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I'm hoping to test drive an 02 Odyssey EX today or tomorrow, being sold by a private party. 115k miles, original transmission, asking $5600.

Googling, of course, leads to The Transmission Issue. OTOH, no one ever registers to say "My transmission is working exactly as it should!"

I am not afraid of high miles -- we have two Subarus right now with 26 years and 300k miles between them that have been very good to us (I'm really sad at leaving Subaru behind, but family needs dictate that our next step is a minivan) and I hate car payments. The car would get maybe 6-7k miles a year put on it, in town driving, no towing. I would hope to get 2 years out of it (and then consider anything else above that gravy, just trying to keep the status quo of our vehicle situation, and I wanted the Outback to go another 2.)

Is there anyway to assess the transmission during the test drive? What is the going rate for the trans repair if it came to that? (I'm in central Maine if it matters.)
 

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What are your thoughts on Siennas?
My ody transmission failed without any prior warning signs.
Clean fluid, working perfectly one day, then a p0740 check engine light code the next. 3700 for replacing it. It was a 01 ody w/ 140k on a previously replaced transmission.
I had spent some money already to replace tires and timing belt so this is a money pit when you get to high miles.

I'm hoping to test drive an 02 Odyssey EX today or tomorrow, being sold by a private party. 115k miles, original transmission, asking $5600.

Googling, of course, leads to The Transmission Issue. OTOH, no one ever registers to say "My transmission is working exactly as it should!"

I am not afraid of high miles -- we have two Subarus right now with 26 years and 300k miles between them that have been very good to us (I'm really sad at leaving Subaru behind, but family needs dictate that our next step is a minivan) and I hate car payments. The car would get maybe 6-7k miles a year put on it, in town driving, no towing. I would hope to get 2 years out of it (and then consider anything else above that gravy, just trying to keep the status quo of our vehicle situation, and I wanted the Outback to go another 2.)

Is there anyway to assess the transmission during the test drive? What is the going rate for the trans repair if it came to that? (I'm in central Maine if it matters.)
 

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***snip*** Is there anyway to assess the transmission during the test drive? What is the going rate for the trans repair if it came to that? (I'm in central Maine if it matters.)
Check the following to start:
  • Check the dipstick - fluid should be pink and at the proper level
  • Check for external leaks
  • Ask to see the transmission fluid service records
  • Ensure that the jet kit has been installed in the filler plug
  • Feel for clunking when shifting into gear
  • Listen for whining or other noises during the test drive
  • Watch the tach for high RPM's between shifts during acceleration
Nothing will accurately predict if the transmission will go another 2 years or 2 days. But these will give you a good idea.


There are external parts that can revive a failing transmission (e.g. solenoids) but most end up replacing it. Cost runs from $2K to $4K.
 

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Assume worst-case: $4K for a new tranny added to the price of the vehicle. If you can live with that, I'd say go for it (now, the uncertainty of knowing when the tranny will fail - totally different issue, but if you're staying close to home with most of your driving it's not as big of a deal as when you are using the car for long family trips).

I specifically shopped for a used Odyssey that had just had the transmission replaced, after reading up on the issues thanks to this forum.

The price seems reasonable if the vehicle is in good condition and has been maintained well. Have you seen what the new ones cost?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the input! I took a brief test drive today, but it was mixed precip so I didn't feel comfortable taking someone else's car on the highway, so I'm going to try to go again tomorrow with my husband and check the fluids, etc. I'm torn -- when I search my current car (a 98 Outback) I find lots of people complaining about the head gasket, but it hasn't been an issue for me, and even Siennas of that era have different issues, according to Identifix, etc.

A friend just bought an 03 with 125k from a dealership, drove home, on the way HOME had the tranny fail, and the dealership replaced it, but obviously private party sales don't have that backup (and really, if it'd been a month later, neither would she).

I appreciate the tips!
 

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Wipe the dipstick on a white paper towel and observe the color and smell.

Fresh/good transmission fluid should be a light cherry red color and have a pungent "sweet" smell.

Bad/old/failed transmission fluid will be degrees of dark brown and have a "burned" smell.

Build up a rainy day fund for a re manufactured transmission.
 

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We have an '02 EX with a few more miles than your test drive model. It has started to drop out of gear between 20-30 mph. We added the honda branded supplemental transmission cooler at about 20K because we wanted to add a hitch so that we could plug in a Yakima bike rack and we wanted the safety of being free of problems. Lot of good that $600 dollar package did us. In hindsight, what a waste that expenditure was. I wish it failed before our 100K mile hondacare warranty was up.

I let everyone I know about honda's transmission problems now and their support of the problem. I've learned that I knew people that had honda transmission problems. It's a water cooler topic now. There may be some six-degrees of separation thing amongst honda transmission failure victims.

If you want an '02 that might cost you $4K more in 10,000 miles and you're OK with it, then honda is for you.
 

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I have a 04 EX that i really like. If I could drive it all the time i would but my wife owns it :D Please keep this is mind while i say the following. To add to what the others have already posted...

To test if the tranny is still ok, drive the Van on the freeway. The engine is pretty strong and the tranny should be able to support it, step on the gas and watch it go. bring people with you to weigh it down during the test drive. hopefully drive on a warm day. drive in stop and go traffic then step on it again. if the tranny doesnt slip. then its good for the time being.
How can you tell its slipping? for one, its not going into the gear as soon as you expect, another is when it revs up for a bit during shifting.

If you do decide to buy it. Immediately have all fluids replaced. I would suggest at least a good Synthetic ATF, better if you mix it with 50/50 with Type F ATF, I would suggest Redline Racing ATF. that will make it last even longer. Also add a Fin and stack Plate Cooler. Suggest LPD TruCoolers, and also add a Magnefine Filter. (I've done this and even when it was slipping before, its fine now)

After that, the rest is the joy of discovering all the things you can or your husband can fix. rear vent window motors, sliding doors, clock lights to name a few :)

I really love the Van. The kids love it too. these little things are just all the stuff we have to do to keep it going and going...

Good Luck!

CK
 

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Well... my tranny works at is should... 143000 '02 EX. Changed the tranny fluid and the canister type external oil filter and Hope that will make it go longer.
 
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