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Hi All. Looking at a 2003 Pilot 4 wd to purchase. 1 owner clean, Timing belt done recently. Drives well no strange rattles or noises and transmission shifts smoothly. 170,000 Km or 106,000 miles. I see a lot of discussion on bad transmissions for that model year but am thinking as an 18 year old vehicle either that has been corrected already or what does one expect of a $4500.00 vehicle realistically? Front struts feel worn out to me but that doesn't look like a massive expense to replace. Comments?
 

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if your in the rust belt, inspect the rear sub frame mount points for rust out. If you buy it, get this area treated with rust preventives. (Eastman sells good products).

 

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When you buy a 17-yo vehicle in which almost anything can be a problem, I don't think you need to worry unduly about a transmission with a somewhat higher than average failure rate, although I would like to see at least one transmission fluid change in the vehicle's records. The key to a vehicle like this is whether it is reasonable free of corrosion, has no obviously leaking fluids (it will almost certainly have some minor seeps), no CELs after a decently long test drive, hasn't had a serious accident, has a clean (not rebuilt) title, and a decent maintenance record. (For the record, only one in twenty 15+ yo vehicles will pass the above list.)

Tires, brakes, suspension, etc. are all fixable at a reasonable cost so I'd worry less about this stuff. Assume $1500 for a timing belt, plug change, and valve adjustment unless there are records indicating it has been done.

I wouldn't consider it except after a mechanic's checkout on a lift.

Be sure to run a CarFAX and confirm that the mileage makes sense. This is pretty darn low yearly mileage which raises suspicions and odo rollbacks are all too common.

- Mark
 

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I drive a 2003, bought it over 2 years ago with 197k miles. Today, it has 210k, and I have put a lot of work and close to $800 in parts into it. I live in Minnesota, and I have had to deal with rusted out rear subframe problems. If you're in the salt zone, then just walk away. If you are not in the road salt region, then you should focus on the transmission. Also check the engine carefully for any overheating issues. If you still feel lucky after all this, then cut your best deal, and assume that the suspension is worn out and needs a bunch of work. And, if you are not a DIY guy, forget it
 

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I may have a bit of an unpopular opinion but here it goes:
This is a very old car and it's relatively cheap. There is always the risk that things would go wrong. I don't necessarily think it is worth nitpicking over every single thing. I would skip having it inspected by a mechanic. Most**** (not all, please don't attack me) things can usually be detected by you looking around the car yourself and of course driving it. To me, it isn't worth the time and trying to coordinate everything with the seller (most sellers won't let you just take a car to your mechanic). Plus, if the mechanic charges you (mine doesn't) then that eats into your budget.

I am saying all of this as someone who has a pretty high risk tolerance. I have bought 5 cars in the last few years and have not had them inspected by a mechanic. I looked at online forums, found common problems and what to look for and looked over the car very thoroughly. I think the key thing to remember, is there will be "problems" with the car. It could leak a little oil, the motor mounts could be shot, or some of the suspension parts could be a little worn. None of those things would need immediate attention and would be quite common for a car that old.
 

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For 10+ year old vehicles if you aren’t planning to do most/all of the labor yourself, either walk away or be mentally prepared to spend a decent chunk of money on maintenance over the course of ownership. If you decide to purchase this Pilot make sure you have funds available, in the short term, to fix issues which require immediate attention.
 

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... If you're in the salt zone, then just walk away.

... And, if you are not a DIY guy, forget it
+1 on all the advice about doing your own work.

I also got my '03 2 years ago. I paid much less than you propose to. Get a bright light on all the rubber parts in the front suspension - you'll find splits and cracks, especially in the lower control arm bushings and ball joint boots. I would negotiate aggressively based on known condition of those worn parts and the (astronomical) cost of Honda replacement parts. There's a good chance that's why someone is selling an otherwise clean car.

If you're planning to pay someone else to sort out everything you'll find, you'll probably do better spending $10k on something newer.
 

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Hi All. Looking at a 2003 Pilot 4 wd to purchase. 1 owner clean, Timing belt done recently. Drives well no strange rattles or noises and transmission shifts smoothly. 170,000 Km or 106,000 miles. I see a lot of discussion on bad transmissions for that model year but am thinking as an 18 year old vehicle either that has been corrected already or what does one expect of a $4500.00 vehicle realistically? Front struts feel worn out to me but that doesn't look like a massive expense to replace. Comments?
Replace strut Assemblies if you can yourself. Not that difficult. Ballpark $250 parts. Do stabilizer links as well. Good luck. Great vehicle. I have over 240k miles on my 05
 

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Hi All. Looking at a 2003 Pilot 4 wd to purchase. 1 owner clean, Timing belt done recently. Drives well no strange rattles or noises and transmission shifts smoothly. 170,000 Km or 106,000 miles. I see a lot of discussion on bad transmissions for that model year but am thinking as an 18 year old vehicle either that has been corrected already or what does one expect of a $4500.00 vehicle realistically? Front struts feel worn out to me but that doesn't look like a massive expense to replace. Comments?

I would not buy this as a primary vehicle, but if it is rust free and has been well maintained, it could run another 100K as a 2nd car or kids car. $4500 seems a bit high, does it have new tires? A set of good tires will run you almost $1000!

The whole front suspension is shot. Control arms, bushings, tie rods as well as struts will run you $1200 unless you are an experienced and willing DIYr
 

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I would not buy this as a primary vehicle, but if it is rust free and has been well maintained, it could run another 100K as a 2nd car or kids car. $4500 seems a bit high, does it have new tires? A set of good tires will run you almost $1000!

The whole front suspension is shot. Control arms, bushings, tie rods as well as struts will run you $1200 unless you are an experienced and willing DIYr
I bought a 03 from a friend, knew both the car and the owner well enough and most importantly, knew he took much better care than the average owner would for a late model car. Before he agreed to part with it, I had looked a several used 03-07's on used lots near me in the NJ metro NY area. Lots of junk out there, so look very carefully and + 1 on the comments regarding corrosion and rust. I also think the price you mentioned is at least $1000 more than any Pilot at this age is worth.
I have issues with ABS lights on intermittently and less frequently the VTM-4 system. Neither affected getting registered as it is not a CEL.
 

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I don’t care how many miles are on it - at this point, it’s almost 20 years old.

Regardless of who’s doing the work, this is a $2000 car. If you can’t get the price cut in half then run (don’t walk) away.

I bought mine 2 years ago with about 304k on the odometer. It was owned by a friend for almost 10 years and she took it to the shop on a regular basis, then moved South and didn’t want to take it with her.

I put $500 in it in parts and close to 40hrs of wrenching, and another $500 in new tires. I bought it for $200 cash, but even with the history of ownership, I wouldn’t have spent more than $500.

If you can believe the 106k miles then it’s probably worth $2k...
 

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Hi All. Looking at a 2003 Pilot 4 wd to purchase. 1 owner clean, Timing belt done recently. Drives well no strange rattles or noises and transmission shifts smoothly. 170,000 Km or 106,000 miles. I see a lot of discussion on bad transmissions for that model year but am thinking as an 18 year old vehicle either that has been corrected already or what does one expect of a $4500.00 vehicle realistically? Front struts feel worn out to me but that doesn't look like a massive expense to replace. Comments?
I have a 2003 with 241000 miles. The engine and transmission have never failed me. You can ask a dealer (presuming honesty) about the transmission recall. If may also be on the CarFax report. If that was done, you should be in good shape. What you can expect is to start replacing rubber bushings and other stuff that just wears out. The timing belt is due for a change so find out if that was done and ask to see the bill. The price on this one is a little high so you should try to haggle them down. If the T-belt was not changed and they won't come down on the price you should probably say "adios."
 

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