Nobody ever bought a Honda Odyssey for style, but the tradeoff is that you get legendary Honda reliability in exchange for an orthopedic box on wheels. As it turns out, that legendary Honda reliability may not be all it’s cracked up to be in the Odyssey. Adding to that, the problems with the Odyssey are among the most expensive to repair – the transmission.
The Honda Odyssey has a history of transmission problems
If you’re in the market for a new Honda Odyssey, you’ve got the advantage of a great warranty, so you don’t have to worry about repairs for 60,000 miles or five years. According to Consumer Reports, there is one pesky little recall already out for the 2020 Odyssey–actually 2018-2020 models. There is a wiring issue in the third row and several Odysseys have caught fire. No injuries have been reported per Consumer Reports.
Pre-owned Honda Odysseys may not have a warranty
On the other hand, if laying out $40,000 (average MSRP) for a carpooling minivan seems a little much, Honda’s reputation for safety and reliability have made it a top option for a pre-owned vehicle. The downside of pre-owned is that manufacturer’s warranty has usually expired by the time a vehicle hits the pre-owned lot.
You always have the option of buying the dealer’s in-house warranty, but they may not really be worth the hefty price tag since major repairs aren’t fully covered. And the older the vehicle, the scantier any offered warranty would be. Let’s face it – if you’re in the market for a practically vintage Odyssey, reliability is a key consideration because who wants to sink the car’s value into repairs.
Even really reliable new cars have problems as they age
RELATED: Consumer Reports Found a Lot to Love About the 2020 Honda Odyssey
We’re not really picking on the Odyssey here, but it’s a great example of how a used car, even one with a superior reputation in its youth, may not be worth the money as it ages. Almost every major automobile reviewing outfit gives the Odyssey raves when the models come out. The venerable Consumer Reports gives the 2020 model an above-average rating (barely, at 61/100), with the knowledge of the fire hazard because Honda is such a strong brand.
But where the Odyssey, and really almost any vehicle, can cause expensive problems as they age are in the big-ticket category – engine and transmission. The Odyssey had a particularly dreadful time in the early 2000s with transmission issues, with 2002 being the worst. The 2005 and 2003 models were also not great, but overall, the 2002 model was a complete dud. Give credit to Honda’s engineers for fixing that problem; after the 2007 model year, the Odyssey got back on track.
Hearing about the transmission strikes fear in the hearts of most car owners since the transmission is easily the most expensive thing to repair or replace. Why? The combination of sophisticated electronics, old-school mechanics, and hydraulics makes a transmission a highly sensitive piece of equipment, and diagnosing the problem can be as much of a challenge as the repair itself.
If you’re trying to figure out the least expensive way out of a bad transmission, here are some very rough figures for repairs and replacements. Keep in mind that the transmission is made up of thousands of parts, and determining which one is bad is rather labor-intensive.
A salvaged or used transmission will run you between $1,000-$2,000; a rebuilt one between $1,500-$3,000. A remanufactured piece (no mechanic worth using would put a brand-new transmission in an older, high-mileage car) is hardest on your wallet – up to $4,000. These numbers don’t include the labor involved – four to 10 hours of billable time. This is when you have to make the hard calculation whether your Honda Odyssey will continue or if it’s time to heed metaphorical the siren call of Circe and just buy a new vehicle.
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Honda Odyssey Minivans And Faulty Transmissions: What Are Consumers Reporting?
“2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L with 300 miles on it, stumbles/hesitates at low speeds (15-20 mph) when light throttle applied with transmission in ‘D’ on a slight incline. Honda dealer in Boone, NC could not resolve problem. On 7-25-2011, owner drove car from dealer and problem happened three more times.
Immediately returned car to dealer but dealer could not duplicate problem but said they would contact Honda for advice. This problem has happened six times since new and car has just 525 miles on it and gives driver sensation that engine has stalled.”
–Complaint Submitted July 25, 2011
“I have been experiencing hesitation in acceleration from a stop through third gear at low speeds. I took the vehicle to Honda dealership and they had not heard of the problem and were unable to duplicate the severity of my issue but did notice hesitation. Manager said he would speak to corporate representative.
Yesterday, while taking a left to cross highway, the vehicle had trouble accelerating to cross highway with approaching vehicles traveling 65 miles per hour. My friend and her child were in the van along with one of my children. I have not looked at this as a safety issue until yesterday but am now very concerned because I live off this busy highway and regularly make this turn often with three or more children.”
–Complaint Submitted June 3, 2012
“I was driving on the highway when I heard a loud clunk. Thought I hit a bump but when I got off the highway and stopped at a light the car starting bucking between 0-30 miles per hour. It continued to do so at every start. Drove it to Honda dealership where they found nothing wrong with vehicle.
I have done research on vehicle only to find numerous other complaints of same issue. This is dangerous! If I was trying to cross an intersection and it started bucking, I might not make it out of intersection on time. Please investigate this issue, as Honda is saying nothing is wrong with their cars.”
–Complaint Submitted December 17, 2014
“We were driving in stop and go traffic in CA and our 2014 Odyssey engine began to clunk and whole car jerked (like running over something like a speed bump) each time we tried to accelerate through second gear. Felt like hitting something or engine falling out. The car’s transmission continued to do this every time we tried to accelerate between 20-30 miles per hour. It continued to jolt/jerk/and clunk for 20 miles as we drove on the freeway.
This is dangerous and made my heart skip beats as it felt like the engine was going to fall out/like being in a crash. Contacted Honda but their service was about to close. We pulled over to do our errand and when we restarted the car it stopped. The shifting on the vehicle is not smooth through gears. Took next day to Honda and they will not fix as no diagnostic codes came up and cannot get the car to duplicate issue now.
Now there is a TSB to update software but dealership will not do unless issue is duplicated again. Safety issues that your brand new vehicle may have engine transmission fail at any point during travel. Jolting is so severe when it happens that it could cause you to have an accident.”
–Complaint Submitted April 30, 2015
“While accelerating after being stopped at a stop sign, the car made a clunking noise and the car jerked severely as we accelerated into gear. It happened at least 2 more times after being stopped at a couple of stop signs. It was very frightening when it happened and is a safety issue as the driver’s attention is taken away when it happens. The scariest part is not knowing when it’s going to happen.
When there is a need to accelerate quickly across traffic, we are worried the same thing will happen again or that the car won’t make it through the intersection. I don’t feel safe driving this vehicle while the issue is outstanding.
This is an unacceptable issue that having read other forums is happening to others with 2014 and 2015 Odyssey’s and the dealerships are bot understanding the cause or fix for the issue due to it happening sporadically. This calls for action before it leads to someone being harmed. It’s a major issue and pressure needs put on Honda to fix the issue.”
–Complaint Submitted September 6, 2015
“On August 9, 2015, we were driving home from vacation from Cedar Point, Ohio to Pittsburgh, PA. This is about a 200 mile trip the vehicle ran smoothly the entire trip until I left the turnpike of driving 60-70 miles per hour and then began driving on a road with a 40 mph speed limit.
All of a sudden I was at a red light waiting in traffic. As soon as the light turned green, I pressed the accelerator. We began accelerating to 25 miles per hour but knew something was wrong. My car would not leave first gear. The gauge on the dashboard went from 1-7 gear but nothing happened. I was in the passing lane traveling 15-20 miles per hour in a 40mph zone.
I then proceeded to change lanes when all of a sudden the entire car jumped as if it had a mind of its own and began to accelerate. The car began driving faster but not any faster than 40 mph. Again, all we could hear was rooooooom and the dashboard indicator looked like windshield wipers going from left to right. The car would not leave 2nd gear.
This continued to happen over and over again at each red light. Since this was a Sunday, the service center was closed. It wasn’t until Wednesday that the dealership was able to take a look at my vehicle. Since no sensors indicated a problem, they stated there was not a problem and there was nothing they could do.
I am not fabricating this incident one bit and am afraid of this happening again but having a different outcome. If I experienced this problem and the dealership dismissed me because a sensor did not indicate a problem, what does it take for a sensor to trigger?
This is a leased vehicle of 1 month and I am very concerned of it happening again or worse. I am a single mother of 3 and should not have to worry about the safety of my children and myself in a 1 month old vehicle with less than 2,000 miles.”
–Complaint Submitted September 7, 2015
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Problems common honda 2016 odyssey
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