Piston Slap: Honda Slushbox Fail...Averted!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
Jonathon writes:

I’ve been remiss about getting results back to readers. I took the car to the Honda dealer who pushed hard for the power flush . . . only to have the technician do the 3X manual flush. Turns out that only some 2003 V6 Accords have the available connections to handle power flushing.

Results? The transmission has been Smoooooooooth ever since — how could it NOT be when the old fluid looked and smelled like old, overcooked coffee? Because the final draining still smelled a little off, I’ll probably do yet another tranny drain with the next oil change.

Thanks for the advice.

Sajeev Answers:

Who-hoo! I take any victory I can get in the Piston Slap business. Excuse me while I shamelessly pat myself on the back. Par-taaaay time, son!!!

Okay, serious time. This letter is proof that regular fluid changes ensure a healthy and happy transmission or transaxle. Combined with common sense actions (like coming to a stop between reverse and drive engagement) and a large aftermarket transmission cooler for those who must endure hot summers in urban traffic. Or for anyone who loads up their whips more than with just yourself, your iPod and a latte.

Best and Brightest, will you accept a challenge to do just this for your personal slushbox?

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

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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4 of 47 comments
  • Moparman426W Moparman426W on Oct 26, 2011

    Jonathon, the reason the fluid looked and smelled like burned coffee is because the trans is shot. What you saw and smelled in the fluid was burned up clutch material. The new fluid is a short term fix, the tranny will die soon.

  • CougarXR7 CougarXR7 on Oct 26, 2011

    @ Acuraandy- I used to do those transmission campaigns on V6 Accords all the time when I used to work at Scott Robinson. They seemed to work. As part of the recall, we used to take pics of the clutch drum using a digital camera mounted to a special pedestal, and send the pictures to Honda North America. If the clutch assembly was normal color it was considered OK. If it was blued from heat, it was toast. My '95 Lexus LS400 has a trans drain plug. I bought it last year with 80,000 miles and it now has 101,000. I really need to service it. The fluid is just starting to become brown and developing a funky smell. The one thing I don't like about those machine flushes is the fact that they do nothing about the dirty filter or the gunk trapped at the bottom of the pan. I'm thinking of switching to Mobil synthetic ATF.

  • Blowfish Blowfish on Oct 27, 2011

    When i had my old Volvo, i read about changing ATF is by un-doing one of the trans cooler line to the bottom of the rad. Put her into an empty can, start the car running at idle the old ATF will slowly come out, u keep adding new ATF into the filler/ dip stick tube. just put 4-5 litre in it. One of my old Volvo the stuff came out, looks like semi-solid / jello substances came out. The car ran much smoother afterward. Since then I haven't bother to do anything in my Mercs.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Oct 23, 2012

    Drain the pan and then remove the pan and wipe it out. New gasket. Can't tell you how many autos I have drained and then removed to pan to find a sludge int here that didn't get washed out. I have zero interest in owning an auto transmission. It's a $1500 option with a $2500 guaranteed rebuild if you own it long enough. Give me a 5MT or a 6MT any day. I can R&R the clutch for less than $500 myself.