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post #1 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Honda/Acura tranny failures explained Ö

Hi All:

___I was over at Temple of VTEC last night and came across a post by a guy that seemed to have the goods on past and present Honda and Acura tranny failures. With that, the title of the thread is ďĒ. I know the title has nothing to do with the intent of this thread but the content near the end of page 1 is the best I have ever seen on the transmission issues surrounding many late model Hondaís and Acuraís. We own an MDX that might fall into a future situation so that is why I keep my eye on it Ö
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Having read through many of your posts regarding Honda's AT failures, I felt a little on the skinny behind the failures was in order.

FYI, these failures are not limited to the 6 cylinder models, many of the 4 cyls fall victim to the same malaise: Honda's unashamed attempt at wooing the a different type of customer- the cushion/pillow drive craving, the captain's-chair-in-a-buick (with supersize cup-capable cupholders), the should be driven and not driving consumer.

See, fundamentally for those who do not know, Honda's transmissions (and engines for that matter) are closely related to the race motors they are derived from. Being race-bred this technology spills over into the marketplace were everyone from your average Jane to Joe Rocket can sample and love or lump it.

That said, let me formally introduce you to Honda's AT's. They are hydraulically actuated manual transmissions!

What does this mean? Well simply in means there's a little man in the gear box whose selecting gears for the driver, this so those who would rather not don't have to. However for those who want a more descriptive intro, read on.

In a syncromesh manual trans (which is what cars marketed today are equipped with) all you ratios are in constant mesh fixed on one shaft while freewheeling on the other. Gear selection is accomplished by locking the freewheeling gear of the desired ratio to the shaft itís spinning on and voila! Your output is served. The make the transition between ratios smoother (as the different ratio gears are obviously turning at different speeds for a given shaft speed) clutch-like devices, known as "syncros" accel &/or decel gears in adjacent ratio pairs before the locks (dog clutches) engage.

Compared to your conventional epicyclical/planetary gear set automatic transmission, ratio selection is far easier, selection more positive and transmission design less complex for ratio addition. In view of this (and the fact that this conclusion had already been arrived at in racing circles, Honda devised and implemented a means of automating gear selection of their manual transmissions instead of lamely following convention. Their efforts yielded the hydraulically actuated manual transmission found in all their AT equipped vehicles.

"How did they achieve automation?" you may ask. Simple. By replacing the brass syncros with wet clutches, all they had to worry about was the ratio itself because clutch pack actuation was already a mastered technology.

The quirk to this transmission was that it had very positive shifts a consequence of wet clutches. Considered more of a boon than a nuisance to race teams, commuters found the shift quality rather alienating, especially since their previous exposure to AT's was limited to the forever-slipping-into-this-ratio-or-that conventional AT.

So the A[lmighty]HM charged to the rescue with soft shifting (read: longer slipping pre-engagement) transmissions. Of course slipping is not good for any clutch and a wet clutch is so not excluded. So in '96.5, Honda introduced phased clutch engagement. This allowed for partial engagement of your 'to' gear before your 'from' gear was fully disengaged. This allowed for dramatically smoother shifts than previous models. The ugly side to this advance was not to reel its ugly head for a couple of years. In late '97. DTC P0740- torque converter circuit failure- was discovered lurking somewhere in between the super-gizmo-wizardry of the PCM and the technologically advanced tranny.

Now early investigation found internal leaks &/or clogged valves to be the culprits.

OK. We thought.

But the shift quality still wasn't smooth enough. But before I get to what engineer's AHM decided to do, let me ask you all a question.

How many of you have ever wondered why Honda has always (not now in the advent of flattering emulation by other marques) had 2 drive selections: D3 and D4?

Hold that thought as we return to Honda's tranny refinery.

Realizing that pressure modulation was the to shift shock reduction and that clutches would only stand for so much abuse, Honda looked to a formerly overlooked resource for addition shock dampening: the torque converter clutch. Formerly only used to positively lock the crank to the input shaft, Honda decided to phase its engagement in further efforts to make the AT's operation transparent. It worked for a while. But while existing problems brewed, a whole new batch was thrown in. 740's were jumping all so acrobatically out of the wood work and the more powerful powertrains fell first but their less endowed siblings were soon to follow suit.

While driving, the softer shifts were aggressively wearing away clutch material sometimes in particles that were trapped in screens and filters other times in smaller ones that made it through these lines of defense. In the former situation, the filters (which by the way, are not serviceable) were clogged. This led to pressure loss, which exacerbated the transition duty of the clutches, affected essentially fuelling the vicious cycle's inferno of destruction. In the latter case, accumulation of deposits could occur in the fine passages of the valve body, in/on valve seats etc. Essentially depositing sh!t where it don't belong. Now add to this the fact that you average commuter drives in D4 at speeds that equate to the threshold of TCC engagement, the mapped criteria of engagement coupled with the advanced partial engagement modes of the TCC you have a recipe for ATF & Clutch stew. That's an artery clogger if I ever saw one! (No pun intended!).

In so much as these tranny failures seemed to come out of the woodwork all at once, it was actually the accumulation of un-addressed undesirable operational consequences that all came to a head.

Now the newer 5-spd transmissions have the ignominy of having a third working geared shaft. Unfortunately, prolonged torture testing for reliability of this set wasnít long enough and internal lubrication and cooling weren't discovered until many owned vehicles with these ill-fated trannies in them. The fix: add point of correction cooling+lubrication by plumbing ATF to the problem. Hence the latest trans recall in a seemingly endless stream of tranny woes.

I must say one thing at this juncture. Redesign has rid the 5-spd transmissions of their heating problem and as for the earlier models, "Oh-oh, better get MAACO!" ;-)))

Sorry to take up so much of your time but I thought you might want to know.
___Hopefully Princessí husband can have a look and add his own thoughts? Especially in regards to my questions about an extremely lightly loaded PZEV based I4 equipped Accord w/ Auto.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes


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post #2 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 03:24 PM
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My boiled-down take on this editorial:

1. Honda put driving comfort ahead of sound engineering and design, for the sake of selling more cars.

2. Their approach backfired, and they are getting hammered on the 6th gen Accords and some Odysseys w/auto trannys.

3. They figured out a way to partially correct the design problem on 7th gen Accords and Pilots/Odysseys.


Sounds like this guy knows what he is talking about, but he doesn't do a very good job of explaining it...perhaps he is not as good a writer as he is an automotive engineer?

Assuming anyone can sort through this rambling maze of probably accurate information, wouldn't we have to conclude that the transmission failure rate would be 100% for every auto tranny between 1997 and 2002? How do you explain the cases with 150k miles and no problems?

How do you explain the (seemingly) more reliable 2002 trannys while 2000 and 2001's required a warranty extension?

Since when do the '97 Accords have a tranny issue?

If this was a marketing decision, why aren't the Civics affected also?


Great...now I have even more questions???


'13 Accord EXL V6 (63k miles) - SOLD 10/17
'16 Pilot EX-L (13k miles)
'14 CR-V EX (33k miles)
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post #3 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Princess:

___Please have your husband take a look over the text and comment at his earliest convenience.

___Thanks in advance.

___Wayne R. Gerdes
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post #4 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 06:04 PM
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Prince's opinion is that the guy explained it pretty much right on the nail! He has a great understanding of the Honda tranny.

For the 6th gen. ones to compensate for the weakness you can drive around in D3 and change your fluid very frequently. He's also correct in the 4's & 6's potentially having the same problem.... there's just less weight & torque to accent it.

The 7th gen's problem was created by trying to fix the 6th gen's weakness. In the new design, adding the extra shaft created the new lubrication problem which the oil jet is supposed to solve. He obviously still recommends very frequent fluid changes!

Knowing all of this.....we still own 2! Should y'all be paranoid? Not our opinion!


The hybrid wouldn't make any difference with the tranny.

He does add one note.....you really are better off driving the AT's hard..... the problem is less apt to happen on a harder shift..... it's the mushy shift that has caused the weakness to show!
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post #5 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 06:55 PM
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How do you explain the cases with 150K on the original tranny? Well, princess points out the hard shifts are actually better for the tranny. Could be it? Driven hard, put away wet, and lived to tell about it? Heh sounds kinda like my car...

The more reliable 2002 trannies? Just like how they introduced the new tranny in '96.5, running changes probably make the newer models better. Other odyclub owners have pointed this out too, that in the 99-01 (4-spd auto) models, the 01's are much better than the 99's.

Since when do '97 Accord have tranny problems? Not sure, but my guess is that they weren't implemented into the Accord until the '98 redesign. Perhaps they did it on the CL first, or other cars? I think Civic's aren't affected because they've been running the same motor and tranny forever, maybe they just didn't want to mess with success. You could say that for the Accord too, except you have to remember that they were faced with using the same parts on the Ody, Pilot, MDX, and a whole host of other cars, so they probably decided to redesign it and give the Accord a benefit as well.

The hybrids should make a difference with the tranny. They're not only more powerful, but heavier, and the tranny is different. It's more compact, as if the small passages inside the tranny that were getting clogged weren't small enough.
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post #6 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 06:58 PM
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harder shift=less slip=less wear=longer life. sloppy shifts=wear and higher fluid temps..

'08 RDX tech.

'06 accord V6 6 MT nav sedan... gone.

'06 TSX 6MT.
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post #7 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Princess:

___Pass on to Prince my thanks for his expertise. Let me post here what I did last night at ToV for your husbandís expert opinion once again. I added a few items that might be more pertinent to an Accord owner, driver, and tech.

___The (2) Accord I4 w/ Auto test drives I have taken to date did not feel like their trannyís were hunting. These (2) Accordís were not entirely setup for hypermileage given they were both brand new with the wrong oil and tire pressures. 50 #ís would be a minimum in the Michelinís and 0W-20 Mobil1 with its low cST at warmed up engine temps will further reduce drag/load on the Accordís ICE as a system Ö

___One of the high fuel economy techniques Hypermilerís use is the ďDrive w/ LoadĒ technique which is best described as maintaining a steady fuel economy/load with varying speeds depending on elevation change instead of a steady speed as those that would use cruise experience. Princess, I believe you already know how this works given our discussions previously? I have to assume that this would leave the Grade Logic SW out of the equation and the Trannyís TCC would be locked up tight the whole time? I am hoping anyway? What about coasting? With a manual, it is as simple as dropping into Neutral, and letting off the clutch for the free ride for as far as can be imagined. In the Hybrid Insight, not only do you receive the free ride, the ICE is shut down during these long coasts into stopped or congested traffic, toll gates, signs, lights, and whatever else you can imagine. Another technique used is to create distance buffers to absorb any stop and go traffic and or for timing lights. I refer to this technique simply as ďDriving without BrakesĒ. Would the Accord w/ Autoís longevity be affected by this type of driving technique with the slow decelerations, long coasts, and ever so gentle reapplication of the throttle to reaccelerate back to speed once the traffic impediment cleared? Then there are slow accelerations from stopped as most everyone here knows as ďDriving with an Egg between your right foot and the acceleratorĒ. When accelerating, a Hypermiler can easily take upwards of 30 - 50 seconds to reach 55 mph when there is no one behind and this might be another area where a soft accelerator pedal might be detrimental to the Auto transmissions longevity? And then the 4-types of drafts to reduce engine load even further. When an available slower running 18-wheeler is around, I will take a ďSurfĒ or ďStraight-distanceĒ draft as well as using what is called the ďTraffic-SideĒ when running with faster traffic to the left.

___Driving with the lightest of load using all of the techniques above at highway speeds of 50 - 65 mph for over 3 hours a day shouldnít be a problem (hopefully changing to a more normal 30 minutes a day) given it is a 95% highway commute but I am concerned about driving at such a low load that the TCC may not entirely locked up and especially at even slower speeds as I do drive through subdivisions, city streets and mallís, and general traffic jams we occasionally have in and around Chicago All of the techniques and setup described above when packaged together can lower engine load far beneath what the average driver might ever experience so as to fall below even the most conservative transmission design guidelines given the info that was posted about Hondaís Automatic transmissions last night?

___With the above details, I am hoping that your Prince can give me a risk assessment in regards to possible longevity or a pre-mature tranny failure of a new 05 - PZEV based - I4 equipped Accord w/ Auto when driven as described above. D3 and its lower FE is not an option or I wouldnít be considering an Accord as one of my primary automobiles. If Honda only made a PZEV based - I4 equipped Accord EX-L w/ NAVI using the 5-speed manual, I wouldnít have all of these questions

___I have a few more questions about the tranny and fuel saving techniques but I will save them for another time as I have just about wore out my welcome in this thread as it is.

___Thanks in advance Ö again.

___Wayne R. Gerdes
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post #8 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 08:39 PM
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The described driving technique is what has been the hardest on the Honda trannies in the 7th gen. V6's. The oil jet SHOULD solve this flaw. Once at "freeway" speeds, you're OK 'cuz you're not shifting any more.

There's not enough of the hybrids out to know if they're going to have the difficulties. Everytime they do some re-engineering there's pluses & minuses.

On the Honda site it LOOKS like there's a 4 cyl, MT with leather & Nav. Probably hard to find, but the chart makes look like it's offered.....

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post #9 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by princess
On the Honda site it LOOKS like there's a 4 cyl, MT with leather & Nav. Probably hard to find, but the chart makes look like it's offered.....

Only AT in CA and some northeastern states are PZEV. No MT's are PZEV, just as no 6th gen MT's were ULEV (I think?).
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post #10 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 09:09 PM
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Well, it DOES look like it.... when you go down in the middle under EX.....
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post #11 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Princess:

___Thanks for the update. I only brought up the term ďhybridĒ because of my Insight, not the Accord Hybrid. It is the PZEV based non-hybrid I4 that I am considering Ö

___The PZEVís only come with ATís so that is the specíed automobile I will be picking up out of MA., ME., NY., VT, or possibly even CA. one of these days Ö The local Honda dealers here in Illinois cannot even order them! Believe me, I tried

___Please tell your husband thanks again.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
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post #12 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 11:10 PM
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there is a EX-L Navi with MT, but its harder to find than the Accord Coupe EX-V6 6MT. it was hard enough to find a dealer with an EX-L with MT, much less one with Navi.

xcel, any aprticular reason why you want a PZEV?

i wonder why they didnt make the MT's PZEV too? the PZEV models just adds a MAF sensor and a bigger cat., and without those two things the emissions rating plunges to a measly LEV rating... sounds like it should be a no brainer right? less emissions, and power output is the same.

well regardless of emissions ratings, i'm enjoying my EX-L MT...i just wish i had navi...

2006 BMW 330i 6MT (Alpine White/Terra)
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post #13 of 95 Old 02-18-2005, 11:13 PM
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I'm not so sure the power output is the same. On the 6th gen, the power output was -2HP and lb-ft for the ULEV version, but if you dynoed it, apparently the ULEV version lost MAJOR MAJOR power down low (below 4000RPM VTEC fuel map switchover). Also, could be a computer control issue that prevents the MT from being a PZEV. AT is electronically controlled, that's why I thought of that at first.
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post #14 of 95 Old 02-19-2005, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Hi VTECaddict:

___Yes, the PZEVís emissions warranty runs out to 15 years/150,000 miles vs. just 3/36 for the non-PZEV Accordís in all but CA. per the federal std. CA. Accordís in non-PZEV format (I4 5-speed manualís, V6 6-speed manuals and V6 Autoís) only include a 3/50 emissions warranty. The emissions warranty includes O2 sensors and the CATís. For an extra $135.00, the ability to drive a car that is cleaner then a Prius I (ULEV/SULEV), Prius II (PZEV/Tier II-Bin3), Insight w/ CVT (LEV/Tier II-Bin5/SULEV), Ford Escape HEV (LEV/PZEV/Tier II-Bin4/ SULEV-II), and an HCH (Tier II-Bin9/ULEV) not including the PZEV based HCH in CA. that has the same emissions rating of SULEV-II/Tier II-Bin2 as that of the Accord PZEV is easily worth it to me. Losing a CAT last year at 58,000 on a 60,000 mile Emissions warranty that Toyota offers on the 03 Corolla LE w/ Auto (it cost just south of $1,200 but was on Toyotaís dime) would have hurt a lot more if I were driving a Civic or Accord as you can well imagine.

___Another point and one that most would not give a second thought too is that a PZEV Accord will be the cleanest car other then a pure EV run off non-polluting sources in all of Illinois! If I can maintain a 43 - 45 year round lmpg (lifetime mpgís) from one, its total emissions including cradle to grave (manufacture to junk yard) will make it one of the cleanest cars in all of NA other then a pure EV running on Nuclear/Solar/Wind/Hydro even after considering the lowest CO2 emissions of any SI-ICE car in the world including the Insight 5-speed w/ a 92.5 lmpg. This does not include the CI-ICEís running B100 when considering CO2 only.

___I wish more states had the CARB specs in place because the $135.00 is an absolute bargain for what you gain in terms of much lowered emissions and the extended warranty on the Emission controls. Honda is actually very cheap on its warranties vs. many other manufacturers which is surprising to me given the reliability I have had with them in the past Ö In my case, I will have to purchase it out of state (actually across the country) but the PZEV is easily worth it imho irregardless of a possible 2 - 5 HP/2 - 5 Ft.-Lbís loss as that is the least worry I would have given my driving habits and style. If Honda placed the upcoming Civicís 2.0 i-VTEC in the Accord (not the Si version), I would be more then happy with that ICE in one for the higher FE actually. If the TL wasnít so damn gas thirsty, I would be considering one of those but there is not a single Acura other then the Canadian Acura EL (American Civic EX w/ Leather) that can compete with the Accord I4 in terms of real world FE and semi-lux amenities. I do love all of the features included with our MDX Touring w/ RES but Acura decided performance is more important then FE across their entire lineup unfortunately

___Some of the reasons for the manual not coming in a PZEV spec could include a NOx spike on launch. Anytime you have an ICE that can be revved and launched, there is the possibility of a large NOx spike and I bet Honda saw the 5-speed manual blowing out the PZEV NOx max (< .01 g/mi 50K/< .02 g/mi 120K) when doing so. Just a guess but it is an educated one after speaking with the Mercury META-Oneís Technical lead at the Chicago Auto Ė Media event last week. That particular automobile will be the worldís first PZEV Diesel and they are using the hybrid drivetrain for hard launch and the diesel for mid-range/top end so that the Diesel itself is not blowing out the NOx spec whenever someone decides to hit the Go-pedal a bit too hard Ö

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
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post #15 of 95 Old 02-24-2005, 05:30 PM
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Hi Everyone!

Well add my 99 EX 4Cyl (78k miles) to the list. I just got the call from Penske Honda, here in Ontario, that my tranny needs to be replaced. The estimate was $3,400. Luckily back in '99 we bought the extended warranty....we're just awaiting they're approval.

Sooooooooo......my question is...... Will I be safe if I buy a 7th Generation V6? If you remember my past posts, I was wavering between the Acura TL w/ Navi and the Accord V6 w/ Navi.

They probably both have the same tranny, but I would prefer the Accord due to costs.

Any thoughts???

Thanks!!!
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