Long-Term Update: 10 Months In, Our 2015 Honda Odyssey Finally Has A Problem

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

8,000 trouble-free miles ended in early April when our 2015 Honda Odyssey EX began squeaking, squawking, and groaning.

An intermittent rattle in the glovebox this was not. The noise was growing worse by the day. Sounding like a flexing structure when turning into an uneven parking lot entry, like a handful of golf balls bouncing around together when traversing a rougher section of road at very low speed, and like a dying crow in nearly every other circumstance, our Odyssey went from refined to cacophonous in a matter of days.

All blame was laid at the feet of our minivan’s power sliding doors, large apparatuses responsible for shuttering two vast orifices in the sides of a 17-foot-long pod that lacks the inherent structural rigidity of a traditional three-box saloon car.

We all know the issue with taking your vehicle to the dealer to complain about a noise. Formerly distinct, easily located, and consistent, the rattle or squeak or scrunch is silenced when the service technician who normally swaps tires can’t hear anything.

But I was certain that wouldn’t happen in this case. In fact, I knew the noises would be more prevalent in the dealer’s parking lot than it would be on a proper test drive, where the higher speeds of highway driving mask the sound and the type of road imperfections that amplify the noise aren’t common.

Two staff members at the dealer where I dropped off our Odyssey, Portland Street Honda in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, are responsible for sound checks. On board with me and only half a lap of the store later, the creaking and groaning was abundantly obvious to the first technician, and I was returned home to await a fix.

(Full Disclosure: I was very briefly a sales consultant at Portland Street Honda in 2003. The dealer has long since been under different ownership and turnover has largely removed many employees from that era, none of whom I knew particularly well to begin with. I’m not sure a single person at the dealer even knows this, though some are aware of my current profession. The Odyssey was acquired from Centennial Honda in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, where the owners are personal friends.)

Both rear sliding doors were lubricated, but the second technician’s test drive around the store suggested the remedy was not sufficient. Both rear door sliding strikers were adjusted. Again, the noise was still prevalent. More lubrication was added to the rollers all around both sliding doors, and the noise was gone. Offered to go for a test drive with the technician to confirm the absence of the noise, it was obvious from the first manhole cover we traversed that this was the van I remembered so fondly. It also made clear that prior to the dealer visit the noise was worse than we realized — we had simply adapted. It had been ages since the Odyssey was this quiet.

The service experience was notable for a few reasons. First, the issue was resolved quickly. Second, the degree to which I was encouraged to return for warranty repair on the rollers if the noise returned or for any other noise that caused annoyance was a pleasant surprise. Both the technician and the service advisor insisted that they want people to return to the dealer when niggling issues have the potential to create festering resentment. If the dealer can fix the problem quickly, you’re back to being happy with your car. But if left to rattle, you enjoy your car less and less and perhaps consider another automaker when the time for replacement arrives.

Based on forum complaints, noisy doors on fourth-generation Odysseys aren’t unheard of, but when repaired once, the issue seems permanently resolved. Wondering if the noises in your Odyssey’s doors indicate more rapidly advanced aging than you would have expected in a Honda van? Visit your dealer, get your Odyssey back to like-new condition.

Once again then, our low-mileage 2015 Honda Odyssey feels — and sounds — like a brand new vehicle. The six-speed transmission about which I’ve complained in the past is far less likely to offend than it was when new. The Odyssey’s 248-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine feels like a 285-horsepower V6. Urban fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon is more than tolerable in a 4,500-pound eight-seater. Back on Michelin Primacy MXV4 all-season tires after a long season on soft winter rubber, the Odyssey has regained the Accord-like handling that separates Honda’s minivan from the pack.

And the doubts about our van’s long-term quality created by the serious sound of a flexing structure at only 8,000 miles? Erased.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Professional Lurker Professional Lurker on May 23, 2016

    We have a 2014 EX-L with almost 19,000 miles on it now. The only problem I'm noticing is that the window in the passenger-side sliding door is a little slow to go up compared to the other. I feel a bit of play in the window, so maybe that's the source of the trouble. I really ought to get it to a dealer before the basic warranty expires in October, but I'd been dragging my feet about getting it done. One reason is procrastination, but another is my fear that the dealer will dismiss it and charge me with a diagnostic fee. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the van. The only problem I have is that being used smaller cars, I occasionally have trouble dealing with its prodigious girth in narrow streets, particularly with the huge mirrors it has.

  • JLGOLDEN JLGOLDEN on May 24, 2016

    My brief ownership of a '14 Kia Cadenza was haunted by roof structure creaks, also brought on by passing over uneven driveways at very low speeds. The dealer and regional manager compared it to other creaking Cadenzas and said "...this won't get fixed, it's a trait of the car". Unacceptable. I suggested that the dealer drop the headliner to add structural adhesives and foam filler material between the roof structure and bracing. They would not even attempt it. A week after a traded it, Kia engineering released a bulletin suggesting that in response to creaking Cadenza roofs...dealers should drop the headliner and add structural filler material...

  • 3-On-The-Tree To say your people are total monsters is an unfair statement. You can judge the Japanese government but to say the citizens are culpable or responsible is wrong. That’s like saying every Caucasian person in the U.S is responsible for slavery or the civil rights era of violence and discrimination against African Americans and are benefiting from it. That’s 79 years ago, the average Japanese citizen born during WWII has nothing to do with what happened. Even my Japanese grandmother who was living in Yokohama whose home was firebombed was just trying to survive with 3 kids and a husband fighting in the war. Just like every war the citizens suffer, I saw it in Iraq. You can’t judge the people from the misdeeds of their government, my mom was born after the war, you really think she is responsible for what happened?
  • Irvingklaws Was a must have for my wife's new car. After years of windshield mounts, trying to keep the sun off the phone, wires running across the dash, etc...it's been a welcome upgrade. Don't have it in my current (old) car, just a stock stereo with the aforementioned windshield phone mount and wires...which is fine enough for me. But if I upgrade the radio with an aftermarket unit, the first thing I'm looking for, after separate volume and tuning KNOBS, is Carplay. Note, I've yet to find an aftermarket head unit meeting these basic qualifications. The infotainment in my '17 GTI had both of these and was near perfect, I'd be happy with that unit in any car.
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  • Wolfwagen If there is no Rust or rot this would be a good buy when MB craftsmanship and engineering meant something. While I prefer the 500 or 560 for the larger engine, this is good
  • Wolfwagen Tim, Now you should ask the B&B who we want to succeed and why. You could limit it to EV or non- North American MFGs.