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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Piloteers,

I just joined this forum, and hoping I can become a more active member if I make this potential purchase. I currently have a 2008 accord, but thats a whole other story/forum and essentially the car is cropping up with some age related issues and is plagued by the vtc actuator grinding noise.

I'm looking at a New England 2003 LX Pilot that looks quite good for it's age. I looked at the car first, and then found the 1st gen buyers guide here (of course, I always seem to do that backward), and It definitely looks like an overall no brainer, but I'm worried I'm missing something.

The good:

66,000 miles with only a 1000 added the past 5 years. It was primarily used as a grocer cart by the most recent owner. It is clean and well kept interior wise. It has had two owners, but has lived in Massachusetts its whole life.​
Silver Paint with some sun damage and a few chips/scratches. The frame has some rust as expected for a 20 yr old car, but the only spot that looked bad was the rear bumper absorber.​
Seemed to shift okay and no shudder at 70 mph.​

The unknowns:

There is no service history. Going by the carfax I can see it was brought into a dealer for the takata airbags, but there is no history of the oil jet addon. Also, running the VIN of this car does not show an open recall for the oil jet mod, but is it because this car is over the 10 year recall? I didn't know to look for the mod on the transmission plug on initial inspection, so I will have to ask to see it again. I'm worried this car slipped through the recall and has had its transmission used this many miles without the mod.​
I doubt the timing belt has been changed since the car is not close to 100,000 BUT its definitely old enough to need one.​

The question:

At an asking price of 3k, should I just run with it? I may be able to ask for 2500 given the unknown service history. This car will replace my daily driver (accord 2008 180k miles), and I have a more "reliable" dodge grand caravan as an alternative car. I don't mind putting another 1500-2kish of work into it (timing belt, radiator, brakes/rotors, POR15 undercoating), but my goal is to have it survive the winter before doing some of the proposed work.​

Thank you everyone that has taken the time to read my post. First posts like these on forums are always hard for me because it feels like i just walked up to a random congregation and loudly pan handled lol. I appreciate any comments and look forward to adding to the overall discussions here.

Happy New Year Everyone!
 

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For that price your risk is pretty minimal I guess.
I would do the timing belt ASAP and change all the fluids and probably the tires as they are likely dry rotted.

Low mileage like that isn’t really a selling point to me. Cars are made to be driven and that car will essentially need new everything. If it’s rubber, assume it Needs to be replaced.

I’ve found that Once a car starts sitting for long periods of time, that’s when things start falling apart.
 

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I think that for the price, it's a good risk if you can poke at the underbody where the rear subframe mount is with an icepick and not go through.

You're rolling the dice on the transmission. Its unknown history is a negative, its low mileage is a positive - most of the transmission failures I recall are in the 140-150k range.

In my opinion, the biggest potential negative on the car is your implied intent to pay someone to do jobs like the timing belt and radiator. I may have misunderstood you on this, but the general opinion among veteran first-gen owners is that unless you're doing a lot of your own work, these are not economical vehicles to own.

If there's no rust underneath, you pass the "Self Check" in the buyer's guide, and you're willing to take the risk of a $4k hit for a rebuilt transmission, it sounds like a winner.
 

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The post above mentions rear subframe rust. This is a significant issue in a Pilot from a road salt state. Check the rear subframe mounts, and the drivers side seems to go first. If your Pilot looks good underneath, then you can move on to consider the mechanical health of the vehicle.
 

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Hello Piloteers,

I just joined this forum, and hoping I can become a more active member if I make this potential purchase. I currently have a 2008 accord, but thats a whole other story/forum and essentially the car is cropping up with some age related issues and is plagued by the vtc actuator grinding noise.

I'm looking at a New England 2003 LX Pilot that looks quite good for it's age. I looked at the car first, and then found the 1st gen buyers guide here (of course, I always seem to do that backward), and It definitely looks like an overall no brainer, but I'm worried I'm missing something.

The good:

66,000 miles with only a 1000 added the past 5 years. It was primarily used as a grocer cart by the most recent owner. It is clean and well kept interior wise. It has had two owners, but has lived in Massachusetts its whole life.​
Silver Paint with some sun damage and a few chips/scratches. The frame has some rust as expected for a 20 yr old car, but the only spot that looked bad was the rear bumper absorber.​
Seemed to shift okay and no shudder at 70 mph.​

The unknowns:

There is no service history. Going by the carfax I can see it was brought into a dealer for the takata airbags, but there is no history of the oil jet addon. Also, running the VIN of this car does not show an open recall for the oil jet mod, but is it because this car is over the 10 year recall? I didn't know to look for the mod on the transmission plug on initial inspection, so I will have to ask to see it again. I'm worried this car slipped through the recall and has had its transmission used this many miles without the mod.​
I doubt the timing belt has been changed since the car is not close to 100,000 BUT its definitely old enough to need one.​

The question:

At an asking price of 3k, should I just run with it? I may be able to ask for 2500 given the unknown service history. This car will replace my daily driver (accord 2008 180k miles), and I have a more "reliable" dodge grand caravan as an alternative car. I don't mind putting another 1500-2kish of work into it (timing belt, radiator, brakes/rotors, POR15 undercoating), but my goal is to have it survive the winter before doing some of the proposed work.​

Thank you everyone that has taken the time to read my post. First posts like these on forums are always hard for me because it feels like i just walked up to a random congregation and loudly pan handled lol. I appreciate any comments and look forward to adding to the overall discussions here.

Happy New Year Everyone!
This Pilot is 19 years old, and only has 66,000 miles….really?

Perhaps it’s a garage queen, owned by the little old lady who only went to church on Sunday.
Or maybe not.
No Carfax info?

I don’t want to bring you down. Maybe this is a great deal. Or maybe not.
Sorry to just keep saying “maybe not”. It’s not possible to check out your Pilot over the Internet.
Be smart, if you need a second opinion, bring it in to a good independent mechanic for a check.
All the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thank you everyone for the helpful advice!

in regards to my comfort level or personal skill, I have not ever changed a timing belt, but i do not fear it or feel its too daunting. i have access to a mechanic that charges me a friend/family rate and certain tasks i simply cannot pass up giving to him to save the hassle. In the past I have changed starters, alternators, pads/rotors.

So I believe this will be following gameplan:​
I will check the frame for excessive rot/rust especially the subframe mounts.​
I need to visually confirm the oil jet mod is present.​
If these two checkout, and I can get it down to 2500 USD, I think I will be driving away with it tomorrow.​

For ppl that may not know, I just found out you can register the VIN of your honda on their website and it will show all the dealer network work that has been on the car. It gave me more info than a carfax; unfortunately, it did not show any transmission work.

Also, I am under the assumption this recall which was supposed to be for all 2003 Pilots is now not valid? I couldn't actually drive this near 20 year old car into dealer service for the recall could i? (mind blown if i could)

This is the VIN: 2HKYF18113H532336

It looks like this car was mfd by Honda Canada, but i dont think it matters? running it through honda.com VIN check comes up with just the airbag recall.

Thanks everyone for the input this has been a huge help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This Pilot is 19 years old, and only has 66,000 miles….really?

Perhaps it’s a garage queen, owned by the little old lady who only went to church on Sunday.
LOL, it actually is a sale from a friend of a friend from my church group :) It truly does have that low miles, but she's second owner. Looking at the carfax I had it has 65185 when she purchased it in 2017. So approximately 65k in 14 years and less than 1k in the last 4 years. I do believe her when she said she only used it for grocery runs. Unfortunately, it wasn't garaged. The UV damaged paint needs a little love.

I very much appreciate the skepticism. I was fool hardy into getting a chevy astro awd 2004 without properly checking it out. at 1000 usd, I didn't even flinch at the thought of it being a junker. Well 2 weeks later i scrapped it for 500 back...the box frame was dangerously rotten. live and learn.
 

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thank you everyone for the helpful advice!

in regards to my comfort level or personal skill, I have not ever changed a timing belt, but i do not fear it or feel its too daunting. i have access to a mechanic that charges me a friend/family rate and certain tasks i simply cannot pass up giving to him to save the hassle. In the past I have changed starters, alternators, pads/rotors.

So I believe this will be following gameplan:​
I will check the frame for excessive rot/rust especially the subframe mounts.​
I need to visually confirm the oil jet mod is present.​
If these two checkout, and I can get it down to 2500 USD, I think I will be driving away with it tomorrow.​

For ppl that may not know, I just found out you can register the VIN of your honda on their website and it will show all the dealer network work that has been on the car. It gave me more info than a carfax; unfortunately, it did not show any transmission work.

Also, I am under the assumption this recall which was supposed to be for all 2003 Pilots is now not valid? I couldn't actually drive this near 20 year old car into dealer service for the recall could i? (mind blown if i could)

This is the VIN: 2HKYF18113H532336

It looks like this car was mfd by Honda Canada, but i dont think it matters? running it through honda.com VIN check comes up with just the airbag recall.

Thanks everyone for the input this has been a huge help!
I had a 2003 with the oil jet mod. If your Pilot never had this mod, it would be in the junkyard. To verify that your Pilot has this, you need to find the transmission fill plug. If you see a pipe coming out of the fill plug, and connecting to the external filter, then you have the oil jet mod. This is why I had to use the transmission dipstick tube to refill the transmission when I serviced the ATF.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I had a 2003 with the oil jet mod. If your Pilot never had this mod, it would be in the junkyard. To verify that your Pilot has this, you need to find the transmission fill plug. If you see a pipe coming out of the fill plug, and connecting to the external filter, then you have the oil jet mod. This is why I had to use the transmission dipstick tube to refill the transmission when I serviced the ATF.
i did not realize this recall was so crucial. If by chance it truly does not have the mod, should I steer clear of this vehicle in your opinion?
 

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In my opinion, any 2003 that was not modded by Honda is probably junk. The transmission required improved lubrication, and the oil jet is what Honda came up with. Your Pilot probably has the mod.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
In my opinion, any 2003 that was not modded by Honda is probably junk. The transmission required improved lubrication, and the oil jet is what Honda came up with. Your Pilot probably has the mod.
Thank you for the advice. Will definitely confirm it my second look. Again, I wish I read the buyers guide BEFORE seeing the vehicle and driving it around.

This community is amazing :D
 

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Thank you for the advice. Will definitely confirm it my second look. Again, I wish I read the buyers guide BEFORE seeing the vehicle and driving it around.

This community is amazing :D
If you are in doubt about this transmission lube jet issue, then I would encourage you to bring the vehicle to a Honda dealer and have their shop look at it. If this 2003 Pilot is in good shape, then you may have found a real bargain. All the best!
 

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Will definitely confirm it my second look
The attached pic is what the transmission recall / repair should look like. Basically it addressed the problems caused by a lack of ATF (trans fluid) to specific internal gears. Not all VIN # vehicles were included in the recall /repair and it’s possible some owners never experienced an issue. There is a chance that the local Honda dealer may work with you to get the recall/repair done. Otherwise IMO the out of pocket expense for the recall/ repair should be reasonable.
 

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Not all VIN # vehicles were included in the recall /repair and it’s possible some owners never experienced an issue. There is a chance that the local Honda dealer may work with you to get the recall/repair done.
I've only got one data point on the recall - my transmission had it and still died at 155k. It's no silver bullet.

I don't disagree with anything that's already been said, but for 3k in this market, I would probably do it if there's no rust. If you get 30k miles before something craters, you're still looking at cheap transportation. If you get less and have to replace the transmission, you'll be good for 100k if you maintain it well - still cheap transportation.

The lack of the recall could be good leverage for the price drop you're looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you so much everyone. The first step of my journey has been completed :D

I got the car for 2500 usd. I am very happy. I need to update with more pictures in a later post as it is getting dark. I was able to visually confirm the oil jet mod and see that the subframe connection is in decent shape. Also, prior to the visual confirm of the oil jet mod, I was able to call up a dealership that had worked on the car in the past, and they were able to see that the transmission recall was done at some point in its life (not by that particular dealership).

The rust is as expected, but overall the critical bits seem fine by me. Nothing is tender or rotten aside from the rear bumper support. It looks like an 80 dollar part, so I am not too concerned. Paint is relatively okay with some slight chipping/flaking from rust near the quarter panel rear fender area.

The car has almost 67000 miles on it, and I hope to add many more years to it. I will be letting go of my Accord 2008 with 180000 miles on it. I find it funny. but I truly feel like this is an upgrade :)

First order of business will be the timing belt and fluid changes all around. come spring time I will lift it up and take out as much rust before I POR15 it.

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Lived in N TX my whole life- so take this with a grain of salt (heh heh) but that looks like a lot of rust on that frame mount, no?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Lived in N TX my whole life- so take this with a grain of salt (heh heh)
BOOOOOOOooooooooo…..slow clap of acknowledgement :p

i think my expectations have been tempered with being a new englander (massachusetts) Most of the critical areas have surface deep rust and i believe as long as i do my share of preventative maintenance i expect to have this vehicle for some time. Being that it had almost 20 yrs to rust together, i assume every nut amd bolt will need penetrating lubricant and a torch haha.
 

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Late to the party but I will add my 2 cents for what it is worth.

Everyone should have a trusted mechanic, even the most avid DIYer. I would start there. Take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic and have them check it out from top to bottom. My mechanic charges about $50 to perform a good examination of the vehicle from top to bottom, not just mechanically, but structurally as well. Even if your not spending several thousands on the vehicle you are still looking at purchasing and maintaining the vehicle.

I would never buy a house without having it inspected by a qualified home inspector and I wouldn't buy a used car without having it inspected by a trusted mechanic.
 

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Thank you so much everyone. The first step of my journey has been completed :D

I got the car for 2500 usd. I am very happy. I need to update with more pictures in a later post as it is getting dark. I was able to visually confirm the oil jet mod and see that the subframe connection is in decent shape. Also, prior to the visual confirm of the oil jet mod, I was able to call up a dealership that had worked on the car in the past, and they were able to see that the transmission recall was done at some point in its life (not by that particular dealership).

The rust is as expected, but overall the critical bits seem fine by me. Nothing is tender or rotten aside from the rear bumper support. It looks like an 80 dollar part, so I am not too concerned. Paint is relatively okay with some slight chipping/flaking from rust near the quarter panel rear fender area.

The car has almost 67000 miles on it, and I hope to add many more years to it. I will be letting go of my Accord 2008 with 180000 miles on it. I find it funny. but I truly feel like this is an upgrade :)

First order of business will be the timing belt and fluid changes all around. come spring time I will lift it up and take out as much rust before I POR15 it.

View attachment 155759 View attachment 155760 View attachment 155761
That subframe mount isn’t coming loose just yet, but I speak from experience when I say that it will probably pull loose within a couple of years. I hope that you prove me wrong. Keep an eye on it every few months. At the low price that you paid, you should get your money’s worth out of the car.
 

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BOOOOOOOooooooooo…..slow clap of acknowledgement :p

i think my expectations have been tempered with being a new englander (massachusetts) Most of the critical areas have surface deep rust and i believe as long as i do my share of preventative maintenance i expect to have this vehicle for some time. Being that it had almost 20 yrs to rust together, i assume every nut amd bolt will need penetrating lubricant and a torch haha.
Not a surprising amount of rust for a New Englander Pilot. The rear subframe crossmember appears mostly intact and can use some treatment. Condider some rust preventative treatments to slow /stop the process would be prudent. Do some research on fluidfilm or Por-15 type agents that have been used.
 
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