Problems with the Honda 3.5 V6 Engine.

Honda’s 3.5 V6 engine was initially launched in 1998, and it has been used in current models ever since. The J35 engine has undergone various modifications and improvements throughout the years because of its lengthy lifespan. But they all have the same fundamental 3.5L V6 SOHC architecture. J35 engines provide a good overall blend of power, efficiency, and dependability. However, there is no such thing as a flawless engine, and this holds true even for the 3.5-liter V6 that Honda offers. The Honda J35 3.5 V6 engine’s reliability and some of the most typical difficulties it encounters are discussed in this article.

Problems with the Honda 3.5 V6 Engine – Honda J35

J35 Engine Subtypes

This will likely become its own topic in the future since there are so many variations on the 3.5 V6. It’s crucial to present these engines at least briefly for now. We are only examining the J35Y, J35A and J35Z engines. However, there are further variations within each engine, such the  J35A3, J35A4, and so on.

J35A Engine

With the introduction of the J35A engines in 1998, the family was started. It was a well-liked engine that was still produced in 2012. The J35A uses the same 3.5L V6 SOHC engine as the others and Honda’s VTEC technology. In the Honda Odyssey’s early 1998–2001 models, power is 210 horsepower. The J35 engine in Acura’s RL / TL models produces 286 horsepower. For the time these engines were released, they performed quite well.

The following models of Honda are equipped with J35A engines:

  • 2003-2008 Honda Pilot
  • 2004-2008 Honda Legend
  • 2006-2008 Honda Ridgeline
  • 1998-2010 Honda Odyssey

Engine: J35Z 3.5L V6

Honda J35Z engines, sometimes referred to as the 3.5L Earth Dreams engine, were produced between 2006 and 2014. The J35Z series of engines’ variants vary in how they have been updated from the J35A engine. Variable Cylinder Management is one significant distinction, however (VCM). In fact, a J35A engine did make use of this technology in some capacity. Nonetheless, the Honda J35Z 3.5 V6 engine’s VCM is much more prevalent.

These engines range from 244 to 280 horsepower and may be seen in the following standard years and years of production:

  • Honda Pilot (FWD only) 2006-2008
  • Honda Pilot 2009-2015
  • Honda Ridgeline 2009-2014
  • Honda Accord 2008-2012
  • Honda Odyssey 2011-2017

The J35Z3 in the 2008–2012 Honda Accord Coupe is the only motor that does not employ VCM technology.

J35Y 3.5 V6 Engine

The J35Y, the newest version of Honda’s 3.5 V6 engine, first went on sale in 2013. Variable Cylinder Management is used in all engines, except the Honda Accord with a manual gearbox. Direct fuel injection is also used by the majority of J35Y engines to improve efficiency, emissions, and performance. These J35 engines are the most potent, producing 278–310 horsepower.

The Honda models listed below have it:

  • Honda Accord (2013-2017)
  • Honda Legend (2014+)
  • Honda Pilot (2016+)
  • Honda Ridgeline (2017+)
  • Honda Odyssey (2018+)
  • Honda Passport (2019+)

We for the fairly long subject at hand. Over two decades in the making, there’s a lot to learn about an engine like this. Different Honda 3.5 V6 engines are affected differently by some of the issues we address, therefore it’s critical to make that distinction. We’ll provide a more thorough analysis of each Honda J35 engine in the future. For the time being, let’s get to the point of this article and talk about some typical issues with J35 3.5L V6 engines.

Common Issues with the Honda 3.5 V6 Engine.

All the different J35 engines have been discussed, and there is a lot more to be uncovered. As far as Honda 3.5 V6 VCM issues are concerned, there is a great deal of discussion to be had. A cylinder bank is disabled while the engine is running at low loads by the VCM (3 cylinders). In theory, it’s a terrific idea. Why not reduce pollution and fuel consumption by turning off three cylinders when you don’t need them? That doesn’t appear to be a problem.

VCM, on the other hand, has been plagued by many issues and failures. There is a problem with the gaskets on the J35 VCM, which have been known to leak oil. The Honda 3.5 VCM unit is located very next to the alternator, which is bad news if leaks occur. Oil leaking from the alternator isn’t a major issue if discovered in time.

According to reports, the VCM is sometimes cited as a contributing factor in instances of excessive oil use. 2008-2013 vehicles’ excessive oil usage prompted a class-action lawsuit in 2013. It didn’t cover the 2005-2007 J35A7 engine, however some mention VCM difficulties. Variable Cylinder Management also seems to be a contributing factor in engine mount, torque converter, and spark plug issues.

The issues don’t appear to be as frequent when compared to the most recent Honda 3.5 V6 Earth Dreams engine (J35Y). Aftermarket fixes and system disabling are still used by some. On the internet, this issue has been exaggerated, in our opinion. In any case, owners of 3.5L V6 engines should be aware of this issue.

What are the symptoms of the Honda J35 VCM?

The Honda 3.5L engine’s VCM problems present a wide range of symptoms. There isn’t always a clear solution since the VCM system (or because of VCM) may experience a variety of problems. There are, however, a few red flags to be aware of:

  • Consumption of oil at record levels
  • Vibrations caused by oil leaking
  • Ineffectiveness

The VCM system’s high oil consumption is a major source of worry. Always check the oil level, and don’t just depend on a car’s computer to warn you when it is low. If the gaskets on the VCM are leaking, you will probably notice a leak in the oil or smell the oil burning. This might suggest an issue with the J35 engine mounting.

We included poor overall performance as a symptom since it’s a common problem. Variable Cylinder Management problems may be indicated by a wide variety of symptoms. You may want to investigate the 3.5L VCM system if your vehicle is performing poorly.

The VCM of the Honda 3.5 V6 replacement

Of course, the specific solution will be determined by the problem at hand. There are, however, some third-party options, such as those offered by VCM Tuner. We can’t vouch for their efficacy and urge additional investigation. Some people, on the other hand, choose to completely deactivate VCM.

Those who stick with the Honda 3.5 V6 OEM solution may have no issues at all. As a matter of fact, we feel this problem has been exaggerated to some degree.

timing belt wear on Honda 3.5L V6
We’ll attempt to move on to the following subjects a little more quickly now that the VCM debate is over. The Honda 3.5 V6 engine’s timing belts aren’t a major source of failure. The recommended maintenance frequency for a J35 engine is every eight years or 160,000 kilometers. J35 timing belt seems to be free of significant defects or flaws, according to our testing.

However, it’s a critical component that should be checked out on a regular basis. The interference engine is the 3.5L V6. In other words, the pistons’ and valves’ paths cross. In most cases, interference engines are superior in terms of power and efficiency. A timing belt that is overly loose or snapped might cause the valve and piston to clash. Unfortunately, the news is not good.

It’s fairly uncommon for valves to flex when this happens. The Honda 3.5 V6 engine may suffer more harm. In any case, the cost of repairing bent valves will be prohibitive. To summarize, the Honda J35 timing belt is not a cause for concern, but rather a routinely scheduled maintenance item. Be careful to examine the belt whenever you’ve driven 100,000 to 160,000 KM and your vehicle is six to eight years old. Even if everything seems to be in order, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Timing Belt Failure in a J35 3.5L

Watch out for the following signs that the 3.5 V6 timing belt is about to fail:

  • Ticking sounds coming from the engine
  • Misfires
  • Loss of power with check engine light on (MIL)

Early warning signs of a timing belt failure might be elusive. When the Honda 3.5 timing belt is getting close to the end of its service life, one of the reasons we think it’s a good idea to do visual checks is because of this. But in certain situations, strange engine noises like ticking or chattering may be audible..

Power loss, MIL, and misfires might indicate that the belt has slipped. It is imperative that this problem be fixed as soon as possible since excessive sliding might result in the pistons and valves coming into violent contact.

Replacement of the Timing Belt on a 3.5L V6

Time belt replacement is an easy and simple fix. You should expect to pay between R1500 and R4000 depending on your Honda 3.5 V6’s model year. As a side note, replacing the water pump and the timing belt is an excellent idea. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the water pump since it may also create problems with the timing belt.

It’s a simple fix that may be done at home for a very low cost. If you’re taking your vehicle to a repair shop, be prepared to spend R1500 and R4000 on labor.

A Honda J35 3.5 Carbon Build-Up Issues

We’re back to the subject of carbon buildup once again. The problem is exclusive to the newer direct injection J35Y Earth Dreams engines. Direct injection (DI) has replaced port injection (PI) in many contemporary engines (DI). Generally speaking, the shift is in the best interest of everyone. There are several advantages to using direct injection, including better performance, lower pollutants, and lower fuel consumption. Almost seems like a dream come true, doesn’t it?

Direct injection engines, such as the Honda 3.5 V6 J35Y, have one drawback: carbon buildup on intake valves. Oil blow-by is a common occurrence in engines. This oil returns to the engine’s intake system, clinging to the intake ports & valves along the way. Spraying gasoline into intake ports and wiping away deposits is the traditional method of PI. Direct injection, on the other hand, delivers gasoline straight to the 3.5-liter V6 engine’s cylinders. On the intake valves, there is no method to remove the oil deposits.

A buildup of carbon on intake valves & ports occurs as a result of this over time. Maintenance of intake valves on DI engines, although seldom an emergency, is always a good idea. A vehicle’s performance and drivability might be adversely affected by excessive carbon deposits. This isn’t well-known about the Honda J35 engine. At about 110,000 to 180,000 kilometers, carbon build-up concerns are most likely to become apparent to the driver.

Carbon buildup in the 3.5L V6

Carbon buildup on the intake valves of the Honda J35 3.5L is characterized by the following:

  • Misfires due to power outage
  • Stuttering / hesitancy on the sidelines.

Carbon buildup has a significant impact on performance, resulting in a loss of power. In certain circumstances, it may have a major impact. This is due to the fact that carbon deposits begin to impede the passage of air into the cylinders. Since the loss of power happens across tens of thousands of kilometres, it is difficult to detect. Detection is difficult since there isn’t a rapid loss of power

The J35 intake valves will misfire as a result of excess carbon deposits. Detecting misfires may be a challenge since they might be caused by a variety of different difficulties. Spark plugs are a good place to start when it comes to car maintenance. After attempting the basic fixes, it’s possible that carbon buildup is to fault.

Honda 3.5 V6 Reliability

Is the 3.5-liter V6 Honda engine a dependable powerplant? In our opinion, the engine’s reliability is above average. Aside from the VCM problems there aren’t many big faults with the J35 3.5L engine. Some do come across difficulties with camshafts, although it may frequently boil down to inadequate maintenance. Otherwise, there wasn’t much to talk about. Timing belts are only necessary maintenance tools, and the drawback of direct injection’s otherwise excellent technology is carbon buildup.

Find quality used Honda engines for sale from our scrap yard network!

Of course, regular maintenance is key to reliability, and the 3.5 V6 engine is no exception. We constantly advise our customers to use high-quality oils, to perform routine fluid changes, and to address issues as soon as they arise. We have no control over the randomness that contributes to some of the reliability.

You’ll probably be rewarded with a decent, dependable experience if you take good care of the 3.5L J35 engine. There are no severe problems with the Honda 3.5 V6’s reliability after 300,000 kilometers, and that’s not unusual.

Common Problems with J35 3.5L Summary

Honda debuted the J35 3.5L motor in 1998 and it continues in manufacture to this day. There are a ton of various Honda 3.5 V6 versions due to its two plus decade lifespan. However, the 3.5L SOHC V6 engine is the identical in all of them. Additionally, each of these engines offers a decent blend of reliability, power and efficiency.

Honda’s VCM technology has been the subject of some controversy, including a lawsuit filed in 2013. Fortunately, for anybody who is genuinely worried, there are aftermarket solutions and methods to totally uninstall the system. There weren’t many additional actual concerns or shortcomings we could identify to discuss. Carbon buildup and timing belts are legitimate topics of conversation, but we don’t really see them as problems.

Overall, the Honda 3.5 V6 is a reliable reliability, particularly when well maintained. To most Honda J35 owners, the key to getting the most enjoyment out of their engine is to learn as much as you can about the essentials.

How do you feel about the Honda J35’s 3.5L engine? Are you contemplating one?

Let us know by leaving a comment!

craig sandeman rotated

Drawing from extensive expertise in the used car parts industry, Craig Sandeman has established himself as a trusted authority in automotive repair. He possesses a deep knowledge of the challenges encountered by individuals seeking reliable car parts, making him a highly sought-after expert in this field.


Potential issues, causes, and solutions have been identified in the above article based on the experiences of car owners and repairers, as well as web materials such as forum blogs and technical support bulletins. This data is supplied exclusively for the purpose of reference. Only appropriately qualified persons should perform repairs and/or changes on your vehicles.

While it’s important to keep in mind, it’s also important to note that the amount of times anything is mentioned here should not be seen as a sign of its reliability or frequency. Various owners, driving in different ways, and caring for their vehicles in distinct ways will cause two identical vehicles to perform differently.

As previously said, this material is supplied primarily for reference reasons; nonetheless, we hope that by doing so, we will be able to supply you with essential knowledge that will allow you to make informed decisions whenever you encounter any of the aforementioned setbacks.

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