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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Oh my. Ok, so the backstory is my father purchased a 2008 Honda Pilot last summer with the intention of catching up the routine maintenance and passing the vehicle to me and I would repay him at a later date. He ended up going above and beyond with replacing a plethora of things (see attached photos).

He drove the car from Florida to NC and almost immediately I begin having issues. First, VSA light flashing on and shutting the car down. This happened to me 3 times in a row one day whilst trying to merge onto the interstate. Scary! Then, the smell. Not always, but occasionally when accelerating an exhaust smell will flood the cabin. Thirdly, and most recently, oil leaking onto the driveway.

We brought it into the Honda dealership and ultimately they said that most likely my dad didn’t install the timing belt correctly and it has lead to this chain of events. See attached for the issues they noted. They believe repairing these things will address the VSA issue and also the smell. But, didn’t seem definitive on that either.

I would like opinions on whether or not it is worth it to make this $2,400 fix and possibly solve all of this or call it a $5,000 loss.

Thank you for any and all insight!
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Ok, after your edit this makes more sense.

You have a good car with a lot of regular maintenance up to date. That's worth something.

Drive axles can leak. They are not hard to replace.... you should be able to crawl under there and take pictures if you need confirmation. Usually they leak due to a tear in the protective rubber boot.

$436 to replace valve cover gaskets is high in my opinion. Assuming they will replace all the intake plenum gaskets, the valve cover gaskets, and the bolt head gaskets.... if you were handy, you could do this yourself. But if not then the repair is not out of line.

I have a hard time believing your dad put on a timing belt misaligned, then drove from Florida to NC. That makes very little sense. The check engine lights would have fired on him immediately, and I'm not even sure the engine would run well enough to make that trip. That part sounds crazy. I'd probably want a confirmation that the engine is out of time. The fact that they say "start with Timing belt replacement" leads me to believe they might have to start there, and then continue troubleshooting.

However, if the Honda dealer definitively determined that the cam is out of time, then he installed the belt wrong, or it jumped time. In either case, a timing belt job is needed. The labor involved to fix this issue is the same as doing a full belt job. You can trust the parts he put on, and just have it aligned correctly, or install new parts. Do you know what kit he used? In order for Honda to warranty their work, they are going to want to install new Honda OEM parts. If the vehicle needed a timing belt, then the only thing you are out, is your dad's parts cost and his time. It needs to be fixed right. I just find it difficult to believe he drove the car while it was out of time, and you have driven it, and the Check Engine light was not on the entire time.

And remember - repairs are always cheaper than a car payment.... and you should budget $1000 per year in maintenance for any used car. Once you handle all the outstanding issues, it will be a very reliable vehicle. How many miles are on it?
 

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The work your dad did sounds solid. It has nothing to do with any of the other problems. Anyone who said the timing belt work had any impact on valve cover gasket leaks is an idiot.

You have a good car with a lot of regular maintenance up to date. That's worth something.

Drive axles can leak. They are not hard to replace.... you should be able to crawl under there and take pictures if you need confirmation. Usually they leak due to a tear in the protective rubber boot.

$436 to replace valve cover gaskets is high in my opinion. Assuming they will replace all the intake plenum gaskets, the valve cover gaskets, and the bolt head gaskets.... if you were handy, you could do this yourself. But if not then the repair is not out of line.

What is $2400 ??? I only see a axle and gaskets for $942 ?

Additionally, unless you are leaving out some other repairs - this wont fix the VSA light. What did they say the repair for that is?

And remember - repairs are always cheaper than a car payment.... and you should budget $1000 per year in maintenance for any used car. Once you handle all the outstanding issues, it will be a very reliable vehicle. How many miles are on it?
I added the other repairs, sorry. I thought I had everything ?

179,380

My dad said everything was dry and fine with the boot but acknowledged that these things do tear and need replacement.

Unfortunately we are not handy and my dad lives out of state or he would help. My concern with shopping around for a better price we might run into some shadiness and just keep dumping more money in.
 

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What did he say about their diagnosis that it is out of time? Did he have the Check Engine light on his trip, and did it run poorly for him/you?

With 180000 miles, I'd probably add a valve adjustment.... they are already going to have the covers off and the labor should be less than $100 more in my opinion.

You could take this work to a lower cost shop.... but if you don't already have a shop you trust, then I pretty much would stick with a Honda dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
[/QUOTE]
I added the other repairs, sorry. I thought I had everything ?

179,380

My dad said everything was dry and fine with the boot but acknowledged that these things do tear and need replacement.

Unfortunately we are not handy and my dad lives out of state or he would help. My concern with shopping around for a better price we might run into some shadiness and just keep dumping more money in.
Ok, after your edit this makes more sense.

You have a good car with a lot of regular maintenance up to date. That's worth something.

Drive axles can leak. They are not hard to replace.... you should be able to crawl under there and take pictures if you need confirmation. Usually they leak due to a tear in the protective rubber boot.

$436 to replace valve cover gaskets is high in my opinion. Assuming they will replace all the intake plenum gaskets, the valve cover gaskets, and the bolt head gaskets.... if you were handy, you could do this yourself. But if not then the repair is not out of line.

I have a hard time believing your dad put on a timing belt misaligned, from Florida to NC. That makes very little sense. The check engine lights would have fired on him, and I'm not even sure the engine would run well enough to make that trip. That part sounds crazy. I'd probably want a confirmation that the engine is out of time. The fact that they say "start with Timing belt replacement" leads me to believe they might have to start there, and then continue troubleshooting.

However, if the Honda dealer definitively determined that the cam is out of time, then he installed the belt wrong, or it jumped time. In either case, a timing belt job is needed. The labor involved to fix this issue is the same as doing a full belt job. You can trust the parts he put on, and just have it aligned correctly, or install new parts. Do you know what kit he used? In order for Honda to warranty their work, they are going to want to install new Honda OEM parts. If the vehicle needed a timing belt, then the only thing you are out, is your dad's parts cost and his time. It needs to be fixed right. I just find it difficult to believe he drove the car while it was out of time, and you have driven it, and the Check Engine light was not on the entire time.

And remember - repairs are always cheaper than a car payment.... and you should budget $1000 per year in maintenance for any used car. Once you handle all the outstanding issues, it will be a very reliable vehicle. How many miles are on it?
The check engine light was on at time of purchase. My dad felt he would be able to troubleshoot it and make repairs as he has been working on cars for 40 years now (not by trade, but rather lengthy practice). The light comes and goes it’s like a gremlin lives in the engine.?? It will run for days with the light off saying I’m in eco mode and pop back on. The VSA issue did not occur until he was already up here with the car. I should also note he drove around where he lives for about a month with the car seeing how everything was running.

Looking at all of his notes and paperwork and he used Carquest by Dayco for the timing belt kit. Honda said something about all the oil that is on it now makes it unusable and needs to be replaced. Is this true or just a money making decision on their part?

Pilot has 179k miles on it.

Unfortunately Honda didn’t reassure us that anything was definitive which is why we are at a crossroads. If we pay for this total investment in 6 months will be at $7,400. Definitely could have gotten something more reliable for that price range. We bought it for $3k, dad put $2k.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What did he say about their diagnosis that it is out of time? Did he have the Check Engine light on his trip, and did it run poorly for him/you?

With 180000 miles, I'd probably add a valve adjustment.... they are already going to have the covers off and the labor should be less than $100 more in my opinion.

You could take this work to a lower cost shop.... but if you don't already have a shop you trust, then I pretty much would stick with a Honda dealer.
I haven’t talked to him today since we picked it up. I feel awful about the whole thing. He thought he was helping us out with this car and he put so much into it. I just need to call and troubleshoot with him again.

He said it was running fine and it did run fine for us for maybe a week once it was here. The best way I know to describe it is...when you drive stick and you are slow to shift gears. It just studders.

I see in his notes he also purchased valves. Not sure if they are the same ones you mention or not.

Thank you so much for all of this information! Really appreciate it!

Anymore insight into the VSA thing? Would the timing belt have any effect?
 

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Quick responses:

Don’t worry about the VSA light - that comes on when there is a significant engine trouble code which you do have from the P0339 and P0344, etc codes. The engine computer disables the VSA when something weird is going on with the engine.

From the codes and the write up - found engine mechanical timing is off on bank 2, etc. Something is wrong with the engine timing which would have come from the timing belt replacement. You need to have the timing corrected which means a timing belt replacement job (since you have do all the same work, just go ahead and replace parts while in there). This issue has to be be fixed for the engine to operate correctly. Ask them to make sure they replace the “timing belt tensioner” while they are in there. Can’t explain it being good driving from Florida, but if the timing is off, it ain’t gonna fix itself.

Valve cover gasket leak probably needs to be fixed depending on how bad it is - sounds bad from service writeup.

Drive axles: yes, 180k miles is about the right time for failure for the passenger side axle (same on my 06 pilot).

At that age Pilot, you might expect a radiator replacement being needed soon, and an alternator replacement soon too. Good vehicles overall, 180k miles and still on the road. I have an 06 Pilot that has 252k miles.

As far as the costs, ask around and see if you can find an independent shop that specializes in Honda or does a lot of Honda work. We have two good ones in my mid sized city. They will be somewhat lower on labor cost, but not a huge amount. I would expect around $800 for the timing belt job by a high quality shop.
 

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Looking at all of his notes and paperwork and he used Carquest by Dayco for the timing belt kit. Honda said something about all the oil that is on it now makes it unusable and needs to be replaced. Is this true or just a money making decision on their part?
That is absolutely true. If any oil got on the belt it will be ruined quickly, and destroy the engine. That said, I doubt leaking valve covers are getting oil into the timing area. HOWEVER, I am not a huge fan of the Dayco kits, and if your Dad was not super methodical about torque values and some bolts that should be replaced, then I'd absolutely want that off and have Honda do it right to make sure it will be a lasting job. These engines need some special care, and they will last a long time. But one broken idler pulley bolt and it's all over.

Unfortunately Honda didn’t reassure us that anything was definitive which is why we are at a crossroads. If we pay for this total investment in 6 months will be at $7,400. Definitely could have gotten something more reliable for that price range. We bought it for $3k, dad put $2k.
So, I agree with you.... however walking away will be more expensive.

What I would do - is ask the Honda dealer if you can hold the other two jobs (drive axle and valve covers) and just fix the timing belt issue, ensuring there will be no additional cost (they will stick to those quotes) and see if that resolves the check engine light/VSA/timing issue completely. That way if there is a different issue here, you don't have to pay for those other things.

If it does, then it makes sense to address the other problems and you are good. You are right, that a $7400 initial investment could have gotten you something more reliable and lower miles, but it too would need maintenance. Once you buttom up the majority of these known issues, you should be good for a while.
 

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I see in his notes he also purchased valves. Not sure if they are the same ones you mention or not.
Was the Pilot running when you bought it? If he bought valves then I am assuming maybe it had a broken timing belt and he had to remove one or both heads.
 

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Was the Pilot running when you bought it? If he bought valves then I am assuming maybe it had a broken timing belt and he had to remove one or both heads.
She is likely referring to the PCV Valve, I don't think there was any head work done.
 
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