Ok we all know Honda builds a great vehicle right? Well why are there so many reports of automatic transmission problems with the crv, civics, odyssey and others? I ask this because we recently had a client bring in their 2002 Honda Crv with the concern that at lower speeds, usually cruising at around 38-45 mph the vehicle has a shudder in the front end. This is not the first time that I have experienced this.
After carefully examining all of the transmission and engine data I was able to isolate the problem to the torque converter lock-up area of the transmission. The problem was caused by clutch material deterioration, which caused general system contamination and overheating, and gradual torque converter failure.
The fix for this problem at this stage is transmission removal, disassembly and complete rebuild, a little over $2000 dollars, maybe more. Sometimes if this condition exists for a period of time internal “hard part” or shaft damage will occur which only adds expense.
This particular crv owner was perplexed, because he only has 102,067 miles on it and has kept up with the services. These services were taken care of from the beginning with the two different Honda dealerships. I have seen failures in as low as 55,000 miles… so why a transmission failure on a vehicle that is supposed to last 200-300,000 miles without major rebuild?
First let me say… Honda builds a very good transmission! The 2002 Honda CRV transmission is one that could very well last 200k plus! However there is a catch… the printed recommendation and some dealer recommendations on fluid change and general service is incorrect and not in your best interest. These transmissions will last a long time if you service them properly. That means a complete flush with the proper fluid every 20,0000 miles, and definitely no later than 30,000 miles. NO DRAIN AND REFILLS, many dealers are selling this as an alternative service. This type of service can be likened to taking a few ounces of dirty water from a full glass of dirty water and then refilling with a few ounces of clean… in the end you still have a dirty glass of water! Draining a couple of quarts from a system that holds over twelve does not help to maintain the fluid integrity. The root cause of this transmission failure was not having frequent enough transmission fluid service, the result was this fluid started to eat the clutch material.
It seems some manufacturers are more concerned with JD Power and Associates “cost of vehicle ownership” awards, and selling you a new car every few years, rather than keeping the vehicle running good for many years. However, if you really want to keep your Honda on the road and trouble-free for years to come, service the transmission every 2 years or 20k miles whichever comes first. I promise, this will be money well spent.
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