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"Jutter" in a 2004 Honda Pilot

Dear Tom & Ray,

I have a 2004 Honda Pilot that I bought new in Colorado to get me around the mountains. It has been great! Several years later I moved to Rhode Island and since that time the car has started to “judder”.

Description of the problem; The car makes a vibrating noise while driving that is a combination of a shudder and a jitter. When I take my foot off the accelerator the sound stops and then does not always start again when I put my foot back on the gas pedal. The temperature outside has no effect on when the judder occurs. HOWEVER, it only happens after the car has warmed up. It happens at any speed but is most noticeable at lower speeds because there isn’t as much background noise so I hear it. The problem appeared three years ago and is getting progressively worse. No warning lights appear on the dashboard and nothing has shown up when I’ve taken the car for regular maintenance.

If cars were sentient as has been portrayed on TV in My Mother the Car or on the big screen in The Love Bug then I would assume that the car judders in horror at the drivers in Rhode Island. However, since this doesn’t seem to be the likely explanation, I took the car to the local Honda dealership to have them diagnose the car’s problem. The first time I asked the mechanic to look for a cause of the problem during a routine oil change. They found nothing but were happy to charge me $100.00 for the effort.

Six months later I went for regular service and asked the mechanic to take a drive with me but unfortunately, the judder did not appear since it is intermittent in nature. Again the dealership was happy to charge me extra for the little drive with no resolution. I provided disappointed feedback in the dealership’s follow-up call with no positive result. At this point, I think I was being written off as one of “those crazy ladies” but I persisted and six months later (at the same dealership) the mechanic finally heard the judder – and had NO explanation for its cause. Again they were happy to charge me for hearing the judder. I was told to buy new tires that were all of the same quality and that might solve the problem. In the meantime, the car is safe to drive. I bought the tires and it didn’t stop the judder

So here I am – a couple years and hundreds of dollars later and still with a judder in my car that is now happening every time I drive. I have exhausted the local expertise (at least at the Honda dealership) and am turning to you for help with my judder and what to do about it.



I’d worry about the transmission, this era Honda transmissions are known to die an early death. I don’t know what a “jutter” or “judder” is. Does it seem like it’s having a hard time changing gears?

Can You Tell Where The Noise Vibration Seems To Be Coming From . . . Front/Rear, Right/Left ? It’s Often Not Possible And Possible To Get This Wrong, Too.

Will turning initiate the problem ?


This is just an internet discussion board. Its not a place where you’ll get any answers from Tom & Ray. There’s a whole other link that says “Send Email.”

Anyway, you described it as a noise. But can you also feel it? Like a vibration in the steering wheel, seat or anywhere else? Does it happen to occur most commonly in a particular speed range (other than the vague “lower speeds”)?

How many miles are on it and what have you done with it in terms of transmission service?

Have You Had Or Is The Vehicle Subject To The Transmission Recall Inspection (Recall Includes Some Early 04s) ?

Have you had the rear differential fluid replaced ? Contaminated fluid has been found to cause judder and noise, but it’s supposed to be while turning.

Many Honda dealers have a Steelman ChassisEar Diagnostic Tool. In situations like this where a problem is difficult to isolate or locate, up to six microphones are attached to the vehicle’s underbelly and allows a technician to listen for creaks, rattles, and squeaks in different areas. I’m not sure it could find the problem, but I’d ask about it.


“I was told to buy new tires that were all of the same quality and that might solve the problem. I bought the tires and it didn’t stop the judder”

Same quality ?
What tires were on the vehicle prior to the new ones ? Were they of different Quality ? Explain.
How long were they on there ?