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2004 Pilot (120K miles), paid $4000, repairs $1800-should i do it?

Hi, i dont know much about cars, just looking to hear other opinions… bought purchased what i thought was a good deal from an auction. (i didn’t go personally, but a trusted friend buys/sells from auctions). so i had my mechanic look at it, and he is estimating about $1800 in repairs. The car also needs a few small things to pass NY inspection as well. The major repairs are: timing belt, water pump, driving belt,front & cam shields, and a few small things like bulbs etc…the person i purchased it from purchased a warranty ($400) that includes engine and transmission problems for the next 90 days. I am trying to get in touch with the company now to see if any of the estimate items are covered. I hope so, or I can at least get a refund as I don’t want to have to move the car to a new mechanic for these repairs.

My questions are:
-Would you recommend fixing these things? Do they add significant life to the vehicle? Or did I just get duped. I was told that the timing belt was OK by two individuals before purchasing. My guess is it doesn’t have visual damage.

-Are you familiar with these types of warranties? Are they bogus? Should I cut my losses?

Interested in getting some other opinions.

What is being recommended here is not repairs but normal scheduled maintenance that maybe little overdue. This is scheduled for every 7 years and it is unlikely that round 2 would have been done on a vehicle that was being traded.

If the timing belt is allowed to go too long and it breaks, it will destroy the engine. This engine has a lot of life left in it so the timing belt service which includes the timing belt, water pump, oil seals, intake manifold gasket, accessory drive belt and valve cover gaskets (and fresh coolant) will protect your investment for at least 7 years as long as the previous owner kept up on oil changes.

You absolutely should do this, however if the first 7 year maintenance was done on schedule, then this is actually due next year so you have a little time.


[quote=“mschristinejames, post:1, topic:103337”]
I was told that the timing belt was OK by two individuals before purchasing.

I can’t see how they can do that because you can’t disassemble auction vehicles.

That $400.00 dollar warranty may be worthless


I’m not sure that purchasing a car in an auction is a good idea, but what is done is done.

I believe the people that told you the timing belt is “fine” were incorrect. You should download the owners manual for this car and you will see that the timing belt replacement is overdue, Unless they removed the belt cover there is no way of doing a visual inspection, but even a visual inspection may not show any obvious damage.

I don’t see anything listed that would be covered under warranty. Timing belt replacement is a recommended maintenance items. I don’t think those things keep you from passing NY inspection. I would be concerned about other things like suspension, brakes, emission and the type of things needed to pass inspection.

You paid pretty much “used” retail value for the car. It has a relatively low mileage, but if it doesn’t run and needs $1.8K in repairs than it’s not a good deal. I doubt, you would be able to sell it again for the moneys you paid for it.

My recommendation is to take it to a mechanic (don’t listen to friends) and get a professional inspection and estimate done to make the car safe and more reliable.

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thank you everyone. your feedback is helpful. i have been wanting this car for a while, and retail in this area was between $6-$7K, so I guess when I factor in the maint. that needs to be done I just about break even. the car runs fine now, but @keith, your explanation was helpful and makes total sense. i will look at as maint. as opposed to repairs. It would have to be done at some point, so might as well do it now. At least I have peace of mind knowing I did it myself and can monitor going forward. since i can’t vouch for the maint. before me being on schedule.

I hope by “did it myself” you mean done by a professional with Honda experience. I have maintained my own and family members cars for over 50 years, changed many timing belts and even done a few engine overhauls, but when our Honda’s were due for that, I took them to the dealer. Its about the only thing I don’t do myself (that and transmission overhauls).

Be sure to get a couple of quotes, that is good business practice. Do get one from a local Honda dealer as well. Many Honda dealers have a package deal for this service that is very competitive and you will be getting it done by someone with a lot of experience doing that service.

Edit: have the transmission fluid checked as well. It should have a drain and fill every 30K. Do not let it get flushed, but using a fluid exchange machine AFTER performing a drain and fill is OK if the ATF was particularly dark or contaminated. Do this only at a Honda dealer as Honda’s use a special ATF and their transmissions don’t like anything else.

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Just be aware that apparently Honda dealer standard practice is to replace the timing belt only, and then replace anything else that “needs to be replaced.” In other words, they’re not going to do the pulleys or even the water pump unless they can physically detect a problem at the time they’re in there. There’s an old thread on here where I was going round and round with a dealership over that issue, because they didn’t replace the pulleys even though I had specifically told them to replace them, whether they thought it was necessary or not.

OP, if they try to sell you that line, remember that if the pulley seizes up, at best it will make the belt jump time and stall the car, and more likely it will break the belt and grenade your engine.

And the water pump should also be replaced no matter what, because even if it’s working fine now, chances are not fantastic that it will make it another 105,000 miles before needing replacement, and to replace it you have to do all the work of the timing belt job, which means you pay for the whole job again.

That list of repairs is nothing to worry about as it’s all pretty much maintenance and normal wear stuff. As for the warranty, those seldom cover repairs like this even on a good day. If it were me, I’d do the repairs. If your mechanic can only find 1800 dollars worth of stuff on a 13 year old auction car then the car must be fairly solid.

One thing you should never do (and this means in the future also) is to listen to someone who tells you the timing belt is good when there are no receipts to prove the timing belt job has been performed.

Also, you generally can’t eyeball a timing belt and determine whether it’s good or not. In some cases it may have obvious dry rot but that’s the exception; not the rule. A timing belt can look as new and break the next day.


What is the safety factor on a timing belt? 90% will not fail at 90k. 80% will not fail at 100k? And so on? Do 50% fail at 150k miles? Honda cannot do real life tests. They do accelerated life tests. I bet though there is a statistical breakdown of what mileage cars come into dealer for broken belts. Which they will not tell customers. Cuz customers would than tend to delay the expense till they felt it was necessary.

@keith That’s precisely what I mean by “did it myself” as opposed to hoping that the previous owner did. So now I can be reassured that it has been done.

All: lesson learned on the timing belt. I’ve even heard as long as it’s not clicking it still has some life. Lol. I now know better

You will not hear any clicking from a timing belt…ready to break.
They go bad without any warning.


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That’s timing chains. As @Yosemite said, you won’t hear any clicking from a timing belt that’s ready to break.

All that stuff is routine maintenance, not a repair. It is indeed sort of expensive, but it has to be done every 7 years or so engines using timing belts. I’d have guessed more around $1000 parts and labor for the timing belt/both cam seals/water pump/ and accessory belts. The other $800 must be for the other minor stuff needing doing to pass the inspection. Since you presumably already own the car, have it all done, and you are good to go. Were I purchasing this car, $4000 seems a little high to me. I’d have probably asked for at least a $500 discount to help cover the expected maintenance it would need. Unless the seller could provide evidence it had already been done. But with auctions, you pay your money and takes your chances I guess.

$1800 (retail) for repairs/maintenance on a 13 year old SUV from an auction (blind purchase) isn’t bad, next time you may not be so lucky. If you bought the same vehicle from a private party for $6000 you could be faced with the same maintenance requirements if you are not assessing the vehicles maintenance requirements, brakes, tires etc before purchase.

That would certainly disrupt the flow of the auction but I could picture that.

A Pilot isn’t a run of the mill vehicle. That’s why you bought it. Yes, do the repairs / maintenance. Warranty probably, no, definitely won’t cover any of the work. Read the engine codes and check for monitor readiness. If all monitors are ready, you can choose my next vehicle. You seem to have good luck and you may be in for a lot more of the good. The best risks are on the cars with the better reputation.

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I would just add that you should check around the timing belt area. If you are lucky, someone put a sticker with the date and miles that it was last changed. Otherwise you have to assume it was never changed.

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Just adding that roughly $350 of the price quoted is for tires and the fees associated with replacing/disposing them. This is for the state inspection part. The timing belt is under $1000. The rest is other small things like bulbs, fluids, oil changes, misc.

They are great vehicle as long as you maintain it, I had a 2009 and I now have a 2015. Get the timing belt done and water pump plus all the tensioners. Then change the trans fluid.

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Cripes that’s cheap. I spend around a grand when it’s time for tires on my Acura. If the T-belt is under $1000 make absolutely sure they’re replacing the pulleys, tensioner, and water pump before you give it the nod. If they are, that’s a pretty great price.

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