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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I have a 2009 Pilot, and as many others have probably experienced, the other day I had a misfire because of the VCM issue I am guessing. The Honda techs said the piston rings would probably have to be replaced to fix that, but for now I just replaced the fouled spark plugs. So here's the thing. We're planning on getting a new daily, but we really want to keep a SUV around. The pilot is still great in other areas for us so far.

But with the approximately $2k going towards the piston ring issue, and in addition maybe another $1k on the steering axle (it's causing some knocking when turning sharp), is it worth it to keep servicing the Pilot? Is it time to let it go?

I am worried the VCM issue will come back soon and the fouled spark plug issue will happen again... What do y'all think?

Input much appreciated!!!

Also, the Pilot has around 107k miles currently.
 

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At 107k miles, you're also looking at timing belt, water pump, and suspension refresh in the near future if you want to keep it running great. Paying someone else to do these jobs is prohibitively expensive. If you can do them yourself, older Pilots are a great value.

If you don't want to do any of the work yourself, sell it, unless you don't need the money and just want a low cost spare vehicle. In that case just drive it until it dies. It might have a lot of life left in it.
 

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Tacoma03Pilot’s advice is spot on. I wouldn’t be inclined to pay the shop a lot of money repairing the Pilot.
 

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Have you changed the plugs yet? If you're just starting to get a misfire, it's still possible that it may just be fouled plugs and new plugs might resolve the issue for now.

I've looked into possible replacements for the Pilot and no new cars come close, especially for the price. I paid $33K for my EXL 4WD RES back in 2011 and any current comparably equipped vehicle is well over $40K. I say fix it and keep driving it another 100K miles, even if you do have to end up getting new rings installed.
 

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Your pilot at 107k miles is just getting broken in lol. I wouldnt trust anything the dealer said. Likely your plugs were fouled because of the vcm. How did the dealer know you needed rings? Did they do a compression or leakdown test? Smoke and mirrors.

Check your oil level, are you burning 1 quart every 1000miles or less? Then maybe you need rings, but I would disable that VCM first and see after. My 2010 pilot with vcm diactivated doesnt burn 1 drop of oil and has good compression on all cylinders.

For that low mileage IMHO its still worth to put some money into it. A timing belt change at a shop will be about 4-5 hundred in labor. However you can do it yourself for half the cost. Download the service manual and watch a few youtube videos, not that hard. Takes a day.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
At 107k miles, you're also looking at timing belt, water pump, and suspension refresh in the near future if you want to keep it running great. Paying someone else to do these jobs is prohibitively expensive. If you can do them yourself, older Pilots are a great value.

If you don't want to do any of the work yourself, sell it, unless you don't need the money and just want a low cost spare vehicle. In that case just drive it until it dies. It might have a lot of life left in it.
Yeah, so because there are other issues than the VCM, DIY probably won't happen. Not really experienced in fixing a steering axle and we don't have a jack or anything to do that. Thanks for the response.
 

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Have you changed the plugs yet? If you're just starting to get a misfire, it's still possible that it may just be fouled plugs and new plugs might resolve the issue for now.

I've looked into possible replacements for the Pilot and no new cars come close, especially for the price. I paid $33K for my EXL 4WD RES back in 2011 and any current comparably equipped vehicle is well over $40K. I say fix it and keep driving it another 100K miles, even if you do have to end up getting new rings installed.
Yes, when the misfire happened, the car was really struggling at idle, so we took it to Honda the same day. They basically replaced all the spark plugs from what I am seeing on the receipt. They also claimed to do a little software update but I don't think it'll change that much. So yes, right now it's running fine, but the other issues are related to the steering axle and there's a small leak at the bottom, and these are some stuff that we can't do DIY because we don't have the space or equipment required to do this.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Your pilot at 107k miles is just getting broken in lol. I wouldnt trust anything the dealer said. Likely your plugs were fouled because of the vcm. How did the dealer know you needed rings? Did they do a compression or leakdown test? Smoke and mirrors.

Check your oil level, are you burning 1 quart every 1000miles or less? Then maybe you need rings, but I would disable that VCM first and see after. My 2010 pilot with vcm diactivated doesnt burn 1 drop of oil and has good compression on all cylinders.

For that low mileage IMHO its still worth to put some money into it. A timing belt change at a shop will be about 4-5 hundred in labor. However you can do it yourself for half the cost. Download the service manual and watch a few youtube videos, not that hard. Takes a day.
Actually, before the misfire happened, I had the maintenance light come on because I needed an oil change. I was confused because I was pretty sure that the oil needed to be changed quite a bit sooner than normal. I feel like I might be burning some oil. As I said in other replies, there are other issues than just the VCM, such as a problem with the steering axle, so these aren't things I can just fix in my garage considering I don't have the equipment. Thanks for your response though!
 

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Yes, when the misfire happened, the car was really struggling at idle, so we took it to Honda the same day. They basically replaced all the spark plugs from what I am seeing on the receipt. They also claimed to do a little software update but I don't think it'll change that much. So yes, right now it's running fine, but the other issues are related to the steering axle and there's a small leak at the bottom, and these are some stuff that we can't do DIY because we don't have the space or equipment required to do this.
With new plugs and the software update, you might be OK. As I said in my earlier post, you're still better off paying to fix the Pilot and keeping it a few more years.

Any new 8 passenger SUV is going to cost you a lot more and still will probably not equal the Pilot in terms of reliability. I'd consider a VW Atlas or Mazda CX-9 but both are 7 seaters, and the CX-9 is much more cramped inside. I haven't driven am Atlas yet but I am not willing to take a chance on VW reliability. The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are pretty interesting, and have 8 seats, and I know they're making great improvents in reliability and longevity, but I'm still not convinced to the point of dropping $35K to test that out.
 

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I had the same thing, the car was using oil about 1 quart per 1000 miles, and at 155K, all the lights went on and a cylinder was dead. Code P303. Replaced all the spark plugs, found the insulator and electrode damaged on cylinder 3. The car has run without a problem since and it now has 205K. It also stopped using so much oil.

I'd replace the spark plugs and hope for the best.
 

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Had the plugs ever been replaced before this time? At 100k, they were due for replacement anyway (along with timing belt, tensioner, water pump, coolant, etc).

Dont fall for the dealer worry wart thing about the VCM / rings. They want to create fear and uncertainty so that you spend money. The worse thing that will happen the rings are bad is that oil consumption will go up and some of the plugs will get fouled more frequently than normal. Plugs cost like $120 for a full set of the best NGK brand ones.

Also consider this scenario - what is the worst that happens if it breaks down? You miss 1 day of work and have to rent a car? Dont worry your life away... from a song ...

What would buying a new car cost you in just sales tax? 5% in most states? $1800 for a mid range new SUV. That pays for a lot of parts. Being car poor is dumb - spending money unneccesarily on a depreciating asset - so many people spending $10000 a year for their entire life to drive a new car and keep up with the Jones (who are broke). Cars now are good for at least 150k and 10 years. Hondas can make it to 200k. I have a 250k, a 179k, and a 14k 2019. Yes I have spent money on repairs and do a lot myself, but $800 a month car note buys a lot of parts and labor.

Signed grumpy middle aged guy :)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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So here's the grumpy old guy counterpoint...

Original poster's question suggests he's inexperienced with analyzing the tradeoffs and risks inherent in the situation. This is not intended as an insult in any way.

OP's comments indicate he's not interested in doing work himself, and would have the vehicle serviced at a dealer.

Vehicle has 107k miles, and even if the rings are fine it will need timing belt, water pump, suspension refresh, probably more in the next 20k miles. That's $4k easily at a dealer. Then there's the other $1k on the undefined steering issue.

OP is already planning to get a new daily driver.

And finally - the only (maybe) qualified person to look at the car is the dealer mechanic that wants to do the rings. Maybe (probably?) its not so bad. But maybe its a mess.

Personally, I agree with all the advice to keep it, assuming you can do the work in your driveway and are willing and able to work on problems as they come up. This Pilot would be a great car to learn on. But that doesn't appear to be what the OP is interested in.

I also agree (strongly) with the comments about how much maintenance a car payment will cover. But its a lot less if you're paying a dealer. i've said several times that I think Honda's strategy for motivating trade-ins on dealer-serviced cars at 100k miles by making normal maintenance expensive is brilliant. For them.

If we take out the "here's what I would do" element and look at what's likely to work well for the original poster, I think there's only two choices, both of which avoid dropping $5k into this Pilot and hoping for the best:

1. Change out the plugs, hang on to it, and see how long it lasts without any significant investment. If it turns out that the motor is fine after a couple of years, consider doing the deferred maintenance. If it dies in a month, oh well.

2. Sell it now while its worth something. If having a Pilot is still attractive, find a nice second-gen that has already had the 100k work done, has fewer question marks on the engine, and go back to trouble-free driving for 50k miles or so. I think there's a good chance that the spread between sell and buy price would be less than the cost of doing the work.
 
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