Honda Pilot White Paint Problems (Solved & Explained!)

The Honda Pilot is the largest SUV model offered by Japanese auto giant Honda.

It is mostly targeted at the North American market and features three seating rows.

It is generally regarded as a good and reliable SUV and first went into production back in 2002 for the 2003 model year.

This article explains the “Honda Pilot White Paint Problems”…

Why Does Honda Pilot White Paint Peel Off?

At the present time, it is still unclear as to the exact reason that Honda Pilot white paint, specifically Taffeta White NH-578, is peeling off from the cars. Honda is yet to admit that it is due to any manufacturing defect.

There are many ideas and notions as to why the paint peels, but it does seem to be a common enough problem across many white Honda Pilot SUVs to assume that it is a manufacturer problem.

What Is The Paint Made Of?

Like many modern car paints, Honda Pilot paint is made from acrylic polyurethane that has a pigmented basecoat and a clear topcoat.

The paint sits atop a base of primer, which acts as the leveler to create a better bond between the paint and the base metal.

How Fast Can It Start Peeling Off?

For the Honda Pilot, many people started noticing the defect in 2014, and the most afflicted models were the 2013-2015 model years.

This strongly indicates that paint would start to peel after only one or two years at the fastest rate.

On the other hand, Honda issued a warranty extension notice to cover this problem as late as 2019, meaning that in some cases it likely took longer to manifest.

Since the most likely cause of the peeling has been put down to problems with the preparation of the metal before paint is applied.

After first offering an extension on the paint warranty to seven years back in 2014, Honda again issued its own Service Bulletin sent on June 1, 2019.

It simply said that with the models listed that have Taffeta White paint, “the exterior paint on the roof and/or tailgate may peel off.”

This didn’t line up entirely with the fact that some also experienced paint peeling on the hood of their Honda Pilot.

Are All Years And Generations Affected?

While all Honda Pilot vehicles that are painted in Taffeta White should be considered vulnerable to this problem, it was only the 2013-2015 that was targeted in the initial service bulletin.

In particular, cars from the 2014 model year have been the worst-affected and have had the greatest number of complaints about the paint peeling problem.

Some earlier models were also affected, however, including the 2009-2011 model years, which were part of the plan to extend the paint warranty back in 2014 to seven years.

This helped owners of these particular model years to get free repairs on peeling paint on their Honda Pilot.

Does Honda Have A Paint Warranty?

Honda does have a paint warranty that lasts for three years. It’s part of their “Surface Corrosion” part warranty, and is listed among the “Specific parts and their warranties” section.

The warranty states that as long as corrosion wasn’t caused by birdlime or neglect, all visible painted services are covered.

This is deemed to include the peeling problem, as long as the problem is deemed not to have been caused by bird droppings, rock chips, or your own human error.

How Long Does The Warranty Last?

Honda’s paint warranty lasts for 3 years from the time of taking ownership of the car as new, as opposed to from when it was first manufactured.

This means if you bought a 2010 model at the very end of the 2010 model year, you still get the full three-year warranty.

When extended in 2014, and again in 2019, it became a 7-year warranty to try and help those whose model years had been affected by the peeling white paint problem.

When They Cover And When They Don’t?

Honda only covers peeling paint on Honda Pilots that are deemed to be peeling through any reason other than rock chips, bird droppings, tree sap, or neglect on your part.

In other words, there has to be no other external force at work that Honda can call a reasonable irritant or contaminant on the paint.

If the issue is caused by continued UV exposure weakening the bond between paint and metal surface, this still counts as a manufacturer error because it should be able to stand up to that.

Rock chips, bird droppings, etc. are a different story. These are always deemed bad for paint, regardless of the quality of coatings.

The first warranty extension in 2014 also came with additional conditions. Your Honda Pilot first had to be purchased in one of 25 named northern states.

It also only covered “refinishing and polishing the tailgate” which is where most peelings were apparently happening.

Has Honda Made A Recall For This Issue?

As of 2021, Honda is yet to make any formal recall despite issuing several service bulletins designed to extend the warranties of people with affected vehicles.

Drivers of Honda Pilot cars of the right model years and whose cars were painted in Taffeta White were the ones to whom the action applied.

Though not a recall, many were invited to have their Honda Pilot tailgate and/or roof refinished and polished.

Are The Recalls Free?

Anyone who got their roof or tailgate repainted was able to get it for free under the new warranty terms.

If the peeling was at a location not named in the service bulletin, then it could either be rejected or would first need approval before any warranty-covered work could be carried out.

Are Other Colors Also Defective?

For the Honda Pilot, it was only Taffeta White that was deemed to be the problem color, but other Honda models experienced similar paint issues and service bulletins.

These were not limited to white paint.

Other colors mentioned with other models included four shades of blue, two shades of black, and three shades of gray/silver.

On the 2011 Honda Civic, it applied to all nine of its exterior colors.

Have They Changed Anything In The Paint Through The Years?

Honda is not unique in the changes it has made to its car paint over the years.

The biggest change has been moving to water-based acrylic paints in the mid-1990s which was and is seen as an important step to making cars greener.

The initial water-based formulations were problematic, but with the continued development of different acrylic paints, especially acrylic polyurethane paints, the quality overall has greatly improved.

Are All White Hondas Affected Or Only The Pilot?

Not only the Honda Pilots were affected by paint problems.

Other Honda models that were impacted were as follow (and not all of them just the white paint models):

  • 2007-2011 Honda CR-V
  • 2011-2012 Honda Odyssey
  • 2009-2011 and 2013-2015 Honda Pilot (Taffeta White)
  • 2007-2011 Honda Civic (blue, black, grey silver, and all colors for 2011)