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Why are the interior door panels made out of cheap hard plastic?

I first noticed it when I rested my elbow on the ledge at the base of the window while holding onto the wheel, thinking wow, that's uncomfortable. I even thought of designing some aftermarket little pad to stick onto the place where my elbow hits it. My last Honda, which I liked so much that I bought another one, had a nice kind of padded surface which was very comfortable to rest an elbow on.

Anyway, what motivated me to write a post is that when I was closing one of the back doors after someone had juct gotten out, I heard a bad noise. When I reopened the door to see what it was, I noticed the seat belt had not recoiled all the way and the buckle had gotten caught in the door. I then looked at the hard plastic on the door at the point of impact and there was a big crack in the shape of the buckle. Certainly everone has at one point or another gotten the buckle caught in the door, but usually there is much softer, flexible plastic or fabric or some kind of padding. I'm thinking it's only a matter of time until all four doors are all cracked up with pieces falling off with this material that is so hard, brittle and weak. What are others' thoughts and experiences on this?

Also, shouldn't this panel be replaced under warrantee? Although that is only solving the small problem of the hole in the door, not the unsuitablity of this particular material being used, which is prone to further damage. And is there any risk of a new panel being installed improperly, causing more problems, like wind and rattle noises?

All this being said, I love the vehicle, but I'm just puzzled at some things about it.
 

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I do think this should be covered under warranty.. The seatbelt did not retract therefore the damage was caused by the seatbelt, and not by you.

I had the same thing happen with my 98 Jimmy, the seatbelt did not retract and it caused it to get stuck in the door all the time, it caused the seatbelt itself to fray and rip.. GM replaced it because it was a safety issue.

The material Honda uses in the door panels and interior of the SUV is not the best I agree. When I take off my seatbelt it leaves little nicks in the interior plastic area where the belt always hits..

I have never had any problems before with seatbelts hitting this area in any of my cars, and when they did, I never saw any marks. But in the Pilot you can see little white marks.. Cheap yes, your fault no.

rob
 

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The "cheap" hard plastic is there for the same reason as the perforated storage containers. The Pilot is marketed as Honda's "off-road" vehicle. These panels are very similar to those on my Jeep Wrangler, which make it very easy to wash the mud off. Since the Honda isn't really an "off-roader" in the Jeep sense, the application of this feature seems more cosmetic than functional. However, if you were in mud and spun the tires in reverse with the doors open, then you would be glad that there was no fabric material there to have to clean. I still like it. By the way, the Wrangler's belts also used to get caught in it's door jamb as well. Jeep added a deflector part to correct the problem, presumably for the same safety reason cited in the previous post.
 

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sorry, no go for me, they could have used a better material in my "Family Adventure vehicle" They knew 95% of the people who bought Pilots will not be going off road with them(Maybe once for fun!), they were just trying to save money.. It's all part of the game.
 

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Preferred the plastic to fabric on door ledge

Hermbro, while I understand your point about the plastic of the door ledge below the window being uncomfortable, I actually was glad that Honda did not use fabric there. One of my pet peeves with previous vehicles I've driven was how fabric used in heavy contact areas of the inner door panels became dirty/worn more quickly than the seats or other interior areas. You can cover a worn seat, but not a door ledge. One of the reasons (if minor) I went with the PILOT over the HIGHLANDER LIMITED was to avoid the fabric-covered door ledges of the Highlander.

I keep my vehicles long after they're paid for, so I do tend to think of longer haul considerations when purchasing. However, I agree that it would have been nice if the Pilot's plastic in this area would have incorporated a little padding to enhance comfort.
 

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Hermbro,

I agree with you 100%. I notice with I install my wood trim. When I install on the rear passenger door, I mis-aligned and try to pull it out, guess what? the whole plastic panel came off, very thin you can actually press it and it'll bend.

SS EX-L RES #35211
 

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My wife's '96 Civic EX had nicer plastic at the top of the doors than the Pilot does. It was softer and had a bit of give to it but it still stood up to wear and tear fine. I don't know why Honda put this cheap stuff in the Pilot.
 

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Cheap plastic 100%

It's not only around the door area,but almost everywhere in the intire car.Dash,around ignition,seatbelt area,cargo area(a paper box would leave scratches if you kindda slide it in).This makes me handle with too much care and too much caution for the Pilot,and it's really scare me if I tell someone else other than me to load something in the car.
 

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I don't like the scratches on all the plastic. then I remembered, this is a truck, not a luxury vehicle. That made it easier to live with.
 
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