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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll try to be brief:
Wife is on a river trip, she drove the 05 Pilot with 160k miles from AZ to ID with 3 other people and gear.
They parked at the put in location. Got on the river.
The shuttle company calls me and describes the situation.
Situation is: tranny smells hot, was low (out of) fluid, does not want to shift into gear, has trouble staying in gear, is slipping. Is leaking a bit.

From what I know about transmissions, these are not good signs. The wife is 1400 miles away from home.
Question is: if the transmission is topped of of fluid and it runs at all, how long will it last? Is it toast?

Its a nice car but I'm not above leaving it in Idaho at a salvage yard due to the cost of transporting a vehicle that distance.

I'd like to hear your opinions on whether she should try to limp it home 1400 miles or abandon it or get the transmission replaced while on the road.
 

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for wife, sell salvage yard and rent a car.....if it was me.....top it off, try and drive home, if it dies on the way, sell to salvage yard and rent a car.
 

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Driving 1400 miles on a malfunctioning 05 Pilot transmission? Depends on how much you like your wife. I wouldn't ask my worst enemy to drive 14 miles in a car that's behaving like that. You might get lucky by adding more fluid, but the question is why did it leak in the first place? Where did 9 quarts of fluid go? Into the radiator or onto the ground? Without being able to check it out, I'd be very hesitant to just tell someone to add fluid and start driving very far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Driving 1400 miles on a malfunctioning 05 Pilot transmission? Depends on how much you like your wife. I wouldn't ask my worst enemy to drive 14 miles in a car that's behaving like that. You might get lucky by adding more fluid, but the question is why did it leak in the first place? Where did 9 quarts of fluid go? Into the radiator or onto the ground? Without being able to check it out, I'd be very hesitant to just tell someone to add fluid and start driving very far.
Good point. I replaced the radiator last year, as a preventative measure. The old one was fine, New one is a Denso OEM, doubtful it failed. I wish I could be there to diagnois it, but I'm 1400 miles away. I THINK it developed a leak, lost fluid, overheated, and burned clutches. Why? Dunno.
 

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Since it’s your wife who is 1400 miles away from home I wouldn’t chance it. I think you’re better off ditching it and having her rent a car for the return trip. If she were a lot closer to you, or if you were onsite, that would be a lot different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So I was able to talk more to the shuttle driver, to get an idea of the symptons, and to my local Honda specialist (not the dealer). What it sounds like is there is a leak. The shuttle driver added some fluid, the car drove fine, but then began to have symptons again. They were checking the fluid level with the engine running, which gave them an incorrect reading. It did not overheat.
My theory is that the low fluid level is causing shifting issues. It will be tested in the morning with more fluid, checking the level with the engine off. If it shifts ok with the proper fluid level, I'll just have her drive home and check the fluid level every 100 miles. PITA but these things happen.
 

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Why not just have her drive to the nearest Honda dealer. They can figure out pretty quickly what the next course of action would be. Then, depending on what’s more affordable they could stay while the car is being fixed, fly home or rent a car and drive home. Or trade it in and buy a shiny new Pilot at the dealer!
 

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Get the transmission issue evaluated locally for a safe trip home for everyone. Topping up the transmission fluid every time it starts to fail is ludicrous especially 1400 miles away. Odds are not in your favor to limp this Pilot home.
 

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If nothing else, Valvoline MaxLife transmission fluid is reported (by some) to be an acceptable substitute for the Honda fluid, if that is not readily available. Most Walmart stores seem to stock the Valvoline ATF.
MaxLife™ Multi-Vehicle ATF : Product Catalog - Valvoline™

Something to consider is where the worst place on the road, on the drive from ID to AZ, that the transmission could possibly completely fail, and would you want your wife to be stuck there?

Also, your Pilot is/was due for its second timing belt change about now. If you haven't done it, yet, are you prepared to put the cost of that work - plus whatever it might cost to get the transmission functioning - into this vehicle?

A 2005 Pilot, with that mileage and in its present mechanical condition, might be worth $1-2K, so you wouldn't be losing that much by junking it right now.

If you do want to try to keep the vehicle, maybe find the nearest Honda dealer and have them perform a diagnosis to get an estimate of the cost of repairs.

Another consideration is whether or not you need and can afford to buy a replacement vehicle at this time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If nothing else, Valvoline MaxLife transmission fluid is reported (by some) to be an acceptable substitute for the Honda fluid, if that is not readily available. Most Walmart stores seem to stock the Valvoline ATF.
MaxLife™ Multi-Vehicle ATF : Product Catalog - Valvoline™

Something to consider is where the worst place on the road, on the drive from ID to AZ, that the transmission could possibly completely fail, and would you want your wife to be stuck there?

Also, your Pilot is/was due for its second timing belt change about now. If you haven't done it, yet, are you prepared to put the cost of that work - plus whatever it might cost to get the transmission functioning - into this vehicle?

A 2005 Pilot, with that mileage and in its present mechanical condition, might be worth $1-2K, so you wouldn't be losing that much by junking it right now.

If you do want to try to keep the vehicle, maybe find the nearest Honda dealer and have them perform a diagnosis to get an estimate of the cost of repairs.

Another consideration is whether or not you need and can afford to buy a replacement vehicle at this time.
Interesting, I thought the timing belt was good for 100k miles. It was done at 115k, on schedule. So Im under the impression that it needs to be done at 205-215, we are currently at 162k-ish. I'll have to look into that.

According to the shuttle driver guy, its shifting a little slow (but does he have a comparison?). Its really hard to diagnois at a distance, but for him its running good enough to make the 160 miles to the take out point. There are no dealers nearby, only dirt roads and big mountains.
If I could afford a new car, that would be great, but I am currently unemployed.
 

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Been there. Mine (2003, 145k miles) got really squirrely in central Utah, after a week or so of slow shifts, some odor, and unexplained ATF loss. Here's how I triaged the situation:

1. There was no mechanical service where I was. If the transmission was almost dead, getting a little deader was OK. Every mile closer to somewhere was a mile less if I needed to get towed.

2. I picked a destination based on miles, existence of an independent transmission shop, and terrain. A dealer was way too far. I drove gently, shifted manually, and avoided complete stops - I figured the less frequently it shifted, the better my odds.

3. Once I got the car back to civilization, I had options. In my case, the mechanic told me that the odor and low ATF was from worn clutches slipping and boiling off the fluid. He confirmed this by pulling the solenoids and finding metal debris. He said the slow / hard shifting I had experienced was classic "end of life" for a Honda 5-speed.

I think your plan to top off the fluid and check it regularly is sound as a way out of the wilderness. If your wife is resourceful enough to do an Idaho river trip during high water, she probably won't mind. If the shuttle guy hasn't driven it to the takeout yet, I would pay him to go pick them up in his vehicle and bring them back, rather than get the Pilot that much farther away from help in difficult terrain.

Either way, you should absolutely have your wife drive directly to the closest independent transmission shop and get it checked out before trying to make the drive south. If its just a leak, you're lucky and it will be cheap. As aggrex notes, attempting that whole lot of nothing between ID and AZ isn't a good bet if its something more serious.

Finally, think about your options while you wait. If its a new transmission, that's $4k. Deciding whether to put that $4k into the Pilot or something else isn't something you want to do while you're on the phone with a mechanic.
 

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Interesting, I thought the timing belt was good for 100k miles. It was done at 115k, on schedule. So Im under the impression that it needs to be done at 205-215, we are currently at 162k-ish. I'll have to look into that.
You'll note in the owner's manual that the service interval for the timing belt is shown as every 105K miles OR every 7 years - whichever comes first. How long ago, time-wise, was that timing belt replacement done at 115K?

According to the shuttle driver guy, its shifting a little slow (but does he have a comparison?). Its really hard to diagnois at a distance, but for him its running good enough to make the 160 miles to the take out point. There are no dealers nearby, only dirt roads and big mountains.
If I could afford a new car, that would be great, but I am currently unemployed.
Sounds like trying to limp the Pilot home is your only option.
A temporary option for transmission fluid is DEXRON III, if the Honda fluid (or MaxLife) isn't available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I Had the shuttle guy get max life. Thats what I used for the last tranny service. I did the service, the fluid was worn but not super bad ( I did the first service on our 06 BMW x3, worst looking atf I had ever seen - had 150k miles on the fluid) . He found a small puddle of atf under the car once it was parked overnight. Tells me the leak has to do with heat/pressure, otherwise it would be a large puddle. We have aaa premier towing, good for 200 miles and trip insurance, so as long as she is in the car we can get it towed if it fails. At that point she and the other 3 passengers will figure it out. Yep at 4300 bucks (what my honda guy quoted) its not worth it. I would do the timing belt myself, done a bit of wrench spinning over my years. Biggest thing is there are no other options at this point. No rental cars available for a 30 mile dirt road, the shuttle company will not haul passengers and not enough room in the other vehicles.
So, my Honda specialist tells me it propably ok, just needs fluid (and the leak fixed). Other members here say its in its death throes. Could be either. We are used to this, as we live in in the mountains, usually away from "civilization". Ya just need to be patient and figure it out as ya go along.
 

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No matter what you end up doing with the Pilot, you owe the shuttle driver a really big tip or donation or something. Sounds like the guy had gone way above and beyond what his job duties would normally include.
 

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for wife, sell salvage yard and rent a car.....if it was me.....top it off, try and drive home, if it dies on the way, sell to salvage yard and rent a car.
if it was me, top it off to get out to a garage, fresh fluid change and drive. Assuming no leaks!
 

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I Had the shuttle guy get max life. Thats what I used for the last tranny service. I did the service, the fluid was worn but not super bad ( I did the first service on our 06 BMW x3, worst looking atf I had ever seen - had 150k miles on the fluid) . He found a small puddle of atf under the car once it was parked overnight. Tells me the leak has to do with heat/pressure, otherwise it would be a large puddle. We have aaa premier towing, good for 200 miles and trip insurance, so as long as she is in the car we can get it towed if it fails. At that point she and the other 3 passengers will figure it out. Yep at 4300 bucks (what my honda guy quoted) its not worth it. I would do the timing belt myself, done a bit of wrench spinning over my years. Biggest thing is there are no other options at this point. No rental cars available for a 30 mile dirt road, the shuttle company will not haul passengers and not enough room in the other vehicles.
So, my Honda specialist tells me it propably ok, just needs fluid (and the leak fixed). Other members here say its in its death throes. Could be either. We are used to this, as we live in in the mountains, usually away from "civilization". Ya just need to be patient and figure it out as ya go along.
In this scenario especially, it would definitely be worth it to give AT-205 a try, which really does work great to stop small leaks and rejuvenates seals. Worked for me.

More Information for ATP AT205

Throw a bottle in with the ATF as soon as you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So she is driving it, and no problems so far. She is monitoring the level of the fluid and looking for leaks. At the most recent stop at a gas station, there were no puddles of fluid found.
 

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So she is driving it, and no problems so far. She is monitoring the level of the fluid and looking for leaks. At the most recent stop at a gas station, there were no puddles of fluid found.
Cross fingers and think good thoughts ! Maybe try to send out positive vibrations! All the best!
 

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So she is driving it, and no problems so far. She is monitoring the level of the fluid and looking for leaks. At the most recent stop at a gas station, there were no puddles of fluid found.
MaxLife ATF FTW!
 
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