Trucks & SUVs

The 2016 Honda Pilot Had an Alarming Number of Transmission Problems

Honda may be known for its reliable and safe cars, but even a Honda can have problems sometimes. This was especially true for the Pilot, Honda’s premier SUV with third-row seating. This wasn’t the case for every model year of the Pilot, but it was true for the 2016 model year.

A 2016 Honda Pilot on display at an auto show
The 2016 Honda Pilot on display | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Honda Pilot’s transmission problems

CarComplaints.com mentioned that the 2016 Honda Pilot had several significant issues, but the biggest and most serious problems came from its transmission. Many people reported on Car Complaints that their 2016 Honda Pilot had a transmission issue, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, even mentions that about five crashes and one injury were caused by this transmission issue.

Additionally, the average mileage of the 2016 Pilots that had this issue was in the 30,000 miles range. This means that this issue was happening to almost-new owners of the 2016 Pilot. The transmission issue itself largely stemmed from the transmission slipping every now and again. Many owners also reported that their transmission felt jerky.

However, while these transmission issues were very common and potentially dangerous, they weren’t actually that costly to fix. There is limited data about it, but Car Complaints mentions that the two most common transmissions issues cost between $400 to $750 to fix. Indeed, these transmission issues weren’t severe enough for Honda to issue a recall on the Pilot.

The Honda Pilot’s minor transmission hiccup 

The 2016 Honda Pilot had a lot of transmission issues, but it could be worse. Car Complaints did give it a “Beware of the Clunker” award, but the Pilot has had rockier model years.

For example, when the Pilot was first introduced in 2003, Car Complaints reports that it had a high number of issues. In fact, Car Complaints says that the 2003 Pilot is still the worst model year of the SUV. 

The 2005 Pilot had the second most complaints on Car Complaints, and the 2016 Pilot is third. So, while the 2016 Pilot does have its share of problems, there are worse model years of the Pilot to buy. However, interestingly, both the 2005 Pilot and the 2003 Pilot had a lot of transmission troubles as well. 

For example, two of the worst problems with the Pilot, according to Car Complaints, are transmission failures in the 2003 Pilot and transmission fluid leaks in the 2005 Pilot. Both of those problems happened on Pilots that had more than 120,000 miles on them, and both problems cost thousands of dollars to fix. 

The Pilot is still a great SUV

While those transmission problems may paint a picture of a problematic SUV, the Honda Pilot is overall a very reliable and safe SUV. In the vast majority of its model years, Car Complaints doesn’t report many issues with the Pilot. By and large, the Pilot has the same reliability that Honda’s cars are known for.

On top of that, the Pilot is the largest SUV that Honda offers in the U.S., and it seems well worth its price. Starting at about $32,000, it offers families a lot of room and a lot of features.

Additionally, Honda’s obsession with safety is especially true for the Pilot. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or the IIHS, awarded its highest safety award, Top Safety Pick+, to the Pilot in 2019.

Not many cars have what Honda offers as standard on the Pilot, and the result is a very safe SUV. Plus, despite being a big SUV that can seat up to eight people, it also has a decent fuel economy of about 22 MPG combined. Adding everything up, the Pilot remains a great, affordable SUV for families. Just avoid the 2003, 2005, and 2016 model years.