2018 Honda Pilot Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Windshield cracking, electrical system, engine and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Is your vehicle having engine problems? Read our post regarding Pilot Stop/Start Problems.

It doesn’t take much effort these days to find an SUV. The models are everywhere and continue to grow in popularity every day. One of the options many buyers consider is the 2018 Honda Pilot. After all, the new lineup is hailed as the “modern family SUV,” but modern families quickly realize this is a purchase that shouldn’t have been made. This SUV suffers from a defective engine, malfunctioning seat belts, faulty electronics, broken powertrain and visibility concerns.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Honda Pilot

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Vehicle Speed Control
Fuel/propulsion System
Seat Belts
Service Brakes

Problems with the Engine

The engine might be the most important component in any vehicle because it gives the SUV energy to move. When the motor malfunctions, there’s no hope but to visit the repair shop.

Here’s one review from the NHTSA website illustrating the troubles. “Vehicle was stopped in a parking lot in ‘DRIVE’ with the auto-idle feature in use. Car would not re-start when foot taken off brake. Radio cut out briefly as well. Dashboard lit up with many error messages – one of them was ‘Collision Mitigation Problem’ or something similar. Placed car in PARK and pushed start button numerous times. Only got clicking sounds, with occasional engine turnover noise, but it wouldn’t start. Turned off A/C and radio, car finally started after several more minutes of pushing start button while in PARK with foot on brake.”

The Pilot’s engine has bigger concerns to deal with. In fact, NHTSA Campaign Number 19V298000 illustrates how the timing belt teeth can separate and lead to an engine stall while driving. This can lead to an accident and is prevalent on nearly 100,000 vehicles. Apparently, this Pilot can’t adequately navigate the roads because the engine can’t keep up.

Problems with the Seat Belts

While driving, it’s important that everyone wears a seat belt for maximum safety. But, what happens when the seat belts aren’t manufactured correctly?

One NHTSA complaint talks about this problem. “The driver’s side seat belt is considerably shorter than the front passenger seat belt. The driver’s seat belt is so constricting that you can’t turn to look when changing lanes. So the need to drive without using a seat belt is an issue of safety. I am an average size person and this has never been a problem in any other vehicle I have owned.”

It’s possible that Honda is hoping that owners will lose some weight, but that doesn’t explain the seat-related recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V221000 states that over 5,000 vehicles might be equipped with seats that weren’t secured correctly to the floor. If the seat comes unattached, there is a higher chance of injury. It’s clear that the Pilot was designed to be a family vehicle, but was it necessary to create an amusement park inside the SUV? Using the seat belts is like looking in the strange funhouse mirrors while having seats coming detached could be a wicked roller coaster.

Problems with the Electrical System

What doesn’t the electrical system run in a car? It’s part of everything that owners need access to. When this system fails, it causes multiple problems.

Just look at this Edmunds review. “I had my previous Honda Pilot for 7 years and absolutely loved it! So didn’t think twice about buying another Pilot. Big mistake! I got it memorial weekend and within a month it was back at the dealership as the air conditioning was blowing hot air and the car’s fan wouldn’t turn off for sometimes 30 mins after I turned the car off! After the car going back to the dealership 3 times and having it for a total of 23 days they finally realized the fan was assembled incorrectly and taking in air from the engine! When the car would start blowing hot air ‘Collision Mitigation System Problem’ warning would come up. The dealership was working with Honda Corporate and they could never explain why that happened, why is was connected to the air or why it stopped once they repaired the fan!! Not very acceptable when I’m not sure if I’m driving a safe car!! The safety features are way too sensitive and the brake sign is always coming on when it shouldn’t. Recently while driving in the first snow storm of the season, the ‘Warning Approaching Object’ sensor constantly came on with an ear piercing sound the majority of my hour long journey home, I’m presuming the snow was covering the sensor, way too sensitive!”

There are even bigger issues than this. Honda released Service Bulletin #ATS190101 that states vehicles are getting stuck in Accessory mode. When this happens, the SUV won’t shut down, the audio unit remains on, doors won’t lock, the engine start/stop button blinks and the gear position indicator won’t show PARK. It seems all of the “modern” functions put into this SUV made it stupid instead of smart.

Problems with the Transmission

The most essential piece of the powertrain is undoubtedly the transmission. This part controls the shifting function that makes the ride smooth or rough. Yet, the Pilot can’t seem to get this basic part correct either.

Here’s another Edmunds review as an example. “Bought this Honda Pilot Touring in May of 2017 and this morning when my wife left the garage, she told me she couldn’t get it to come out of “Park!” I tried it and had the same problem. After starting, and with foot on the brake, I put the transmission in “drive” and when I let up on the brake the transmission immediately went to “”Park.’ I tried “reverse” with the same results. After shutting down the engine and starting again the transmission continued to revert to “Park” every time it was put in either “drive’ or “reverse.” This went on for several cycles and we were ready to call a tow truck, since the car had been backed into the street. Finally, after shutting down the engine for about the fourth time, the transmission went into “drive’ and “reverse” normally. Now I am worried that this might happen again under dire circumstances such as trying to move the car in an emergency. I will be taking it to the dealer to see what can be done but I don’t want my wife or I driving a car that we can’t trust. We’ve had several Hondas over the years and have found them very reliable but this is not what I would call reliable and needs to be corrected.”

Again, there are more serious issues than even this occurring. Service Bulletin #A16-087 says that the transmission end cover sealing gasket could have been torn from the assembly on the nine-speed transmissions. This could lead to a leak and potential transmission damage if not corrected. How were the gaskets torn exactly? Was the assembly machine being a little too rough one day? Sort of like questioning how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop, one might never know.

Problems with the Windshield Cracking

With the perfect windshield and windows in place, every drive is enjoyable. It’s smooth sailing when owners have the visibility needed, but that’s not the case with the 2018 Honda Pilot.

Hear one owner’s frustrations with this comment on Edmunds. “This is my 5 Honda vehicle. First pilot. I’ve owned it 16 mo. The windshield breaks if you breathe on it. I just broke it for the 3rd time. Honda dealer says oh no this isn’t happening. I’ve started a claim with Honda. Goggle it. Theresa fb forum. It’s a big issue! All I’m asking is for them to acknowledge & fix this issue. I’m going to get rid of it. Update..traded it. 4 windshields.”

Most people wouldn’t have waited through four windshields to get rid of this SUV. Aside from this, it appears that customers are also unhappy with the chirping noise coming from inside the cabin, possibly because of an improper seal somewhere with the structure. It would be interesting to learn if this is what’s causing windshields to break as well, but this “modern family SUV” company isn’t going to give that information up too easily.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Honda pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Melba L

    My 2018 Honda Pilot Elite has this issue: while sitting in garage with key fob in house, the interior and exterior lights turn on and off then horn honks. I have had it in shop and only resolution at the time was a new battery. This did not fix the problem. I once found this issue on google with a fix but can no longer find it nor can dealership explain.

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