The Truth About Cars » fluid change The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 20 Jul 2014 16:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » fluid change Piston Slap: Crystal Ballin’ With Yo Tranny! Mon, 22 Oct 2012 11:26:50 +0000

TTAC Commentator itsgotvtakyo writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I recently purchased a 1999 Honda Accord LX for my sister. It has 115,000 on the ULEV 4cyl and an automatic transmission. The car is very straight and clean on the inside and out for the year and miles. The seller was a middle aged gentleman who bought the car four years ago for his daughter. The vehicle has obviously been maintained but there’s one glaring issue I have my fingers crossed on… the transmission.

It’s not terrible, but there’s something there. The car upshifts perfectly fine without any slipping or seeking and it also downshifts appropriately when called upon. The only issues occur when shifting the car out of park and when coming to a complete stop. There’s a noticeable (to me) pause and a thunk before the car settles. I noticed this on my test drive and, because the car is so strong in nearly every other aspect, made it the focal point of my negotiation. After pointing it out to the owner he agreed that I was not imagining things and something was out of the ordinary. I’m very well aware of Honda’s transmission issues and, by negotiating a purchase price that’s around $1,800 less than what a comparable 100% no issue car might go for, I’m relatively well protected. An absolute worst case scenario will cost us in inconvenience and time, not dollars. My question is how much life does this tranny realistically have? The current fluid is dirty but not burnt and it will be drained, filled, driven 4X with Honda ATF, along with a couple other piece of mind maintenance items before my sister starts driving it. How much time might that buy me? Is it possible the situation could be resolved completely?

I broke plenty of Hondas before I figured out there’s no way to make big, reliable, forced induction power without spending money, but obviously none of those cars were automatics. In fact, I think a manual transmission is one of the only things that I haven’t broken at some point or another. The Honda forums I used to frequent have been overrun with young kids and idiots for the most part, and the older guys that do know what they’re talking have the same lack of experience with automatic Hondas as I do. The car will get a re-manufactured transmission if it has to but that’s something I’d obviously like to avoid if at all possible. Thanks to you and the commenters for any insight.

Sajeev answers:

Oh boy, another automatic tranny problem. I don’t have a problem repeating myself, but perhaps my best comments on this matter are behind me.

So now I wonder how stupid I sound when Armchair Quarterbacking this play. Because people say some pretty stupid things when analyzing/complaining about a sports team during a big game. Our opinions neither help nor hurt: how many passes have we thrown with a large man barreling down towards us, ready to “profit” from our faceplant?  How do we know what’s going on inside the Accord’s gearbox without tearing it apart? It is the same thing.


BACK ON TOPIC (finally): what would I recommend?  Change the fluid, make sure your sister comes to a complete stop between Reverse/Drive engagement, and hope for the best.  If not, it sounds like you got the Accord for a good price, so find a transmission rebuilder with a good reputation before you need one. That last sentence will save thousands and hours/days of headaches, but adding a coupla cups of sawdust to a failing gearbox isn’t a bad idea too.**

 **Except it is a bad idea. Unless you really, really love sawdust. Which you do not.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.




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Piston Slap: If you must tow with a Minivan… Mon, 09 Apr 2012 11:50:32 +0000
TTAC Commentator 70Cougar writes:
Dear Sajeev:

My wife has a 2005 Odyssey with 50,000 miles.  To date, we’ve had no problems with the transmission, but I keep reading about how the transmission on the Odyssey isn’t cut out for a vehicle that heavy.  I’ve been contemplating getting a utility trailer for it (although, shockingly, my wife isn’t too hip on having a utility trailer in the driveway) and, in the course of my research, I’ve found that a transmission cooler is recommended if you’re going to haul a trailer. Is it worthwhile to install a transmission cooler even if I don’t get a trailer?  Is there any downside to transmission coolers (e.g., the trans runs cold for too long)?

My wife has a 5 mile commute (10 miles round trip) and we hope to keep the van at least another 5 years.

Sajeev answers:

Before we start, it’s time to change your transmission fluid.  The reason is twofold: transmission fluid has a finite lifespan, and it will die at the mere sight of a utility trailer attached to its minivan home. I love minivans for their efficient use of space and command seating position, but their transaxles are never good enough.

I think every minivan needs the largest external transmission cooler possible behind the front bumper.  That is almost as important as regular fluid changes.  If you plan on towing anything, carrying enough people/cargo to make the rear springs sag, and/or live in a climate that’s brutal on transmission fluid temperatures, both are mandatory. I’d consider annual transmission fluid changes on any minivan that tows on a regular basis, at highway speeds.

A downside to transmission coolers?  Not that I can think of. Because transmission fluid gets far hotter than engine coolant (hence why many tranny coolers are just a heat exchanger inside the engine radiator) the odds of being too cold aren’t a big concern.  But if you aren’t a Houstonian like yours truly, maybe you will need a radiator block-off pad for your front bumper…in the Yukon Territory.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.
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