Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure - VehicleHistory (2024)

Gilbert Smith

May 16, 2022

The Honda Pilot is one of the more reliable SUVs on the road today, with perfect safety ratings and some Top Safety Pick awards, but it’s not without its transmission issues. Most may be corrected or prevented with regular maintenance, but some will demand software updates and new parts.

Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure - VehicleHistory (1)

Key Points

  • The Honda Pilot‘s most troubled model, the 2016 edition, reports twice as many complaints as the 2017 model on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) page, with 124 for the transmission and 799 total.
  • Hesitant, jerky acceleration leads the list of complaints for 2016 Honda Pilots, with the car failing to accelerate, only to suddenly jerk into motion.
  • Excessive oil dilution is a concern with 2016 model Pilots and later, but this can be easily managed by changing the oil at 3,000 miles.
  • Many Pilot owners have reported transmission shudder and rpm bouncing, but this may be corrected with a simple spark plug change.
  • The idle stop system can be buggy, shutting off when you come to a stop, but failing to turn back on when you take your foot off the gas.

Hesitant, Jerky Acceleration Has Been Reported at Fairly Low Mileage

A number of Honda Pilot drivers have reported hesitant, jerky acceleration on the NHTSA complaints page. They press the gas pedal, and the car just sits there for a moment. When it actually does start moving, it doesn’t gradually accelerate, it simply jerks into motion.

In one instance, this was accompanied by random gear switching. That is, the car would signal that it was in drive, reverse, and neutral, all the while it was still rolling forward. The reported mileage on this particular incident was just 26,000.

These issues are most common in the 2016 Honda Pilot, though not unheard of in other model years. In some instances, the issue was able to be corrected by simply replacing a faulty sensor. In others, new fuel injectors were required, and at least one driver was recommended to get a whole new transmission.

Rate of incidence is fairly low, thankfully. The 2016 Honda Pilot is the most troubled model year in the last decade, but you’ll find just 124 powertrain complaints on file with the NHTSA. That’s a lot of complaints for a Honda, but still well below average.

Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure - VehicleHistory (2)

Excessive Oil Dilution is a Concern in Turbo Engines, but Largely Overhyped

Check the Honda owner forums and subreddits and you’re going to find people asking about the automaker’s “oil dilution” problem. What’s essentially happening here is you have fuel diluting the oil, making it less viscous, and resulting in less protection for mechanical components, which results in early wear.

The issue is most common in newer Hondas with Turbo 1.5L direct-injection engines. From around 2016 and on, you’ll find more and more signs of excess oil dilution in these vehicles.

Here’s the good news: you don’t need to worry about it if you change your oil sooner rather than later. Get it taken care of every 3,000 miles or so, and you’ll probably never have any problems at all. If that sounds excessive, just consider it a fair tradeoff for the gas money you’re saving in an eco-friendly Honda Pilot.

Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure - VehicleHistory (3)

Transmission Shudder Has Been Reported at Low Speeds, Often Pointing to Worn Spark Plugs

Some Honda Pilot owners have reported vehicles shuddering at around 20-30 miles per hour. The vehicle will make jerky movements, and the odometer usually bounces up and down a lot. One driver reports that the car is especially shaky when backing into a parking space, and they worry about dinging another car while parking.

This issue has been reported to some extent in most Honda Pilots. The rate of incidence is low but spread across pretty much every model year still on the road.

Reported mileage for this problem is usually around 80,000 to 90,000 miles. Drivers report that mechanics have recommended transmission flushing and software updates, but this issue usually points to worn-out spark plugs. So it might be worth trying that before pursuing more expensive fixes.

Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure - VehicleHistory (4)

Idle Stop May Leave Honda Pilot Drivers Stranded at Green Lights

The Honda Pilot uses an idle-stop system, which is intended to help conserve fuel when you’re at a red light or otherwise idling. The engine turns off when you come to a full stop, and starts up again when you take your foot off the brake.

Or at least, it’s supposed to. In a number of units, drivers are reporting that the idle stop will turn the engine off, but won’t turn it back on right away. One driver reports that it may be one or two minutes before they can get the car in motion again. Meanwhile, all the drivers behind them are honking like it’s their fault.

This issue is most common in Honda Pilots dated 2016 and later. While the idle stop feature can be temporarily disabled, you cannot permanently turn it off without investing in aftermarket fixes, like the Idle Stopper seen in this Youtube video, which might void your warranty.

Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure - VehicleHistory (5)

Honda Pilot Transmission Issues are Few and Far Between, but Not Unheard Of

Hondas are notoriously reliable and safe, and the Pilot is no exception. You’ll see a big spike in complaints about the 2016 model, but these total under a thousand, which is a fraction of what you’ll see in comparable Fords and Jeeps.

Some Honda Pilots are more dependable than others, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them. As long as it’s in good condition with low mileage, proper maintenance should keep it on the road for years to come.

Photos: Honda

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Gilbert Smith

Gilbert Smith is a New Mexico-based automotive journalist who enjoys writing about cars, trucks, and SUVs. He is a longtime contributor to Vehicle History and a member of the site's original content team when it launched.

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  • Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure

Honda Pilot Transmission Problems Cover Jerky Acceleration, Excessive Oil Dilution, Transmission Shudder, and Idle Stop Failure - VehicleHistory (2024)

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