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post #1 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
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2004 Accord EX I-4 Transmission Whining Noise

Hi All! I bought a 2004 Accord EX 4-cyl a month ago from a Honda dealer in my area with 110,000 miles on it. After I took the car home, I noticed what could only be described as a whining noise coming from the engine that I hadn't noticed on my test drive. It made the noise when I started the car, revved the engine in park, when I accelerated, or even when the car was just coasting.

The best example of this noise that I can find online is here: Mine isn't quite that loud, but the tone of it and the fact that it changes with the engine RPMs is exactly the same

I took it back to Honda and they diagnosed it as a bad power steering pump. They replaced the pump, charged me $250 and sent me on my way. A few minutes after driving it out of the service center, I noticed that the noise was still there, so I called the sales manager that I had been working with. Even though the car was out of the "lemon law" warranty in NY, they agreed to take another look at it. This time, they told me that the noise was coming from the transmission, and it needed to be rebuilt. Thankfully, they also agreed to pay for it.

After a week and a half, I had my car back with a rebuilt transmission and a 12-month unlimited warranty. I was assured that everything was fine and that multiple technicians had driven the car. However, just like the last time, once I drove the car away, I still heard the whining noise. The car's shift from 1st to 2nd when accelerating slowly was also just as sluggish as it was before. It left me wondering if they did anything at all other than disconnecting the battery and replacing the fluid.

Last week, I brought it back again and spoke with one of their senior service managers. He sent the car back out and called me later in the week to tell me that the shop said the noise was being caused by a bad main shaft bearing. I asked him how this had been missed during the rebuild, and he said he didn't really know.

I got the car this past Friday and listened very carefully. The noise is actually still there, but it's quieter and the car seems to have better pickup. The slightly sluggish shifting is still there when I accelerate slowly, but when I accelerate quickly, it's smooth. The noise doesn't seem to be there when I start it up anymore, and when I rev the engine in park, it's virtually inaudible.

My question at this point is, what do I do? Should I bring it back and have them look at it a 4th time? It's under warranty for a year, so I can if I want to, but I'm really tired of having to give up my car for a week plus each time. I don't understand why it's so hard to take care of this noise. I've had the car for 6 weeks, and it's been in the shop for about 3 1/2 of them.

I was thinking about selling the car and starting over, but I took it to my mechanic and they told me that other than the transmission, it's in really good shape. Since it's costing me nothing to fix with the warranty, I'd rather not part with it. I had read somewhere before that some cars of this vintage can just have a "noisy" transmission. Seems a little weird to me though.

I've also read about the tranny issues that these Accords had, but they seemed to be confined to the V6 models. Any advice or insight would be much appreciated!

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post #2 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 10:32 AM
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I have the same whining noise coming from the right side of the engine (opposite of the pump and all accessories), so I know it's from the transmission. My car also had a bad PS pump bearing and that noise masked the transmission whine, when I fixed the pump and fired it up I was surprised to hear the whining still, but unlike the pump which whined at all times, the transmission only whines considerably in P or N.


It's present in Park and Neutral on idle, when you shift to Drive it disappears while idling It's present in 1st-2nd very faintly, almost not audible and totally silent in 3rd-5th.

It's been like that since I bought the car and I have absolutely no concern about it. Car shifts ultra smooth, no slipping, no rough engagement. Fluid is clean and regularly maintained. It's a bearing inside the transmission and even rebuilt ones can have the same noise, which is why I'm not sweating to have it rebuilt until I have other types of symptoms that warrant it. I've done a lot of reading since I was kind of worried about it the first time I learned about it, and the general agreement is that the whine doesn't come before anything catastrophic, some people have driven even 4 years after the onset with no other symptoms. The transmission presents no error codes of any kind.

In my opinion it's not worth stressing over, make sure your transmission fluid is at the proper level and that it's clean and enjoy your car, it's very likely you will NOT need to rebuild the transmission in the time you will own it. Pretty sure a rebuild was not needed, but I'm glad your noise disappeared a bit.

That video you posted definitely sounds like the Power Steering pump bearing, mine whined exactly like that before I fixed it.


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post #3 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 10:38 AM
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Welcome.

Your first clue in your well-written post is that it still makes this noise while you are revving your engine while in PARK!

So in my limited knowledge of the transmission, I would say it is NOT your transmission making that noise. Sounds like a power steering pump noise, a bad O-ring for the power steering hose line where it connects to the power steering pump, a bad alternator (alternator whine), or a bad pulley or tensioner that connects to your serpentine belt.

Here is what I would do:

Go to Advance Auto/Pep Boys/NAPA/Autozone/etc and borrow a serpentine belt remover tool. Remove the belt, start the car. Run it for one minute. Do you still hear the noise? If not, then it is something that runs off the serpentine belt.

I would be shocked if they just "gave you a new transmission".

EDIT: Just read NightFire's post....I agree with what he said but the fact that it made this noise while in Park makes me think it is not the Trans.

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post #4 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickBlaine View Post
Welcome.

Your first clue in your well-written post is that it still makes this noise while you are revving your engine while in PARK!

So in my limited knowledge of the transmission, I would say it is NOT your transmission making that noise. Sounds like a power steering pump noise, a bad O-ring for the power steering hose line where it connects to the power steering pump, a bad alternator (alternator whine), or a bad pulley or tensioner that connects to your serpentine belt.

Here is what I would do:

Go to Advance Auto/Pep Boys/NAPA/Autozone/etc and borrow a serpentine belt remover tool. Remove the belt, start the car. Run it for one minute. Do you still hear the noise? If not, then it is something that runs off the serpentine belt.

I would be shocked if they just "gave you a new transmission".

EDIT: Just read NightFire's post....I agree with what he said but the fact that it made this noise while in Park makes me think it is not the Trans.
I tested my specific noise by removing the belt and starting it with just the battery power and the noise was present at exactly the same level coming from the transmission area, that's a great way to know for sure.

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post #5 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 10:49 AM
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NightFire: Now that I think about it, I had a similar noise last year right after I changed my transmission filter. I tried the Magnefine, and my transmission hose line was very long to begin with- I believe it may have restricted flow of the fluid as the line was now "bent". I replaced with the stock, shorter filter and the noise went away.

Made me realize even in PARK, the transmission can make that noise.

I stand corrected.

But removing the serpentine belt first is where to start.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickBlaine View Post
NightFire: Now that I think about it, I had a similar noise last year right after I changed my transmission filter. I tried the Magnefine, and my transmission hose line was very long to begin with- I believe it may have restricted flow of the fluid as the line was now "bent". I replaced with the stock, shorter filter and the noise went away.

Made me realize even in PARK, the transmission can make that noise.

I stand corrected.

But removing the serpentine belt first is where to start.
That's a good point Rick, MikeCz told me about a case where a clogged filter or bent hose could cause such a noise, I'm definitely going to be ordering one soon to eliminate that possibility.

To OP: Do the Serpentine belt test to pin point the exact problem, and find out if the guys that did your transmission rebuild changed the in line filter. Willing to bet they did not.

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post #7 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone!

I forgot to mention that after the rebuild, I was really frustrated and I took the car to my own mechanic that's been working on my family's cars for 15 years. They've never steered us wrong on repairs and don't do any work that they don't need to. They removed the serpentine belt, checked the PS pump, pulleys, alternator, etc. and determined that the noise wasn't coming from the passenger side of the engine. They put the car up on the lift and said it was definitely coming from the transmission. Even the techs at the Honda service center said it was the tranny. They just don't fix them there, so they had to send it out.

Aside from the noise, my only real physical concern is that as I mentioned, when it shifts from 1st to 2nd at low acceleration, the car feels like it drops back for a second before the gears engage. When it does shift, it's smooth. It doesn't jerk or make a thud. It just seems slow to shift. I can't describe it any better than that unfortunately. If I step on the gas relatively hard when accelerating from a stop, it doesn't do it. The noise also goes away once I get above 30 mph or so.

Is that in line filter something hard to change on your own? I've done oil changes, replaced struts, sensors and worked on an engine before, so I'm not a total novice.

My thought right now is to just drive it for a few weeks and see if anything else comes up or if the noise gets worse. It is under warranty for a year, so I have plenty more changes to take it in if I need to. Their last repair definitely did SOMETHING to help it, but I'm really irritated that it didn't go away completely.
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 04:49 PM
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it's hard to diagnose a noise online. it may be normal and it may not. the trans filter for your car is located on top of the trans in an 'easy to replace' location. I don't know if it comes with a reman unit from Honda or not.
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-30-2014, 04:57 PM
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OP, just on a hunch, can you look at your inline transmission filter and see if the flow is pointed the correct way?

Page #2, post #20
DIY ATF Change Drain and Fill
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post #10 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickBlaine View Post
OP, just on a hunch, can you look at your inline transmission filter and see if the flow is pointed the correct way?

Page #2, post #20
DIY ATF Change Drain and Fill
Looks easy enough to find. I'll check it out tonight! So you're saying this might be on backwards??
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post #11 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jbx74205 View Post
Looks easy enough to find. I'll check it out tonight! So you're saying this might be on backwards??
Could be backwards, partially clogged, or a hose leading in or out of it could be bent.

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post #12 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Could be backwards, partially clogged, or a hose leading in or out of it could be bent.
I checked it out and it seems like it's on properly and the hoses seem fine. Reading older posts, it seems like this is a pretty cheap part, but I'd have to order it from the dealer. I'll check out Autozone/Pepboys/Advance and see if anyone sells it there, but even if they don't, is this worth replacing just for the hell of it? I'm imagining that it's never been done on this car. Would I need to drain the fluid? Seems like a pretty straightforward swap.
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post #13 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 07:49 PM
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About $22 - $25 at the Honda dealer, or order a Magnefine filter from Amazon. You may lose a tablespoon of Automatic Transmission Fluid when changing it, plus whatever fluid is in the filter (another tablespoon or two).
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post #14 of 18 Old 07-01-2014, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickBlaine View Post
About $22 - $25 at the Honda dealer, or order a Magnefine filter from Amazon. You may lose a tablespoon of Automatic Transmission Fluid when changing it, plus whatever fluid is in the filter (another tablespoon or two).
Just to add to Ricks post, if you go with a Magnefine just watch out for fake units.



There are two links to in-depth postings there, despite these warnings I still love the Magnefine filters ability to clean ATF fluid.

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post #15 of 18 Old 07-02-2014, 06:37 AM
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The Magnafine filters are typically in stick at a NAPA store. A bit more expensive than on-line though ($10 more).

If you look at the internal design of these transmissions, there are a series of gears & shafts that are in motion at all times including park & neutral. All are susceptible to making noise particularly the gear sets. The design is similar to a manual transmission with gear sets and multiple needle bearings on the main & counter shaft. Any one could be causing a whining noise as well as the pump.

FWIW my 190,000 mile 4 cyl has a slight whine at road speed and has since new. Fluid & dissected original filter showed no signs of metal. Will run it till it drops. I'm particularly fussy when it comes to noises and vibration. Do it for a living, albeit on much larger power generation equipment. I could set up a vibration signature analyzer on the trans case, but I would likely go insane with all of the frequencies present. You can bet Honda does this in development to eliminate noise & vibration.

With a year warranty, keep driving it and listen for any changes in the whine. I'll bet it will be present and consistent for a long time.

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