Honda SUV Problems: 6 Most-Common Issues (Explained)

When you purchase a brand-new Honda SUV, you don’t expect to experience any major issues in the next five years.

After all, you’re purchasing products from one of the US’s most trusted and best-selling brands.

Honda SUVs have an excellent reputation in terms of performance, reliability, safety, and comfort.

However, they’re not perfect. Here are some of the most common problems with Honda SUVs you must know.

1. Ignition Switch Problem

If you’ve experienced challenges starting your Honda SUV, you’re not alone. Honda Pilot owners have reported having issues with the ignition switch.

Most of them have complained that either they’re unable to start the vehicle, insert their keys in the ignition hole, or the keys fall out when the vehicle is running.

Fortunately, you can take your vehicle to the nearest dealership and have the ignition switch fixed. The repair or replacement service can cost between $500 and $1000.

Some owners claim that they repaired their ignition switch, but the problem recurred. Others say they resorted to installing aftermarket ignition switches and starters that are compatible with Honda but not manufactured by the automaker.

The problem mainly affects the older 2003 Honda Pilot models.

2. Transmission Issues

Honda vehicles, particularly SUVs, have many transmission issues. Drivers have reported their transmission shifting from drive to neutral when the vehicle is driving. Others have reported grinding noises when they shift to the 7th and 8th gear.

Honda issued a recall for the 2003 Honda pilot for potential heat build-up between the countershaft and the secondary gears in the automatic transmission.

In high-performance vehicles, this problem can lead to gear tooth chipping or breakage.

Transmission problems are more common in:

  • Honda Pilot,
  • Passport,
  • and CR-V models.

The Honda Pilot is also the Honda SUV that depreciates the fastest.

We have a full overview of how quickly Honda SUVs depreciate here.

It can be dangerous to drive a vehicle that shifts gears by itself while driving.

As a result, you may want to know the signs to watch out for transmission issues and take precautions. Signs of bad transmission include:

  • Vehicle switching gears on its own or refusing to change to the selected gear
  • Burning smell coming from the car or signs of overheating
  • Weird noises coming from vehicles even when in neutral gear
  • A dragging clutch or clutch that fails to disengage the clutch disk from the flywheel when you press the clutch pedal
  • Leaking transmission fluid
  • Grinding, shaking, and screeching noises when you change gear
  • Clunking, humming or whining sounds that you’re not familiar with
  • The vehicle becomes unresponsive to gear changes, particularly from park to drive

Taking your Honda to your nearest dealership is the best way to diagnose and fix the problems.

Your dealership will inspect the transmission system based on the challenges you’re experiencing to come up with a solution.

If the vehicle’s transmission fluid leaks, don’t go to the dealer yet. Check the transmission fluid level and determine if it’s low.

Add and then check if the problem goes away.

If it doesn’t, or the fluid starts leaking again, visit your dealership.

3. Paint Chipping

Almost all Honda owners have reported a common problem with paint chipping. The main issue is the clear coat and the paint that Honda uses on its vehicles.

Some Honda SUV owners claim they noticed tiny spots of discoloration where the paint is lighter than the rest of the vehicle. We have more here on specific problems on the HR-V models around the paint.

Over time, the discolored spots multiplied and expanded, with paint peeling and chipping off in large areas.

The problem could be a defective material mixed in the paint or clear coat that Honda needs to address.

At this point, the automaker hasn’t issued any statement regarding this problem other than advising owners to keep their vehicles protected from excessive sunlight.

The advice is really not helpful, as most users want to use their vehicles outdoors, and not all parking spots provide shade.

On the other hand, repainting the car yourself can be a risky and expensive project. One mistake and the vehicle is ruined permanently.

You may want to engage a professional technician to do it for you. Avoid taking the vehicle to the dealership; they’ll likely use the same problematic paint or clear coat.

4. Difficulty Starting and Rough Starts

The Honda HR-V and Pilot may occasionally have issues with the push start.

The vehicle may not start when you push the start button. Or it takes a few tries before finally starting.

While there are a dozen reasons why your Honda SUV may fail to start on its first attempt or take too much time and energy, one reason stands out—a bad or worn-out starter.

This has been a problem on Honda Pilot SUVs.

However, if your vehicle is relatively new and keeps failing to start, you probably have a serious issue that needs to be addressed by a technician.

A vehicle failing to start is not dangerous and may not be life-threatening, but it can be irritating as it can make it challenging to get around.

Even worse, it can lead to lateness for essential meetings and engagements.

That’s why you need to get the vehicle checked as soon as possible, from the failing starter to the fuel system. Some common causes of a hard start include:

Low Fuel Level

Low fuel in colder months can condense a small amount of fuel. If the oil level is too low, the fuel line can freeze, preventing fuel distribution to the vehicle’s engine.

Thick Oil

When you fail to change the oil after some time, it can get thick with dirt and debris.

Colder temperatures also cause thick oil, which makes it difficult for the engine to start.

Slow Battery

Extreme cold will likely slow starting the battery and the vehicle. As a result, there’s less sufficient energy transmitted to the starter.

5. Oil Leaks

Honda engines are made with a porous engine block which sometimes leads to leaks.

Since several SUVs and other vehicles were affected, Honda issued a service bulletin to fix the issue.

The automaker asked drivers to report oil leak issues to their nearest dealership, and it would be fixed free of charge. The oil leak was caused by a poor design. If your vehicle is under warranty, you don’t have to worry about paying anything. It’s essential to note that only the older models were affected by this issue.

The later models are less prone to oil leaks.

Therefore consider getting a newer model between 2016 and 2022 if you want to avoid oil leaks.

We have more here about oil problems on the Honda CR-V models.

6. Problems With the Air Conditioner

There have been several complaints about the air conditioner not working. This problem is more common in the Honda CR-V.

The system may be working well in one minute and releasing a jet of hot air in the next.

While it can be annoying and frustrating on a hot day, air conditioners are pretty easy to fix when they break down.

In Honda vehicles, the issue is caused by three leading causes:

  • Leaks
  • Faulty compressors
  • And clogs

Checking for dirty filters, defective blend door actuators, and faulty blower motors is also a good idea.

Pros and Cons

Here are the most common advantages and disadvantages of Honda SUVs.


  • Excellent towing capacity: Honda SUVs, especially the Pilot, are known for great towing capacity. Most front-wheel drive models can tow up to 5,000 pounds, which is enough to tow an RV or small boat. Check here how much a Honda CR-V can tow.
  • Sleek design: If you’re looking for a stylish SUV, go to Honda. These four SUVs are well-designed, and the newer models come out better than the previous ones. They have sharp designs with an appealing vibe.
  • Lots of cargo space: If you’re traveling with a group of friends or going on an extended vacation, the cargo space offered by Honda SUVs is enough to fit your luggage. You can get up to 89 cubic feet of space when the seats are folded. We have an article here on how much cargo space Honda CR-V has.
  • Spacious cabin. There’s plenty of head and legroom for a comfortable long trip. Both front and back rows are well-spaced to allow your passengers to stretch.


  • Transmission issues
  • Pain chipping
  • Difficulty starting and rough starts
  • Oil leaks
  • Problems with the Air Conditioner

What Do Reviews Say?

All things considered, owning a Honda SUV is one of the best ways to save money in the long term. Apart from the above issues (which can be fixed), you’re less likely to encounter significant issues with Honda than you would with other vehicles.

Listen to what reviewers had to say about two of Honda’s SUVs.

Honda CR-V

“The redesigned 2023 Honda CR-V stands out with a spacious and upscale interior, comfortable seating in both rows, an intuitive infotainment system, a huge cargo hold, and a long list of standard features. Fuel economy is excellent, and driving performance is decent (if not thrilling).”

Honda Passport”

“The 2023 Honda Passport is like a steady left-fielder who makes solid plays, good catches, and plenty of base hits but never draws attention to himself.”

In general, Honda SUVs feature stylish and roomy cabins, enough cargo space, impressive fuel economy, excellent performance and handling, and high-tech features to boost your confidence on the road.

You won’t regret owning one.

Resale Prices

Below is what you can expect to pay for a used Honda SUV.

Resale price on Honda Pilot models

Model year Mileage Cost
2014 Honda Pilot 42, 898 miles $22, 998
2016 Honda Pilot 170,430 miles $16,750
2017 Honda Pilot 119,914 miles $20,380
2019 Honda Pilot 81,221 miles $26,711
2022 Honda Pilot 4,237 miles $45,995

Resale price on Honda Pilot CR-V

Model Year Mileage Cost
2014 Honda CR-V 64,955 miles $16,999
2019 Honda CR-V 29,842 miles $25,000
2020 Honda CR-V 30, 560 miles $28,377
2021 Honda CR-V 18,124 miles $27,300
2022 Honda CR-V 11,432 Miles $29,509

You can check the best years for Honda CR-V here.

Resale price on Honda HR-V models

Model Year Mileage Cost
2016 Honda HR-V 72,742 miles $14,500
2017 Honda HR-V 109,700 miles $16,416
2019 Honda HR-V 33,560 miles $19,788
2020 Honda HR-V 102,207 miles $16,955
2022 Honda HR-V 11,241 miles $23,900

Check the best and worst years for Honda HR-V.

Resale price on Honda Pilot Passport models

Model Year Mileage Cost
2019 Honda Passport 26,345 Miles $27,425
2020 Honda Passport 31,776 miles $27,493
2021 Honda Passport 13,627 miles $36,395
2022 Honda Passport 9,378 miles $37,990


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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.