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3 Most Common Honda 3.5

Jun 10, 2023

The Honda 3.5 V6, also known as the J35, was launched in 1998 and continues to feature in current models. With its long-standing presence, the engine has seen various updates and versions, but all retain the fundamental 3.5L V6 SOHC design. The J35 is known for its balanced performance, fuel efficiency, and dependability. However, like all engines, the Honda 3.5L V6 has its set of challenges. This article highlights some common issues with the J35 and assesses its overall reliability.

A few years ago, I acquired a Honda boasting the J35 3.5L V6 engine. Initially, its performance was impeccable, aligning with Honda’s reputation for reliability. However, over time, I began detecting subtle vibrations in the engine.

After some research, I learned about potential issues with the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system. My trusted mechanic confirmed my suspicions, pointing out a minor oil leak near the alternator, a typical VCM gasket concern.

To address this, I invested in aftermarket solutions and adopted a routine of manually checking the oil levels. Later, as I approached the 100,000-mile mark, I recalled the significance of the timing belt for the J35. An inspection revealed wear signs, prompting me to replace both the timing belt and the water pump.

This proactive approach not only prevented potential damage but also reinforced my commitment to maintaining the engine’s longevity.

The 3.5 V6 has multiple versions, which might be explored in a detailed post later. For this overview, we’ll focus on the J35A, J35Z, and J35Y engines. Each of these categories further branches out into sub-variants like J35A1, J35A3, J35A4, and so on.

Introduced in 1998, the J35A was the pioneer of the series and was manufactured until 2012. This 3.5L V6 SOHC engine, equipped with Honda’s VTEC system, initially delivered 210 horsepower in the 1998-2001 Honda Odyssey models.

In contrast, Acura RL and TL models equipped with the J35 engine boasted 286 horsepower, which was impressive for its time. The J35A can be found in various Honda and Acura vehicles:

Honda J35Z engines – also known as the Earth Dreams 3.5L – were made from 2006-2014. Specific updates from the J35A depend on each variant within the J35Z family of engines. However, one main difference is the use of Variable Cylinder Management (VCM).

One of the J35A did use this technology, too. However, it’s much more common to find VCM on the Honda J35Z 3.5 V6 . These engines offer 244-280hp, and are found in the following years and models:

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

In 2013, Honda introduced the latest version of its 3.5 V6 , the J35Y. This engine, except for the manual transmission variant in the Honda Accord, comes with Variable Cylinder Management.

The majority of J35Y engines also incorporate direct fuel injection, enhancing performance, reducing emissions, and improving fuel efficiency. With a power range of 278-310 horsepower, these are the most potent engines in the J35 series. You can find the J35Y in the following Honda and Acura vehicles:

Given the extensive history of the J35, spanning over two decades, there’s a lot to cover. Some issues are more prevalent in specific Honda 3.5 V6 variants, making it crucial to distinguish between them.

We’ll delve deeper into the intricacies of all Honda J35 engines in future discussions. For now, let’s explore some common challenges faced by the J35 3.5L V6 engines.

The Honda J35 3.5L V6 engine, while known for its reliability, does have a few common issues. Some of the most frequently reported problems include:

It’s essential to clarify that while these problems are among the most commonly reported, it doesn’t imply that a significant percentage of Honda 3.5 V6 experience them. Instead, when issues arise, these areas tend to be the usual suspects.

However, on the whole, the 3.5L V6 is known for its robust reliability. Honda has a reputation for producing durable and long-lasting vehicles and engines.

We’ll revisit the topic of the Honda 3.5 V6’s reliability towards the end of this discussion. For now, let’s delve deeper into the aforementioned challenges.

The Honda J35 series is vast, and so are the discussions around its issues, especially concerning the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system.

The VCM system is designed to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by deactivating one cylinder bank (3 cylinders) when the engine is under low loads.

The idea is straightforward: if you don’t need the full power, why not turn off some cylinders to save fuel and reduce emissions? Sounds ideal, right?

However, the reality has been a bit different. Numerous reports have highlighted various problems associated with the VCM system:

The newer J35Y engine, part of Honda’s Earth Dreams series, seems to have fewer VCM-related problems. Yet, some owners still opt for aftermarket solutions or even choose to deactivate the VCM system.

While online discussions might amplify the issue, it’s undeniable that the VCM system has had its challenges. Owners of the 3.5L V6 should be informed and vigilant about potential VCM-related problems.

The Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system in the Honda 3.5L can manifest a range of symptoms when malfunctioning.

Given the variety of potential problems linked to the VCM, there isn’t a single definitive sign. However, here are some common indicators:

The appropriate remedy largely depends on the specific problem:

Moving on from the VCM, let’s discuss the timing belt of the Honda 3.5 V6 engine. While not a significant reliability concern, it’s crucial to maintain and monitor the timing belt for optimal engine performance.

Maintenance and Importance: The recommended maintenance interval for the timing belt is every 8 years or 100,000 miles, though it’s always wise to consult the specific engine manual. The J35’s timing belt doesn’t have inherent flaws, but it’s a vital component.

Given that the 3.5L V6 is an interference engine, where the valves and pistons occupy overlapping spaces, a malfunctioning timing belt can lead to these parts colliding, causing significant damage.

Potential Damage: If the timing belt fails, it can result in bent valves or even more extensive engine damage. The repair costs for such damage can be substantial.

It’s often challenging to spot these symptoms before the timing belt completely fails. Hence, periodic visual inspections are recommended, especially as the belt approaches its expected lifespan.

Carbon build-up in engines isn’t a new topic, but it’s particularly relevant for newer engines like the J35Y Earth Dreams variant that employs direct injection (DI).

While DI offers numerous advantages, including enhanced performance, reduced emissions, and better fuel economy, it does come with its own set of challenges.

Engines naturally produce some oil blow-by, which can re-enter the intake system. In traditional port injection (PI) systems, fuel is sprayed into the intake ports, which helps clean away these oil deposits.

However, in DI engines like the J35Y, fuel is directly injected into the cylinders, leaving nothing to clean the intake valves. Over time, this results in carbon accumulation on the intake valves and ports.

Although it’s not an immediate concern, cleaning the intake valves in DI engines is a recommended maintenance step. The effects of carbon build-up typically become noticeable after 80,000 to 120,000 miles.

The Honda 3.5 V6, particularly the J35 variant, is generally considered to be above average in terms of reliability. While there are concerns related to the VCM system, the engine doesn’t have many inherent flaws.

Issues with camshafts have been reported, but these often stem from inadequate maintenance. The timing belt is a standard maintenance component, and the carbon build-up, though a downside, is a trade-off for the benefits of direct injection technology.

The longevity and performance of the Honda 3.5 V6 largely depend on regular maintenance. Using quality oils, timely fluid changes, and addressing issues promptly can significantly enhance the engine’s lifespan. While some aspects of reliability might be attributed to luck, proper care can tilt the odds in your favor.

With proper maintenance, it’s not rare for the Honda 3.5 V6 engine to surpass the 200,000-mile mark without encountering significant reliability issues.

The horsepower of the Honda 3.5 V6, also known as the J35, varies depending on the specific model and year. Generally, it ranges from 210 horsepower in earlier models to up to 310 horsepower in the latest versions.

Yes, Honda has produced V6 equipped with the VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) system. The VTEC system enhances engine performance by adjusting the valve timing and lift.

With proper maintenance, Honda V6 are known for their durability and longevity. It’s not uncommon for these engines to surpass the 200,000-mile mark without encountering significant reliability issues.

Yes, the 3.0 VTEC is a V6 . It’s one of Honda’s earlier V6 equipped with the VTEC system, commonly found in models like the Honda Accord and Acura CL.

Honda engines are generally known for their reliability. While it’s hard to pinpoint a single engine as the longest-lasting, models like the B-series, D-series, and the aforementioned V6 have a reputation for longevity, often surpassing 200,000 miles with proper care.

Honda V6 are primarily manufactured in Honda’s Anna Engine Plant in Ohio, USA. However, Honda has multiple manufacturing facilities worldwide, so the production location can vary based on the specific model and market.

In essence, the Honda 3.5 V6 stands out for its reliability, especially when maintained well. By adhering to basic maintenance routines, most Honda J35 owners can expect a long and satisfying experience with their engine.