Honda Pilot Transmission Problems

TaxiHack is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

The Honda Pilot is a great choice for anyone who wants to ride in comfort and style.

Its 7-seater capacity is a great option for families who want to take their kids on long road trips. It also has plenty of cargo space, so you can bring everything you need for your trip.

If you’re a Honda Pilot owner, you probably know that the transmission is one of the most important parts of your SUV.

If your transmission is not functioning properly, it can cause serious problems in your vehicle’s performance.

That leads me to talk about the Honda Pilot transmission problems. This SUV has had issues in the past, which is why this article is being written.

There are many ways to identify a failing transmission.

  1. Difficult Shifting From First Gear
  2. Jerking And Hesitation
  3. Burning Smell
  4. Gears Slipping
  5. Grinding Noise When Shifting Gears
  6. D Light Blinking
  7. Lurching Forward When Parking
  8. Leaking Transmission Fluid

All of the symptoms and signs listed above are those that have happened to a majority of Honda Pilot owners.

This is a serious matter, and you should know more about it. This is why I recommend reading this article entirely so that your Honda Pilot does not have to face the same issues.

8 Signs Of Transmission Problems In A Honda Pilot

Having a bad transmission with your Honda Pilot? Read my guide to know why

The introduction stated eight possible ways a Honda Pilot may tell you something is wrong with the transmission.

This section will look at those problems and get into the details of why they happen.

1. Difficult Shifting From First Gear

If your Honda Pilot has difficulty shifting from first gear, it can be due to impurities in the transmission fluid.

The transmission fluid could also be low—if the level dips low enough, it can cause the gears to not sync.

It’s also possible that there’s something wrong with your shifter cable. It has been designed to make the indicator needle align with the gear you want to be in.

If it is faulty, then it means that the transmission will not shift accordingly, hence resulting in difficulties moving from first gear.

2. Jerking And Hesitation

This is usually a sign that your transmission fluid level is low or at a point where it has started to break down.

This can happen if your fluid has not been changed for a long time. The fluid keeps the transmission lubricated, which helps in a smooth operation.

If it has lost its viscosity or is not present, then there is a good chance that the transmission will jerk while driving.

A faulty sensor may also be the cause of this problem. It may be transmitting the wrong data to the transmission, which causes jerking and hesitation.

3. Burning Smell

A burning smell is another common sign of transmission problems in a Honda Pilot.

It’s important to note that this issue is again caused by a low fluid level or changing it too infrequently.

The fluid acts as lubricant and coolant, so if you don’t have enough or don’t change it often enough, the transmission may begin to overheat.

This can result in serious damage to your SUV’s transmission! There is already a lot of friction due to the low fluid level, so both issues are certainly not good.

4. Gears Slipping

If you’re noticing that the gears in your Honda Pilot are slipping, it’s not a cause for concern.

That’s because this symptom can be due to wear and tear after driving the vehicle for more than 150,000 miles. This is common in older models of the Pilot or any other vehicle.

Another thing to look out for is broken or worn-out transmission bands. These bands are responsible for connecting the gear train to the housing.

If it breaks, the gears cannot be in sync. And this issue may very well result in the transmission slipping.

5. Grinding Noise When Shifting Gears

A grinding sound when you shift gears may result from a damaged torque converter or low transmission fluid level.

The torque converter is designed to transfer power from the engine to the transmission.

The transmission will emit a grinding noise if it is not working properly. A damaged converter can also result in your Honda Pilot stalling when putting it into gear.

When it comes to the fluid, a low level means that there is increased friction between the gears. This may result in the gears bending or chipping, resulting in a grinding sound.

6. D Light Blinking

If the D light on your Honda Pilot is blinking, you might not be sure what that means.

Well, it’s an indication that there’s something wrong with your transmission—and it could be due to any number of things.

Common causes include a faulty solenoid or low transmission fluid level. If the solenoid is faulty, the transmission may also hesitate while accelerating.

If the fluid level is low, there may be overheating and a burning smell. There could be other reasons involved too, such as a faulty sensor. It cannot be said for sure until properly checked.

7. Lurching Forward When Parking

If your Honda Pilot lurches forward when you’re parking, it can be an issue with the Transmission Control Module.

This small computer tells the transmission what to do, and if it’s not working properly, it may send the wrong commands and lead to symptoms such as this one.

Another potential cause of this problem is a faulty torque converter. The torque converter ensures power can be transmitted from the engine to the transmission.

Its malfunctioning can also lead to the transmission acting up when trying to park.

8. Leaking Transmission Fluid

If you notice a drop of transmission fluid under your Honda Pilot, the seal on one or more of the transmission components has likely deteriorated.

This could be caused by a lack of regular maintenance or age. The most common reason could be due to failing seals and O-rings. They make sure that the fluid remains in place.

Another common sign of transmission issues is a deteriorated pan gasket. It can reach this condition over time.

You should also not rule out the fluid lines themselves. They may harden and crack over time, which may very well lead to the transmission fluid leaking.

How To Prevent Your Honda Pilot’s Transmission Issues

Until now, I have discussed the many symptoms and issues that can arise with the transmission of the Honda Pilot.

Now, I will discuss some preventative measures to ensure that your SUV’s transmission will work for as long as possible and with as few issues as possible.

1. Properly Switch Gears

The proper way to shift gears in your Honda Pilot is to ease off the gas and let the transmission shift for you rather than stepping on the gas and forcing it into gear.

If you’re driving a Honda Pilot, this is a good habit to get into—you’ll save yourself from having to replace or repair your transmission later!

2. Have Annual Checkups

A professional mechanic must check your transmission at least once a year.

The garage will be able to tell if there are any problems with your transmission system by listening to how it sounds when it’s running.

Moreover, they can also guide you by looking over the codes that come up when they scan using the OBDII port.

You may be able to catch and fix issues before they ever become a problem.

3. Change Transmission Fluid Every 30000 Miles

This is the best way to keep your transmission running smoothly. The transmission fluid lubricates the internal parts of your Honda Pilot’s transmission.

So if you don’t change it regularly, you could be causing damage to those parts without even knowing it!

4. Never Use The Parking Brake

The parking brake is one of the most important components in your Honda Pilot.

It allows you to park safely and securely, but it also puts a lot of stress on your transmission if used incorrectly.

If you use it too much or too often, you could cause damage to the transmission that may simply be irreparable.

How To Fix The Honda Pilot’s Transmission Problems

If you’re having trouble with your Honda Pilot’s transmission, the problem is likely simple.

Many people don’t realize this, but the transmission fluid is the most common culprit when it comes to transmission problems.

You should first check your fluid level if you think your SUV has a transmission problem.

If it’s low or empty, fill it up! Make sure to use the correct fluid for your transmission.

If leaks are in your transmission case, use an additive to help seal them up. This will prevent further damage to your engine and help keep your fluid at an ideal level for longer periods.

If all else fails, you can always opt for a full rebuild or replacement of the transmission system altogether.

Which Year Did Honda Pilot Have Transmission Troubles?

This section will look at the models of the Honda Pilot that were mostly known for their transmission issues. If you are a potential SUV buyer, steer clear of these models.

2003 Honda Pilot

Complete transmission failure was reported with the oldest model of the SUV. The torque converter was also known to make noise when operating, which was annoying.

2004 Honda Pilot

The 2004 Honda Pilot had two main issues. The transmission would shudder at times. There were also reports of it slipping. Finally, the torque converter would also make noise.

2006 Honda Pilot

The 2006 model had transmission issues, but they were not too major. There were complaints about the transmission cooler connection failing and the sluggish acceleration.

2007 Honda Pilot

There was only one reported case of the transmission failing in 2007. Honda did pretty well this year, as the transmission was pretty reliable.

2011 Honda Pilot

The 2011 Honda Pilot had some issues, but they were not widely reported. The transmission would shift roughly and sometimes erratically too.

There was also a report of the transmission producing a whining noise.

2013 Honda Pilot

2013 was another great year for the Honda Pilot and its transmissions.

There were isolated complaints about the transmission shifting roughly. There was also a report of it vibrating a lot.

2016 Honda Pilot

The transmission of the 2016 Honda Pilot was known to jerk from time to time. There were also reports of it failing, which is pretty serious.

2017 Honda Pilot

There were a few complaints of the transmission shifting hard. Other than that, there were reports that it would lurch forward, which could result in an accident.

2018 Honda Pilot

The transmission on the 2018 Honda Pilot was known to slip on some units. It would also jerk when shifting from the first to the second gear.

2019 Honda Pilot

This model had many complaints that the transmission jerked. It would also slip. It would also drop into neutral after idling, which could only be fixed with a restart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Much Does A Honda Pilot Transmission Replacement Cost?

If your transmission has reached a point where it can’t be fixed, then a replacement is the only option. You can fix your Honda Pilot only by replacing it.

The cost for a transmission replacement is around $3500 to $5500. The price varies from model to model, but it should lie within this price point.

Q2. What Is The Lifespan Of A Honda Pilot Transmission?

I was not impressed by the number. The transmission on the Honda Pilot has been designed to last for around 150,000 miles.

If you drive 15,000 miles annually, the transmission will last for around ten years. This number can only be achieved if it is maintained properly.

Q3. Is It Safe To Drive A Honda Pilot With A Bad Transmission?

It is never safe to drive with a bad transmission. With the Honda Pilot, driving in such a manner will result in the transmission potentially being irreversibly damaged.

So, if you need to take your SUV to a garage, you should get it towed. Or else you may be looking at a transmission replacement.


Honda Pilot is a great vehicle, but it’s not perfect. One of the problems people have with it is transmission issues.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms in your Pilot, don’t worry—there are ways to troubleshoot the problem and get your SUV back in usable condition.

If there is one thing this article has made clear about the Honda Pilot transmission problems, there can be many.

You need to look for symptoms and signs indicating that the system needs immediate attention. I hope you got all the information you were looking for!