Here Are The Honda Pilot Years To Avoid (2024)

Honda Pilotby Kevauto —CC-BY-SA-4.0

When it comes to SUVs, there aren’t many manufacturers with a better reputation than Honda. That being said, no Honda SUV is perfect, and the Pilot has been in production long enough to have more than a couple of problem years. Suppose you’re serious about getting a reliable and long-lasting SUV. In that case, you need to know the Honda Pilot years to avoid and why you should avoid them.

Don’t worry, though; we’ve got you covered in this article.


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We’ll discuss the years you should avoid, the most common problems that make those models less consistent, and which versions of the Honda Pilot are worth your hard-won income.

Let’s dive in.

The Honda Pilot Years To Avoid

The Honda Pilot got off to a rough start with the 2003 release, which unfortunately has stuck to the model name for quite a while. There are model years that are much more consistent and some that aren’t very reliable.

Here are the Honda Pilot years to avoid, and we’ll talk about why we need to avoid them in the next section.

  • 2003
  • 2005
  • 2009
  • 2011
  • 2013
  • 2016

This list is relatively slim, considering the Honda Pilot has been in active production since 2003. But, as you can see, they had to work out some of the bugs in the design after that first release.

It doesn’t help that the early 2000s saw a lot of consumers concerned with the safety and efficiency of SUVs in general, which made it a challenging time to release a new model SUV. Still, some of the issues with the Pilot were more than earned. Let’s talk about some of the common problems these models ran into.


Honda has one of the best reputations on the market for SUVs. If you’re interested in purchasing a used version, it’s ideal to analyze every available option. You might wonder - what is the most reliable Honda Pilot year?

Common Problems With The Honda Pilot

Here are some of the most common problems with the Honda Pilot so you can decide which model you’re willing to drive.

Transmission Failures

Of all the problems Honda Pilots run into, the most serious is probably the transmission failure problem. Thankfully, this problem is mainly limited to the 2003 model. However, there are some isolated incidents of transmission failures in other Pilot models.

Transmission failure is one of the most expensive repairs your car can need, so it’s a serious commitment to take on a vehicle that has this as a known issue. Worse, transmission failures in traffic can make it hard to control a car and even result in a crash.

Excessive Oil Consumption

Excessive oil consumption is a relatively common problem among SUVs, and it’s common in a few different model years of the Honda Pilot. This isn’t a huge issue as long as you’re aware your SUV might start to consume oil, especially after 100k miles, but it can be a severe issue if you don’t know that it might happen.

The main problem is that low oil can cause engine damage and may cause your vehicle to overheat, but only if you let the oil get too low overall.

This can be managed by keeping a can of oil in your trunk and topping it off every couple of weeks, just like how you would handle an oil leak. However, excessive oil consumption can burn a hole in your pocketbook and make your vehicle a lot harder to maintain.

Peeling Paint

Peeling paint is a primarily cosmetic issue, but it can cause more severe problems if you live somewhere with wet weather or where rust is consistent.

For the most part, we don’t think that peeling paint is serious enough to stop you from buying a car, but it’s worth knowing that you may have to get it repainted at some point.

Recurring Fault Codes

Recurring fault codes are usually more irritating than dangerous, except when a recurring fault code hides a real problem.

These happen when the sensors in your Pilot trigger a non-existent issue. Recurrent fault codes can usually be spotted quickly, either by you or your mechanic. Still, the problems happen when you get a legitimate fault code after your Pilot has already trained you not to pay attention to them.

In these cases, you may cause unintentional damage to your vehicle simply because you thought a legitimate fault code was another false alarm.

Fuel Injector Failure

Fuel injector failures are another common issue with Honda Pilots, and they can be an expensive problem to fix. This issue is more common in recent model Honda Pilots, especially the 2016, which is a departure from the other issues most concentrated in early-generation models.

This issue is particularly troublesome considering it typically shows up around 60k miles, making it an early part failure for most vehicles.

And since the price to fix it can be several thousand dollars, this is one issue you may want to research before committing to owning a Honda Pilot.


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Brake Issues

Frustrated owners of 2003-2017 Pilot models complained about warped brake rotors, which may cause vibrations while braking. This issue can be rather unsettling since the vibrations happen at high speeds. In some reports, people heard clunking noises while braking. Experts determined that the problem was due to faulty brake pad shims.

It’s a good thing this issue is easily fixed by simply replacing the broken component. Buying a replacement brake pad may cost you $30 to $80. However, if the brake rotors need replacement, you’re in for a hefty bill, between $100 to $200, not including labor.

Electrical Problems

Although not as prevalent as other Pilot issues, electrical problems are pretty common with the 2020 Pilot. Some owners of the 2020 model reported electrical problems that caused the navigation system, instrument panel, and infotainment system to malfunction. Several reports claimed that these issues preceded a popping or ticking noise coming from the dashboard.

Honda sent the Service Bulletin #A19030B and claimed that the likely culprit is loose wiring. However, reconnecting the wiring under the dash couldn’t solve the problem.

Reliable Honda Pilot Models

If you’re looking for a Honda Pilot that’s a little more reliable than the models we’ve already discussed, and there’s plenty to choose from. While the Honda Pilot has a few serious concerns, most of its releases have been very consistent and durable.

  • 2004
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2010
  • 2012
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020

All these options are durable, reliable, and have a very low incidence of the kinds of part failures and other severe problems for the older Pilot models.

Which Honda Pilot Models Are Good To Buy Used

Looking for a used car is more than just looking for reliability. Looking for a used car means looking for something that can handle high mileage, lots of use, and that’s been well maintained by its previous owners.

With that in mind, the 2010 model is a good option among older Honda Pilots. It’s got a lot of the modern conveniences introduced in the 2009 model but had some reliability improvements that make it a better long-term bet.

Of more recent models, you’d probably be well served by almost any model between 2015-2020, except the 2016 release.

FAQs: Honda Pilot Years to Avoid

Q: Which Honda Pilot years should potential buyers avoid?

A:Potential buyers should avoid the Honda Pilot for the following model years: 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2016. These years are often criticized for their inconsistency and reliability issues.

Q: What are the most common problems associated with problematic Honda Pilot models?

A:The most common problems across these less reliable Honda Pilot years include transmission failures, excessive oil consumption, peeling paint, recurring fault codes, fuel injector failures, brake issues, and electrical problems.

Q: Why is the 2003 Honda Pilot model particularly notorious?

A:The 2003 Honda Pilot model is particularly notorious for transmission failure, one of the most severe and costly repairs a vehicle can require. This issue poses a significant financial burden and presents a safety risk, as transmission failures can compromise vehicle control.

Q: What makes the brake issues in Honda Pilot models between 2003 and 2017 notable?

A:Owners of Honda Pilot models from 2003 to 2017 have reported problems with warped brake rotors, which can cause vibrations and potentially unsettling noises during braking. Though the affected components are generally fixable, the repair can become costly if the brake rotors need replacement.

Are Honda Pilots typically reliable?

Although Honda enjoys an excellent reputation for building reliable vehicles, this quality doesn’t extend to every year of the Honda Pilot. Most years can be considered dependable, but keeping away from the 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2016 model years is vital.

How much does a used Honda Pilot typically cost?

The Honda Pilot dates back 20 years, and buying an early example with high-mileage costs $3,000 or more. However, if reliability is a must-have, shopping for a newer Pilot is key. The 2019 Honda Pilot gets a good grade for dependability. CoPilot Price Pulse reports that the average asking price for a vehicle like this is $30,968. This amount reflects a 16% premium due to high demand and modest inventories.

Is the Honda Pilot a good car to purchase?

Yes, a pre-owned Honda Pilot is a smart purchase if you stick with the most reliable examples. Here’s what you need to know about the best models years of the Honda Pilot.

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Here Are The Honda Pilot Years To Avoid (2024)


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