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Hello all,

My wife and I are lifelong Honda owners - we currently have 2 Honda Fits and 2 Honda motorcycles. My family just expanded to four, so we're now in the market for a minivan. Our first choice naturally gravitated to the Odyssey. We test drove two 2012 Odysseys over the weekend at two separate dealerships. My wife test drove a 2012 Toyota Sienna today, as well as looked at a 2003 Odyssey for sale by a private owner. My wife loves driving her Fit and doesn't really want to drive a minivan, but over the weekend she realized how beneficial the added room is with two little ones. One option is to buy outright the 2003 - we would have 3 cars - she would be able to keep her Fit and have the bigger vehicle when needed. However, we're really, really concerned with what we've read about the transmission. The 2003 is a one-owner who just replaced it with a fully-loaded 2012 Odyssey - they said they have never had an issue with the transmission (vehicle has 130,000 miles on it - it has apparently been well maintained and is in very good condition). If we got the 2003 (assuming everything checks out fine with a mechanic), are we just throwing good money after bad?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

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New is always nice, but they depreciate, break down and cost money too. If the 2003 is clean and checks out okay, I would but it and use the $25K difference to enjoy. They are good vans with their quirks.
 

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If the price is right go for the older one just to get your feet wet. If it dies you have the luxury of 2 other cars to drive. Be warned though, once you have a van with kids you'll be wanting a newer one in the near future. They are really comfy and the extra space is a huge benefit.
 

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Ther jump from a Fit to the Odyssey is an enormous one. If the kids are infants you probably don't need the extra space of a minivan just yet. I remember from test driving the Fits that they had near as much cain space as our Accord at the time, but with less trunk space. Only reason I would see moving all the way up to a minivan would be if you wanted to travel with the kids and lots of extra stuff. We only moved up to the Odyssey after I needed the extra load space for work and carting the kids to and from school at the same time. If it wasn't for that I would be driving one.

Obviously it's your choice on what to get but if you are use to smaller cars and she really doesn't want a minivan you might want to look at smaller sedans like the Accord or even a Civic, possibly even some of the older wagon versions of them. If you decide on the van then yes I would go with the 2003. If it hasn't had any transmission problem by this point it is unlike to have them, the problems usually seem to rear their head around the 60-70,000 mile mark. Just make sure it has had all it's scheduled maintainence and have it checked out by and independent mechanic to be safe. Specifically look at the motor mounts as they tend to wear out pretty easily.
 

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130K is too many miles. Any car with that many miles is going to see problems and the
Ody is no exception.
A new Honda CRV would be my suggestion if you need more room. It's alot shorter than the huge Ody and would be a less dramatic step up, plus it would still be fun to drive like the Fit.
 

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Lots of miles. Questionable transmission design.

The transmission and other issues are typical of Odyssey of this age. Original transmission or not? Transmission fluid dark to black and foul smelling with bubbles or particles? If so, bad. Whatever the fluid looks like, transmission could be fine today and broken tomorrow. Is the price cheap enough to afford $3000-5000 transmission repair? 2003 Odyssey is not reliable just because it is a Honda. Just the opposite. Consumer Reports gives a bad ratings for frequency of transmission repair for Odyssey around this year. Not possible to do alot of transmission maintenance and avoid problems because the design is bad.
Dirty Harry once said, "do you feel lucky..." Many 2nd gen Odyssey owners are not.

Some other common failures that vary in price: all engine mounts, rear power window motors, power sliding door, sliding door sticking. Timing belt, water pump should have been done at 105K miles. About $1000 for the TB WP job if not done.
Just being an old car leads to issues. Any brand.
Don't limit yourself to Honda only. Brand "T" has equal or better reliability over past years.
 

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Why are you focused on the 2003? Consumer Reports gave very good reviews to the Odyssey in later years. (I believe 2006 and/or 2007). But as others have said, if you get a REALLY good deal on the 2003, it could be worth it. I guess it depends on how much of a risk taker you are.

For what its worth, I'll tell you that I have 2002 Odyssey and I had to replace the transmission at about 82,000 miles. Fortunately, it was a few years ago when the tranny failed and Honda was still doing good-faith, out of warranty replacements, so it did not cost me a dime to replace it. My van now has 130K miles and I am mindful that I could have a second tranny failure at some point soon. the only other trouble I have ever had with the van was a couple months ago my A/C needed a new compressor.

Another thing to ask the owner of the 2003 is whether he replaced the timing belt yet. If not, that will need to be done -- and won't be cheap.

As for the benefits of a mini van, I love it. My wife originally wanted an SUV, but I talked her into the van and she loved it almost immediately too. With two kids, the van is very versatile. You can put the kids in the second row and then the third row you can either use for passengers -- or fold down the seats for extra cargo. That was what we did --- until we had a third child. Now it is not so versatile anymore. My two oldest children are in the third row seat and the baby is in the second row. Because of this, I cannot fold down the third row -- unless I remove the safety seats from the third row (which is a pain if you have a five-point harness type of safety seats).

In the newer (post 2005) Odysseys, I believe the rear row seat is split, so there is an option to put down only one seat, two seats, or all three. So, you could have a child in the back row and still fold down a part of the seat for extra storage.
 

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. My van now has 130K miles and I am mindful that I could have a second tranny failure at some point soon. the only other trouble I have ever had with the van was a couple months ago my A/C needed a new compressor.

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Funny,,,my a/c compressor went out at 130K too. These are little ticking time bombs, aren't they! I had an estimate to replace, flush out and recharge it for $1100, because the comp will scatter debris all over the a/c system and just ruin a new comp quickly. So, decided I didn't really need a/c that bad.

Besides I knew that if I spent $1100 in the a/c, that "Murphy's law" would make the tranny fail real soon too! So,,,,,:DD now my tranny will last forever!!
 

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$1100!?!? Wow, I thought the $600 I paid was a lot! Unfortunately, where I live (South Florida) A/C is a necessity so I had no choice but to get it fixed. I only wish we had your weather here!

The funny thing is that leading up to the compressor failing, my wife and I had just commented to each other how we've never had any problem with the A/C. I guess we jinxed ourselves!
 

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Ya know, I read this incorrectly. I thought pscan3130 meant 4 kids not a family of 4. Having 3 tikes in a car is awful, been there. 2 isn't a big deal. Still though, if it's only used as a 3rd car and is cheap enough then why not? Depending on how it was driven, 130k may not be that much but it also could go the other way.
 

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We have had a 2003 since new and have 110,000 km on it (60,000 miles). We have had zero problem with it including the transmission. Check the service records for tranny drain/fills. I do mine every other oil change. Also expect the rear hatch struts to be getting weak. Cycle the rear power windows as the motors are known to fail. Finally the timing belt/water pump should have been done. If not you are looking at about 1000.00 and its not something to ignore. Throw the timing belt and buy a new engine !

We are looking at a new Ody and the split rear folding seats are a definite advantage combined with the head rest that don't need to be removed when you fold the seats on a newer model year.

For a third vehicle I would definitely look at it if the price was right and the issues above check out.
 

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We were faced with the same decision, bought a 2003 with 98k on 'er for $7600. IMMEDIATELY triple-flushed the trans, engine oil, power steering, and coolant, and replaced the brakes (I had access to a lift, and just did it all at once), and changed the timing belt. Now, while I was able to do that, maybe add $1500 to the price to cover that, so we're into the van for $8500. Replaced the rear main seal 15k later for $1000 (into it for $9500). Been 2 years now, 130k, no issues other than a leaky roof ($5 can of sealant, so $9505) and a power steering leak (another $5, for $9510). A new one would've depreciated that much Year One, and I'd have all that capital tied up. And they're huge-er.

Well worth the money to us, as my Wife drives her Kia Soul and me my Mini Cooper S, with the Van for hauling, college kids, and foul weather duty. Still love that van!

Only thing is... that's another insurance payment, and if it's the Family Hauler and not being driven much because you love your little toy cars (like we do), it's easy to overlook cleanliness and maintenance... If you've got Little Ones, consider something just slightly larger than the Fit, perhaps a Soul, a Mazda5, the upcoming Focus 5-door tall wagon (can't remember the name), they're still TONS of fun in a slightly larger package than the Fit - and the Mazda5 is still available in a stick!
 

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Do you like the van? Color, options? Drive it more than a few miles, have another shop check it out, get all the vehicle history you can. How long would you keep it and how many miles a year would you put on it?? How much will you have to put into it up front - battery, tires, wipers etc.

A really pretty blue 03 just went for $6000 @ 100,000 miles in the neighborhood. Maybe did not have the TB maint. done. If it had the Nav, I might have gone for it myself.

We have an 03 EX-L Navi with 230,000 miles -new Dec 02. One EGR valve and two tensioner pulleys so far.
 

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I bought my first Oddy 2 months ago. Used 2002 with 126k miles. Flushed everything and changed brakes. Total i have 7k tied up in it. It goes great. I liked it so much that my brother was getting rid of his 03 ex-l oddy because his tranny failed at 147k miles, I bought it off him for 1,500. Add another 3,200 for rebuild and new motor mounts. For 4,700 i have a very nice van. hoping to get at least 50k miles out of it and 5 years. I figure i will have 500 - 700 in repairs a year. That is less than two months payments for a new one. So the other 10 1/2 months of the year I get to pocket some $$$$$ and have fun. that was the way I looked at it.
 

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Lots of Oddys around with hundreds of thousand of miles on odometer. Look elsewhere in this forum. Transmissions on the pre 2005 at least are a crap shoot. I lost one on my first Ody, a 2002, at about 35000 miles. Mu buddy bought a 2004 Touring new. He lost his tranny around the 100,000 miles Mark.; Honda actually met him half way on the repairs as he had met all scheduled maintainance requirements. Believe he had about 165000 miles on it when he finally traded it. Got two grand on the trade. :)
 

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My 03 now has 187,000 miles on it with plenty of niggling little problems here and there, but no grabbers. Original trans, even and I tow a popup camper!

A superb rebuilt trans is available for under $3k installed from Gator transmission (search the forum). I figure I'm on borrowed time, so I've made a mental note about them....
 

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I wish I would have traded in earlier

The transmission on my 2002 failed at 54000 miles. Honda replaced it. The second transmission just went last week at 218000. All the recommended maintenance was done. I will try and see what I can get for it on Craigslist, but I went yesterday to the Toledo Craigslist and I see someone with 01 Ody posted their van for sale with a bad trans. I am not willing to put $4000 into it so I will try and get by for awhile without a van.
 

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If the 2003 runs okay and is well with you, save your $$$ from monthly payments and get it. Just spare some extra change for repair when the tranny goes bad. Nothing sweeter than having money in your pocket and no monthly payments. After all you can always spend that extra cash on diapers.
 
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