Honda J35 3.5 V6 Engine Specs, Problems & Reliability

Honda 3.5 V6 Engine Problems

The Honda 3.5 V6 engine made its debut in 1998 and is still used today in a variety of Honda models. Since the J35 has been around for so long, it has undergone numerous modifications and improvements.

All engines, however, are based on the same 3.5-liter SOHC V6 architecture. J35 engines have a good mix of power, efficiency, and dependability. But no engine is perfect, and the Honda 3.5L V6 is no exception. We’ll go over some of the more common issues with the Honda J35 3.5 V6 engine, as well as how reliable it is in general.

J35 Engine Variants

The 3.5 V6 comes in a wide variety of flavors, so this will probably get its own post in the future. For the time being, it’s critical to provide a basic understanding of these engines. The J35A, J35Z, and J35Y engines are all that we’re focusing on. However, there are numerous variations within each engine, including the J35A1, J35A3, and J35A4.

Honda J35A Engine

In 1998, the J35A engine family was introduced with the release of the first of its kind. It was a well-liked engine that was still produced in 2012. The J35A, like the others, has a 3.5-liter SOHC V6 engine with Honda’s VTEC technology. Honda Odyssey models from 1998 to 2001 have 210 horsepower as standard output.

The J35 engine delivers 286 hp to the Acura RL and TL. For the time period, these engines were released, they delivered respectable results. Honda and Acura use the J35A engine in the following vehicles:

  • 1998-2010 Honda Odyssey
  • 2001-2006 Acura MDX
  • 2003-2008 Honda Pilot
  • 2004-2008 Honda Legend
  • 2005-2008 Acura RL
  • 2007-2008 Acura TL Type-S
  • 2006-2008 Honda Ridgeline

J35Z 3.5L V6 Engine

Between 2006 and 2014, Honda produced J35Z engines, also known as Earth Dreams 3.5L engines. The J35A engine’s specific updates are dependent on the J35Z family’s variants. However, the use of Variable Cylinder Management is a significant distinction (VCM). This technology was also employed by one of the J35A engines.

The Honda J35Z 3.5 V6 engine, on the other hand, has a much higher incidence of VCM. In the following years and models, these engines produce 244-280 horsepower.

  • 2006-2008 Honda Pilot (FWD only)
  • 2009-2015 Honda Pilot
  • 2009-2014 Honda Ridgeline
  • 2008-2012 Honda Accord
  • 2013-2018 Acura RDX
  • 2010-2014 Acura TSX
  • 2009-2014 Acura TL
  • 2011-2017 Honda Odyssey

The J35Z3 in the 2008-2012 Honda Accord 6MT Coupe is the only engine that does not use VCM technology.

Honda J35Y 3.5 V6

The J35Y, Honda’s newest 3.5-liter V6 engine, went on sale in 2013. Variable Cylinder Management is standard on all Honda Accord engines except the manual transmission model.

Direct fuel injection is also standard on most J35Y engines, which improves performance, reduces emissions, and conserves fuel. The most powerful J35 engines have a power range of 278-310 hp. There are several Honda and Acura models that have this feature as standard equipment:

  • 2013-2017 Honda Accord
  • 2014+ Acura RLX
  • 2014+ Honda Legend
  • 2014-2020 Acura MDX
  • 2015-2020 Acura TLX
  • 2016+ Honda Pilot
  • 2017+ Honda Ridgeline
  • 2018+ Honda Odyssey
  • 2019+ Honda Passport

We apologise in advance for the lengthy nature of this article. An engine that has been around for over two decades has a lot to unpack. Because some of the issues we discuss only affect certain Honda 3.5 V6 engines, it’s critical to distinguish between them.

We’ll go into more detail about each of the Honda J35 engines in the future. For the time being, let’s get down to business and talk about some of the more common issues that occur with the J35 3.5L V6 engines.

Common Honda 3.5 V6 Engine Problems

The Honda J35 3.5L V6 engine has a number of common problems, including the following:

  • Variable Cylinder Management (VCM)
  • Timing belt
  • Carbon build-up

The remainder of this article will go into greater detail on these issues. However, we believe it’s critical to include a few quick clarifications. These are some of the more common issues, in our opinion.

In other words, just because something is common doesn’t mean it will affect the vast majority of people who own Honda 3.5 V6 engines. Instead, these are some of the most common places where things go wrong.

Having said that, the 3.5-liter V6 has a good track record of dependable performance. Since we’re talking about Honda here, it’s safe to assume that many people are familiar with their reputation for building durable, dependable vehicles and engines. At the end of the article, we’ll return to the topic of Honda 3.5 reliability. Anyway, let’s get to the meat of the matter and talk about it.

1) 3.5L V6 Variable Cylinder Management Issues

As previously stated, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to the variety of J35 engines available. Problems with the VCM system in Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 engine are also a topic worth debating.

The VCM shuts down one cylinder bank when the engine isn’t working hard (3 cylinders). Theoretically, it’s an excellent piece of technology. Why not reduce emissions and fuel economy by shutting down three cylinders when you don’t need all of the power? That doesn’t seem to be a problem.

There have, however, been numerous reports of the VCM system failing or having flaws. J35 VCM gaskets, for example, have a history of developing oil leaks. The fact that the Honda 3.5 VCM is so close to the alternator means that any leaks that do occur will be even more problematic. Oil leaking from the alternator is bad news, but if discovered in time, it’s not a major issue.

It appears that the VCM is also responsible for some instances of excessive oil consumption. In 2013, a class-action lawsuit was filed over high oil consumption in models from 2008 to 2013.

Those early J35A7 engines from 2005 to 2007 were excluded, but some have reported problems with the VCM systems on those engines as well. Variable Cylinder Management has also been linked to issues with engine mounts, torque converters, and spark plugs in addition to increased oil consumption.

It appears that problems are fewer in the newer Honda 3.5-liter V6 Earth Dreams engine (J35Y). Many opt for aftermarket alternatives or simply disable the system entirely. We believe the internet has exaggerated the severity of this issue. No matter what, 3.5L V6 owners should be on the lookout for this issue.

Honda J35 VCM Symptoms

The Honda 3.5L engine’s VCM problem symptoms can be quite diverse. Since the VCM system (or VCM itself) can have a variety of problems, there isn’t always a simple solution. However, there are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • High oil consumption
  • Oil leaks
  • Vibrations
  • Poor operation

One of the main issues with the VCM system is the amount of oil it consumes. Don’t just rely on the computer to tell you when the oil is low; make sure you check it periodically. Oil leaks or the smell of burning oil are signs that the VCM gaskets need to be replaced. There may be issues with the J35 engine mounts if you experience vibrations or other issues.

Poor overall performance is a general complaint, but it was included on this list for a reason. As previously stated, there are numerous indicators of Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) issues. The 3.5L V6 VCM system may be in need of repair if the vehicle isn’t running smoothly.

Honda 3.5 V6 VCM Fix

Of course, the specific solution will vary based on the problem. There are, however, some third-party options, such as VCM Tuner’s products. Because we don’t know for sure if they’re effective, we recommend you do your own research. Some people, on the other hand, choose to completely turn off VCM.

Those who stick with the Honda 3.5 V6’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) solution may have no issues. Since we believe this problem has been exaggerated to some degree, most people won’t have any problems.

2) Honda 3.5 V6 Timing Belt Wear

We’ll try to move through the remaining topics 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. A J35 engine needs to be serviced every eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. The J35 timing belt does not appear to have any major flaws or problems.

However, it’s a critical piece of maintenance, and it’s prudent to conduct random checks on it. An interference engine is what powers the 3.5L V6. This implies that the areas over which the valves and pistons travel are overlapping.

The power and efficiency of interference engines are generally higher. However, if the timing belt slips or snaps excessively, the valves and pistons may collide. This is bad news.

Some valves will likely bend as a result of this. There’s a chance the Honda 3.5 V6 will sustain more damage. Any way you look at it, replacing a set of bent valves is not going to be cheap. To summarize, the Honda J35 timing belt is not a cause for concern because it is a routinely maintained component.

When your belt is 6-8 years old and has traveled 75,000 to 100,000 miles, it’s time to have it inspected. Even if everything appears to be in order, it’s best to stick to the schedule.

J35 3.5L Timing Belt Symptoms

If you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to replace the 3.5 V6 timing belt.

  • Weird engine noises (ticking/slapping)
  • Misfires
  • Check engine light (MIL)
  • Power loss

Before the timing belt breaks, it’s difficult to tell if anything is wrong. As the Honda 3.5 timing belt nears the end of its useful life, we believe visual inspections are a good idea. Some strange engine noises like ticking or chattering, however, are possible.

Misfires, power loss, and the presence of a MIL are all signs that the timing belt has loosened a little. It’s an emergency repair at this point because too much slipping could cause the valves and pistons to collide.

3.5L V6 Timing Belt Replacement

Fortunately, changing the timing belt is a low-cost fix. The cost of a timing belt and water pump kit for a Honda 3.5 V6 varies by year and model. In this respect, the water pump and the belt should be replaced. Because seized water pumps can lead to timing belt problems, performing preventive maintenance on them is highly recommended.

The task isn’t too difficult for do-it-yourselfers, so it’s a very affordable fix. If you’re taking your car to a mechanic, be prepared to spend between $150 and $300 on labor.

3) Honda J35 3.5 Carbon Build-Up Problems


Once again, we’re discussing the accumulation of carbon. To be clear, only J35Y Earth Dreams engines with direct injection after model year 2000 are affected by this problem. Port injection (PI) has long been used in modern engines, but many now use direct injection (DI) (DI). The transformation has been largely positive.

Fuel economy, emissions, and performance are all improved with direct injection. Everything sounds great – almost too good to be true, don’t you think?

One disadvantage of direct injection engines, such as the Honda 3.5 V6 J35Y, is carbon buildup on the intake valves. Oil blow-by is a normal byproduct of motor operation. After returning to the engine’s intake, the oil collects on intake ports and valves.

PI sprays fuel into the intake ports and wipes away any deposits in the traditional manner. Instead of injecting fuel into the 3.5L V6, direct injection sprays it directly into the cylinders. There’s nothing to clean the intake valves of oil residue.

Over time, the intake valves and ports accumulate carbon buildup. Intake valve cleaning on DI engines is generally good maintenance, even if it isn’t an emergency. Excessive carbon buildup can impair a car’s handling and overall performance.

The Honda J35 engine doesn’t have a lot of information on this subject just yet, unfortunately. Problems with carbon build-up usually do not appear until the vehicle has traveled 80,000 to 120,000 miles.

3.5L V6 Carbon Build-Up Symptoms

A buildup of too much carbon can cause the following problems in a Honda J35 3.5L engine:

  • Power loss
  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Stuttering/hesitation

Power loss is a significant problem associated with carbon buildup. It’s significant in some situations. The reason for this is that carbon deposits in the cylinder walls begin to restrict airflow. However, because it occurs over a distance of tens of thousands of miles, power loss can be extremely subtle. If you’re having trouble finding it, it’s not from a sudden drop in power.

Misfires, on the other hand, are a common sign of carbon buildup on the J35 intake valves. Misfires can be caused by a variety of different problems, making it difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem. Start with the basics, such as spark plugs, when troubleshooting a car. Carbon build-up may be the cause of misfires if the simple fixes don’t work.

Honda 3.5 V6 Reliability

Is the 3.5-liter V6 Honda engine dependable? The engine’s reliability rating is above average, in our opinion. The J35 3.5L engine has only a few minor flaws, one of which is the VCM. Camshafts can malfunction for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is poor maintenance. Apart from that, there wasn’t much to talk about. Timing belts are merely necessary for routine maintenance, and carbon buildup is a drawback of direct injection’s otherwise excellent design.

The Honda 3.5 V6 engine’s reliability is largely dependent on proper maintenance, which also applies to other engines of the same type. We always suggest using high-quality oils, changing fluids on schedule, and correcting issues as they arise. Some dependability is determined by chance, and we have no control over that.

If you take good care of your 3.5L J35 engine, it should give you many years of trouble-free service. There have been no major problems with the Honda 3.5 V6’s reliability in excess of 200,000 miles.

J35 3.5L Common Problems Summary

The J35 3.5L engine was introduced by Honda in 1998 and is still in production today. The Honda 3.5 V6 has undergone numerous modifications over the course of its two-and-a-half decade existence. However, they are all powered by the same 3.5L SOHC V6 engine. In addition, each one has a respectable mix of performance, efficiency, and dependability.

Honda’s VCM system has been the subject of some controversy and even a lawsuit in 2013. But for those who are really worried, there are aftermarket alternatives and methods of erasing the entire system from the computer completely. Other than that, we couldn’t come up with many real issues or flaws to discuss. If you ask us, we don’t consider timing belts or carbon buildup to be problems.

Overall, the Honda 3.5 V6 is a dependable engine, especially if you keep it well-maintained. For the most part, owners of the Honda J35 will enjoy their time with the engine as long as they pay attention to the fundamentals.

The Honda J35 3.5L engine has been around for quite some time now. Are you thinking about it?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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