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Discussion Starter #1
2003 EX Odyssey with 102k miles.

"Looks" great. Inside and outside very clean. Underneath very clean. Engine very clean. [Nothing has been "detailed" if you are wondering.] By clean I mean: In really good shape with no obvious signs of damage, leaking, or abuse.

"Drives" very nice. No odd shifting. I've taken it around town [stop n go] for 10+ miles and had it out on 'hilly' highway for 20+ miles.

"Tires" 70% tread, all matching. Rides and brakes well.

VIN check says the transmission was "recalled" sometime in its life, which resulted in a NEW [different part number] Honda transmission being installed at the dealer. The Honda tech I talked to [not related to original purchase dealer] says they haven't had any worse luck with 2003 recall transmissions than with any other car. Tells me it is a good model van, very reliable.

** Only CONS: Rear vent window motor issues, but both will close tightly and not leak [I checked with hose]. I also looked at 4 other 2001-2003 Odysseys last week and ALL but one had at least one vent window motor acting up.
Timing Belt not done yet, dealer cost is $672.00.

_OK. This is a purchase, not a date. Give me your most "glass half empty" perspective. What are my concerns or additional items to check??

[P.S. - Can someone please tell me how to change my "signature" on this site?]
 

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do the timing belt. the cost that the stealertship quoted you is very fair. make sure they replace the water pump as well. if you are a diyer, you should be able to replace the window motors yourself. there is plenty of info on these forums. you should also change all the fluids. brake, power steering, transmission, and coolant flush. all fairly easy for the backyard mechanic. also, watch the power doors for any signs of less than perfect operation. lots on info on these forums also on those.
good luck!
keith
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yep, decent list. Repairs/service are something I'd do AFTER I actually owned the van. Since I haven't bought it yet, I'm more in the "things to look for" mode, which I'm sure was really unclear from my post.

Thanks Keith...and good luck to you also.
 

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oh, i did misunderstand. I would look very carefully from the back of the van as the power doors open. look at the center roller mechanism and make sure it is smooth as the door opens and closes. and listen to make sure it sounds smooth and does not grind. also, listen to the idle. for quite a while. it is fairly common for the idle air control to go bad, when it does, the check engine light will not necessarily come on, but the idle will be all over the place. other than that, mine has been pretty solid
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks again. Everything seems tip/top. Put quite a few miles on it and pushed every button and open/shut every door/window. Can't think of any other gotchas, but in negotiation on a used vehicle this old...not a lot of room to bargain anyway.

Cheers. ME.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Does anybody really replace cabin A/C filters? What is the purpose. My old cars don't have A/C cabin filters.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, gotta decide now. Offer on the table for $7600. :)
 

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Your Honda replacement transmission isn't much better than the original. They don't last. Budget $4,000 for a new tranny in the near future if you buy this. See all the other transmission related threads.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
@aaronm - I hear ya happy. :) I always have $4000 budgeted for whatever may come. The van has 102k on it. I know many folks with 200k+and no issues and know one that replaced at 150k. You take your chances. That is life. Be sure and budjet for a pine box, I hear death can't be predicted. :)
 

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The odds of death and an Ody transmission failure (eventually) are just about equal. Death, taxes, and Ody transmission failures.......
 

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Discussion Starter #12
LOL. You think so? Your are truly a "master of the obvious". ;)
 

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My 03 Ody has 171k with no trans problems, it was supposedly fixed on recall before I bought it at 40k. What I would want to see before a purchase is the maintenance records that confirm the fluid has been changed at 45k and every 30k thereafter.

IMO of much bigger concern to the OP is the timing belt, it will cost you a bundle if it ever breaks. If it hasn't been done, then you can use that as leverage on price negotiation and also know that it was done right.

Don't feel locked into the dealership if the prices seem too high, there are good independent shops around that work on hondas all the time....
 

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Discussion Starter #14
@rsedad - Thanks for the feedback. Timing belt IS a good bargaining chip and has been used. The seller was not even aware of the maintenance. Also, I've never used the dealer so far, except for parts. There is an "ex-Honda" mechanic who still runs a shopt [cash on side] only 3 miles from me. Great resource for 'just above shade tree' jobs AND good advice.

Chaz.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Follow up. Decided not likely to buy this 2003. Too many unknowns, and found at last inspection that ignition is not working "all the time" [allowing key to turn] and owner only has ONE key. Just the straw that broke the camel's back. No emotion. Always willing to walk away from a deal and that has served me well. NEXT!! [still looking] :)

Thanks guys for all the input. I appreciate you all.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Damnit! This 2003 is stalking me!! The seller called again today very apologetic about the ignition and took the initiative and went to the dealer. Told me he'd discount the van by the $500 quote to replace ignition.

Ok, so we are down to $7000 on a 2003 California Ody with 103,000 miles. It is one of the cleanest I've seen after looking at 12 in the past 3 weeks.

Pros: Very Clean inside and out
Mechanically very sound & tight
103k
$7000
Local seller [new to small communitee]
Seller needs to sell.

Cons: NO maintenance history.
No record of timing belt.

I can still walk away, but the deal is looking more fair. I've looked at two one-owners with ALL maintenance records that were really rough. Maintenance records mean less to me, since they don't indicate how something has been treated.

Also...this guy is making great effort to make things right.

Still....

...I can walk away...but should I.
 

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I'd wait for a late 2004 model with a high VIN number and the improved transmission. I'd sacrifice more miles on it for one with a better tranny and a timing belt that's been changed.

I'd like to dump my '02 for a late '04.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Last follow up [really]. @aaronm - thanks for being such a "glass is always broken & empty" kind of guy. LOL Some people may not appreciate it, but it forced me to look at my inner demons.

I decided NOT to buy the van. The van is quite perfect, but honestly it boiled down to research in general on Honda for all vehicles in this era. We have a 96 & 98 we just can't kill. Honda apparently started sucking in 1999. When I say sucking, I mean compared to 90's Honda reliability. They still have GM/Chrysler beat, hands down. Point is, I realized we don't need to settle for the BEST 2nd Gen on the market. Every month we don't buy something we are $500 closer to something $500 better. Also, I fixed my 1996 Ody idle issue by cleaning the EGR system over the weekend [woohoo!], so my wife isn't angry while driving.

By March I'll be in "stripped down 3rd gen range" and my summer will be in "stripped down middle 3rd Gen, low miles range'. Also, we are actually considering a large Ford SUV or Toyota.

Anyway, this is my goodbye to Honda 2nd Generation V6 anything. 1999-2004 is a blank spost as far as I'm concerned. My next family cruiser/travel vehicle will either be a 2006+ Honda or NOT a Honda.

Thanks for the input. Love this friggin website!

Chaz.
 

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Well Chaz, I can't say that I blame you; myself and many of my mechanic friends view the early-mid 90s as the golden years of Japanese cars as you have personally experienced. I don't think anybody will ever build cars that simple, reliable, and long-lasting again. On the cars built today, will the in-car electronics still work in 20 years, and if so, will any software/firmware support still be available? HAH!

I just took our 2001 Odyssey on a road trip this past weekend (snow/ice on the way back, fun) and it is a tremendously good road trip vehicle, despite the time-bomb transmission. I looked at the 1st-gen Odys, but they are too small for our needs and I absolutely wanted SLIDING rear doors on both sides. The parking spaces in our area are so tight that it would be very difficult to extract the kids from the back with the rear swinging doors.

If you are looking for a used Odyssey, I'd personally go for a 2007+ model, as that is when it got a beefier transmission (one which I believe is shared with the Ridgeline). The PAX tires are a big bummer, however, but that can be remedied.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
@Redmond - Such timing. Yesterday evening I was at Honda getting parts. We pulled in front of the wolf pack [group of salesmen perched on the porch ready to pounce] for me to be dropped off as my wife ran an errand. They all started to guess the year of my 1996 Odyssey in perfect condition. I eventually said, "well, I'd have a newer one right now if I didn't find out Honda started making garbage in 2000"...and it got real quiet. After returning to the porch with my Honda parts to await my ride, one of the salesmen came over to me and said he agreed with one I said and told me he QUIT Honda in 2003 out of frustration and just recently came back. He also said exactly what you did; rather than just 1999-2004 [2nd Gen] he said to avoid 2005&2006 also and start at 2007+.

Reading the 'blogs' out there, tons of folks who started with Honda in the 90's were quite shocked when they went out of their way to invest in a new Honda in 2000+ and found the myth had vanished. Maybe that's why the likes of GM & Ford were able to peddle their attempts at the mini-van class so easily.

We've definitely outgrown the 1996 Odyssey, especially for our long drives to see family. We thought we wanted an Odyssey, but this learning experience has opened up my views a bit. I used to own a 1987 Suburban. Yep, I looked at newer one the other day to re-acquaint myself. Our lifestyle permits us to mitigate fuel cost by owning 'extra' [daily] cars, since we buy used and don't have payments. I've got my old 88 Ford parked in the yard that only gets used to kayak & run when a Honda is down for work. Little shuffle and..... I'm just saying....

.....I'd really like to know how many miles I can get out of this 1996. :)
 
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