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Avoid These Unreliable Honda Models For This 1 Major Issue

There is no doubt that Honda is one of the most reliable brands on the market today and it has been for a number of decades. This reputation has been somewhat of a blanket statement over the years as the public’s perception of Honda’s vehicles being reliable has solidified to the extent that the brand can almost do no wrong. But did you know that not all Honda vehicles are reliable?

In fact, in the 2000s, Honda and its luxury arm, Acura, had a few mishaps along the way when it came to the reliability of a few of their models. We’ll consider it a learning lesson in the grand scheme of automotive manufacturing, but the real lesson is for you to avoid these Honda and Acura models.  

What’s wrong with these Honda and Acura models?

If you happen to be in the market for a three-row SUV or a minivan for your growing family, then it’s likely that you have thought of shopping for either a used Honda Odyssey or perhaps a most upscale Acura MDX. However, just note that not all of them were created equal and you might be better off spending more money on a newer model.

We say this because a certain group of Honda and Acura models was plagued with a persistent automatic transmission issue that ended up turning into a massive recall. The issue was that the five-speed automatic transmission that was used across various Honda and Acura models were manufactured with faulty third-gear clutch packs that went bad prematurely and would break, causing pieces of the transmission to plug up oil passages.

What happened when the clutch packs broke?

The Honda and Acura owners that experienced these clutch packs breaking experienced transmission gear slippage while driving. This would cause the transmission not to shift properly, downshift unexpectedly, or even cause the car to stall completely.

Taking a look at Carcomplaints.com, where owners can log their complaints and issues with their own cars, there are multiple complaints about transmission issues concerning the earlier Honda Odyssey and Acura MDX models. However, those weren’t the only two models affected by this issue.

2002 Honda Odyssey
2002 Honda Odyssey | Honda

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Which other Honda and Acura models were affected?

Here is a list of the other Honda and Acura models affected by this huge transmission issue:

  • 02-04 Honda Odyssey
  • 03-04 Honda Pilot
  • 01-02 Acura MDX
  • 03-04 Honda Accord V6
  • 01-03 Acura CL
  • 00-04 Acura TL 3.2

As you can see, the transmission issue plagued only the models with the 3.2-liter and 3.5-liter V6 engines.

Did Honda do anything about it?

In 2004, Honda finally recalled all of the aforementioned models, which cost the company about  $153 million and a recall of around 600,000 vehicles, which was later expanded to around 1.1 million vehicles. The recall consisted of Honda dealers replacing the clutch packs, however, they weren’t guaranteed to last forever the time around either, as a lot of the rebuilt transmissions ended up failing just the same.

In 2006, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Honda concerning the transmission issues, however, it was eventually settled. The affected owners received an extended warranty for their car’s transmission, which lasted 93 months or 109,000 miles, whichever came first.

2002 Acura MDX
2002 Acura MDX | Acura

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Is it safe to buy one of the affected cars?

Although it was nice that Honda extended the warranties on these cars, the issue now is that all of those cars are now out of warranty, so if you’re planning to buy one then you might be buying a ticking time bomb.

If you are planning to buy a Honda or Acura model that we mentioned above, we suggest getting a pre-purchase inspection done at the least and ask the previous owner if the transmission was ever repaired or replaced. Otherwise, we recommend staying away altogether as you might be stuck with a large repair bill that can cost you thousands.