Which Honda Pilot Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

There are few automakers with a better reputation than Honda when it comes to SUVs. One of their three-row SUVs, the Honda Pilot, has been on the market since 2002.

Engine and drivetrain issues, problems of leaking water and wires overheating, vibrating brakes and many more make the Honda Pilot years 2003, 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2016. There are a few more bad years as well.  

In this article, I have summarized all the data and user experiences available from rich information sources. Reading it will save you hours of research through websites and forums while helping your purchase decision.

Honda Pilot Years to Avoid (with Reasons)

The Honda Pilot had a rocky start with the 2003 model, which has adhered to the model name for quite some time. Specific model years are considerably more consistent, and others aren’t.

Each bad years have some distinct issues. The bad years also have one or more common issue that persists in all models. Transmission problems, electrical problems, engine problems, and airbag not deflecting are the most prevalent difficulties with all these model years.

  • 2003 Honda Pilot
  • 2005 Honda Pilot
  • 2009 Honda Pilot
  • 2013 Honda Pilot
  • 2016 Honda Pilot

In all, these models have received over 1500 complaints. Each model year issues are discussed further.

2003 Honda Pilot Problems:

This one is the worst of all easily. It has received several recalls for passenger and frontal airbag failures. The ignition switch fails and requires replacement frequently. The keytends to get stuck in ignition. The chrome paint wears off.

A transmission failure and the “D” light blinking are common problems. The electrical system failure is also pretty common in this model.

2005 Honda Pilot Problems:

This model has really bad transmission issues. This includes, transmission failing, the fluid leaking, the automatic transmission or powertrain failures causing the car to hit against the brakes, engine problems (most prominent one is the check engine line being turned on), the electronic stability control failing and many more.

Besides this, it also shows some drivetrain and airbag problems. The warning lights flashing is just a sign of these problems.  

2009 Honda Pilot Problems:

Engine oil consumption is the worst on Honda Pilot 2009 model. It burns around 1/2 a quart a month. Engine failure and misfires also occur often. Airbags failing to deflect is another common problem for which the model has had recalls.

Moreover, suspension issues, electrical issues and drivetrain issues are also pretty common. Accessory problems such as Tire Pressure Monitor System falling, rear AC blower transistor failing, coolant hose leaking are few issues with this model.

2013 Honda Pilot Problems:

This model has several issues like paint and body issues. This includes mainly the paint peeling off the body parts. It happens particularly in the water prone area such as the roof, windshield, moon roof etc.

Moreover, engine problems including intermittent jerking, bad acceleration issues, fuel pump failure, fuel injector failure are common in Honda Pilot 2013 model.

Noises from transmission create an annoyance for the driver as well. Additionally, a bad fuel economy and fuel check light turning on is frequently reported.

2016 Honda Pilot Problems:

Transmission failure, transmission jerking and rattling and electrical failures are most common with Honda Pilot 2016 model. Vehicle stalling seems to be frequently addressed too.

The common electronic failures include the vehicle stalling and the start button not working, recurring fault codes, vehicle shutting off, all lights automatically turning on or off etc.

What Are The Worst Years of Honda Pilot?

  • Honda Pilot 2003: This one has over 250 reported compaints. And more NHSTA complaints. It had the most recalls for airbags. The transmission is the most frequently repaired.
  • Honda Pilot 2005: Over 100s of complaints have been recorded on this model. The most common is the airbag issues, which poses a safety threat. The braking issues are also the most common.
  • Honda Pilot 2016: It has around 400 NHSTA complaints. The frequent complaint is about vehicle stalling. This is immediately followed by electrical failures and malfunctions. The transmission is another most frequent problem.

Most Common Problems of Honda Pilot

Some of the most prevalent issues are listed below.

Transmission Failures:

The gearbox breakdown issue is arguably the most significant of all the issues that Honda Pilots face. Fortunately, this issue is primarily restricted to the 2003 model; however, a few isolated transmission failures have been in later Pilot models.

Transmission failure is one of the most expensive repairs your automobile might require, so taking on a vehicle with this problem is a major commitment.

Worse, transmission breakdowns in traffic can make it difficult to maintain control of a car and perhaps cause a collision.

Excessive Oil Consumption:

Excessive oil consumption is a very typical problem with SUVs, and it’s also a concern in a few Honda Pilot model years.

This isn’t a big deal if you know your model is going to start using oil, especially after 100k miles, but it might be a big deal if you don’t know it’s going to happen.

The major issue is that low oil may harm your engine and cause it to overheat, but only if you allow it go too low in general.

This may be avoided by keeping a can of oil in your trunk and filling it out every couple of weeks, just like an oil leak.

On the other hand, excessive oil use may burn a hole in your wallet and make your car much more difficult to repair over time.

Peeling Paint:

Peeling paint is mostly an aesthetic concern, but it may lead to more significant issues if you live in an area with a lot of rain or rust.

We don’t think peeling paint is significant enough to prevent you from buying a car, but you should be aware that you may need to have it repainted at some time.

Recurring Fault Codes:

Except when a repeating fault code reveals a true problem, recurring fault codes are typically more annoying than harmful.

These occur when your Pilot’s sensors detect a problem that does not present.

Recurrent fault codes usually are easy to notice, either by yourself or by your technician. But the issues arise when you receive a valid fault code after your Pilot has taught you not to pay attention to them.

In these situations, you may do inadvertent harm to your car merely because you mistook a valid fault code for another false alarm.

Fuel Injector Failure:

Another typical problem with Honda Pilots is fuel injector failure, which may be a costly repair.

This issue is more prevalent in newer Honda Pilot vehicles, particularly the 2016 ones, compared to the other faults that are more prevalent in early-generation versions.

This problem is especially aggravating because it usually appears around 60k miles, making it an early part failure for most automobiles.

Because the cost of repairing it might be several thousand dollars, this is a concern you should study before buying a Honda Pilot.

Given that the Honda Pilot has been in production since 2003, this list is rather short. However, as you can see, they had to sort out several design flaws after the initial release.

It didn’t help that many buyers were apprehensive about the safety and efficiency of SUVs in general in the early 2000s, making it an especially challenging moment to introduce a new model SUV.

Even said, some of the Pilot’s flaws were well-deserved. Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent issues that these models encountered.

Which Honda Pilot Years are Safe to Buy?

I’ve listed all of the most popular Honda Pilot models ever made. These models have been tried and tested and are available for purchase by anybody.

  • 2008 Honda Pilot
  • 2010 Honda Pilot
  • 2018 Honda Pilot
  • 2019 Honda Pilot
  • 2020 Honda Pilot
  • 2021 Honda Pilot

The 2008 Honda pilot is a highly reliable car. You will not need many repairs, just the regular maintenance. Same goes for the 2010 which is equalyreliable, safe and comfortable.

The 9-speed transmission’s rough shifting issue from prior years seems to have been rectified, as automatic shifting is nearly undetectable.

For a car of this class, it handles well. If you drive carefully, it handles well in the snow. There isn’t much driving weariness!

In addition to all of the above, the 2018-2021 models have great technology. These four models are especially applauded for their smooth steering due to the electrical steering system.

The gas mileage has exceeded expectations. Based on a relatively equal mix of city and highway driving on normal octane gasoline.

The latest Honda Pilot models get better. With their amazing technology, the 2020 to 2021 models come with comfortable seats suitable for people with back problems.

The heated seats in the first two rows of a 2020 Honda Pilot are very effective and provide good comfort. The third row seat provides adequate leg room.

All these models are quite roomy and comfortable. They come with a solid build which reduces repairs. They did absolutely brilliant with the engine quality.

Fuel filter problems are little to none. Very few minor issues exist. Among these, the 2010 would be the best pick.


Which Honda Pilot Year has the most transmission failures?

Honda Pilot 2003 year model has the most transmission failures.

How costly is it to fix the transmission problem of a 2003 Honda Pilot?


Which Honda Pilot model is the best??

2021 Honda Pilot SE


If you have made it to this part of the article, you already know which Honda Pilot years to avoid and which ones are reliable.

Considering the design flaws, research, and customer reviews, it is suggested that you ignore the mentioned Honda Pilot years to save you from any inconvenience and your hard-earned money.

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