Piston Slap: More Honda Slushbox FAIL...

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap more honda slushbox fail

Jonathon writes:

Sajeev, my just post-college daughter is driving our 2003 Honda Accord EX – V-6, leather, Navigation, all the sweet bells and whistles. The bulk of 175,000 miles have been highway-easy, and the vehicle has been well-maintained during its life. . . except the transmission. After an early flush-and-fill at 30K, it didn’t see fluid change until something north of 95K, and is now waaay due for fresh fluid.

It doesn’t whine, and up- and downshifts when expected. My daughter mentioned a “shudder” in the car when she backs from her parking space and shifts into Drive. She took it to the dealer and — guess what? — they recommended she replace the tranny for a cost of $4,000. “We give you a three-year guarantee,” they cheerily promise.

Uh, not gonna happen. But, she plans on keeping the car for at least another year or two. Maybe longer.

That’s the windup and here’s the pitch: Considering the age, mileage and mostly highway-driven wear, when I have the transmission fluid replaced next month, should I have it powerflushed to make it squeaky clean or do a simple drain and topoff (out of fear of “dislodging” some clearances that have been built over thousands of miles)?

Sajeev Answers:

Let’s say that “something north” fluid changed happened at 100k, that leaves a fairly long 75k between service intervals. Considering the overall driving conditions and current problem with the autobox, I’d still suggest a proper power flush of the system. In my entirely unscientific research, most tranny failures from worn fluid came from well over 100k of usage on said ATF. So it’s worth the risk, especially if the appropriate Honda forum recommends an additive to help with shudder before gear engagement. So do a little homework after dinner one evening, then do the right thing with confidence.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

Piston Slaps about Honda automatics are getting a long in the tooth. Let’s fix that.

It’s been a while since I’ve (erroneously) found a reason for an LS-X powertrain swap. I checked the forums and saw an intrepid soul trying to put an LS-4 with a 6-speed automatic (Lambda CUV sourced) into W-Body GM sedans. Epic win, making me see the light. Think of the potential when you combine Japanese quality, Honda fit and finish, etc with the legendary power of GM’s all-aluminum small block V8 and close ratio 6-speed automatic: both specifically designed tight underhood FWD applications!

Can you imagine the parking lot discussions at the office? Your post-college daughter’s LS4-powered Accord will make serious inroads with upper management. Think of the career advancement possibilities! And do it for her!

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

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4 of 58 comments
  • Geozinger Geozinger on Jan 25, 2011

    I wonder what the commentary would have been if I had posted about my Chevy Cavalier that went 8 years and 190,000 miles when a leaking seal helped to kill off the 4T40E tranny. I'm sure it would have been all the usual comments about "POS" this and "GM trash" that. Amusing.

    • See 1 previous
    • Kevin Kluttz Kevin Kluttz on Oct 27, 2011

      Yes, and I would have been first in line. And right.

  • Rocketrodeo Rocketrodeo on Jan 26, 2011

    I see I am late to the discussion but I will emphatically reiterate the points above: NO POWER FLUSH! Drain and replace only. Shift quality may be restored after two or three sequential drains a week apart. If not, go trans shopping. Thereafter, every other oil change. Use ONLY Honda fluid, NO equivalents. IMPORTANT! Don’t panic if you can’t find ATF-Z1. It has been superseded by ATF-DW1; there are stocks of Z1 remaining here and there (possible closeout bargains–stock up!) but DW1 is the new spec.

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