Honda's transmissions fail, corporate says "tough luck"...

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(Tim) At times, it's helpful for customers to tell each other the good and bad of customer service. This enables us to make better decisions knowing other customers' experience. I've told the good of Apple Computer. This post is the bad about U.S. Honda.

Mary Lee and I bought a new Honda Odyssey in 2001. About 80,000 miles, the transmission started having trouble shifting. We took it to our dealer and they couldn't reproduce the problem. Once or twice again we had it in but they couldn't find any problem. Then, the transmissioin failed at 111,000. Because the warranty was over, we paid the labor. Because Honda was having a lot of problems with the transmissions on its Odysseys, they paid the parts. A few months later, they acknowledged these transmissions are bad and extended their transmission warranty to 109,000. But despite being only 2,000 miles beyond that limit and having had the car in several times prior to 109,000 with documented shifting complaints, Honda was unwilling to reimburse my labor costs.

This past weekend, Mary Lee, our daughter Michal, and Michal's one-year-old son Zion, made a quick trip to Pittsburgh to do some work cleaning up a relative's house. On the way home, 10 PM Friday night just outside Wheeling WV on I-70, the Odyssey's transmission went out once again and left Mary Lee, Michal, and one-year-old Zion on the side of the road...

I got them into a motel in Wheeling, called a tow truck and had the car delivered to Straub Honda in Wheeling.

By now, the Odyssey has 160,000 miles on it--48,000 on the new transmission. That's two transmissions replaced in 160,000 miles. Read on the internet and you'll find an awful lot of unhappy customers whose Odyssey transmissions have failed.

So I called Honda corporate and asked them to help with the cost and they said "no." They have no obligation. I'm out of warranty so they won't help.

I asked the woman whether she'd buy a car if she knew the transmission would leave her wife, daughter, and grandson stranded by the side of the interstate late Friday night less than 50,000 miles later? She said "But I wouldn't know whether or not the transmission would last beyond 50,000 miles," and I said in this case we do know. Honda's re-manufactured transmission lasted less than 50,000 miles. She said something like that's the way the ball bounces and there's nothing we can do.

Well, after buying a number of Hondas over the years, precisely because of their reliability, I'm one unhappy customer and I want as many people as possible to know this is the way Honda treats its loyal customers. If any of you can help with this, I'd love it. And so would my wife.