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A letter to my awesome father-in-law "03 honda texas look down further and you'll see my shopping decisions for tranny work in the austin area"

Hello John,

I take it you’ll be in MO for Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy the day. I hear Mike is full-time now and I’m happy to hear that. Also, it’s good to hear Pat is back full-time on her feet.

“Preface: You are a proud new 05’ owner…baby your transmission." So you heard about our 02’ EX transmission problems. It’s very frustrating, but like you say, **** happens one way or the other. So the issue occurred abruptly; when we piled into the van this past Friday to head out to dinner, I noticed a longer pause than normal going from reverse to drive, subtle but I did notice it.

About 2 miles later, I was at 50mph on the hwy and the tranny came out of gear and the tac jumped. I let off the gas and coasted until about 5 seconds later when the tranny engaged into gear again. At this point there was an obvious problem. I drove another ½ mile to an AutoZone where I pulled in and checked the level. The level was fine and the color looked decent to me, but it was getting dark. I asked the sales clerk at AutoZone to hook up the computer and that read clear. I called Scott (mechanic friend) and he seemed quick to bring up how many issues he’s ran into with the Ody vans (the weakest link being the tranny as he put it). He recommended I drive straight home. Well, I decided to drive a few more miles down the road (maybe 5 more miles) to our destination. In a sort-of bitter sweet way I wanted the CEL so it would start ****ting codes for me.

On the way to our destination the slipping occurred two more times and on the way back home it occurred about 2 more times and finally the CEL with the TCS light came on. I pulled into AutoZone and the computer pulled a P0740 code TCC failure (torque converter) which today I understand could be more or less in failures pertaining to the tranny, as the trans shop won’t know until the tear it out to rebuild it.

Now, the first place I started looking was on the odyclub forums and this link got me thinking: In a quick summary, those having sluggish shifting etc. may consider doing this work. I’ve read that hard shifting can also be related to ERG valve and/or bad motor mounts. The work details out how to clean and inspect the A,B,C solenoids and associated screens and in addition the servicing of the screw-in filter on the outside of the tranny (yep, in 02’ Honda changed the tranny from a 4 speed to a 5 speed and the 5 speed has an external serviceable filter (as well as the internal one). This is all done to ensure good flow (no clogged screens) The work for this is detailed here: Interesting enough, I called our local Honda dealer and asked for the parts dept. All 6 parts to service the solenoids and the serviceable screw in external filter are special order only…LOL! I ask the parts clerk if he thought it’s strange that a tranny oil filter is a special order part and when do they service them? He said no, because they don't ever service them per Honda. I further asked, really, so is there any time that filter should be serviced and his response was when there’s a catastrophic failure of the transmission…LOL!

It was the next day (Sat.) when I started the van and a whining noise was present and backing it up into the garage to possibly prepare for this work that made me decide not to move forward on spending $80 and 4 hours on the van. Going from neutral to reverse was really loud.

Did a little shopping for transmission work:

Classic Honda in Round Rock (they don’t rebuild, only replace): $5700 installed with a 3/36 warranty
First Honda of Austin (they rebuild and this is a quote for a rebuilt tranny): $2500 with only a 12/12 warranty and only at their shop.
E & T Automotive in Round Rock (heard good things about this shop and I asked…they have replaced 11 acura and ody trans over the past 10 years…not exactly experts I suppose), new Honda rebuilt tranny with 3/36 warranty: $3600
Eagle Transmission in Austin (highly recommended by my mechanic buddy…said when he worked at Car Max that they outsourced all tranny work to them): $2600-$3500 rebuilt with a 3/36 national warranty (the range is due to what needs to be replaced…he said most of the time the rebuild kit will do at $2600) OR $4200 for a rebuilt Honda tranny with a 3/36 warranty.

I opted for the rebuild option from Eagle. Also, they have already checked out the van and said they didn’t even attempt to drive it because of the heavy shifting problems. I also told him about my fin and plate cooler and magnefine filter I installed a year ago. I asked if the mechanic could inspect it and see if I did anything wrong or if they intend to cut the tranny back into this setup or not. When he called back he said that what I installed was an excellent decision and that they would cut it back in. I still posed concern and even called him back today and asked if there were better coolers/filters as I possibly want to upgrade what I have.

Now for more background on the Ody vans. Seems that the 99-01 models had an extended warranty on the tranny of 8yrs or 109K, of course I have an 02’. I’ve also read that the 02’ TSB for the second gear oil jet was the solution to the problem, but in reality it doesn’t seem to have helped. Also, Honda didn’t perform a major upgrade to the tranny until 07’ when they started using the Ridgeline tranny. Most of what I’ve read seems to suggest that the Japanese engineers, though experts for years on manufacturing reliable 3000lb cars, just didn’t see this coming when they built a 5000lb car. I also read many comments stating: “DO NOT TOW, AND DRIVE IT AS IF YOU HAVE AN EGG BETWEEN YOUR FOOT AND ACCELERATOR J.”

All this being said, it’s nothing more than mostly a boiled down conclusion of which I cannot say is 100% true. One thing I do know that is true is that I’m paying a lot of $$$$ on this car…10 fold of what I’ve spent on my 1994 Volvo.

Here are some links for reference:

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