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An Odyssey in our Honda Odyssey – 200,000 miles and counting

On our way home from a recent trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, we reached a significant milestone:  the odometer on our minivan reached 200,000 miles.  I had my camera ready and captured the moment.

Not only is this the first car we’ve owned that has reached 200,000 miles, it’s the first vehicle we ever purchased new. It’s a 2000 Honda Odyssey that we bought in the spring of 2000. It was the first year of the new body style and the first minivan to feature back row seats that folded down instead of needing to be removed.  With the seat folded down and the middle row seats removed, it can carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood.  And we’ve taken advantage of that several times over the years. The new Odyssey was so popular when it came out that there was a waiting list to buy one. This vehicle was also the first Honda we ever purchased. (We liked it so much that we bought a Honda Civic a few years ago when we needed to replace my husband’s car.) We had been told that Honda vehicles would reach 200,000 miles, so we did all the recommended maintenance over the years. I’m happy to report that this strategy worked for us.  We’ve hardly had any problems with it.

To celebrate, today I’m going to write a tribute to my Honda Odyssey.  I thought a good starting point would be the definition of Odyssey from Dictionary.com.  Here’s the second definition:

2.  a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships,etc.
 
I don’t think Honda could have picked a better name for this vehicle!  My family has most certainly had a long series of wanderings and adventures in this minivan.  There have definitely been some notable experiences, and unfortunately, a few hardships along the way too.  But before I get started, let’s look at the first definition too:
 
1.  an epic poem attributed to Homer, describing Odysseus’s adventures in his ten-year attempt to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War.
 
Just to be clear on expectations here, if you think I’m going to write an epic poem about the adventures in my minivan, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.  When I bought this Honda Odyssey, I was working in a manufacturing plant as the Facilities/Utilities Manager and a Project Manager. Two years ago I became a Book Author, but it has only been in the last month that I have begun to call myself a Travel Writer. 20 years ago, I would never have predicted this change in career path and that I would actual enjoy writing. That said,  I can guarantee you 100% that I will never, ever be a Poet. For this tribute, prose will have to suffice.

We purchased our minivan 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my second child, because we decided that we needed a roomier vehicle.  We were living in northern California at the time.  Shortly before my daughter was born, I found out that my plant was being closed and that we would have to move back to Ohio after my maternity leave ended.  Most (sane) people don’t think of maternity leave as being an ideal time to travel, but the clock was ticking on our time left in California and there were still a long list of places we wanted to see. At the top of my list was the desert.  Almost on the spur of the moment, we decided to drive down to Death Valley National Park for Labor Day Weekend.  It was our first road trip in the Odyssey.  We strapped our 2-year-old son and our 7-week-old daughter into their carseats and off we went.  Along the way, we stopped at Pinnacles National Monument, where we took this picture:

That’s me with my now almost-14-year-old son, Connor, with our Honda Odyssey in the background.  That was so long ago that I took the photo with a film camera and had to scan in into my computer in order to post it. Another major technology change since then is how we played movies.  We had the latest and greatest feature put into our minivan–a flip-down TV screen with a VCR so the kids could watch movies.  After a wonderful weekend in Death Valley, we started on the journey back home, which Google Maps says is supposed to take 8 hours.   With a fussy 7-week-old baby (does that qualify as a hardship?), it took us 11 hours to get home.   On the way home, Connor watched Disney’s The Lion King.  As soon as it finished he wanted to watch it again.  And again and again and again.  In all, he watched The Lion King five times in a row on the way home.

Since then, we’ve taken many more trips in our Odyssey.  I spent a few hours going back through all the pictures I’ve taken in the last 12 years looking for photos where my Odyssey made a cameo appearance in the background. Somewhat surprisingly, there weren’t very many.  So here it is, a summary of our wanderings and adventures in our Odyssey over the last 12 years with commentary about the notable experiences and hardships, and links and photos where available.

July, 2000 – My husband drove me in our Odyssey to the hospital where our older daughter, Corinne, was born.  I came rather close to birthing Corinne in the Odyssey.  My entire labor was only three hours long and I barely made it to the hospital in time.  When I got into the labor and delivery room, I was fully dilated and she was born 17 minutes later.  A couple days later we brought Corinne home from the hospital in our Odyssey.

September, 2000 – First road trip to Death Valley National Park.  Photo above.

February, 2001 – We moved (back) to Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Odyssey hitched a ride on a moving truck.

June, 2002 – Road trip to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.  We stayed in a cabin at a Jellystone Campground nearby where this photo was taken.

October, 2002 – My husband drove me to the hospital where our youngest daughter Camille was born.  This time we made it with plenty of time to spare.  Camille also rode home from the hospital in our Odyssey.

June, 2003 – My friend Laura and I started a weekly summertime tradition that we call “Adventure Tuesday.” Every Tuesday that summer we took our kids to a local destination they hadn’t been to before. At the time, we had no idea that our weekly adventures would eventually turn into a local family travel guide book which we titled Adventures Around Cincinnati.  Back then, we had only five kids between the two of us, so we would all ride together in one minivan and Laura and I took turns driving. Our book has over 80 destinations, so that means my Odyssey took us to about 40 of them. I found two pictures of my Odyssey on our Adventure Tuesdays. The first was on the Anderson Ferry, a car ferry that crosses the Ohio River in Cincinnati. The kids thought it was cool that a minivan could take a ride on a boat.

The second adventure photo was taken shortly after Corinne’s birthday party that featured a butterfly theme. We gave away monarch butterfly chrysalises as favors.  Before the butterflies emerge, the chrysalis turns black. We knew the butterfly emergence was imminent, so we brought the chrysalis with us on our adventure. We went to a museum where we had to ask the front desk clerk to babysit our chrysalis so we wouldn’t have to leave it in the hot minivan.  Shortly after we left the museum, while I was driving, Camille announced that the butterfly was emerging. By the time I found a place to park, the butterfly was out of its chrysalis and I took this picture. Later we went to a park where we released it.

July, 2003 – We packed up the Honda Odyssey for our first year of Family Camp at YMCA Storer Camps in Michigan. I couldn’t find any pictures of the Odyssey there, but we made many happy memories there.  One year we bought a bike rack and strapped it on the back to carry all our bikes to camp. After every trip to Family Camp, we stopped at my husband’s grandfather’s (now uncle’s) house which inspired my Michigan Beaches post.

July, 2005 – I took the kids on our first road trip without my husband. We went to St. Louis for a few days.

October, 2005 – We drove the Odyssey all the way to Florida to Walt Disney World. It was this trip that got us started on our 50 state goal which eventually led to this blog.

January, 2006 – Our Odyssey has made many trips to the grandparents’ houses in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania over the years. We  started 2006 with a New Years trip to an indoor waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells with the grandparents.

April, 2006 – I made another husband-less trip with the kids over Spring Break to Niagara Falls.  That was the first time I took the kids to another country on my own.

May, 2006 – We ventured to the stunningly beautiful Hocking Hills State Park  for Memorial Day weekend with my parents.  Later in the summer we visited their house where my father pulled out his old river raft.  Just as he did when I was a kid, he filled it with water, perfect for cooling off in the summer heat.

August, 2006 – We went on a amazing road trip to New England where we checked off a bunch of states.  I’ve written several blog posts from that trip:  Lobster Boat Cruise in Maine, Acadia National Park in Maine, Fort Adams State Park in Maine, and Billings Farm & Museum in Vermont.

August, 2007 – This marked the first time we let the kids pick our vacation destination.  They wanted to go to Texas.  One very hot day we went to the Space Center in Houston. When we got back to the minivan, all the kids’ crayons in the back seat had melted. What a mess! That evening we went to Kemah Boardwalk. Later in the trip we were supposed to go to San Antonio, but Tropical Storm Erin decided she wanted to go to San Antonio too. After some serious white-knuckle driving through Erin, we changed our plans and headed north where we discovered Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

Sometime in 2008 – One morning I was driving Camille to her Kindermusik lesson when she announced that there was a “real live mouse” running around in our minivan.   Somehow I managed not to completely panic and lose my composure and made it to the parking lot where I chased the mouse out of our Odyssey.  And to prove that God has a sense of humor, that day in her lesson, Camille learned to play a song called Mouse, Mousie.

April, 2010 – We put a lot of those 200,000 miles on our Odyssey in 2010.  We took a trip to my parents’ house in PA for Easter where we always have an Easter Egg hunt in their yard. We had no way of knowing that day was the last time we would see my uncle alive.

May, 2010 – Shortly after our Easter trip, my uncle found out his cancer had returned and a month later we went back to PA for his funeral.  This picture was taken on the second trip.

August, 2010 – We drove out west for our biggest road trip to date.  Here are the kids at the beginning of the trip.

One memorable hardship occurred on this trip and it was my own fault.  On the second night of the trip we were driving and I didn’t make a motel reservation because I wanted to see how far we could make it.  When we started getting tired, I started looking for a motel. Looking up phone numbers in my AAA Tour Book and our GPS, I called every motel within 200 miles and there was not a single vacancy. Eventually we pulled over at a truck stop and slept in our Odyssey.  The Honda Odyssey is a terrific minivan, but a terrible motel room.  The next morning we went to see some Prairie Dogs in South Dakota.  A few days later we visited Custer State Park where we got up close and personal with the wild burros.

We then moved on to Grand Teton National Park, then to Yellowstone National Park, where the kids had a blast scampering all over the rocks.

We also had some memorable wildlife encounters in Yellowstone.  The bison got a little too close for comfort to our minivan.

OK, so this is cheating a little since the Odyssey isn’t visible in the picture, but we spotted a bear while driving along the road and took this picture from the minivan.  The picture is rather blurry, but this definitely ranks up there in terms of memorable moments in our minivan.

After leaving Yellowstone, we drove north to Glacier National Park in Montana, further north into Alberta, then across North Dakota, to Minneapolis, then home.  18 days total.  Amazing trip.

February, 2011 – Our first trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama.  We went to a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile and these pictures show all the loot the kids collected.

July, 2011 – Remember my dad’s raft that my kids splashed in?  Last summer for my dad’s 80th birthday, his birthday wish was to go rafting with his three sons-in-law and grandchildren (except the toddlers).  So they tied the raft on the top of our Odyssey and took it out on the Ohio River where they paddled downstream for a couple hours.

February, 2012 – Odometer hits 200,000 miles on the way home from a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama.

200,000 miles, 37 states, and a whole lot of memories in one minivan. And we’re not done yet.  With orthodontist bills, tuition, and college looming in the not-too-distant future, we’re hoping to get a few more years out of our Odyssey.  We recently got all the maintenance done that is recommended at 190,000 miles.  Who knows, Connor might (gulp!) learn to drive in this minivan.

While the engine is running just fine, the interior of the minivan is another story. Between melted crayons, occasional fast food meals, and kids who think that the floor is a trash can, the interior has really taken a beating.  We replaced the VCR with a DVD player a few years back, but since then the flip-down TV screen has broken off.  The one thing that I have never done is to have the interior of the car detailed.  I’ve thought about it, but figured it would just get dirty again within a matter of days.

Unlike some of my friends, I am not longing for the day I can get rid of my minivan.  I am still relishing the minivan lifestyle; carpools and road trips suit me just fine.  I wonder if my Odyssey will still be around at 300,000 miles.  If so, I’ll write another tribute.  If not, I already know what I’m going to replace it with:  another Honda Odyssey, of course.

Disclosure:  In case you were wondering, Honda DID NOT sponsor this post, nor did anyone at Honda know I was going to write it. This was my honest opinion–I really do love my Odyssey.

33 comments to An Odyssey in our Honda Odyssey – 200,000 miles and counting

  • kyle

    awesome story! my 2003 ex-l dvd went to 174,000 miles and every state on the east coast,alabama, ohio, indiana, tenesee, chicago, and canada a few times. we drove this car everywhere. sadly, we had to turn her in when her transmission died. she was a great car, and the interior was spotless. you really should pay the money to have the car completely steamed out. youd appreicate the car so much more and the stuff they use prevents the carpets from being stained again. im an auto detailler. we live on long island, and we have since replaced out odysssey with a 2012 pilot ex-l. we have 2 hondas now. a cr-v, and a pilot.

    • Terri

      Kyle – I’m glad you liked the story. Thanks for visiting my blog. Stain prevention sounds like a good idea. Maybe I should go for it.

      • kyle

        i’m planning on getting a 2004 honda odyssey in white in the near fututre. theyre just awesome cars

  • Anonymous

    We have a 2000 Honda Odyssey with 152740 miles on it.
    Odometer looks like that one except the 200000 is replaced with 152740.

  • Dino Karakostas

    I have a 2005 odyssey touring with 129,000 miles and I love it so much I dont want to get rid of it but I was afraid of the miles. I purchaced it new and the miles are mostly all highway. After reading your story I feel so much better and more confident that I have many more years with it. Thanks

  • Wow! Good to know that my 7-year-old, 70,000+mile Odyssey has many more miles in her!

  • Pat

    I have a Honda Odyssey 2002 and just clocked in with 200000 miles .Will let you know if I can make it to 300000

    Had one transmission replaced at 100000 which was under warranty and replaced but still going on.

    Thanks

  • cristina

    Our 2003 Honda Odyssey is at 207000 miles and we just bought it…….fingers crossed but it does have a new rebuilt transmission…….but we love it

  • Nancy

    Our family had many memories in our 2001 Odyssey. It was part of our family. Yesterday, we gave it to some friends who were in need. It had 232,000 miles on it. We are happy that we will still be able to see it and that someone else will be able to enjoy it.

    • Rachel

      Nancy, I just burst into tears at your generosity. I am sure it meant so much to your friends to have the van.

  • Karen

    We have a 2003 Honda Odyssey with 238,000 miles on it. I love my Odyssey it has traveled to basketball, gymnastics, waterpolo and swim tournaments all over California. I really don’t want to be a minivan mom for ever but I don’t know what I want. Our son is away at college(purchased him a 2011 Honda Element which is loves), and our daughter will turn sixteen next year(planning on getting her a Honda Civic). It’s time for me to get a car that I want but I just can’t see life without my Odyssey. I hope it will continue our family journey for a few more years, it looks great outside but I can’t get the enormous Jamba Juice stain our of the carpet. Love my Odyssey

  • Mohammad

    Great story. My Honda Odyssey also completed 200,000 milestone. Still going great. My family has lot of memories with this car. I don’t want to trade this with another. Try to keep as long as I can. My wfe doesn’t want to go long trip with my Odyssey anymore. Doesn’t feel comfortable due to high mileages. Time for another Odyssey!
    Enjoy and collect memories.

    • Terri Weeks

      Mohammad – that’s terrific! I’ve been hearing tales of transmission problems, but I say if it’s still running, then you might as well keep it.

  • Dee

    I am in the process of buying an 2007 Odyssey with 130k miles. I am hoping to get at least 80k more miles out of this car. You gave me the hope that I am making the right choice for my family as I have to get rid of a brand new car due to financial difficulties. Your family is beautiful and I plan to drive my children to Ohio and TN to visit family in this van.

    Thank you for your post.

    D

  • Diane

    I have loved my 2002 Honda Odyssey also. Love the fact that I can fit a full size couch in it with room to spare. I have 215,000 miles on it right now, but I am having transmission troubles and need it replaced..I’m contemplating if it’s worth it or not, even though mechanic says engine will last a long time, but other parts go too!

  • Mili

    We have a 2010 Odyssey (EX model). Compared to the other German cars we have, it has been worry free till today. Only 33K on it, but very reliable. Good to know that we can keep it for another 10 years easily and we have lots of memories on it with our kids. i drive only this van and i like it.

  • John

    2001 Odyssey with 432k on it and still running strong. Transmissions replaced 2: and on my third, each one lasting a little longer than the one before it. Same engine, it still steams on a cold morning and cranks with the first bump of the key. Odyssey’s are great, no doubt. The wife’s Odyssey (Odyssey #2, we’re a two Odyssey family) just turned 200k. It’s a 2002 that we drive less. Honda’s taken care of regularly, are just getting broke in good at 200k. A friend of mine drove his ’96 model 526k. And as the interior’s go, we have them detailed at least once a year, sometimes twice – makes ’em look and smell new. I’m a big guy and have had my drivers seat reupholstered once at 300k. Mechanically I’m not spending a $1000 a year yet, even with three transmissions, so there’s no need to trade for something newer. Once the van get’s a family name, mine’s called “Odi”, it’s time to realize they’re a part of the family. My son named ours about 60k, and the name just stuck. Both he and my daughter learned to drive in Odi and to them it’s like the family pet.

    • Terri Weeks

      Wow! That’s quite a story. I am impressed! Thanks for sharing.

    • Alison Durant

      John! I can’t tell you how glad I am to read that!! Just today I sat at the side of the road IN TEARS, as my steady, faithful Oddy reved, but would not go. She is 8 years old with over 200,000 miles on her. My husband was reluctant to spend the 2500 to replace the tranny, but I just HAD to! I am bolstered in my decision to keep her as we have had no other major issues (original owners)and she runs well otherwise. I am glad to know that with proper care, she may go the distance! Aside from the fact that I love this van, I really don’t want another car payment right now. My interior looks like hell. The armrests are peeling (or being peeled off by bored kids.)(frown) I may just ASK about new ones, how much could they be?? LOL! But otherwise this is a great vehicle. Your post has made me feel LOTS better today, Thanks!

  • Brian McCue

    Our 1999 Honda Oddy EX has about 220,000 miles. It has been through 1 transmission, 1 CAT converter, many ignition coil packs (and EZ fix now), a few EGR valves (and cleanings), 1 radio (kids put coins in CD slot), a few door motors, etc. BUT, we have enjoyed the van over the years and last year we passed it down to our 17 year old daughter and replaced it with a 2014 Honda Ridgeline. I personally drive a 2001 Civic with 285,000 miles on it…

  • Nancy

    The next time your automatic side doors do not work, take the clock fuse out for a few minutes and put it back in. This resets your door. Also, lubricate your doors. If you live where it is cold, use a lubricant that is for cold weather. We almost spent $1000 at the Honda dealer to fix our door, but learned online to take out the clock fuse. Look in your manual to find out which fuse is the clock fuse. Our Odyssey was a 2001.

  • MikeDonnelly

    Have a 2000 Odyssey with 196k so same van as Terri’s. They were so popular at the time we were asked how much over sticker we wanted to pay. We said none, so he said well I can only give you a white one then. Trans died at 99k so lucky because covered under warranty. Engine mounts just went bad and gaskets are getting dried out, so we need to sink another $1400 into her… Not sure if it is worth it, but after reading this, I’d say yes. Thanks!

    Interior still amazing, and cargo room is the best, it is now my daughters vehicle, and we still use it when the Honda Pilot can’t fit something.

  • mary

    2004 odyssey 200k no problems and with original transmission. Time for new tires and the 200k service, so I am surfing the web trying to decide whether to keep or get a new one. Nice blog and good luck with yours.

  • Ruby Lover

    My 2010 Odyssey “Ruby” has 150K (we bought it new)and I DO NOT WANT TO GET A NEW VAN but my husband is insisting. I test drove a 2014 and it was nice, but honestly, I’m so attached to my van it’s sort of sick. I mean, I love this van. Yes, it is starting to make the “I need a new transmission” noise. And yes, the gas swooshes from one side of the tank to the next, but I find all of this endearing. I’m driving my high school junior all over the country looking at colleges and my husband thinks a new one would be safer. I just can hardly bring myself to discuss it. I know, I need help. . .

  • Lisa

    I am so glad to find your post today. We just learned that our beloved 2001 Odyssey with 185k miles finally needs a new transmission. We are trying to decide what to do. My husband loves the car. For me it has taken us through child raising (daughter was 8 and son was 2 when we bought it; she’s in college, he’s in high school) and all those memories are hard to let go! We have petty much only owned Hondas: we have a civic and a cr-v right now.

    My one question is, we are in the north east and have had to drive this car through lots and lots of salt (=snow and ice). Would that change the length of time we might expect to keep this car?

  • Celene

    I have a 2006 Odyssey with 211,000 miles on it and it still runs like new. I’m hoping to get into the 300,000 mile range!

  • Alex Bury

    Thanks for the great blog. I am saving for an Odyssey right now that I will use to travel across the country to pursue work as a professional rock climbing instructor. Anyone have any recommendations as to how to avoid buying a used Odyssey and avoid transmission issues? How about the best model for travel? I don’t want to spend much more than 10k. Thanks for any help!
    AB
    alexfbury@gmail.com

  • BobBob

    Alex: I have a 2002 Odyssey with 219000 and on it’s 3rd tranny. The 3rd tranny has 85000 and seems to be holding up. I have researched newer (used) odysseys and decided the 2010 seems to have a good record. They made a major change in 2011, and I never like to buy a new model the first year. The 2010’s I find with reasonable mileage seem to be selling in the $17,000 to 20,000 range so I may have to get a few more years out of the 2002.
    Terri, thanks for your blog.

  • Ed Milam

    Thank you for your post. We have a 2004 Odyssey with 196,000 original transmission in the Chicago area. We have some long trips coming up in 2015 and are wondering if we should consider replacing ours in the new year… The more I read here, the more I think we should just keep driving her….