2009 Honda Pilot shudder

I will describe as best as I can. You know when you drive over the rumble strip on the edge of the highway, this is exactly how the car feels. The vehicle was well maintained and I’m the original owner. A little history, I was rear ended a few years ago multi car accident and I was the first vehicle the Mercedes C300 behind me was totaled. I only felt a little bump to be honest. The rear bumper had some damage as well as the quarter panel and a flat tire but no damage to the rim.

I think a short time after is when this started but not right after. I’m thinking that the rear diff was damaged, but I’m not sure how the car feels or what does it do when the diff is going bad. The oil in the diff was changed every 30k. The engine and the transmission seem to be fine. This shudder hits around 40 and sometimes at 60 and it is an awful shake and when I let off on the gas it goes away and sometimes comes right back. Some days it doesn’t do it and then some days a lot.

Ive been to a Honda forum and they were clueless. I’ve been on this site for a few years and I know there are a lot of knowable people on this site. Also, the tires and brakes are new.

Thanks for your input.

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40 and 60? Like shift points? My vote is trans issue. Unless u can convince insurance co your trans issue was caused by accident and not typical Honda 8 yr old trans failure.

Such a shame, I was hoping to get to 200k with this vehicle without putting in a lot of money. I had the trans fluid changed every 60k. The dealer said everything is fine and every time I bring it in they keep asking me to sell it to them. The last offer was 10k, I might have to take them up on their offer.

Is it an AWD Car? Was the replacement tire much newer than the other 3?

The higher trim levels(ex-L and touring I think) have cylinder deactivation that occurs when the car is cruising or under a light load. Does you car have an ECO light that comes on while cruising, and does it correspond to the shaking? It could be related to the cylinder deactivation system or the fancy motor mounts that they use to control the increased engine shake while running on fewer cylinders.

Someone finally used and spelled ‘shudder’ correctly as opposed to ‘shutter’ ‘stutter’ or ‘studder’.

If the problem is torque converter shudder, true, that’s a transmission problem, but is often easily solved. The torque converter is supposed to go into “lock” mode around 40 mph, to emulate a standard transmission with the clutch pedal released and the engine directly connected to the transmission, done to improve mpg in automatics. You Honda is an automatic right?

Anyway, sometimes that lock function fails to totally engage and you end up with it locking then unlocking etc and hence the shudder sensation around 40 mph. If that’s it, it can often be fixed without removing the transmission.


When the replacement tire was put on the other 3 tires were fairly new. It’s not the vcm causing any trouble, I bought this little device that won’t let it deactivate the cylinders.

HMMM, What device might that be?

I’m not here to promote anything. I went on a pilot forum and that’s where I found it. This device is great, no more vibration and more power. Before I installed it I was using a little oil and after I put it no more oil usage. Basically it fools the computer by making it think it’s running a few degrees cooler and the vcm only kicks on when the vehicle is up to running temp.

To sgtrock21. I could have wrote breaks instead of brakes, lol

Someone finally used and spelled ‘shudder’ correctly as opposed to ‘shutter’ ‘stutter’ or 'studder

While all of the suggestions have been decent ones, I agree with GeorgeSanJose that this is most likely to be a case of a malfunctioning torque converter lockup mechanism. On many transmissions, this can be remedied without opening up the transmission case, but I have to say that I don’t know for sure whether that is true for Honda automatics.

However, what I do know about Honda automatics of that era is that they are more trouble-prone than the automatics on most other makes, so I would strongly suggest that the OP take it to an independent trans shop (NOT a chain-run place like Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or–God forbid–AAMCO) for diagnosis. Even if it turns out that only an external electronic component on the trans needs to be replaced, having the fluid and filter changed would be an extremely good idea, in order to try to extend the life of the transmission.

Since ONLY genuine Honda trans fluid should be used in these transmissions, make sure you remind the trans shop that you don’t want any substitutes, and that you will pay extra for the genuine item.

And, yes, it is nice to see that there are still a few people left who know the difference between a shudder and a “shutter”. Now, if only a few more people knew the difference between “brakes” and “breaks”…


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You might try disconnecting the gadget and see if the problem persists.

I have disabled it and it still does it.

How do you fix torque convertor issues without removing trans? Fix as in replace? Good trick.

“How do you fix torque convertor issues without removing trans?”

If–as I suspect–this is a problem with the torque converter lockup mechanism, it is entirely possible that the solution could be as simple as replacement of the TCC lockup solenoid, which (at least on Accords) is located on the exterior of the transmission case. Is the TCC lockup solenoid on a Pilot also located on the exterior of the trans case? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that it is.

In any event, only a knowledgeable trans specialist will be able to determine whether the “fix” is that simple, or if an overhaul of the trans is necessary.

Thanks for all the replies. I will start looking for a transmission specialist in my area. The pilot is now the third vehicle. It still gets use its great for dump runs, taking the dogs to the park for there walk and I use it more in the winter and leave my GTI in the garage. I really love this vehicle I really took great care of it and it looks like new inside and out.

It was paid off a long time ago and I have only put in maintenance items so far, so if needs something down the road I will just fix it.

Have you tried to see if the problem happens if you disengage overdrive? I think that would help validate a torque converter problem, as it only locks up while in overdrive.

I don’t believe I can disable the overdrive. It’s a 5 speed automatic and the button on the shifter when you push it leaves it in 3rd gear. I have pressed it when going slow through town and it didn’t do the shudder.

You DID lock out overdrive, which would be 5th, and possibly 4th gear. You also probably disengaged torque converter lockup, but some torque converters lock up in the top two gears.