By on December 15, 2010

Alex writes:

I have a 2000 Honda Accord Coupe EX-V6, 253k miles, original automatic transmission. I’ve had 2 motor mounts replaced, a heater core, and otherwise just standard maintenance (transmission service every 50k miles, new belts every 100k, along with new water pump; new alternator whenever I burn the old one out). Last year, the tranny started whining, giving the inevitable death wail of the Honda slushbox. But it’s still going strong, the wail has stopped, and the transmission fluid looks and smells as clean as ever. My wife and I are looking into buying a 2009 Honda Fit Sport to replace it. The question: do I sell this bad boy or keep it, and do I wait till it dies to buy the Fit (or Pontiac Vibe, or something else)? Full disclosure: my father in law is a GM mechanic, who would love it if I bought a GM.

Sajeev answers:

I’m tempted to make an ironic (yet ultimately tasteless) joke about in-laws loyal to GM and purchasing Toyota-Pontiac crossovers for their satisfaction. But as a single man who believes in Karma, I shall refrain from doing so. That said, I am a sucker for these Accord Coupes, as previously mentioned in a two-part Piston Slap about another coupe.

Question is, are you a lover of the Accord Coupe’s charms like yours truly? I’d think so—misery loves company—and that you’d be disappointed/offended at any offer you get on trade-in. Or from a tire kicker from Craigslist. A second car is great if space allows, because they come in handy. If you buy a tall and noisy Honda Fit (or similar), you’re gonna love having an low slung, NVH savvy, V6 Accord coupe available for long distance travel. Just my personal guess!

So go ahead: keep it. Whenever the transmission fails, bite the bullet for a quality rebuild that addresses the known flaws on these units. See the link above to understand the process involved. Another viable option is getting a junkyard transmission for about $1000 from car-part.com, LKQ, etc. and have a local mechanic install it. The latter option is also great for whenever that motor bites the dust: finding a unit with less than 100k on the clock, for less than $1000, should be fairly easy with a little negotiation.

All it takes is a little research on the appropriate forum, a decent mechanic, and love of the best Honda coupe ever made to make it happen. Good luck to you.

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

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43 Comments on “Piston Slap: Another Impending Coupe d’état?...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    You’ve got the Accord, you love it.  Keep it.  Follow Sajeev’s advice.  It will be your awesome highway cruiser/go to vacation car.  The Vibe/Matrix are great little cars and available in enough different trim packages and variations to be a real Swiss Army Knife of sorts depending on what your needs and budget are.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I’m with Sajeev on this one too. That is one of the last really excellent Hondas. Worth more to the owner than the blue book value. I would also keep it and replace engine and tranny if ever necessary.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I’d keep the Honda as an around town commuter and not drive it beyond any distance I could not afford a tow back home.  I’d rent a car for long-distance road trips.
     
     

  • avatar
    George B

    I chose to keep mine and rebuild the transmission.  The major problem I see as keeping an Accord Coupe as a backup car is it’s just not that versatile for hauling people and stuff.  Might be better to take advantage of its better than average resale value and get something else.  In addition, at 10 years of age things start to wear out.  I have to replace a window regulator on mine today and eventually need to take off the intake manifold to fix the P1491 EGR code.  The part cost is reasonable, similar to domestic brands, but repairs take time out of your life.
     
    If I lived in the snow belt, a well worn Accord Coupe would make an excellent winter car.  Predictable FWD handling, reasonable feedback of the road through the steering wheel, and anti-lock brakes.  Aluminum engine warms up fast too.

  • avatar
    NN

    253k miles means that interior is straight nasty by now, no way around it.  You have paid yourself handsomely already for driving the car this far.  Why would you ever put a new transmission or new interior bits, etc. into a car with mileage like that??? That’s throwing good money to keep a funkdified car.  I say keep it in the family if you can…sell to a young cousin on the cheap, etc., but treat yourself to something decent for the next 250k.  The Fit sounds like a great choice.

    • 0 avatar
      PeregrineFalcon

      “253k miles means that interior is straight nasty by now, no way around it.”

      Sorry to hear that you don’t know how to take care of a vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      I completely agree. It is basic economics. Am I the only person left that actually enjoys buying a new car?

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      @PeregrineFalcon
      I know how to take care of cars and after 11 years and 250k miles, it’s gonna be showing some wear and tear.   Usually about the 10 or 12 year mark, I either get tired of all the little things that need fixing, even on a Honda, or I just don’t trust the car for road trips or whatever.  The OP’s got their money’s worth, time to move on I think.   Better to sell it while it still runs, too.

    • 0 avatar
      dolo54

      I have a friend with a 94 corolla she’s had since new. It has over 300k miles on it now. Corduroy seats and brown soft touch plastic everywhere. That interior is mint. Looks like it only has 20k miles on it, no lie.

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      I completely agree. It is basic economics. Am I the only person left that actually enjoys buying a new car?

      Yes, you are!

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      My 99 Town & Country has 199K on the odo. This is a minivan that has spent most of its life ferrying kids. It would not pass for a new car, but most would probably guess it at about 50K to look at it. Carpet, seats, panels, headliner & glass all very good condition. Any modern car that has been taken care of can be kept nice inside.  The problem is that there are a lot of people who have neither the time nor the inclination to keep their car nice.  This is why it is so hard to buy a nice older used car.

    • 0 avatar

      I have seen way too many 200k+ mile cars in the junkyards to agree with that statement.  Even cars suffering from neglect tend to look good if they were good designs from Day One.  The Accord Coupe is likely to fit in this category.

    • 0 avatar
      dculberson

      @NN: Dude, really?  My car has 177k miles and the interior is pristine.  Like new.  My wife’s car has 239k miles and the only trouble spot in the interior is some wear in the leather on the driver’s seat bolster.  An interior being “funkdified” has everything to do with the owner being a slob and nothing to do with the mileage on the car.
       
      @william442: “simple economics” is that buying a new car is a huge waste of money.  If you enjoy it, more power to you, but you’re throwing away thousands of dollars.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      I’d agree with NN.

      Not sure what the 2000 Coupe is fitted with, but after recently hanging up the ’96 Accord sedan, I’ve got to say, while the drivetrain was bulletproof, the steering wheel, HVAC knobs, vent-levers, cup-holder, emergency brake, gear shift, gear shift-skirt, driver-side window control, floor, mats, seats; all were made of materiels and engineered to degrade in the most embarassing manner possible; and many items were covered/replaced at least once.

      The very sight of teal makes me throw-up a little in my mouth, but it does warm my heart.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Since you mentioned it, you might want to take a little closer look at the Vibe. The interior room dimensions are comparable to the Fit. The fuel economy is also comparable (with the 1.8L 4), and it’s arguably better-looking.
    The best sell points?
    1. It’s a Toyota UNDER the skin, meaning regular maintenance will keep it in shape, and
    2. It’s a Pontiac ON the skin, meaning you can pick up a lightly used one for a heluva song.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    With 250+k on your Accord, you do a lot of driving.  I think that the Fit may grow old on you quickly, particularly if you do a lot of highway driving.  We have an 07 and really like it, but it is not a great car for travel.  Not enough legroom and a bit jouncy and noisy at speed.

    So, unless you want a fun-to-dart-around-the-suburbs car, I would either drive the Accord until the tranny really bites it and replace the tranny at that time.  You mention nothing about oil consumption, suspension issues, or anything else of the sort.  Your old Accord should last a lot longer.

    The alternative is to find a nice middle-aged Accord.  A lot of older folks own these.  The 4 cylinders are good performers and have a better record on transmissions than do the V6s, but there are a lot of nice low-mileage examples out there if you take your time and start looking before you need it.  Give it some time and one will find you.

    And you can always tell your father in law that you have had such good experience with your Hondas that you hate to change, and besides, if you bought GM, he might feel like he should do your repair work gratis, and you don’t want to put him in that awkward position.

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    Sajeev, no mention of putting in a six-speed manual out of a later Accord/TL? You’re slipping man! :P And I think a Legend coupe is also a contestant for Honda’s hottest coupe, but that’s not important right now. What is important…
     
    Keep the Accord, I agree they’re beautiful cars. When the trans blows replace/rebuild it, if the J30 engine ever blows up replace it, and keep driving. Buy another car whatever it may be, next gen Accord sedans weren’t all that bad compared to this one and are much nicer than the current gen.
     
    Bottom line: keep the Accord.

  • avatar
    william442

    Ian and Others: My daughter and I have shared a 1999 C43 AMG since new. It is in its 12th year, and looks almost new, with with a few stone chips and a a ding on one wheel. It is garage kept and waxed 4 to 5 times a year. With only 72,000 miles it runs perfectly, with some help from Mobil 1.
    During that time I have bought probably 10 other cars. My point is, I am only half crazy.

  • avatar

    William442, that AMG sounds brand new. MY ’99, an Accord 5 speed, has 183k on the clock. And still runs great.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Wow your definately one of the lucky ones with a Honda automatic with 253K that hasn’t been rebuilt at one point. Two transmission shops swear whenever I mention Honda automatic trannys and say they are replacing them on a regualar basis at least compared to Toyota and GM who they say have much longer lasting units in general. Not sure which automatics they are referring to but it seems like Oddesseys and Accords are popular sites at both transmission repairs shops. That seems to support what I have observed with my GM’s with the 4T65 and 4T45 automatics which haven’t given me any trouble in any of my 90’s on up W-body cars. If the tranny acted up before and has cleared up in your Accord expect the worse and plan on a tranny rebuild before long. As a rule they just don’t last forever as the clutches wear and passageway circuits get varnished up in the valve bodies and solonoids eventually wear out. If the interior is nice and the body is still good I would just keep driving it until it starts costing too mauch to justify it’s existance. Also as others have mentioned, the Fit and Vibe are smaller, cruder econoboxes that just do not have the ride and quietness and refinement of cars like the Accord or most other mid size units today. Long travel with them can be tiring. I remember taking a 4 hour there and 4 hour back trip in a friends 2007 Vibe and feeling rather fatigued by the end. The hard seats, noisy underpowered Toyota 1.8 engine, bouncy ride and general lack of refinement made the drive far less pleasurable. I can’t see the Fit being any better.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      Don’t forget that Honda was selling 400 thousand of them a year when this car was current. and another 150k Odysseys per year on top of that. I could see where a shop may cringe (or be giddy at the $) at the sight of a Honda V6 automatic transmission repair but for every one that he saw, there are probably 100 of them that have had the same life as this guy Alex.
      The failure rate is lower than the the haters think.

      Good luck getting that kinda mileage out of a Government motors midsize sedan in this class. Probably gone through at least 10 Intermediate steeering shafts by that mileage if it hasn’t yet been wrecked because one failed. Or a timing chain every 50k if you don’t change your oil less than every 3001 miles. Good thing this Honda has belts which need replacement every 105k and are relatively cheap.

      No Honda fanboi here, but they do make cars that last.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I got 254K out of a K car, so your statement just doesn’t make sense.  If a crappy 80’s Plymouth can do it with just (mostly) basic maintenance, most modern midsize cars can too. Don’t act like a hater yourself.
       
      Rather than getting stuck trying to milk another 4K out of that trans, get it rebuilt proactively and enjoy your car with confidence.  That trans owes you nothing.  Those coupes were pretty much the apogee of the Accord line.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    I am surprised nobody has talked about this before now, but… assuming you are buying the Fit with an automatic… isn’t it essentially (or actually) the SAME 5-speed auto that would be in the Accord? I assume the V-6 version has different ratios, etc… but surely Honda would not have two totally different 5-sp autos on the market… just a thought.

    Additionally, the 1.8L Vibe with auto is a Toyota 4-speed auto… ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Additionally, the 1.8L Vibe with auto is a Toyota 4-speed auto… ugh.
       
      Get the 5 speed manual then.  My fiances Vibe is an exercise special, manual trans, manual windows, manual locks.

    • 0 avatar
      poltergeist

      2000 Accord V6 has a 4 speed A/T.  Fit is a 5 speed.  While they both use a similar design, in my experience the Fit’s A/T has been essentially bulletproof.

  • avatar
    YYYYguy

    My ’07 Fit has 121,000 on the clock. It drives like the day I drove it off the lot, new. The interior is in great shape and I make long drives in it daily. I avg 92 miles per day.

    It is a little on the loud side at highway speeds but rides much tighter than my wife’s ’02 Forester. The Honda Fit was a good buy for us.

  • avatar

    my gf has the 2002 accord sedan, 4cyl automatic EX.  the transmissions on them are pretty crappy, hers is starting to slip and clunk, but transmedic helped out a lot with that.
     
    the engine runs perfectly.  the interior is absolutely perfect.  120k miles.  besides the transmission, it is an excellent car.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I like everything about that coupe but the dash. One of the most remedial dash designs I’ve ever seen. Not even a pretense of style and luxury.
     
    If you can get the transmission fixed they are solid cars.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I wish I still had my ’98.  Keep it.  Even if you still buy a new car.  A rebuild is worth the money.  It’s a Honda, and a good one at that.
     
    A Fit would be a major letdown after the Accord, not enough power or refinement.  Although it wouldn’t be bad if you kept the old car too.  I currently have a new Mustang and an old Civic sedan; they balance each other out very well.
     
    But for the love of God, don’t buy a GM.  Especially if it’s just to please your father in law.  I can’t stand people who are always trying to push their brand on their family and friends, especially if it’s GM.  If he’s a GM mechanic, he ought to know better, too.

  • avatar
    roadracer

    Assuming you don’t live in the Rust Belt, keeping the car makes sense.  If you do, examine the body closely, then decide.  Mechanicals are relatively easy and inexpensive to repair;  rust never sleeps, and is usually too expensive to repair correctly. If that’s your car in the photo, have someone polish the paint and clean up the wheels, then you’ll absolutely hate to get rid of it.
     
    Don’t let someone else decide what kind of car is right for you.  If you want a Honda, get a Honda.

  • avatar
    view2share

    Life is too short for ugly cars.  A Fit ???  Park that next the car you have and you will instantly see what I mean.  Perhaps a nice Civic Coupe — close relative, as in son of Accord Coupe would be cool.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    Keep it.  I have a 4cyl. one approaching 170K miles, and if you haven’t driven many current-model Hondas yet, you’ll likely soon find that Honda doesn’t make anything like it anymore.  Even when I finally go ahead and get a new(er) car, I plan on keeping mine.  With a set of good snow tires, it’s even remarkably good in horrendous weather (like we just had in the Midwest).

  • avatar
    BlueHighways

    Hmmmm, What’s the usual failure mode for these transmissions?

    We have a Accord V6 Coupe that’s been whining on occasion (buzzy wheezy high pitched noise as it goes through the gears, kind of like an old Ford power steering pump) … but only in warm weather.  It’s a 2001 model with 101,000 easy commute miles … still running the original brake pads.  The car is a keeper … great shape … always garaged … raised on Mobil 1 and Techron.  Totally reliable … so far.

    That said, my commute often has me on the road, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, and out of cell range.  The Accord’s predecessor was an old friend, but it left me stranded on the proverbial dark and stormy night.  My wife freaked, and we had a new car the next day.

    So, will it warn me, or should I get my wife a new transmission for Xmas?  One year I got her a chain saw … truly, but that’s another story. ;-)
    Pete
     

  • avatar
    Alex the guy with the Accord Coupe

    Just clicked over 255.5k.  Still going.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I was thinking about this one while driving the other day behind a TSX…  makes me wonder why Honda doesn’t make the Accord coupe off of the smaller JDM/EURO Accord platform instead of the NA platform.  You’d think such a car would be closer to this model (or even a Prelude) than the current offering…

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