2006-2014 Honda Ridgeline: problems, pros and cons, what to look for

March 4, 2021
The Honda Ridgeline is a unique truck: it looks rugged, drives nice and is surprisingly practical. It’s Honda’s first truck in the North American market, built with utility in mind. It can haul a trailer, seat 5 people and use its in-bed trunk as a water-tight cooler in one trip.
2006 Honda Ridgeline 2006 Honda Ridgeline.

The Ridgeline comes with a transverse-mounted 3.5L V6 VTEC engine mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Inside, the Ridgeline is simple and spacious with many storage compartments and rear folding seats. As of 2021, ConsumerReports rates the overall reliability of the 2006-2008 and 2010-2011 Ridgeline as “above average” and “well above average” for the 2009 and 2012-2014 Ridgeline. The Ridgeline scores high in reliability, but what are the reported problems and repairs?

Reported problems: At higher mileage, the struts may need to be replaced. Replacing both struts (front or rear set) could cost from $600 to $900.
A bad O-ring can cause a whining noise from the power steering pump. The repair is easy and inexpensive, you can find videos on how to do it yourself here.
2006 Honda Ridgeline interior 2006 Honda Ridgeline interior.
Make sure to also check your power steering fluid level. If the noise persists after the O-ring has been changed, the power steering pump itself may be bad.
The plastic pulleys (cable guides) which allow the rear seats to fold up are a common trouble spot in the 2006-2011 Ridgeline. According to Honda TSB 10-068, when they break, the legs of the seats won’t stay retracted when the seats are up. The repair is easy to do and the replacement metal pulleys are inexpensive and durable. You can find threads here detailing the fix.
A broken sway bar link could cause rattling or clunking noises from a wheel well. The part will need to be replaced but isn't expensive. Other components could be bad too; make sure to have your car inspected as soon as possible if you hear noises coming from under the vehicle.
Brake calipers may become seized and require replacement, costing $220-350. A bad caliper may cause "brake drag", when it feels like the car is not rolling free.
According to the Honda service bulletin TSB 07-028, a loose intermediate shaft heat shield may cause a rattle from under the truck during acceleration. Replacing the heat shield and any damaged nuts or gaskets should fix the problem. The parts are not expensive.
Grease spatters in the wheel wells or inside the wheel are a common indication of leaking CV boots. The boot is an inexpensive part, however your mechanic may suggest replacing the whole cv axle ($250 to $400 for one front cv axle). We found a few videos on the CV boot repair. A failing front CV joint may make a clicking noise from the wheels while turning.
A bad air-fuel ratio sensor (Front O2 sensor) can cause the code P0134. Replacing the sensor costs about $90-$130 labor plus the cost of the part. There are videos describing the replacement here.
A bad TPMS sensor may cause the TPMS light to stay on, which can cost from $80 to $170 to replace for one sensor.
A bad A/C compressor relay can be one of the causes of the A/C not working. The relay is not expensive and is easy to replace, see these YouTube videos explaining the fix. If the A/C system is low on refridgerant, there is a leak that must be repaired and the system refilled.
The catalytic converter can fail at higher mileage and cause codes P0420 or P0430.
2006 Honda Ridgeline rear seat folded up 2006 Honda Ridgeline rear seat folded up. Photo: American Honda Motor
Opting for an aftermarket catalytic converter could be a cheaper option.
A problem that is reported mostly in the 2006 Ridgeline is a cracked piston ring allowing oil into cylinder 4, causing trouble code P0304: Cylinder 4 Misfire. This can foul the spark plug and damage other engine components. Symptoms include a white or blue puff of smoke from the exhaust on startup. The repair is expensive.
Check the NHTSA website for recalls.

Does the engine have a timing belt or chain? The engine for all Ridgelines comes with a timing belt that needs to be replaced at regular intervals. According to the Owner's manual, Honda recommends replacing the belt every 60,000 miles/100,000 km if you drive regularly in extreme temperatures or tow a trailer. In normal conditions, the timing belt will need to be changed according to the Maintenance Minder under Maintenance Sub Item 4. Replacing the timing belt kit costs from $500 to $900. Mechanics typically recommend replacing the water pump at the same time as it requires little extra labor. Replacing your timing belt is a very precise job, have it done by a knowledgeable mechanic and use good quality parts. Your mechanic can check the condition of the timing belt by opening one of the covers.

VTM-4 System: The Ridgeline’s Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive system allows it to send torque to the front axle while cruising and distribute torque to both front and rear axles during acceleration and slippery conditions. This is done by engaging clutches in the rear differential with an electromagnetic coil to send power to the rear axle. Pressing the VTM-4 lock button while in 1st, 2nd or Reverse sends the maximum possible torque to the rear axle when below 18 mph. The VTM-4 lock is meant to get your vehicle unstuck in slippery conditions. The button should not be used in regular driving conditions on dry pavement, as this may damage the rear differential when making turns, see your Owner’s Manual for additional information.
Towing and Flatbed: The Ridgeline can tow up to 5,000 lbs with two occupants and 4,500 lbs with five occupants. The tailgate opens in two ways: down like in a typical pick-up, and to the side like a door. The flatbed is 49 inches (4 feet) wide and 60 inches (5 feet) long with the tailgate up. An in-bed trunk also allows you to store 8.5 cubic feet of cargo, perfect for groceries or a few bags of golf clubs. It also has a drain plug, allowing you to use it as a cooler for your next camping trip. The spare is located under the bed and can be accessed through the in-bed trunk opening.

Fuel Economy: According to the EPA, the 2006-2011 Ridgeline gets 15/20 mpg city/highway. The 2012-2014 Ridgeline gets a slightly better 16/21 mpg city/highway rating. On a full tank of gas, the Ridgeline can travel up to 374 miles (602 km).

Safety: The NHTSA rates the 2006-2010 Honda Ridgeline 5 stars for front and side crash tests, 4 stars for rollover. The later model years have not been rated.

Pros: Reliability, responsive ride and handling, holds value well, safety ratings, roomy and comfortable interior, easy entry and exit, rear seats fold up, an in-bed trunk with drain plug, tailgate opens in two directions, non-intrusive wheel wells in the flatbed.

Cons: Fuel economy, only comes with the 3.5L V6 with automatic transmission, steering wheel does not telescope, rear seat legroom may be tight for taller passengers, lacks the flatbed length and towing capacity of a full-size truck.

What to look for when buying a used Honda Ridgeline: If you are looking for a used first generation Ridgeline, opt for the 2009 and newer models, as their overall reliability is better. When test driving a Honda Ridgeline, if you see a puff of smoke from the exhaust on startup, avoid the vehicle. If the Check Engine light stays on, or if the engine doesn't run smooth, avoid the vehicle. Pay attention to the automatic transmission shifting: is it going through each gear smoothly, or slipping? Make sure to try the vehicle in reverse and turn the wheel to each side fully. Have an independent mechanic inspect the truck on a lift before buying. Avoid a truck if important components are badly rusted: there have been cases where Ridgelines driven in the Rust Belt have had rusted radiator fittings fail, allowing coolant to mix with transmission fluid, leading to expensive repairs. See this thread for more information.