Piston Slap: The German TL's Audi 5000 Syndrome?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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piston slap the german tl s audi 5000 syndrome

Mark writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have a 2003 Acura TL-S with 106K miles. I bought the car in 2013 with 84K and it was/is in excellent shape. I checked and made sure the car had the transmission recalls performed (I know there were a lot of issues with Honda/Acura 5 speed autos) Back in July I noticed on a hot and humid day it was difficult to move the gear selector from P to Drive. It seemed stiff but there were no other indicators of transmission issues.

I went to every Acura forum I could find and most issues were related to actual transmission problems and failures. There were some suggestions that the brake light switch might be failing. I replaced that (even though the brake lights work fine) no luck. It then started giving me fits about coming out of Park. I would have to use the key to move it into Drive or Neutral. Then it stopped doing that for a few months. Now it occasionally will not go into Reverse from Drive unless I shift down to then back up. The action is still very stiff but it will go into gear. Once you are going the Transmission is fine, it shifts perfectly, there is no missed shifts, clunking or any of the usual signs of an imminent transmission failure.

I live in Germany where Acura does not exist. The local Honda dealers are clueless since they have very little experience with Automatic Transmissions. Local mechanics are the same, very little experience working on automatic transmissions. I can’t find any useful information online or any examples of this issue. Perhaps you can help?



Stuttgart, Germany

Sajeev answers:

Stuttgart is pretty far away from Ingolstat, and yet your German Acura’s infected with Audi 5000 syndrome?

Such an intermittent problem suggests a mechanical bind inside the shift mechanism, or perhaps electronic fault (just not the brake light). There’s also ammunition against Honda’s neutral safety switch, or Transmission Range Switch. The TRS can indeed interfere with the “interlock” system.

Unless you regularly spill large amounts of milky, sweet/sticky flavored coffee on your console to really screw it up, I suspect the TRS (or its wiring harness?) is at fault. To wit, this YouTube video:

What say you, Best and Brightest?

[Image: Acura]

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.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Markf Markf on Mar 25, 2015

    Sajeev, That you tube video was right on the money. Ironically I just returned home from picking up my newly fixed TL. It was indeed the Neutral/Gear position indicator switch. I found one forum that mentioned it (the D light started blinking)I found a mechanic with a Polish Auto Transmission specialist. I dropped it off and a few days later he called me, I went in and he held up the switch and told me "order this" two days later FedEx showed up with the part and now the car shifts like new. I work on a US Army base(civilian) and there are actual quite a few Acuras in parts of Germany with US bases. I brought from a contractor who originally imported it into the county. The Honda dealers will look at them but not much else. Fortunately, with the exception of the transmission most local mechanics can work on it with no issues, since its just a tarted up Accord. Thanks again for the help. Mark Stuttgart, Germany

  • Thp Thp on Mar 26, 2015

    I had this exact same issue in a 2004 TL. The dealer replaced a solenoid in the gear selector mechanism. Apparently, damage cause by mountain dew spilling into the gear selector is not covered by warranty.

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