3 Common Problems With The Honda Odyssey (Explained!)

The Honda Odyssey is a minivan model manufactured and distributed by Japanese automaker, Honda. The first Odyssey model was released in 1994, and it has remained in production for over five generations (about 25 years).

The Honda Odyssey is a favorite for minivan buyers because of its comfortable interior, safety features, and overall drive quality. However, it has some technical issues which we will review in this article.

From research and data pulled from complaints aggregators such as carcomplaints.com, we found these problems to be widespread among Odyssey vehicles.

Engine Misfiring issues

One of the most common problems associated with engines is “misfiring.” A complete engine cycle comprises intake, compression, ignition, and exhaust. An engine misfire occurs when you start the ignition, and the air-gasoline mixture in one cylinder does not ignite.

Multiple owners of the Honda Odyssey had complained of various problems when the engine misfired. Some issues they reported are:

  1. Extreme shaking/jerking of car: When the misfire occurs, the engine will run roughly, causing the car to shake or jerk massively. Owners have reported cases of wild shaking, especially when driving at higher speeds.
  2. Excessive vibration from engines: Car makers often balance their vehicle engines from the factory to ensure minimal engine vibration. When one cylinder does not fire properly, the engine may lose balance, causing heavy vibrations in the car. These vibrations are noticeable and often occur during acceleration or when the vehicle is idling.
  3. . Reduced or no acceleration: Engine misfires cause oxygen sensors to generate imbalanced air-gasoline mixtures. Imbalanced mixtures can make the vehicle lose power or stop completely.

Owners have reported cases of their Odysseys going into limp mode (the engine does not rev up past 3500 rpm), often causing near-collisions. A particular user on carproblemzoo.com described how his car’s engine misfired when he was on the freeway. According to him, the vehicle lost power, and when he tried accelerating, he could not go past 10mph.

Other users have reported cases of their engines switching off mid-transit, causing the car to stall without warning.

Possible Causes and Solutions:

Engine misfires can be because of:

1. Ignition System Defects: The engine misfire could result from damaged parts of the ignition system. For example, the spark plug may create weak sparks, which causes the air-fuel mixture not to ignite.

If parts such as the ignition coil, ignition cables, or distribution caps are worn out, the air-fuel mixture won’t ignite, causing the engine to misfire.

Solution: Check the car’s internal system to see which part is worn and in need of replacement. You can buy spark plugs and ignition wires at auto parts shop. You can service faulty coil packs and distribution caps at the repair shop at affordable rates.

2. Low Fuel Pressure: A major cause of engine misfires is a “lean mixture” in the internal combustion chamber. A lean mixture has more air than fuel (imbalanced air-fuel ratio).  This can cause the engine to misfire, especially when the car is idling.

Solution: Lean air-fuel mixtures are often caused by faulty fuel pressure regulators, bad fuel pumps, or clogged fuel filter. You can purchase these parts at any auto shop, but prices may vary.

3. Worn-out/Damaged Engine Parts: Damaged engine parts can lead to misfires. Worn camshaft lobes, broken piston rings, leaky valves, and cracked cylinder walls are potential causes of misfires.

Leaking internal manifold gasket or head gasket can also contribute to engine misfires. Bad fuel injectors or slipping timing belt could be at fault too.

Solution: Take the vehicle for a thorough diagnostic test to identify the damaged parts that need replacements. Replace broken and worn parts.

Torque Converter Problems

A torque converter directs torque from the engine to the transmission system. The converter is bolted securely to a crankshaft-rotated flex plate and mounted between the engine and the transmission.

Symptoms of a faulty torque converter are often mistaken for transmission failure as they are similar. Honda Odyssey drivers have reported widespread issues associated with defective torque converters. Some issues users have reported include:

1. Slipping Transmission: The first sign that a car has a bad torque converter is that the transmission’s gears slip while driving. When the gears slip, the tires feel as if they are spinning on ice and feel like they are losing traction.

Gears slipping can also cause unexpected deceleration. Some users have described instances where the gears go into Neutral for minutes before picking up speed again.

2. Wild shaking /shuddering: Some Odyssey vehicles are known to shake excessively, especially at low speeds (20-45 mph). Users say it feels like driving on a bumpy road.

3. Delay in Gears Shifting or Engaging: Damaged torque converters can cause hesitant gear changes. Users say the gear switch process is erratic – the car seems to pause for minutes before going into the selected gear. Another issue blamed on bad torque converters is delayed engagement. In reported cases, the car does not move, even though the engine is revving, and the RPM is increasing.

4. Transmission Overheating: Failure of the torque converter may sometimes lead to the transmission overheating. Many Odysseys have experienced overheating transmissions on multiple occasions. This often damages the tranny.

Possible Solutions

1. Check transmission liquid levels: The first thing to do when you discover your car has torque converter problems is to inspect the transmission fluid. If you see bits of metal in the fluid, parts of the converter may be worn out and need a replacement.

Another thing you should notice during your transmission fluid check is the color of the fluid. If it is brown or near-black, drain the oil and refill it with new fluid. You can also take it to a repairs shop for a thorough transmission flush.

2. Replace torque converter clutch plate and solenoid: The solenoid and clutch plate are two important parts of the torque converter. Problems with any of the two can cause symptoms such as slipping gears, overheating, and engine stalling.

An inspection at the repair shop will show you which part is faulty and needs replacement – replacing the clutch solenoid costs about $65-$350 depending on whether you do the replacement yourself or at the auto shop. Replacing the clutch plate will cost more because of its complexity. Prices for a clutch plate replacement vary across different repair shops.

3. Fix damaged converter seal: A damaged converter seal will cause low levels of transmission fluid in the torque converter. If the torque converter does not have enough transmission fluid, it cannot transfer power to the transmission. This causes problems such as overheating, gear slippage, delayed engagement, and gear shifting problems.

If the diagnostic traces the problem to a damaged converter seal, you’ll need a replacement.

4. Replace torque converter: Sometimes, the problem may be too severe to repair. In such cases, buying a new torque converter is necessary.

The average cost of a new torque converter is about $150-$400. If you are taking it to the repairs shop, you may spend more on labor costs.

Malfunctioning brake system

Honda minivans have a history of defective brakes, which has led to some recalls in the past. Some issues reported include:

1. Soft brake pedals: In this situation, pressing the brake pedal feels like you’re stepping on a plum-sized tomato. You have to press down farther and apply enormous pressure before the car stops.

In other instances, the brake pedal drops to the floor when depressed, and the car does not stop – users have had to run through red lights/stop signs or collide with other vehicles.

2. Steering wheel shakes when you brakes: This is a common occurrence among Odysseys with brake problems. Drivers report cases where the steering wheel shakes violently when they press the brake pedals, making it impossible to drive.

At other times, the entire car shakes/vibrates when you apply the brakes, forcing drivers to stop the vehicle.

3. Brakes make weird noises when applied: Some Odyssey drivers have reported hearing high-pitched grinding, squealing and squeaking noises when they apply the brakes.

Possible Solutions

1. Soft brake pedals often occur if you have a leaky braking system (usually the master cylinder). The leaking could be internal or external and should be repaired by a professional. Do NOT fix it yourself.

2. Worn out or damaged rotors can cause the steering wheel or car to shake when you apply the brakes. If the diagnostic test traces the problem to the rotors, you may have to replace them.

General Pros and Cons for the Honda Odyssey

Pros

The Honda Odyssey has a lot going for it. It is designed for large families and comes with all the entertainment gadgetry and climate control systems you need to stay warm and comfortable. The Honda CabinTalk allows the driver to communicate with passengers in the third row, and you can control the music from an app.

The Odyssey features a Digital Driver Information interface with a full-color seven-inch instrument panel. You can also opt for an eight-inch infotainment display with pinch and swipe input capabilities, satellite navigation, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Honda Odyssey is one of the safest in its class with a plethora of sensors to help you avoid collisions and park with ease. The HondaLink app is available for higher trims, and you get up to 160 cubic feet of cargo space. It comes with a three year or 36,000 miles limited warranty, and you are covered for five years or 60,000 miles on the powertrain. You also get roadside assistance and service contracts.

Cons

  • The base model is expensive and lacks many of the amenities in higher trims
  • May be prone to transmission issues
  • Engine may misfire

What Do the Reviews Say?

The Odyssey is quiet, refined, and delivers exceptional fuel economy. It comes with an intuitive infotainment system, a flexible interior, numerous connectivity, and storage features that make it an ideal family car — the Odyssey sports a powerful V6 engine and a 10-speed transmission that delivers a smooth ride.

Source: consumerreports.org

Resale Value of The Honda Odyssey

Year Mileage (Miles) Price ($)
2005 144,220 3,000
2006 186,750 6,575
2008 120,640 10,599
2012 99,608 13,995
2013 115,000 12,953
2014 88,280 16,498
2016 56,246 19,688
2018 57,275 27,000

References:

https://mechanicbase.com/transmission/torque-converter-problems/

http://carcomplaints.com/Honda/Odyssey/2009/engine/

https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/honda/odyssey/

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