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Choosing a Replacement Engine

Help! I don’t know who to believe…my 2008 Honda Pilot had an original Honda installed spark plug explode over Thanksgiving, a piece fell into one of the cylinders causing the engine to have to be replaced. The good news is my Pilot was still under warranty with Honda Care, the bad news is they would only replace the engine with a “like kind and quality” engine from a salvage yard instead of with a new short block, etc. which is what the Honda dealership recommended. I was leery of the replacement engine as it was from a recovered stolen vehicle and I was nervous about the condition; I was right, the engine burned way too much oil, 2.5 quarts in 2700 miles. So back to the dealership the Pilot went, Honda Care will, again, replace with only a “like kind and quality” engine and this time they want to replace with a 2005 Pilot Engine that has very low miles, BUT was in a front end collision that totaled the car in 11/2007 and has been on the shelf since. The salvage yard provides an undocumented 12K or 12 month warranty on their engines, from the date of the FIRST engine provided to Honda, so my warranty started in Dec. 2013, so this second replacement will only have 8 months or 9K mile warranty. My mechanic is not comfortable with this choice of replacements due to the front end collision and the lengthy storage time on the shelf (drying out of seals, dirt/dust, etc). Honda will not provide any other options and in 3K miles the Pilot will be out of warranty. I have waited over a month for the dealership/Honda to come up with other options (extend my warranty, replace with a different engine, etc.), my efforts have not given me any options. I spent over $600 on the last replacement engine in “maintenance” that was now money wasted, they won’t even credit this. If the car breaks down on a trip (like is did the first time) they do not cover rental, transportation, etc., so I was out time and money on getting home and traveling back to get my car too. I am afraid this will happen to me again, and this time it may be on a trip from St. Louis to Florida instead of St. Louis to Kansas City! This whole experience has been a nightmare and in hindsight I wish I would have gone against Honda’s recommendations and paid the $3000 difference and replaced the engine with the new short block, now that option is not available as my original engine was taken by Honda. Should I be concerned??

Have you called the Zone Rep and complained or have you only dealt with the dealer? Call Honda North America and see if you can lodge a complaint. You may have to take them to small claims court to get them to fix it right and get your money back.

The dealer tried talking with the Zone rep and I have tried Honda America multiple times they both wash their hand of it as it is “Honda Care” (their warranty co.) that is responsible. They don’t seem to care that Honda is Honda to the consumer. Thank you for the suggestions though. Any thoughts on if an engine that has been in a front end collision and then sat on a shelf for 6 years is an acceptable replacement?

Insist on an engine that is equivalent to what you had but the problem as you have seen is that equivalent is nearly impossible to know. Sitting on a shelf for 6 years should not hurt a thing if storage conditions are not adverse such as high humidity. The collision should not be a problem for the engine if nothing was bent or fractured. Can you investigate the price difference that you will rightly need to pay for a new engine to replace your used engine? I’d push hard for a new block; let them know that you will not go away until they make it right. Do you have a local TV station that investigates consumer problems with businesses? Let Honda know that you might have to try for that

Many much more knowledgeable people have commented on this forum that age of some parts, e.g. timing belt, seals, etc, deteriorate with age and that it is as important as mileage in determining proactive replacement. An engine that has been sitting on a shelf for 6 1/2 yrs would probably be a prime candidate for a timing belt replacement and that could cost just under $1,000. Some thing to consider…

@"Wha Who?"‌ has the right idea. The warranty may only cover ‘like condition’ engine, code-word for used engine with similar mileage. But, you could still cover (as in pay) the difference between that and a refurbished or new engine and get that instead. I’ve seen it done before. I’m only speculating, but this seems like you’re dealing with an extended warranty company, not a factory warranty. If so, ‘Honda Cares’ is an oxymoron.

This is the same sort of problem someone with a 5 year old computer that breaks-down has. The manufacturer would be happy to sell you the exact replacement part if they had one, but that part is no longer available. It’s not that they’d have to order it. It is no longer being made. And the similar parts that are being made are not compatible with your 5 year old computer.

What I’m saying is that trying to replace the engine with a new engine probably isn’t even an option. And while there are probably re-built engine of the same year available, Honda probably won’t pony up for one of those if it is on their dime b/c of their policy of replacing like with like. They will only pay for an engine with similar mileage in other words.

You might ask if you could contribute some extra $$$, enough for them to buy a factory rebuilt engine. That would be as good to a new engine as you are likely to get. It might actually be better than a new engine b/c of what they’ve learned in the meantime.

Honda engines assembled in the field fare no better than used ones so don’t convince yourself that there is a better option, this is only fantasy.

Take the engine they give you and then get rid of the car.

Register your spark plug explosion problem on the NHTSA site so they can track the statistics and issue a manufacturer recall. That will eventually get Honda’s attention.

I had the same issue with my 2005 Accord 6-cyl Vtec engine. It turns out it is a common problem that is very costly. The local Honda dealer wanted $14K to install a replacement (used/salvage) engine. Fortunately, I did not have damage/debris in the engine and my local mechanic was able to re-thread the spark plug hole for under $600 and get me on the road again.

Any thoughts on if an engine that has been in a front end collision and then sat on a shelf for 6 years is an acceptable replacement?

The collision wouldn’t concern me too much but sitting on a shelf for that long would. I have engines that sat in my garage for that long and without exception, there was rust forming around the rings where they sat in the bores. Perhaps you could ask if they pickled the engine before storing it or if it was just plucked and stacked. The latter would scare me unless extra care was taken to bring it back to life. A couple of cracked rings might not show up right away…

I would say you are in negotiations at this point. Nothing says you must accept their first or even second offer. They are hoping you will blink first. Remember the old saying, a compromise is when both parties are equally dissatisfied…

Perhaps I’m missing something, but it seems odd to me that they are having such a hard time finding a comparable engine anywhere in the entire country.

Note to self: Do not spend extra for Honda Care.

hardt brings up a good point to consider but I will be contrary and state that aging of elastomers (rubber) takes place extremely slowly at room temperature. It might be good to change the timing belt a little sooner but I would let it go though most of its lifespan as recommended by the maker.

@JoanDu I did report the spark plug failure on the NHTSA site, thank you for sharing that link.

When engine is creating continuous trouble then people often speculate whether they should repair them constantly or make new replacement. The answer depends on the age of engine and your financial condition too. If your financial condition doesn’t support you to make a new replacement then there is a good option called used engines available on the market like you can see on, and others which offers reliable product at very affordable price. However while buying them you need to check out their oil leakage, performance, durability and most important the warranty.