Troubleshooting Honda Transmission Problems

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Have troubles with your Honda transmission? Know the typical symptoms and learn how to check the transmission fluid, and read fault codes yourself. Early 2000s V6 Honda models such as the Odyssey and Accord had higher than normal automatic transmission failures.

Newer models are not trouble-free either. 201l5-2018 Honda and Acura vehicles with ZF 9HP 9-speed automatic transmissions were recalled due to problems with gasket leaks that allowed engine coolant and transmission fluid to mix. If coolant is mixed with transmission fluid, it will damage the transmission bands, requiring complete rebuilding.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Honda transmission failure include:

  • Transmission slips
  • Lack of response
  • The car jerks when accelerating.
  • Burning smell
  • Car refuses to move when in gear.
  • The transmission slips when changing gears.
  • Whining, clunking, or humming noise
  • Transmission is noisy in neutral.
  • Transmission pops in and out of gear.
  • Transmission slips or won’t engage.
  • No 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Gear
  • The engine revs up before the car starts moving.
  • No Reverse
  • Thumps or clunks noises when changing gears
  • Check engine light always on
    • Common codes: P0700, P0730, P0740, P0780, P0705
  • D, D4, or D3 light flashing
  • The vehicle goes in limp mode.
    • Speed limited to 30 mph.

Usually, one to two symptoms will be present depending on your Honda transmission problem. Symptoms range from delayed engagement, engine revving up, check engine light staying on, and “D” light flashing.

These symptoms are eventually followed by a transmission that slips, goes in and out of gear, and if these symptoms are ignored, they will eventually lead to complete transmission failure. To prevent further damage, Honda malfunctioning transmissions should be diagnosed as soon as possible.

How to check transmission fluid on a Honda?

Check the transmission fluid level as soon as possible. If the level is low, add the recommended amount of Honda transmission fluid. The Honda transmission may be low on transmission fluid, including delayed engagement, transmission slipping, and rough shifts between gears.

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  1. Drive the Honda for fifteen minutes to warm up the transmission fluid, then park it on level ground.parked honda
  2. Turn off the engine. turn off engine honda civic accord
  3. Open the hood by pulling the hood release under the dashboard. open hood
  4. Locate the transmission fluid dipstick. transmission dipstick
  5. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Note the MIN and MAX marks. Reinsert the dipstick making sure it is fully inserted. check honda transmission fluid
  6. Remove the dipstick to determine the fluid level. The level must be in the hatched area. transmission fluid level

This is a straightforward procedure and only takes less than five minutes. If your transmission fluid level is low, add the recommended Honda transmission fluid specified in your owner’s manual.

Low transmission fluid level can cause the engine to rev up when the automatic transmission changes gears. It can also cause the transmission to bang into gear or whining noise coming from the transmission.

How to diagnose Honda transmission problems?

Transmission problems will, in most cases, generate a fault code. Transmission-specific fault codes get stored in the transmission control unit and will not always set the “check engine light.”

Generic OBD2 scanners cannot read transmission fault codes. In addition to diagnosing the check engine light, your scanner must also diagnose the transmission module.

What you need

A scanner that can diagnose Honda transmission problems. The YOUCANIC full system scanner can read and clear all codes on any vehicle’s control module.

YOUCANIC UCAN2 SCANNER

These scanners can read and clear fault codes from the transmission module.

Instructions

  1. Locate the OBD-II port under the dashboard.
  2. Turn on the ignition.
  3. Allow your scanner to turn on.
  4. Select your Honda model, then go to the Control Unit.
  5. Select the Automatic Transmission menu.
  6. Scroll down to Read Codes and press enter.

If you have a scanner designed for Honda, it is good to perform a full system scan that will read codes in all modules.

Sometimes a problem with the mass airflow sensor, Powertrain Control Module PCM, or VSS can cause your transmission not to shift, shift erratically, or go into limp mode.

Honda TCC Lockup Solenoid Resistance Test

sensor

The problem for Honda equipped with the four-cylinder engine could be the TCC lock-up solenoid. This may be the problem if you are getting fault code P1735.

By meaning the resistance, you can perform a TCC lock-up solenoid test using a digital multimeter. The TCC solid does not need to be removed from the vehicle; it just needs to be disconnected.

Follow this guide on how to perform a TCC lock-up solenoid test.

TCM Software Update

Honda Transmission Control Module (TCM) may malfunction.

Honda transmission problems can also be caused due to TCM software keeping the torque converter engaged even when it is stopped. This condition puts unnecessary stress on the transmission and can shorten the life of the transmission.

Honda has developed a transmission software update that can prevent the lockup clutch from staying engaged.

Call your Honda dealer to give them your VIN and ask if there is a transmission software update. The dealer may inform you over the phone or require you to take the car to verify.

Check Battery Voltage

low battery voltage causing transmission problems

Hondas equipped with the latest 10-speed automatic transmission are very sensitive to voltage fluctuations.

Low voltage can cause the TCM to reboot, which places the transmission in Park or Neutral.

Honda issued a recall for this problem where a software update changed the behavior on TCU reboot. NHTSA campaign number: 19V299. Honda recalls are Z4J and Y4K.

If your Honda is affected by the recall, take it to the dealer to get it serviced. If not, ensure your Honda battery is fully charged. Read the transmission module’s fault codes to determine if the codes are voltage-related.

Change transmission fluid and filter

Only use the recommended Honda transmission fluid. Using aftermarket transmission fluid can lead to erratic shifting or premature gearbox failure.

Metal particles in the transmission fluid can cause solenoid failure on high-mileage vehicles. Metal from the torque converter or clutches is carried in the transmission fluid, which then gets into the solenoids.

To fix this problem, you will need to complete a transmission fluid flush; in some cases, you may even need to replace the valve body.

  1. Drain out the old transmission fluid.
  2. Clean the drain plug magnet
  3. Add three quarts of genuine Honda transmission fluid.
  4. Check transmission fluid level with engine off.

Remember that the transmission fluid pan only holds about 1/3 of the fluid. The rest of the transmission fluid is in the torque converter, lines, and cooler. You will need to perform a flush to get a 100% transmission fluid change. If you are changing the transmission fluid every 30,000, it is not necessary to perform a flush.

To extend the life of your Honda transmission, changing the transmission fluid and filtering at the recommended interval is strongly recommended. Honda recommends changing transmission fluid between 60,000 and 90,000 miles depending on the transmission model. In some models, Honda transmission filters are lifetime filters and can not be easily serviced.

What transmission fluid to use on a Honda?

recommended honda transmission fluid

Using the correct transmission fluid in your Honda is very critical. The transmission fluid you must use depends on the transmission installed in your car. Transmission and fluid types are listed in your owner’s manual.

Here is a list of the most commonly used Honda transmission fluids:

  • Honda ATF DW1
    • Automatic transmission Hondas
    • Replaced Z1
    • Most common
  • Honda MTF
    • All manual transmission Hondas
  • Honda CVT Fluid
    • Continuously Variable Transmission
    • Civic Hybrid,
    • CRZ, Civic GX HX,
    • Insight
  • Honda HCF2 Fluid
    • Second-generation CVT transmissions
  • Honda ATF-TYPE 3.1
    • 2016 Pilot (9-speed)
  • Honda ATF-TYPE 2.0
    • 2018 Odyssey (LX, EX, EX-L)

The correct transmission fluid is indicated in your owner’s manual.

How to fix a broken Honda transmission?

Call any Honda dealer and provide them with the VIN. Ask if any recalls may affect your vehicle. If not, ask if they will offer a “Goodwill repair.”

If the dealer does not cover your Honda, here are some of your options:

Used Honda Transmission

  • This is the cheapest route but the least reliable. A used transmission can be purchased from a local salvage yard.
  • A used Honda transmission will cost anywhere from $350 to $600. A local mechanic can install the transmission for $500-$700.
  • The main disadvantage of installing a used transmission is that there is no guarantee. Even if the used transmission comes with a 30 or 90-day warranty, it may fail at any time.

Rebuilding a Honda Transmission

  • Since certain Honda transmissions tend to fail quite frequently, there are transmission shops that specialize in rebuilding Honda transmissions.
  • While they cost more than a used transmission, a good rebuilt transmission should last several years.
  • Rebuild transmissions also have a better warranty, typically a 30,000 or 50,000-mile warranty, which is significantly higher than what you will get from a used transmission.
  • A rebuilt transmission will be shipped to you or your mechanic. The mechanic will then install it for you for an additional fee. You are looking to spend between $1600 and $2500 in total.
  • Note that some Honda transmission rebuilders require that the old transmission should be returned.
  • You will be charged a core fee, which will be refunded when you return the old transmission.

Remanufactured Honda Transmission

  • The most expensive solution is to buy a rebuilt Honda transmission. You can have your local Honda dealer install a remanufactured Honda transmission.
  • These transmissions are rebuilt by Honda technicians and with OEM parts.
  • This route will be more expensive, but it is less headache.
  • Remanufactured Honda transmission comes warranty that is honored by Honda dealerships.
  • Having Honda replace a failed transmission typically costs between $3000 and $4500.

Check Recalls

Due to transmission problems, Honda has recalled millions of Honda Accords, Odysseys, and Pilots. You can check if there is an open recall for your vehicle by going to the NHTSA Website and entering your VIN.

What are the most common Honda transmission codes?

While there are hundreds of possible fault codes, here is a list of the most common Honda transmission fault codes.

  • P0766 “ Failed Shift Solenoid D “ This DTC can be stored when there is a problem with a shift solenoid or the valve body.
  • P2703 “ Failed Friction Element D “ This trouble code can be triggered by a failed friction element like a clutch disc.
  • P0720 “ Failed Input Speed Sensor or Output Speed Sensor “ This trouble code is caused by a bad speed sensor on the transmission.
  • P0730 “ Incorrect Gear Ratio “Several problems could cause this issue, including a fault in the transmission control module, dirty transmission fluid, or a bad transmission solenoid.
  • P0657 “ Voltage Problem in the A Circuit This transmission problem is often caused by a short or bad ground on the PCM or PCM wiring harness.
  • P0700 “ Malfunction in the transmission control system “ This DTC is often triggered when there is a problem with the TCM, a wiring harness, a solenoid, or the valve body.
  • P0715  Input/Turbine Speed Sensor Malfunction “ This code typically gets stored when the input sensor cannot read the engine RPM, preventing transmission from appropriately shifting gears.
  • P0717 Input/Turbine Speed Sensor No Signal “ This trouble code is generated when the PCM does not get a signal from the input speed sensor, which will prevent the computer from being able to determine when the transmission needs to shift.
  • P0791 “ Intermediate Shaft Speed Sensor A Circuit This error can occur when there is a problem with the intermediate shaft speed sensor, most likely due to a bad sensor, wiring problem, or a failed shift solenoid.
  • P0793 “ Intermediate Shaft Speed Sensor Circuit No Signal “ The computer will generate this DTC when it cannot communicate with the intermediate shaft speed sensor.

Why do Honda if my transmissions fail?

Not all Honda transmission fails. In those that do, a common problem with Honda transmission is inadequate cooling of transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid that’s not cooled enough causes gears to overheat, especially the second gear. Extreme heat causes the transmission fluid to break down, which causes internal transmission failure. Honda issued a recall for models where a transmission fluid cooler was installed to address the issue.

Which Hondas should I avoid?

  • Honda with the V6 engine and automatic transmissions from 1999 to 2003. The most problematic Honda transmission is the H5 transmission. The early model years had high failure rates. Honda improved the parts in the latter years, and the failure rate significantly decreased.
    Show vehicles with H5 transmission

    2000 Acura TL (M7WA)
    2001“2003 Acura CL (BGFA)
    2001“2003 Acura CL (MGFA)
    2001“2003 Acura TL (B7WA)
    2001 Acura MDX (MGHA)
    2002“2006 Acura RSX – base model only. (MRMA)
    2002 Acura MDX (BGHA)
    2002“2004 Honda Odyssey (BYBA)
    2005“2006 Honda Odyssey (BGRA)
    2003“2004 Honda Accord (MAYA)
    2003“2004 Honda Accord (MCLA)
    2003“2004 Acura MDX (MDKA)
    2006“2014 Honda Ridgeline (BJFA)
    2003“2004 Honda Pilot (BVGA)
    2005“2015 Honda Pilot (BVLA)
    2003“2005 Honda Accord (BAYA)
    2003“2005 Honda Accord (BCLA)
    2006“2012 Acura RDX (BWEA)
    2004“2007 Saturn Vue (MDRA front-wheel drive, MDPA all-wheel drive)

Should I drive a Honda if I have transmission problems?

  • Avoid driving the Honda when experiencing transmission problems. Driving in these conditions can cause complete transmission failure.

Do Honda cars have transmission problems?

  • The early 2000 Honda cars, SUVs, and vans with automatic transmissions had a high failure rate.

How long do Honda automatic transmissions last?

  • A Honda transmission can fail as early as 60,000 miles or last up to 300,000 miles. The life span of a Honda transmission depends on the transmission model and maintenance.

How to make a Honda transmission last longer?

  • Change transmission fluid at the recommended interval.
  • Make sure your Honda is fully stopped every time you change gears between P, R, and D.

How much does it cost to replace the transmission on a Honda?

  • The average cost to replace or repair a failed Honda transmission ranges from $2500 to $4000. Some Honda dealers may quote up to $5500.

We hope you find the Troubleshooting Honda Transmission Problems guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your Honda.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’d have to agree with this article. In our experience, the first thing a person needs to check is the transmission fluid. People often forget how important this is, and while they regularly get the engine oil changed, they forget about this.

    In order to avoid costly replacement, always try to get your fluid checked every 40,000km

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’d have to agree with this article. In our experience, the first thing a person needs to check is the transmission fluid. People often forget how important this is, and while they regularly get the engine oil changed, they forget about this.

    In order to avoid costly replacement, always try to get your fluid checked every 40,000km