'06 Honda Odyssey with 120k, never serviced...what would you do?

Just like the topic sez, I have an '06 Odyssey with over 120K miles that has literally never been in the shop. I’ve done regular oil and brakes and filters myself and it’s always run great. But I’m thinking I need to keep it another 5 years so I’m willing to put a few thousand into it to ensure that it will make it that long in good fashion. Just wondering what would others would recommend if I were to have to prioritize. My first thought was timing belt, water pump and maybe the motor mounts since there’s some vibration creeping in. But after that I’m stumped. Any suggestions to keep this baby running to 200K? I should note that I’ve used this car to pull a trailer fairly regularly, but it doesn’t have a tow package, just a normal hitch setup.
Bill in Arlington, VA


Have you EVER had the automatic transmission fluid serviced?

If not, you’ve already drastically shortened its life

Have you ever had the valve lash adjusted? Some Hondas are known to burn valves if you ignore them. For your information, you will never hear a tight valve . . .

The automatic transmission fluid and the timing belt job have absolute priority

This is what I consider a timing belt job:
Timing belt
any and all idler pulleys
timing belt tensioner
front crank seal
cam seals
balance shaft seal (if you have a balance shaft)
water pump . . . might as well do it while the front cover’s off
accessory drive belts . . . you’re taking them off to get to the timing belt, anyways

Might as well do spark plugs while you’re at it . . . probably way overdue by now

Since you tow, you need to adhere to the severe service maintenance schedule

Change the timing belt/tensioner. The water pump should be inspected too. All those seals forgot it. Change the drive belt(s) you remove on the way.

Spark plugs should be changed and potentially have the valve clearance inspected. I would high recommend a Honda/Acura versed mechanic(dealer or independent) here for that inspection.

The transmission fluid if never changed should be changed out 3x to fully remove out all the fluid. You can actually DIY since its a drain fill procedure nothing more.

Friend has same rig. His normal shop did timing belt. No issues. Than he had them do trans drain on next service and he said they really complained about how hard it is to reach rear fill port. Honda put it in a awkward spot. But, ur shop may have no problems.

If you have serviced the car by yourself and nobody else touched it I believe your car would be in tiptop condition. The problem is that if you get it serviced in a garage or repair shop they always mess something up. Sometimes they will overfill, keep something loose, or forget something. So when you have that service done go to a trusted place or expert place. Sometimes they do a 50-50 job. But if you find a good place they will do good.

Good answers all! Normally, if I inherited such a car I would tackle the timing belt, tensioner and water pump first. After that changing the coolant and checking for leaks, checking all hoses, while also replacing the serpentine drive belt. Oil and filter changes are a given, next would be a transmission fluid change, using only Honda fluid.

I would check the brakes but take my time changing the fluid. Spark plugs and an ignition check are in order as well. Plugs should be replaced.

While driving on highways I would carefully watch all the gages for any abnormality.

It’s a credit to Honda that this car still runs well after being neglected for so long!!

These Odyssey transmissions are weak to start with, and as db4690 said, it may already have been severely impaired by lack of service.

And, wow, you’ve used this thing to tow? You’ll be lucky if the tranny doesn’t blow up tomorrow.

Get it serviced with Honda fluid. Don’t let anyone do a transmission “flush.” Drain and fill using only Honda fluid.

Yep, high on my list would be transmission service which should be done every 30K on a Honda. Plugs, wires, timing belt and all that goes along with that, but maybe before spending all that money, you might want to look at trading it.

These are great suggestions, and thanks to all who’ve weighed in. I have done all work that has been done myself, and I should mention I’ve done several coolant changes, brake pads several times, rotors once, plugs and wires once. I’m going to see about the tranny fluid change as that’s the one thing I’ve not done before and seems like a consensus item here. Timing belt, water pump I’ll leave to my trusty shop.

This Honda had been just great to me, and I admit to being conditioned by the good treatment Hondas always give me. My first real car was an '87 Civic Si, bought new, that had 253,000 miles on it when it was stolen. Then had a '96 Accord that hit 200k before a burgeoning family forced me into a van. Neither of those cars gave me a moment’s trouble. Hmmm, wonder what I’ll buy next?

Thanks everyone!

Honda has made a lot of good stuff, but the Odyssey transmission isn’t on that list. You’ve been lucky so far, and you might want to start saving for a rainy day.

Good for you. My suggestion is to follow what the owner’s manual says as far as what needs routine service, and when. My 20 year old/200K Corolla has never been in a shop either. I’m just a driveway diy’er, done all the oil changes, brakes, cooling system, routine service/replacement of transmission and other fluids. Also I’ve serviced the CV joints, replaced the timing belt, replaced the radiator, fixed the starter motor, a few misc electrical fixes. Next up for me is the valve clearance and replacing the fuel filter.


If you plan on doing a valve lash adjustment on your Corolla, you’ll need this valve lash shim kit along with the two tools on the lower left of the page.


Thanks for the info @Tester. I’m approaching this from a positive point of view, hopefully no shims need to be changed. In which case no tools are required other than the measuring gauges, which I already have a set. From what I hear tell from the folks here, a no-shim-required result is unlikely. Still, I’m knocking on wood. On my old VW Rabbit, I checked the valve clearance every 30 K, 5 times, up through 150K of use, and never had to change any of the shims.


Then why bother with the valve lash check if you don’t have the shims and tools on hand to correct the valve lash?


hmm … well, what I’m thinking is I can take off the valve covers, do the measurements, then if I need to re-shim I’ll use my Ford truck until I can gain access to the proper tools.

Just drive the car George.

My 95 Camry made it to 250,000 miles without ever adjusting the valve lash.

The only reason it went to the scrap yard was because the thing was so rusted out it was unsafe to drive.


I keep hearing to only use Honda ATF. Why. All manufactures are required by federal law to allow other fluids that meet their specifications to be used and meet all warranty requirements. It seems that a synthetic ATF oil would perform better than a conventional ATF… It is true that changing the ATF fuid is as critical as changing the engine oil. The cost of repairing either one is the same. On top of that towing is considered severe service on the engine and the transmission. In 2006 the Odyssey is rated for trailer towing ONLY if the required coolers are added - something they did not tell me when I purchased the car.

If you want to use a different fluid you can choose to do so, but read this first, then pick your poison:

re: “Just drive the car, forget about valve lash” … @Tester … good advice, certainly would have worked on my VW Rabbit, but for the Corolla my motivation is an emissions problem. The engine runs just fine as it is. But the Corolla just barely passed the HC part of the emissions test last time, and the next test is due soon. I’ve heard that improper valve clearance can result in higher than normal HC’s. So I want to get a heads-up on the valve clearance before taking the test.

Update: ordered a bunch of Honda DW-1 ATF today, gonna do the job this weekend if weather allows. Just a couple of gravity changes, nothing fancy. Can’t wait to see what I’ll find on the chip detector. I’ll post back afterwards. Thanks everyone!