Piston Slap: Even More Honda Slushbox FAIL?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC commentator Land Ark writes:

Hello again Sajeev!

Before my new Honda question, just an update on the issue you helped me with previously. Short answer: I sold the Civic and made a few hundred bucks. The more I looked into it, the more I started to come to the realization that there likely was nothing wrong with the AC system, it was just not a good system.

On to my new question:

My coworker, who drives cars into the ground, recently lost his high mile 2006 Caravan to an accident. He asked me for some advice then ventured out on his own and bought a new van; a 2006 Honda Odyssey with 71k miles. As soon as I saw it I cringed.

When I first saw him that morning I mentioned the, ummm, concern I would have buying a V6 Honda of that generation. Namely the transmission issues. He respects my opinion and knowledge of such matters and started doing his own digging and has come to the conclusion that he needs to sell it and get something else (it still has temporary tags on it).

I feel terrible, as I realize not ALL Odysseys will succumb to transmission problems. But at the same time, I don’t know the best way to put it into perspective. So my question is, what is the known failure rate of 2006(-ish) trannys? Is it simply a case of only reading about people mentioning their broken cars and never about cars that are running fine?

He got a pretty good deal on it and other than the trans I wouldn’t have any concerns. And since he keeps cars for a really long time I have greater concerns than the average car buyer. So what do we think?

Sajeev answers:

Oh boy, it’s been a while since we did an HTF, a Honda Transmission FAIL.

There was a recall for 2004-older models, even if not everyone is thrilled with it. And it’s less than reassuring when you Google up “OdysseyTransmission.com” with a collection of 2006 Odyssey owners’ complaints. But is that really the point?

Any used minivan could have a failing tranny: these machines are designed to handle a certain load with their high horsepower V6s, but their trasnsaxles (and cooling systems) are often marginal as they are based on a car. But their owners are more than willing to exceed that need, car-DNA weak links be damned.

If this Odyssey has clean ATF in the unit, will another minivan in his price range be any better? Maybe he should install some aftermarket coolers (a la YouTube video above) and call it done. This Odyssey is one of the nicer used minivans, fit and finish wise. And that’s a sweet lookin’ pair of custom made coolers in the conversion kit. No c hintzy zip-tie things for this YouTube guy!

piston slap even more honda slushbox fail

boing! (photo courtesy: YouTube)

Tthat’s a tough question. You won’t see me guessing on this one…son!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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  • Baconpope Baconpope on Mar 01, 2015

    !!!Check to see if the previous owner performed the "required" dealer service at 30k, 60k, etc. If so, the vehicle is likely on its second or third transmission and should be good for 40k to 60k. Original owners who regularly maintain their vehicles at the dealership apparently get free transmission for the life of the vehicle. Snoop around the dealerships and you will see loads of them.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Mar 03, 2015

    On my second gen MDX, so far, a torque converter at 70k, under warranty. They fought me but finally fixed it under warranty. There was a trans software update. I had a radiator failure at 90k. The ATF cooling line broke a weld and puked the ATF all over. This means that I'm on my third change out of ATF fluid. The other issue is that Honda changed the ATF in 2011 or so. While things are good now at 110k, I get the impression that this was a work in progress.

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.
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