2021 Honda Odyssey Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Forward collision avoidance, electrical, engine, and serious side-view mirror issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Editor: Rita Roberts | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

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The Odyssey was the first minivan produced by Honda. The model debuted in 1995, and it has been around ever since. Now, it boasts its position as “America’s retail best-selling minivan for the past 10 years.” The 2021 Honda Odyssey is a refreshed model with upgraded technology and safety features. However, complaints to the NHTSA indicate that it has numerous safety problems relating to forward collision avoidance, engine, and side-view mirrors. There are also major issues with the electrical system.  

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2022   2023

Most Common Problems

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records, the highest volume of complaints about the 2021 Honda Odyssey are about forward collision avoidance problems. Most of these relate to what many consumers call “hard braking.” This is when the automatic emergency braking system activates for no reason. There are also a substantial number of complaints relating to electrical system issues and engine problems.

Though it might seem like a minor issue at first, the minivan’s side-view mirrors are causing major problems. While a recall blames detaching mirror glass for reducing driver visibility, complaints talk about vibrations and distortion that recur even after the recall repair has been completed.

Other components and systems highlighted in consumer complaints include airbags, backover prevention, exterior lighting, lane departure, powertrain, structure, and vehicle speed control.

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2021 Honda Odyssey Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
9
9
Electrical System
8
8
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
8
8
Visibility/wiper
5
5
Engine
4
4
Air Bags
3
3
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
3
3
Power Train
3
3
Back Over Prevention: Rearview System Braking
2
2
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
2
2

Recalls

There are also three recalls on file with the NHTSA for the 2021 Odyssey. The first warns that some fuel tanks may overfill, and if they do, the fuel may leak out. If this happens, “the presence of an ignition source may increase the risk of fire.”

The most recent recall alerts 1,209,673 owners of various Honda vehicles, including Odyssey, Passport, and Pilot models, that their rearview cameras may have a fault that results in images not displaying. This can reduce the driver’s rearview, which increases the risk of a crash and/or injury.

NHTSA Campaign Number 23V174000, dated March 16, 2023, affects 339,404 Honda vehicles, including the 2021 Honda Odyssey. The issue is that the heating pads behind the side-view mirrors may not be bonded properly, which allows the mirror glass to detach. Of course, this is also a driver visibility issue. The remedy is for dealers to replace the left and right side-view mirrors, free of charge.

Forward-Collision Avoidance Problems

The most common forward-collision avoidance problem is that vehicles randomly brake hard, even though there are no vehicles or obstacles to avoid.

An owner from Virginia tells a story that many others are experiencing. “On numerous occasions, the forward collision warning has caused hard braking when there is nothing close in front of me. I fear that a close-following vehicle will hit me when this occurs. This has not caused an accident yet, but the following vehicle driver must think that I’m a terrible driver for unnecessarily hitting my brakes.”

Another owner describes how this happened when driving on a straight, wide-open road at about 45 mph with no vehicle close in front. The complaint states that “the forward Collision Mitigation Braking System alarmed and activated and strongly braked, slowing the car quickly down to about 20 mph before releasing. Fortunately, there was no one behind me to react to the unexpected slowing down of my car.”

They were lucky to avoid crashing, but accidents do happen, as this owner testifies. “I was driving through an intersection. My automatic brakes activated for no reason, my car rapidly slowed down in the middle of an intersection, [and] a bus hit my car from behind.”

An owner from Tennessee was forced to “take immediate action by making a sudden lane change in order to avoid a serious collision. The involuntary braking action on the part of the vehicle placed the passengers of both vehicles in grave danger.” The only warning was a visual “BRAKE” warning on the dashboard and beeps. There was no reason for this to happen, the complaint states. Furthermore, it was the second time it had happened in the same area in similar clear, dry weather conditions.

Side-View Mirror Problems

The first NHTSA complaint about the 2021 Odyssey side mirror was filed in July 2021. Unlike later complaints that report distorted images, this one states that the driver’s side mirror kept vibrating. It made it “impossible to see correctly and was very distracting.” At the time, the “dealer said they’ve had multiple customers with this same problem.” The mirror was eventually replaced.

The other complaints all relate to the recall described above. The first of these was in July 2023. After receiving the recall notification, the owner had the mirror replaced. But they were “distorted blurry concave mirrors. [The] Honda dealership was aware of this issue yet still installed them. After going back and getting them installed again, the mirror is still distorted. There has been no remedy or follow-up.”

An owner from Indiana states that the replacement mirror “creates distorted images. It is nearly impossible to focus on traffic and safely change lanes. While driving in Chicago this weekend the mirror made it nearly impossible to merge with traffic or safely observe traffic entering on left-side entrance ramps. Honda replaced the mirror a second time and the second mirror is also defective.”

In Texas, the story is exactly the same. Due to distorted images, this owner had the side-view mirrors replaced three times, “however, the failure persisted.”

Electrical System Problems

Electrical system problems are high on the list of owner complaints (20%), as are manufacturer communications about electrical system issues (36%). Many of them are also regarded as engine problems (see below), but the problems cited are varied. An owner from Virginia describes how the infotainment system turns off, stating “network connection lost.” Then the speakers start making very loud crackling sounds that can’t be controlled with the volume button. It “sounded like rocks hitting the windshield. When the infotainment system was off, the blind spot monitor and backup camera stopped functioning. This has happened several times.”

Another owner states that, after the Odyssey wouldn’t start, he “ended up jump-starting the car and going to buy a new battery. I replaced the battery even though [the] repair facility stated [the] battery was at 78% and in a good state.” Two days later, the issue occurred again with the new battery. He states, “The alternator is showing a constant 14.3-volt charge when running but the battery continues to die. It has left my family stranded multiple times in the past week. No known cause or fix.”

An owner from Maryland states that the VSA (vehicle stability assist) has failed repeatedly. This causes all the safety systems to report errors. Additionally, the owner reports that “the power sliding passenger doors and tailgate will not open, even manually.” The complaint states that Honda dealerships cleared the error codes and reset the system. When the fault recurred, they said the VSA was defective and replaced it under warranty. When it happened again, they “disconnected and reconnected the VSA modulator and it decided it was fixed.” The owner is not convinced. “While no injury or crash has occurred yet, I am concerned that if this occurs again, myself or my family could be hurt.”

Engine Problems

Most engine complaints are also listed as being electrical issues, including the first three below.

A complaint from an Illinois owner states that the “Honda Odyssey 2021 has major safety issues.” The complaint says the van starts and shuts the engine off itself. The tail lights come on when the engine is running even though the knob for the lights is in the off position. The owner took the van to a Honda dealer twice, and they said they could not fix it. They told the owner that a manager would review the safety concern, but it may take months, depending on how busy they are.

An owner from Maryland’s vehicle stopped in traffic and failed to start up “when I needed to continue driving. I noticed that the battery light blinked on the dashboard when it tried to restart the engine. As a result I was in (the) active HOV lane with quickly approaching traffic from behind. With his wife and two children also in the car, he called 911 for help. While waiting, “I was trying to restart the car by pressing the button to turn the car off and on. About 3 attempts failed when a few minutes later the engine started and we continued the drive.”

Another complaint, also from Illinois, states that an Odyssey lost power six times while driving. The dealer was unable to replicate the problem but traded the vehicle in for a new one. Within days, the new Odyssey also lost power while driving.

The owner also identified another issue: a cracking noise in the engine occurring at low speed. The cause of the issue is unknown. This time, the dealer refused to acknowledge it was a problem and said, “a lot of cars with this engine develop this sound.”

What Should You Do If Your 2021 Honda Odyssey is a lemon

Persistent problems with your 2021 Honda Odyssey may indicate that you have bought a lemon. Typically, these are issues that relate to the engine, powertrain and transmission, brakes, and electrical system.

If you suspect you may have a lemon on your hands, contact Lemberg Law and we will assess your problems free of charge. We have helped many clients get trade-ins, cash settlements, and replacement vehicles.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from trying to negotiate your own settlement. But we take the stress out of the equation and do all the work for you. It won’t cost you anything because the law makes Honda pay all lemon law legal bills.

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.

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1 COMMENT
  • Sandra B

    Can you give advice on what is a good car to buy?

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