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Advice needed about 3rd gen Honda Odyssey

Our family of 4 is upgrading from a Civic to an Odyssey because we’re having a hard time crowding in! I have been researching the Odyssey for a couple of weeks now and at this point all I feel is confused. Our price range will allow us to buy a used 3rd generation with 100-150k miles. I have read so many varying descriptions stating that some years should be avoided altogether (2007 tranny problems?) but other things I’ve read said that by 100k miles any major defects should have outed. Are there years to avoid? I’m not as concerned with bells and whistles but mechanical reliability. Is there any difference in this regard that would make it worth it to pay a few extra hundred for a touring trim? Also, I’m checking to make sure service records indicate a timing belt service. Are there other things I should watch for in terms of service that should have been done at this mileage?

Thank you in advance for the help!

I’ve owned two good Hondas (CRX and CRV) but I would not recommend any Odyssey. The transmissions are just not reliable. Why not look at another make/model van that won’t have this problem?

What is your budget? That will help us make suggestions.

Up to $15,000. We often take other passengers and so we really need the 8th seat. I’ve looked at the Sienna, but I’ve never owned Toyotas.

It may be time for you to look at a Toyota Sienna.

In my area you can get a nice low miles 2008 Sienna for under $15k.

I agree. Our daughter had an Odessey which they really enjoyed but have transmission problems at 100k. They bought a used Sienna. Toyota transmissions have generally very good reliability. I would go with them. Toyotas are pretty consistent with their reliability. They lack some of the driving attributes of Hondas but are a long time best seller with the Odessey for vans for good reason. Both are good, but used, a Toyota van is a safer bet

I believe the Sienna has a timing chain that wouldn’t necessarily get replaced? Is there anything I should look for as far as maintenance history with the Sienna?

Read the consumer reviews in the link I posted above and check for any problems mentioned there. Some owners reported corroded AC lines in this model year. And download Toyota’s recommended service chart for periodic maintenance and check the records of any used Sienna against it to see that it was serviced as recommended.

My wife’s 2006 Sienna was the last year with a timing belt on the 3.3L V6, 2007 and later use a 3.5L V6 with a timing chain. We would have no trouble recommending a Sienna, my cube neighbor at work has an 03 Odyssey and I believe it is on its third transmission.

Ed B.

I understand that early 2000s Odysseys had transmission problems, but I think they were sorted out by 2005. The big thing is to make sure that the transmission fluid was changed every 30,000 to 40,000 miles and replaced with Honda automatic transmission fluid. Also, have a mechanic you trust do a pre-purchase inspection to make sure all systems function satisfactorily, including the transmission.

Yeah, Odysseys seem to have a higher than normal failure rate for transmissions, but I don’t know how relevant that is when you’re looking at buying a car that has 150,000 miles on it. One way to look at it is that it may already have had the transmission replaced. Another way to look at it is that by 150,000 miles you can expect some major items to fail regardless of maintenance history.

Look for a clean, well-maintained (verifiable) vehicle that fits your family and is comfortable to drive. Don’t limit yourself to Odysseys. Siennas are fine minivans as well. The Chevy Uplander has always gotten short shrift

In addition to a history of transmission problems, Odysseys also have a history of motor mount and transmission mount problems. I can’t give you the exact model years for that problem, but I know that it has been a significant problem with certain model years of the Odyssey.

“The Chevy Uplander has always gotten short shrift”

I agree

The Uplander . . . which is no longer around . . . used proven technology

I understood, as @jtsanders‌ does, that the transmission problems that plagued Odysseys, are behind them.

Thank you VERY much for all of the advice and perspectives. It’s a huge help to us! I’m having trouble finding a lot of Siennas that have the 8th seat. We were looking at the Odyssey and Sienna because of the reputations of Hondas and Toyotas being reliable brands. In our price range we could also get much lower mileage, newer vans in other brands. Is it in our best interest to be brand conscious, or should we shift our attention to mileage? Also, we will soon have three kids under the age of five, so a minivan seemed more convenient as far as getting the kids in and out of the car and hauling strollers, etc, but if we can get more for our money buying an SUV we are open. The gas mileage on the Odyssey certainly seemed better than all the competition, however.

The Touring trim of the Odyssey comes with the michelin PAX runflat tire/wheel that was also used on such cars as the Rolls Royce Phantom. I’m not sure how easy it is to get tires for the touring but the EX-L would come with regular tires and a full size spare. A co worker recently said goodbye to her 2002ish Odyssey and bought a new Subaru Impreza (the transmission replacement would have been close to the market value of the van)
Consider the Nissan Quest and the Kia/Hyundai minivans.

“The Chevy Uplander has always gotten short shrift”

I agree. I owned a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander and found it to be a very reliable vehicle. We sold it to our son who now has about 125,000 miles on the Uplander and it has had no major problems. I replaced the Uplander with a 2011 Sienna. It does well, but it is a toss-up at this point as to which is the better minivan.
When I read Consumer Reports, minivans don’t seem to have the reliability of the sedans which share the same chassis as the minivans. If you are buying a used minivan, I think the condition and maintenance of the minivan that fits your needs is probably more important than the nameplate on the minivan.


That was a very expensive mistake, in hindsight

I seem to recall that Mercedes-Benz used this for a short time, and it was a major headache.

@db4690 I wasn’t aware of Mercedes using the system but it’s possible. It’s a version of what armored cars have used. I talked a co-worker out of buying a Odyssey Touring because it would be more of a hassle than she really wanted.

Definitely avoid the PAX runflat tires used on Touring models from 2005-2009. They work with a special wheel, which only works with PAX tires. Michelin abandoned work on the system a few years ago, though tires are still available at exorbitant prices. A quick search turned up that Nissan Quest minivan also used them 2006-2008, and the and version of the Sienna may have 2005-2009, though Wikipedia lacks a citation for the Sienna.