Jump to content

ANOTHER 2004 Pilot with transmission problem -- 128K miles

Recommended Posts

This is my first experience with a Honda -- heard nothing but compliments about the reliability, low repair cost, excellent service, and high resale value of these vehicles. I purchased my 2004 Pilot used (I'm the second owner), taking care to find a vehicle with a clean Carfax and no major issues.


So about two weeks after I purchased the vehicle, the "D" light starts blinking on the console. Uh-oh. Research the issue online and find this is a common problem -- it either means a transmission problem, or it means the sensor is faulty. My transmission fluid looked a little low so I purchased two quarts from Holmes (always use Honda fluid) and topped it off. So far, no performance issues at all -- just the blinking "D" intermittently (usually when it was hot outside).


About a week later, the blinking "D" returned, so -- dropped it off at Holmes Honda to pull the code. As mentioned elsewhere in these forums, the service at Holmes is impeccable. They performed a multi-point inspection on the vehicle for free and replaced the faulty sensor ($169.49 parts and labor) and did a rear brake job (replaced pads, resurfaced rotors, $254.12 parts and labor). The blinking "D" did indeed go away.


But...two weeks later, I'm on a two-hour commute (my job typically has me travelling between 30-240 miles per day). and the CHECK ENGINE light comes on. You Honda owners know this is a scary yellow icon of an engine that means you better get it to the shop. I took mine to Holmes the next day (10/1/10). Now I had performance issues, too -- when I needed to accelerate suddenly (to make a left turn, for instance) the Pilot would hesitate 1-2 seconds before responding.


This was a Friday after lunch. Didn't hear from my service writer until Tuesday morning, with BAD news. Computer pulled a PO740 code -- TC clutch failure. This is the torque converter (solenoid) that serves as a controller for the transmission. If the torque converter starts coming apart, little pieces of the material can flow to other parts of the transmission (i.e. your gears and clutches) and cause complete failure.


The DPSM (all-powerful District Parts and Service Manager) authorized my dealer to perform the repair at a 25 percent "participation" (discount). This means a $3,061 bill (!!) on a repair written up at a total cost of $4193 (!!!). I thanked my service writer and let him know that this amount was unacceptable. Remember, I'm a first-time Honda owner who's already spent $460 at the dealer on minor issues and I've only owned the car for two months.


I'd already done some research on this issue (thanks to this forum and many others) and seen that this code (PO740) and accompanying issues (2nd gear clutch failure, 4th gear pressure switch failure, TC clutch failure) are all related to an acknowledged fault in 2003-2004 Honda transmissions. The specific recall (P30, issued April 2004) recommended replacing or modifying the transmission for 1.1 million affected vehicles. But your VIN has to be on a list (mine wasn't).


In addition, the lack of screens/filters inside these Honda transmissions (as used by other manufacturers) allow the failure of a minor part (TC clutch) to progressively destroy major parts (the gears and clutches). Another ACKNOWLEDGED design flaw.


I want to stress again how professional and helpful the reps at my local dealer (Holmes Honda in Shreveport, LA) are. However, my dealings with American Honda customer service are another story. A representative of my dealer had told me that if you didn't purchase from the dealer "Honda doesn't consider you a customer." I thought this was an outrageous thing to say -- until I actually called the number and found out for myself!


I opened a case with American Honda on 10/5/10 and let them know my situation (new Honda customer, used vehicle owned two months and already $3521 in repair bills). Honda's representative, Reggie, entered my information into a case file and informed me that Honda corporate "usually" will not override a DPSM's decision (translation: there must be SOMETHING I can do or say to get them to contact the DPSM on my behalf.)


He said other outrageous things as well -- suggesting that my best outlets in this situation would be contacting the BBB (!) or contacting a lawyer (!!) and initially insisting that there was "no one to escalate this to." Call center Reggie must be as high as you can go at American Honda!


When I insisted that Reggie escalate the call, he refused at first ("I basically have the same authority as a supervisor") and then eventually offered to transfer my call to an unnamed female supervisor. However, he cautioned me that "assistance will not be provided" (I wrote all of these gems down) and I would just be blowing off steam. The female supervisor was busy, but I was promised a callback within 24 hours.


24 hours passed with no call. Called Honda customer service promptly, got representative "Michael" who was slightly more knowledgeable than Reggie, but basically spent the entire call arguing with me and reiterating the sentiment that Honda corporate will not override a DPSM. He used an interesting word in the conversation regarding the "process" of determining when Honda will give a customer the 50 percent participation rate, who gets 25 percent, and who gets nothing.


Michael advised me to call my dealer (again) and ask them to contact the same DPSM (no review process or second pair of eyes, just grovelling). Notice how it is the customer (me) who has to explain the issue over and over again without Honda taking ANY responsibility, contacting me when they promised (at a cost of $30/day to me for a rental vehicle), acknowledging the P30 recall or any other transmission faults, etc.


So I spoke to several folks at Holmes and pleaded my case once more. I was told something very interesting in the course of these conversations: Honda used to offer a lot more "goodwill" assistance but due to the recession there has been a lot of "belt-tightening" and they have seen fewer and fewer approved repairs. One representative at my dealer expressed surprise that the DPSM authorized ANY participation at all. But they promised to call and grovel on my behalf.


So I finally called back yesterday (10/8/10), again no follow-up from my dealer or Honda corporate -- I had to call. The District J DPSM (Eric, no last name or contact number provided) not only denied my request for any additional participation from Honda, but placed a 30 DAY EXPIRATION on his original offer. Take it or leave it!


So I do some more research and find that most transmission shops will rebuild a Honda transmission for around $2200-2400. In addition, there are third-party vendors that rebuild Honda transmissions and resell them for about the same price ($2400), but with a superior warranty to what Honda is offering.


Honda's remanufactured transmission is a $2957 behemoth, with an additional $109 freight charge to ship which they pass on to the customer. The transmission case (core) of your existing transmission becomes Honda property with no credit given, even though it's a $1500 part. Then, they only guarantee the replacement for 3 years OR 36,000 MILES (!!!). Also, $928 labor because they have to drop the axles, frame, etc. to get to it.


These third-party transmissions cost $2400 but have a 5 YEAR/100,000 MILE warranty. Now that's more like it -- but you're still stuck with the labor cost, cost of filling the new tranny with Honda fluid, etc. Probably a $3000 bill anyway.


My point in posting this here is that the very things that attracted me to this car (reliability, low repair cost, excellent service) all turned out to be FALSE. Unreliable (major failure at 128K miles), at least a $3000 repair bill however you slice it, and absolutely NO service or sympathy from Honda corporate.


The "process" that call center Michael described boils down to this: Has this car been repaired multiple times at Honda dealers? (Answer: no, my car has a clean Carfax never had transmission service) And are you the original owner? (Answer: no, I'm a second owner and purchased through a non-Honda dealer)


So, because my car has NOT had significant problems, and because I did NOT pay the markup initially by purchasing from a Honda dealer...


This is the chief reason I believe other owners have been offered the 50 percent off deal, but I only got offered a 25 percent off deal that expires in 30 days. My inclination at present is to let Holmes do the repair work using a third-party rebuild with the better warranty. It will likely be a $3200 bill.


Due to all of the delays with the DPSM and Honda corporate never calling me back, I've now racked up a $220 (and climbing) car rental bill. And let's not forget the original $170 I paid Holmes to replace the 4th gear pressure switch which was just doing its job.


Shame on Honda customer service for (a) providing no review process for local DPSM decisions; (b) not calling back when they said they would, costing me an additional $60 in car rental delays; © not providing any contact info for the DPSM and referring me back to my dealer to re-explain my issue (another $60 in delays); (d) not acknowledging the history of this KNOWN defect in Honda transmissions (including the P30 recall) and disparaging the source of the information ("this is something you read on the INTERNET, right?").


Um, right!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Had the same problem with a 2005 Pilot. It didnt cost much to repair we just had a tune up and had a sensor changed and that fixed the problem. The blinking D light doesnt always mean it's the transmission. My 95 accord did it when the fuel pump was failing. Take it to an independent mechanic and have a diagnostics check ran on it. Dont go to the dealer unless if you absolutely have too or else they will just screw you over completely saying that so and so is bad when there isnt a problem with it at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Guidelines
We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.