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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After about 3 months in the garage I finally got my '03 pilots transmission replaced, its no small job! The day I went to start it I immediately ran into to ignition problems which seemed to be electrical. When I finally got power, the dash indicated that I was in park when in fact I was in neutral. The shifting handle was in the neutral position and would not move without the car being started. After some research I discovered that these cars have a neutral position switch which is located on the drivers side of the transmission behind the tire. After removing the plastic casing there is a small metal switch that can be rotated with a flathead screwdriver. I turned it very slowly until the dash indicated that I was in neutral. Consequently, the car started right up! As I drove it out of the garage I quickly noticed I had no power steering (the pump was empty of fluid). There was also a power steering leak and a transmission fluid leak (which I expected).

After sorting out a few more kinks I took it for a drive and it shifted like a dream! Took it straight to the alignment shop and then to the Honda dealer for a quick look over by the professionals. Unfortunately the trans fluid leak is coming from the passenger side axle shaft which likely means I busted the seal when removing it. I will need to go back and remove that axle shaft again to replace the seal. But other than that the repair seems to have gone perfectly!

I saved somewhere between $2,000-2,500 doing this myself based on the quotes I got around town. Quick note to anyone wanting to try a transmission swap on their own: you need a lot of tools, without a car lift it will be very time consuming (and you will need a second pair of hands), you WILL need to drop the entire subframe which means suspending your engine with a lift or from the ceiling. Also, use your local junkyard for any smaller parts you need (solenoids, lost bolts, wiring harnesses) don't buy parts from the dealer!

Thank you to those of you that gave me advice during the process! It was quite the learning experience.
 

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Glorificatus Oleum Mutante
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Thanks for the post.
Nice savings!
Is there no way possible to leave the engine on the subframe and lifting the transmission out the top?
 
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Thanks for your post, very nice to know that this can also be done in a DIY way

Without a car lift, what did you do in this process? I need to prepare in case a major repair. The repair shops in my area left me disappointed with my Chevy Captiva and I don't want to leave my Pilot in their hands in case something happens. Will you have photos of your work?


Thanks for the post.
Nice savings!
Is there no way possible to leave the engine on the subframe and lifting the transmission out the top?
no, the subframe holds everything: the engine, transmission and these two at the same time are bolted. the motor must be supported from above with an accessory before lowering the subframe
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the post.
Nice savings!
Is there no way possible to leave the engine on the subframe and lifting the transmission out the top?
I didn't see anything online about people doing it that way however I think you could remove the entire engine and do it that way. The trans kinda dives under the body on the drivers side and I think you would have to shift everything towards the passenger side to remove it. With the right equipment that would probably be faster!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your post, very nice to know that this can also be done in a DIY way

Without a car lift, what did you do in this process? I need to prepare in case a major repair. The repair shops in my area left me disappointed with my Chevy Captiva and I don't want to leave my Pilot in their hands in case something happens. Will you have photos of your work?



no, the subframe holds everything: the engine, transmission and these two at the same time are bolted. the motor must be supported from above with an accessory before lowering the subframe
The way that I did it took a long time. I had two floor jacks and several jack stands. After I got the exhaust manifold, cv axles, and everything on the topside taken apart, I jacked the car up as high as I could in the front and placed two heavy duty jack stands as far back as I could on the steel body (basically right behind the subframe). Even so, when I removed the old unit it didn't have enough room to slide out from under the car on a floor jack so we had to place it on the ground and slide it out that way. This method took a lot of elbow grease and two people. I would strongly advise getting the car high enough for the transmission to fit in and out from under it, I was limited by the height of the ceiling. I wish I had more pictures but most of the ones I took are of connections and bolt layouts for continuity purposes.
 

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The way that I did it took a long time. I had two floor jacks and several jack stands. After I got the exhaust manifold, cv axles, and everything on the topside taken apart, I jacked the car up as high as I could in the front and placed two heavy duty jack stands as far back as I could on the steel body (basically right behind the subframe). Even so, when I removed the old unit it didn't have enough room to slide out from under the car on a floor jack so we had to place it on the ground and slide it out that way. This method took a lot of elbow grease and two people. I would strongly advise getting the car high enough for the transmission to fit in and out from under it, I was limited by the height of the ceiling. I wish I had more pictures but most of the ones I took are of connections and bolt layouts for continuity purposes.
That was the way the workshop did with my Chevy Captiva , but removing everything: the engine with the transmission. Repair shops in my area are that bad
 

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After about 3 months in the garage I finally got my '03 pilots transmission replaced, its no small job! The day I went to start it I immediately ran into to ignition problems which seemed to be electrical. When I finally got power, the dash indicated that I was in park when in fact I was in neutral. The shifting handle was in the neutral position and would not move without the car being started. After some research I discovered that these cars have a neutral position switch which is located on the drivers side of the transmission behind the tire. After removing the plastic casing there is a small metal switch that can be rotated with a flathead screwdriver. I turned it very slowly until the dash indicated that I was in neutral. Consequently, the car started right up! As I drove it out of the garage I quickly noticed I had no power steering (the pump was empty of fluid). There was also a power steering leak and a transmission fluid leak (which I expected).

After sorting out a few more kinks I took it for a drive and it shifted like a dream! Took it straight to the alignment shop and then to the Honda dealer for a quick look over by the professionals. Unfortunately the trans fluid leak is coming from the passenger side axle shaft which likely means I busted the seal when removing it. I will need to go back and remove that axle shaft again to replace the seal. But other than that the repair seems to have gone perfectly!

I saved somewhere between $2,000-2,500 doing this myself based on the quotes I got around town. Quick note to anyone wanting to try a transmission swap on their own: you need a lot of tools, without a car lift it will be very time consuming (and you will need a second pair of hands), you WILL need to drop the entire subframe which means suspending your engine with a lift or from the ceiling. Also, use your local junkyard for any smaller parts you need (solenoids, lost bolts, wiring harnesses) don't buy parts from the dealer!

Thank you to those of you that gave me advice during the process! It was quite the learning experience.
Nice job when I swap mine I know it’s going to be a bear of a job but I refuse to pay 2800$
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I assume you had an extra car to use while you were working on this one? How many hours did you spend working on it in total?
I did. I also have an 09 civic hybrid that I was able to drive for awhile. I didn't keep track but as I spend a lot of time doing this solo and figuring things out I'm sure I spent upwards of 40 hours. I also spend a lot of time waiting on parts that I needed (the subframe bolts set me back about 2 weeks). I know an experienced mechanic could do this in two days but I am far from being an experienced mechanic.
 

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These transmissions are not light, either. For me, I would have to put it on the jack, and then roll under the car. No way to slide the trans under first, and then try to get it on a jack. However, I think once the trans is under there, a hoist could be used since there are two lifting points. I did motor and trans as one unit, so my experience was slightly different.
 

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I thought this bar from Harbor Freight was a good idea to hold engine. This is on an Accord V6.
143954
 

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Nail, I have one of those as well.
Then the challenge to get the vehicle raised high enough to drop the transmission out the bottom with subframe. Guess I'll need a lift then and when the time comes.
 

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You don't want to do it like I just did it? lol
I'd prefer out the top. I'm thinking about this down the road for my Crosstour.
 

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2003 Honda Pilot EX-L w/ super fancy seats
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I'm really late for this post but just in case....The 03 pilot has a shift interlock recall. Mine was done last month. Check with Honda at Recall Information for Safety & Defects | Honda Owners Site
there is also another airbag recall. They replaced all of mine. Also wiring to the headlights. There was a transmission recall way back. If you go through the Honda owners website, they can check to make sure all of the recalls are done and contact your local dealer. That way the dealer can't forget to mention.
 

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With most FWD vehicles it's easiest to drop the whole cradle with the struts and everything.
I worked at a boneyard during one of the many layoffs, and the first time I did it that way the guys at the front desk had to come out and see how I had pulled the car apart so fast. They about freaked when they saw the cradle laying on the shop floor with all of the parts spread around the cradle.
At the factory the drivetrain is installed from the bottom including RWD they don't install from the top.
 
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