Piston Slap: Rev Hanging on the 5-speed Manual Accord?

piston slap rev hanging on the 5 speed manual accord

Joel writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I am having an issue with my 2008 Honda Accord EX 5MT. I bought it with about 90,000 km (less than 60,000 miles) from a Honda dealer nine months ago. It was in good shape but was not babied. On the upshifts, there is a momentary … what could I call it … overrun? overspeed? Clutch in, accelerator off, the revs don’t drop right away; they almost seem to increase, but only for a moment.

On the downshifts, blipping requires more than a stab; I would call it a prod, a sustained stab of the accelerator.

The clutch take up is mysterious. I can tell it’s loading up in the bottom two inches of travel; yet I can be near the top and not fully engaged. It sometimes seems to differ from gear to gear. The number of times I’ve done 1-2 without issue, then, using the same clutch-accelerator motions, ground the gears on 2-3, is embarrassing.

Full disclosure: I’ve driven many manual transmission cars; owned two manual Jettas previously, driven sports cars, heavy trucks, and never had the issues keeping my shifting consistent that I’ve had with this Accord. Yet, when I raised this issue with my trusted mechanic, he drove it and said all was well.

Obviously, a guy doesn’t buy an Accord for thrills, and this Accord doesn’t disappoint in that department — it is singularly dull. But everything you hear about Hondas is how great their drivetrains are. What gives? I had a theory that the flywheel is too heavy, but it’s only a theory.

Sajeev answers:

You say the car was not babied before you bought it, so that always changes the discussion. My thoughts are as follows:

  1. Clutch: they don’t normally fail at this mileage, but yours sounds toast. The rate of engagement along the pedal is a dead giveaway. Perhaps the last owner constantly, mercilessly rode the clutch when in traffic. Do it over the course of seven years and, yes, it will be a goner by now.
  2. Rev Hanging between Gear Changes: this is likely built into the computer’s tune to ensure smoother up/downshifts, and possibly better emissions as the fuel injectors have time to react to a change in revs. Computers are smart enough to make life easier, even if that kind of defeats the purpose of driving a manual transmission in today’s auto-erratic gearbox world. Perhaps Hondata has the cure for what ails ya?
  3. Dull Driving: a direct correlation to #2. Hondas are not immune to market demands. Most people don’t give a crap about “our” need for computer calibration worthy of a performance driving piston head. People have complained about the watering down of Honda products for [s]years[/s] decades now, and it’s true: the days of the CRX, the Civic Si, the Integra, and even the smaller, nimbler Accords of yesteryear are gone. The only conciliation prize? Every purist says the same thing about their preferred brand.

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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  • Tinman93 Tinman93 on Oct 28, 2015

    Well, at least it seems like it's not just me. I've driven MT my entire adult life and I have had more trouble getting my 10 month old Accord to shift consistently than any other car I have owned. I don't really want to mess with a tune, but if removing a valve is a simple fix I'm willing to give it a shot.

  • Aquasurf Aquasurf on Nov 13, 2015

    I found a way to fix annoying rev hang in my 2012 Accord Euro (K24) 6M/T. I looked into the issue of rev hang in some depth and published my findings here: http://www.revhang.altervista.org/ Steven

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  • SnarkyRichard J have no desire to get an EV and will never get one . Just give me a manual transmission , a high redline , grippy 4 wheel disc brakes and a two lane highway to slice and dice my way through traffic . No smart phone connectivity needed , just a powerful stereo with 6x9 speakers in the rear to give the classic rock sound of American freedom on the open road . And that's all I have to say about that .
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  • Jkross22 A toenail in every pot.
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