April 30

How Reliable Are Honda Odyssey Vans?



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local here, talking cars with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. They're 17-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. Bernie's an auto expert, and we're going to talk about how reliable are Honda Odyssey vans. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well

Mark: Honda Odysseys, they've been around for a long time, many generations. How are they for reliability?

Bernie: I'd say fair. That's true, they have been around for a long time. The Odyssey, the first generation of Honda Odyssey, started in 1994. It was really basically built on the Honda Accord platform and just an enlarged Honda Accord, bigger than a station wagon, but with the four-cylinder, very reliable vehicle. It's interesting when you look at the Odyssey, every generation just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. I don't know how much bigger they can get, but they just keep getting bigger. Basically in 1999, when the second generation of Odyssey came in, this was a true minivan, with sliding doors and came equipped with a V6 engine, so more powerful and definitely a nicer, more van-like vehicle.

Yes, how are they for reliability? I'd say pretty good, quite good, but there's a few exceptions.

Mark: What are these exceptions?

Bernie: Transmission failures are the big one. It's a pretty well-known issue. Between around 1999, 2003, the transmissions are almost, If you own one of these vans of this vintage, you're guaranteed to have a transmission overhaul. When you get a little newer, there's some issues as well, but they tend to taper off. They got better and better in terms of quality. They address the issue, unlike Dodge Caravans, where they just seem to go on for 20 years with bad transmissions.

There's other complaints with the vehicle. There's some power steering issues, pumps fail. When you get into some of the newer models, in the 2014, there's some jerky transmission issues, which seem, we’ve never actually serviced this particular issue ourselves, but I read a lot up on things. There's valve body issues. These seem to be more simple solutions, valve body repairs, or computer re-flashing.

I'd say overall, that's the major issue. The engines themselves, extremely reliable. The rest of the vehicle is built very well, very high quality. The rest of it is pretty reliable.

Mark: Are there any typical maintenance services required for Honda Odysseys?

Bernie: Certainly regular oil changes, and especially when you get into the newer engines that don't have timing belts, this is more critical than ever. We talk about this a lot. Change the oil. The variable valve timing systems use very narrow passageways. They're very prone to sludge damage, so if sludge gets in the passageways, it blocks it, blocks the oil flow. Similarly, if you don't check your oil regularly, and the oil gets too low, it will also cause problems with the valve adjustments, and that will cause your check engine light to come on, and of course, damage and engine wear. Oil changes are the very biggest thing to do. Other than that, fluid changes, transmission flushes on a regular basis, and that kind of thing. Brake life on these vehicles is average. You probably expect about 50,000 kilometres out of a set of brakes. They're all automatic transmission vehicles, so the brakes do wear faster. There's no standard transmission option, so your brakes will wear faster.

Mark: How often is regularly?

Bernie: Sorry Mark, can you say that again?

Mark: How often is regularly?

Bernie: It depends on what kind of oil you have. The earlier vehicles, they use just a regular oil. Usually about every 5,000 kilometres is good. Newer ones, they use a synthetic oil, so you can go eight to 10, maybe a little longer, depending on your driving. These vehicles, especially when you get into the newer models, they have an oil light reminder, like a smart oil life system. I'm reluctant to follow these, but I've noticed on Honda, they seem to be pretty accurate. When the light comes on and warns you, I think it comes on at 10% or 20% oil life, warns you to do a service, it's usually a good time to do it. The oil is a bit dirty, but not too dirty. Unlike, say, a BMW, when it hits 24,000 kilometres, it looks like tar. I think Honda's got it dialed in to do it at the right time, but without that in place, I'd say on a synthetic vehicle, 10,000 at the most. Regular vehicle, 5,000. One other area, we haven't talked about, timing belts. This is another maintenance item. Timing belts are, all the four-cylinder engine models, so these would be the first generation, all have timing belts. The V6s, up to around, I think it's '05, '06, have timing belts. The recommended interval is 160,000 kilometres, or 100,000 miles, so that's an important thing to do. Once you get into the newer ones, they're all chain-driven, no timing belt to deal with. But change your oil.

Mark: Any last thoughts on the Odyssey?

Bernie: No, overall it's a good van. I think it's a really nice van, very well built, very reliable. Really, the transmission issue is the big thing. If you're buying an early 2000's model year, you might want to make sure someone's had the transmission done. If they haven't had it done, you can expect to do it. Just factor that in the back of your mind when you're looking to buy one.

Mark: Transmission rebuild cost is roughly?

Bernie: I think on that vehicle, it's probably in the $4,000 range, $3,000 to $4,000, depending on who does it, what's done to it.

Mark: There you go, free negotiation tips, if you're looking at an older Honda Odyssey. The guys to see to service your Honda Odyssey in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. They're busy, so you got to book ahead, or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com.

Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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