The 5 Worst Years Of The Honda Pilot You Should Avoid

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Honda Pilots are good SUVs, but you should avoid Honda Pilots made in certain years. What are the Honda Pilot years to avoid? 

Honda Pilot You Should Avoid 1 The 5 Worst Years Of The Honda Pilot You Should Avoid

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What are the worst years for the Honda Pilot?

Honda Pilots from 2003, 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2016 have too many problems and should be avoided. Some of the problems are dangerous – your airbags could fail, or your transmission could fail and make you lose control of the vehicle. Many problems are expensive to fix. 

I have been selling cars for a decade, so I know about how bad Honda Pilots from some years are. I also used to own a 2009 Honda Pilot, and there were problems with the fuel injector and electrical system. I advise against buying a Honda Pilot from the wrong year and hope it won’t have problems. 

Do Cars Really Have Bad Years?

Yes, it is possible for many of the cars made in a certain year to have problems. For example, Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs made in 2014 have a lot of problems. There are also bad years for Honda Pilots. 

When a car company experiments with a new and innovative design, it might make mistakes. These mistakes can lead to cars that lack reliability or are unsafe. 

Usually, a car won’t have many bad years in a row. The company will hear the customer’s complaints, read the bad reviews, and correct the problems. A company will test its cars and trucks, but unreliable vehicles are still sold to customers. 

Are Honda Pilots Good SUVs?

Yes, Honda Pilots are great mid-size SUVs. They are great to buy used as long as you get a good deal on a model from a good year. New Honda Pilots don’t seem to have problems. 

While Honda Pilots are not the biggest SUVs you can get, they still have plenty of room for luggage and passengers. Honda sells more than 130,000 Pilots per year, which would not be possible if the SUVs were unsafe and had a bad reputation. 

New Honda Pilots are certainly safe, and they get 5/5 or at least 4/5 safety ratings from the NHTSA. Honda Pilots are also reliable and can last for much more than 200,000 miles if you take care of them. Honda Pilots have 7 or 8 seats, so they are great family cars.

What Are the Worst Years for Honda Pilots?

Honda Pilots from 2003, 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2016 have enough problems that they should be avoided. It is not clear that there are any other bad years.

What Problems Are Common?

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Some models of Honda Pilots have problems with their transmission, electrical systems, engines, powertrains, drivetrains, and more. One of the more dangerous problems is that the airbags might fail. 

Honda Pilot Transmission Problems

Transmission problems can make your Honda Pilot brake uncontrollably, accelerate against your will, slow down, jerk, or stop working entirely. As well as being dangerous, you will usually have to spend $2000 to repair transmission problems. 

Honda Pilot Engine Problems

Honda Pilots from the last few model years have remarkably good engines. However, some older Honda Pilots have engines that do not respond right away when you shift gears. The engines can also misfire or run rough. 

Airbag Problems

Another very bad thing about some Honda Pilot models is that the airbags can fail. Both the driver’s side airbag and the passenger’s side airbag may have problems. 

Other Problems

A lot of Honda Pilot owners have complained about the lights turning off at random. I experienced this myself with my 2009 Honda Pilot.

The car may also not start, because the electrical system is bad. My 2009 Honda Pilot had a bad fuel injector that broke and cost a couple of thousand dollars to fix, this is a common problem. 

What is a Powertrain Failure?

Your powertrain controls the rest of your vehicle. If it fails, your car will fail to move, go slower, overheat, handle poorly, and make noises. Honda Pilots from some years have a high risk of these problems. 

What is a Drivetrain Failure?

The drivetrain is a number of different components (axle shafts, differentials, driveshaft, ext) that connect your transmission to the rest of your car. Without the drivetrain, your car could not move at all. The drivetrain connects the gearbox to the wheels and allows you to move forward and backward. 

If you have drivetrain problems, you will at first hear noises when you accelerate or change gears. Eventually, you could face issues while turning (potentially dangerous) or complete loss of movement. 

When the drivetrain completely fails, it disconnects itself from the transmission, making you unable to accelerate. Get a Honda Pilot from a good year to avoid this risk. 

The Worst Years for Honda Pilots

Every bad year is different and has different problems. I don’t recommend getting a car/truck/SUV from a bad year just because you can get it cheaply. Remember that some of these problems can put you in danger, and not only require expensive repairs. 

2003 Honda Pilots

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that 2003 Honda Pilots are terrible SUVs. There were several recalls for serious safety issues. Either or both of the two airbags often failed to work. 

The ignition switches on the 2003 Honda Pilots are terrible. You have to replace them, and then replace them again after they break again. The paint wears off too fast, and the lights may blink on and off. 

More seriously, the electrical system or the transmission may fail. Thankfully, there are not many people selling 2003 Honda Pilots today. Customers need to be more worried about Honda Pilots from more recent bad years. 

Avoid Buying a 2003 Honda Pilot

Even the key on the 2003 Honda Pilot doesn’t work properly. The key often gets stuck in the ignition! The 2003 Honda Pilot also has more transmission failures than any other model, including the 2005 Honda Pilot.

If you have the opportunity to buy an old 2003 Honda Pilot for a low price, don’t take it. These vehicles have too many problems, and some of these problems are dangerous. 

2005 Honda Pilots

2005 Honda Pilots should be avoided because of their airbag issues more than anything else. If the airbags fail when you are in an accident, someone could get seriously hurt or killed. The airbag issue, on its own, is enough to avoid the 2005 Honda Pilot. 

The transmission on the 2005 Honda Pilot is also terrible. The transmission fluid can start leaking at any time. The transmission can suddenly and unexpectedly fail, taking control of the vehicle away from you. 

A powertrain failure is another possibility. The powertrain controls the rest of your car, including your engine. If the powertrain fails, your engine won’t start or won’t work properly.

2009 Honda Pilots

2009 Honda Pilots also have problems with their airbags and were recalled for safety reasons. If you get in an accident, you cannot trust the safety systems to work. 

2009 Honda Pilots also burn oil very quickly – as much as half a quart each month. While oil is easy to afford, you have to be more careful not to run out of oil. 

The engine sometimes also has problems, and it can misfire or fail. While the 2009 model didn’t receive as many complaints as some other models, it is still bad enough to avoid. 

Other 2009 Honda Pilot Issues

While 2009 Honda Pilots are not quite as bad as 2003/2005 Pilots, they are still bad. Some of the other problems 2009 Pilots have include: 

  • The electrical system may fail. This
  • The Rear AC Blower Transistor may fail. 
  • The suspension may fail. 
  • The tire pressure monitor system may fail.
  • The coolant hose may leak. 

2013 Honda Pilot Issues

2013 Pilots have some issues such as peeling paint (especially on the roof) and noises from the transmission. They also get poor mileage, and the check fuel light often turns on unnecessarily.

More seriously, 2013 Honda Pilots have many engine problems, such as:

  • Intermittent jerking
  • Problems when accelerating
  • Fuel pump failure
  • Fuel injector failure

2016 Honda Pilots

Really a lot of people complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSC) about 2016 Honda Pilots, especially because the engines often stall. The start button also fails, the lights turn on and off randomly, and the vehicle sometimes shuts off for no reason. This is all related to the faulty electrical system that many 2016 Honda Pilots have. 

Are Honda Pilots From Bad Years Really That Bad?

Some Honda Pilots from bad years are better than others. You won’t necessarily encounter the more serious problems that I warn you about. Some people bought Honda Pilots from bad years and had them last for a long time with few problems. 

However, there is a much higher risk of the problems for Honda Pilots from bad years than for other Honda Pilots. Just because you probably won’t have a transmission failure while you are driving fast in traffic doesn’t mean a Honda Pilot from a bad year is safe. 

You should avoid Honda Pilots from bad years. Even if nothing dangerous happens, which it might, you could still have to pay thousands of dollars to repair your transmission or powertrain. There is no guarantee a Honda Pilot from a bad year has a lot of problems, but it’s not worth the risk. 

Why Newer Honda Pilots Are Much Better

For relatively large vehicles, Honda Pilots are nimble and easy to handle. Even in the snow, they are easy to control. Newer and more technologically advanced models are particularly nimble. 

The steering system that the last few years of models use is very advanced and responsive. There is also great gas mileage for SUVs of this size, both in the city and on highways. The new Honda Pilots are well-built vehicles that don’t need repairs for a long time. 

There are also comfortable and heated seats, plus leg room and spacious interiors. The engines are amazing, and the new Honda Pilots fully take advantage of the new technology. 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 Honda Pilots are all reliable and safe SUVs.

Key Takeaways

  • At least the 2003, 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2016 Honda Pilots are bad enough that you should avoid buying them. There may also be some other bad years, but it is not so clear that those models are bad. 
  • Some of the problems Honda Pilots from bad years have can put you or your passengers in danger. The airbags can fail to work in an accident, and there are problems with the brakes. 
  • Transmission failures are common for some models. Transmission failures are dangerous because they can make you lose control of the vehicle. It also costs a small fortune to repair the damaged transmission. 
  • Honda has fixed the serious problems that these SUVs used to have. They were aware of how much was wrong with these vehicles and made them much more reliable.