 5,000 miles
Vehicle shutters terrible at certain speeds/RPM. Have to adjust acceleration to get it to stop. Huge safety issue. Not normal operation for a new vehicle. It's criminal that Honda claims its normal.

- Wilmington, MA, USA

problem #26

Aug 142013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 150 miles
Ever since I pulled off the new car lot, ,,,, vehicle has vibration at 1500 to 2000 RPM. It is slight but vibrates throughout vehicle. Annoying is the perfect description. Goes away with slight acceleration. Seems to be related to eco being in operation. I see same complaint in other posts. I believe it is a rookie design flaw in power train. A $40,000 vehicle should be without this defect. I also own a 2010 Pilot that operates without any vibration at any speed or load upon engine/drivetrain. This is my second "Honda" company vehicle. I wish I had the 1st one back. You can imagine my frustration with my 2013 Honda Pilot. Honda..... can you own up to this flaw and fix?

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

problem #25

Oct 172013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 600 miles
When slowing down to make a left turn, as I start the turn the engine hesitates and there is no response. The car seems to have no power and coasts 4 or 5 seconds before responding normally. This is very dangerous in high traffic conditions. This problem has also occasionally occurred starting off from a traffic signal, and making right turns.

- Rochester Hills, MN, USA

problem #24

Dec 022013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
The vehicle starts to shudder and vibrate at various speeds. You must slow down or speed up to get it to stop vibrating. We bought this Honda Pilot because we drive on a lot of slick roads. I feel this makes it very unsafe for my family. Along with being unsafe, it is very annoying and with it being a new vehicle, we should not have to accept this. The dealership says it is a normal operation of vcm. American Honda tells me the same thing. I don't agree.

- Monmouth, IL, USA

problem #23

Sep 292013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 7,500 miles
Vehicle has rollback on inclines and transmission does not lockup to hold position when foot is taken off of brake (almost caused accident ). told by Honda service manager where I purchased this vehicle that this is normal with Honda's... have never had a vehicle do this before. How many accidents have been caused by this condition?

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #22

Jul 222013

Pilot 6-cyl

  • 400 miles
SUV shudders noticeably between 45 to 74 mph when vcm engages from eco mode to 6 cylinder. Dealer inform me it is a normal feature of the vehicle.

- Auburn, AL, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?