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1997 Honda Odyssey Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1997 Honda Odyssey based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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21
Known Problems

A brake pedal that pulsates under the foot while braking the vehicle has been noted by many owners of the Honda Odyssey. This issue spans many years, and multiple generations of the well-known minivan, and Honda has taken measures to correct concerns.

The front brake rotors are the cause of the break pulsation, and are subject to a condition known as lateral run-out, or simply called warped brake rotors. 

As the brakes are used, heat builds quickly in the brake rotors and brake pads, as a normal byproduct of friction. This heat can become too great for the original rotors, and cause the metal to warp over time. 

Once the rotor begins to warp, the warping process accelerates due to uneven heating of the brake rotor, and the issue will quickly turn from light pulsing of the pedal to full-vehicle vibration. 

Revised brake rotors have been released by Honda, and will correct the concern. The brake pads will need to be changed at the same time. 

Note: this error has been known as early as 20,000 miles. 

The AC evaporator drain can clog and cause a water leak inside the vehicle, usually on the passenger floor. Cleaning the drain will fix this problem.

A rear engine mount that is broken can cause an engine vibration felt in the vehicle. Replacing the failed mount will repair this problem.

The Honda Odyssey has a known issue with engine oil leaking from the ignition distributor shaft seal.

Leakage from the shaft seal coats the electrical components of the distributor with engine oil causing:

  • Failure to start 
  • Engine randomly misfires 
  • OBD Trouble code(s) P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P1336, P1337 
  • Engine vibrations  
  • Hesitation or stalling 
  • Cleaning the distributor cap and rotor can help or resolve driveability issues temporarily, but the mentioned issues will return shortly.

    Once this issue is diagnosed, the ignition distributor shaft seal must be replaced, and the distributor shaft bearing must be inspected.

    The front axles are prone to failure on the 1995-1998 Honda Odyssey. This will be evident as fast clicking or popping sounds will be audible while driving, most commonly when the steering wheel is turned while the vehicle is in forward motion.

    Constant velocity (CV) axles, sometimes called a “half-shaft”, are designed to allow the wheels to be driven by the transmission, even when turning the steering wheel.

    They are manufactured of a shaft with a gear at both ends. When one of the gears on the end of the shaft fails, it will make noise as the vehicle is driven.

    The axle should be replaced immediately, or damage may occur to the wheel bearing/hub assembly if left unattended.

     

    The 1995-1998 Honda Odyssey engine oil pressure sensor is known to leak from normal operation.

    More information about the oil pressure sensor here.

    To correct the leak, the sensor must be inspected, properly sealed and installed, or replaced with new.

    Smelling burning engine oil is common on the 1995-1998 Honda Odyssey 4-cylinder engine, and is associated with oil leaking from the valve cover. It is most common to smell the oil burning at a stop light, or just after you shut off your engine.

    Engine oil leaks from the valve cover, drains down, and settles on the exhaust manifold, which burns the oil upon contact due to high exhaust gas temperatures. This creates an odor that comes through the vents, and can be smelled around the front of the vehicle. 

    The valve cover gasket should be replaced in a timely fashion to prevent engine misfires resulting from oil contamination of the ignition coil, which is fairly common.

    Valve cover gasket replacement will correct both the leak and the smell of burned oil at the same time. If the ignition coil or spark plug wire was soaked in oil, it will need to be cleaned or replaced to stop or prevent misfires.

    The camshaft seal, located at the end of the cylinder head, has a reputation for failure on the 1995-1998 Honda Odyssey van.

    This seal wraps around the camshaft to prevent engine oil from leaking where the camshaft exits the cylinder head.

    Replacing the leaky seal requires timing belt removal, so timing belt and water pump may be recommended if your vehicle is near the service interval.

    The 1995-1998 Honda Odyssey has a known issue with ignition distributor shaft bearing failure, which causes:

  • Failure to start 
  • Engine randomly misfires 
  • Check Engine Light Illumination
  • OBD Trouble code(s) P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P1336, P1337 
  • Engine vibrations  
  • Hesitation or stalling 
  • Oil leak from distributor cap 
  • The ignition system uses the distributor to send high voltage electricity to the spark plugs at the right time. It accomplishes this timing mechanically by a shaft, which connects the crankshaft and ignition distributor, so they spin at the same rate. That shaft, part of the distributor, rests in a bearing inside the distributor.This bearing, the distributor shaft bearing, is known for failing, and allowing the shaft to move slightly.

    As the bearing fails, it allows the shaft to move away from the shaft seal, and oil pours into the distributor cap, causing misfires.

    The play in the shaft can also cause contact with the crankshaft position sensor, causing a no start problem.

    Total bearing failure will be most evident from the grinding noise that changes with engine speed, and oil in the ignition distributor cap.

    If the bearing is making noise, driving or running the vehicle can result in catastrophic engine failure.

    To correct this issue, the ignition distributor and shaft must be replaced. Any damage to the crankshaft position sensor will necessitate replacement as well.

     

    A seal in the 4 cylinder engine around the balance shaft tends to fall out, causing a large oil leak. There is a retaining device available to prevent the seal from falling out, which can be put in place during routine timing belt maintenance.

    There is an issue where the transmission can have a torque converter problem, or the computer monitoring the torque converter can misinterpret the information, and in either case this can cause the Check Engine Light (MIL) to illuminate. The problem will need to be diagnosed and depending upon what is causing the issue, the transmission will have to be repaired or the computer replaced.

    A refrigerant leak may develop from the AC evaporator causing the AC to blow warm air. Verifying failure of this component is difficult. A good shop will use leak detection dye to verify a failing evaporator.

    An AC refrigerant leak may develop from the condenser. Replacing a leaking condenser will be required to restore proper AC operation.

    On certain models the fuel gauge will not read full due to excessive resistance in the sending unit. Replacing the sending unit in the fuel tank will commonly repair this issue.