2011-2017 Honda Odyssey: Problems, Engine, Pros and Cons, What to look for when buying a used Odyssey

April 3, 2021
The Honda Odyssey gets its name from an ancient Greek legend about an epic journey. Does the car live up to this elegant name?
2017 Honda Odyssey 2014 Honda Odyssey.
The updated, sleeker styling of the Odyssey makes it feel like less of a minivan and more like a bullet train.

The ride is smooth and quiet, and you won’t be disappointed by the 248-hp 3.5L V6 engine. Inside, the Odyssey is spacious even for those sitting in the third row, and comes with nifty features such as a removable second row.

It's worth noting that even though the Odyssey is a best-selling minivan, we have found a relatively low number of reported trouble spots. What are the problems that Odyssey owners have encountered so far?

2011-2017 Honda Odyssey Reported Problems:

Owners have reported a popping, knocking or creaking sound from the front of the minivan, typically when turning at low speeds.
2014 Honda Odyssey interior 2014 Honda Odyssey interior.
According to Honda Technical Service Bulletin 11-038 for the 2011 and some 2012 Odysseys, a bump stop touches the top of the front damper (strut) or the damper shaft self-locking nut has low torque, causing these symptoms.

The TSB states that special grease will need to be applied to the top of the front dampers, and the front damper self-locking nuts will need to be re-torqued for 2011 models. The fix is simple and inexpensive. More information about it can be found in this forum post and these YouTube videos. Always have odd noises such as rattles or clunks coming from under the car diagnosed as soon as possible to keep your car safe.

According to the Honda TSB 17-043 and 17-044 on the NHTSA website, deteriorated transmission fluid can cause a judder while driving between 20-60 mph in the 2014-2017 Odyssey.
2014 Honda Odyssey trunk 2014 Honda Odyssey trunk.
Once diagnosed, a software update may need to be performed and the transmission flushed.

According to the bulletin, the "flushing" refers to repeatedly draining and filling the transmission with Honda Genuine ATF-DW1. The warranty information on the TSB is listed as 8 years or 80,000 miles, whichever comes first. Out of warranty, it can cost about 1 hour of labor plus the cost of fluid and diagnostics if needed. See this owner's forum thread for more details. The 2012-2013 Odyssey Touring and Touring Elite have the same issue covered by TSB 17-052.

Owners of the 2011 Odyssey have reported the “Battery Charge Low” indicator coming on despite the battery being OK. According to the TSB 11-0730, a software update for the battery sensor may be needed to improve the accuracy of the Low Battery warning. This repair is inexpensive.
2014 Honda Odyssey 2nd row 2014 Honda Odyssey 2nd row.
The bulletin also states that this fix will not improve vehicles not driven regularly or long enough to recharge the battery, or if there are aftermarket accessories causing a high-current draw problem.

According to the TSB 14-009 for the 2011-2013 Odyssey EX-L and Touring, a broken seat-back heater element can cause the driver’s seat heater to shut off seconds after being turned on. The element may need to be replaced, costing $280 to $360. See this thread for more details.

A bad oil pressure switch can cause the codes P3400 (rear pressure switch, bank 1) or P3497 (front switch, bank 2). The repair is fairly simple and the parts are not expensive. Check out these YouTube videos detailing the front and rear sensor replacements.
2014 Honda Odyssey engine 2014 Honda Odyssey engine.
These codes do not necessarily mean that an oil pressure switch is the problem; have them properly diagnosed first.

A damaged or broken cable can cause the automatic sliding doors (available in upper Odyssey trims) not to work. The actuators can also fail, but owners have reported that the cable is the most frequent trouble spot. Getting it fixed by your dealer can cost from $900 to $1150. Some owners have opted to replace the cable themselves to save on repair costs, but the fix is tedious and time-consuming. You can find more information about it in this thread and in these YouTube videos.

A bad TPMS sensor can cause the TPMS light to stay on. Replacing a sensor costs from $100 to $180.

According to the TSB 13-081 for the 2011-2013 Honda Odyssey, the Check Engine light (Malfunction Indicator Lamp in the TSB) staying on with the codes P0301, P0302, P0303 or P0304 can be caused by piston rings on certain cylinders rotating, leading to spark plug fouling.
2014 Honda Odyssey vacuum 2014 Honda Odyssey vacuum.

The TSB states that once diagnosed, 2011 models will need their PCM software updated if necessary, affected spark plugs and piston rings replaced and pistons cleaned. 2012-2013 models will also need to have affected spark plugs and piston rings replaced and pistons cleaned, but do not need a PCM software update. This repair is expensive.

Check for any recalls on the NHTSA website.

Does the 2011-2017 Honda Odyssey engine have a timing belt or chain?

All 2011-2017 Honda Odysseys have a timing belt that must be replaced at regular intervals. According to the Honda Owner's Manual, the belt should be replaced when indicated by the Maintenance Minder (under Maintenance Sub Item 4). Some owners have reported that the Maintenance Minder Sub Item 4 code comes on after about 100,000 miles. If the car is regularly driven in extreme temperatures, the belt must be replaced every 60,000 miles/100,000 km.

Changing the timing belt is a precise job and should be done by a professional. We also recommend using good quality parts for this repair. When changing the timing belt, it may also be worth changing the water pump since it doesn't require much extra labor. The timing belt replacement can cost from $680 to $1,100.

2011-2017 Honda Odyssey Engine and VCM system:

The 2011-2017 Odyssey only comes with the solid 3.5L V6 J35Z8 engine, which uses VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) technology. The purpose of the VCM is to improve gas mileage by shutting off 2 or 3 cylinders in certain driving conditions.

For example, as you are cruising down the highway, the VCM will deactivate a few cylinders, until you decide to pass the slow driver in front of you, reactivating the cylinders for passing power. Here is a video by Honda illustrating the technology. We have found that some owners have mixed feelings towards the VCM feature, citing it as a cause of excessive oil consumption and fouled spark plugs.

Fuel Economy:

The 2011-2013 Honda Odyssey with a 5-speed automatic transmission gets 18/27 MPG City/Highway, getting 441 Miles/710 km on a tank. The 2011-2017 Odyssey with the 6-speed automatic transmission scores 19/27 MPG City/Highway, getting 462 miles/744 km to a tank.

Safety: In NHTSA crash tests, the 2011-2017 Honda Odyssey scored a perfect 5 stars for front and side impact crash tests, and 4 stars for rollover.

Pros: Smooth and quiet ride, good handling, above-average reliability, comfortable and spacious interior, excellent safety ratings, fuel economy, good V6 engine, removable 2nd row seats, can fit a 4X8 sheet of plywood.

Cons: Interior fit and finish could be better and plastics seem lower quality, some drivers have reported lower than advertised fuel economy, only one engine option, no button to turn off VCM, comes with a timing belt that needs to be replaced.

What to look for when buying a used Honda Odyssey:

Check the oil level, is it low (may indicate high oil consumption)? Has the timing belt been changed (it's a costly repair that may need to be done)? If it comes with power sliding doors, make sure that they open and close smoothly without any abnormal noises. If a power sliding door breaks, the repair is expensive.

Check the power tailgate and moonroof, if available. Listen for any odd noises such as rattling, clicking or popping on your test drive. Check the front and back air conditioning, as well as the heated seats.

Avoid the vehicle if the check engine light stays on, or if the transmission does not shift smoothly or shows hesitation. We recommend opting for the 2014-2017 Odyssey, as earlier years seem to have slightly more issues.