Posted by: mastertech1 | 08/12/2009

Honda CRV transmission problem? Shudder at low cruising speed.

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. 

Honda transmission problems.

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. button


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  1. I have a 2006 bought the extended warranty, my problem started at about 40k. 3 to 5 trips to 3 different Honda dealers problem was diagnosed as torque shutter at 116k. Will never buy another Honda. It’s been 7 hours since I left a message for the deaqler to let me know what the warranty company said. I’ve called the warranty company to no avail. The dealer up to this point has not called me back. two days to find out what is going on, I still don’t know.

    • Just had my tranny changed on 2006 cr-v , 136000 km’s Awful service at honda Canada , I had amazing service at dealer though, I will never buy a HOnda again or recommend it to anyone, Have a Toyota FJ cruiser as well .Way better truck !

  2. My 2005 cr-v is having this similar problem, started at 75,000 miles. I can’t belive I have to put this much money into a honda transmission issue.

  3. I have a leased 2007 CRV. I replaced the torque converter last month at 103,000km. (the warranty is 100,00o km). There was shudder at 80k/hr (50 m/ph). I thought it was a wheel balance problem and delayed the repair. Honda wouldn’t cover the repair. My last 3 vehicles have been hondas. No more hondas in my future and no recommendations to friends. The lease ends May 2011. I think I’ll get a Subaru. Honda Canada never answered my complaints.

    • I am sorry to hear of this issue.. AGAIN. I wouldn’t give up on Honda as of yet, but if Subaru fits your needs, it is also a great vehicle.

  4. got a 2011 CRV, about 2000 miles on it now.
    shuddering at 50mph, honda does not know how to fix it.
    Or, honda refuses to fix it.

    • I am not surprised…hope Honda is listening!

    • The heck they don’t know. It’s your transmission. Most likely the torque converter. Keep on them. My parents had to have their transmission replaced and the car was less than a year old. Keep on them. Good luck

  5. I have a 2005 CRV with the same problem, except I had shudder even at highway speeds. I always thought it was weird that Honda recommends a transmission oil change so soon as compared to other car makers. But after a few changes, I realized why – the oil NEEDS to be changed! Dark and discolored every time – and that’s after 20-30,000 miles. When I saw the oil that contaminated (think sludge, burned smell), I guessed the clutch plates were burning by slipping and/or not engaging correctly. So I went shopping and picked up some Dextron III which has anti-shudder additives, I noticed. What a difference! The burned look and smell of the transmission oil stopped immediately, and the transmission shifts so much better (2 years, ~40K miles so far without a change with clean dipstick coming up every time). But, the thing is, I found this out too late, as the vehicle still shudders at the same speed as mentioned in this blog (35-45 MPH) and getting worse. So I bought some time. I’m guessing my transmission plates are trashed beyond any quick fix such as this, as once the plates are worn to a certain extent, even the best anti-shudder formulas can’t remedy. So now I am looking into having the transmission rebuilt ($$) and will never use Honda transmission oil or buy another Honda with an automatic transmission. I hope this helps someone – I live in VT where the vehicle shifts a lot due to the hilly nature of the area.

  6. I am from Australia. Bought Honda CRV in 2007 with 5 year warranty. Started getting shudder at cruising speed of about 50-60 k after about 50,000 km running. Servicing up to date with the dealer (which by the way is very expensive). Complained with the dealer couple of times, finally the dealer acknowledged that there is a problem and identified it as issue with the torque converter. Honda Australia took ages to agree to repair it under warranty. Finally they did. Have lost faith in Honda, its quality(!) and its customer service. Will never buy a Honda again. Thanks for this forum, gave me some peace of mind that I am not alone!

  7. Bought my wife a CRV in 2003. Already put $800 at dealer in fixing low speed shaking, now informed it will cost $2000 more to really fix it. Will be another $1800 for air conditioning repair. I will never under any circumstances own another Honda. I take that back, I’d take one if it was given to me free but I would immediately sell it and purchase a Toyota.

  8. Same story here on a 2004 Honda Pilot. Started shudder around 100K miles. First technician at general repair shop thought I had a tire/alignment problem. I disagreed – felt like it was in drive train. Shudder stops if I shift down to “D3” at lower speeds (engine RPM’s increase probably giving me better lockup). Anyway, went to transmission repair place – they want to do rebuild and torque converter parts replacement for about $2000.

    Anybody know if I need to go that far on the repair, or can I just have the torque converter reworked/replaced, do a fluid flush and be on my way???


  9. My 2008 Honda CRV started shuddering between 40-50 mph. I took it to the dealer I bought it from who told me it was my tires being out of round. I was puzzled since my tires are less than a year old but I did take it to the tire dealer who informed me that they were fine. I then took it back to Honda who racked it and showed my husband and myself that the tires were out of round. Once again, back to the tire shop who said it could probably use a frond end alignment. Since I live in Alaska I figured that wasn’t unreasonable but I was so disgusted with both of those places I took it to a Midas shop and had an independent opinion done. It turned out I did need an alignment so I had that done but it still didn’t fix the shuddering problem. The Midas dealer did tell me that he was starting to see a lot of Hondas with the same problem and that it was usually the torque converter. They recommended we take the car to a professional transmission center for a diagnostics. We did just that and the news was BAD! They confirmed that it was the transmission, probably the torque converter. I now have an appointment with Honda to fix the transmission or replace it. We’ll see what happens. They passed the buck twice so I’m figuring I have a fight on my hands. Hope it all goes well, will keep you posted.

  10. im astonished to find out so many pepole having same problem with their A/T coz me too have something like that but its not a shudder but otherwise a vibrating feeling between 2nd 3rd speed i thought that i need to change the fluid i did it became worse i have a CRV 2005 2wD which i was told its better than the 4WD but know i relize they are all z same.thanks every1 for the pots they are helpful.

  11. I have a 2005 with 86,000 miles serviced the car in dealership. Now I notice the r.p.m. going higher and hugher when i first start the car (I always press the brake when starting the car) then when I go about 35-40 mph it is going at over 3,000 r.p.m. took it to a mechanic thinking it could be the timing belt but he right away told me that it was the tranny. I couldn’t believe it first Honda i purchase and this happens to me, had 3 previous Toyotas all bought new and never had a transmittion or engine problem so far I have to replace the water pump twice in this car. I am afraid to take it to the dealer! Have a quote of $1,500! Does any one has an idea how much the dealers charge and if they give you any discounts?

    • Find an independent Honda specialist in your area (google it) just type honda repair phoenix or whatever city you are in, if they have been in business 5 years or more they will take better care of you!

  12. my 2006 honda crv started shudder at the lower speeds, right after i
    had to put the spare tire on due to a flat. I assumed it was due to
    uneven tread wear as was explained to me by a mechanic friend.
    But even after all 4 tires (that only had 20K on them) were replaced,
    the shudders still happen.
    I’m glad i found this forum. I’ve always had faith in Honda, but I’m
    starting to lose that faith.

    • I told my dealer about what I’ve read here, and they still don’t believe that could be the issue.

      • I have been a honda person for years. Since having problems with 2006 Odd van & many trips to dealer finally fixed then turned it in. Now have a 2011 Odd van. We also have a2006 crv with torque problems, under warranty. Hate to say Hondas are not what they were. Unless you like a car that shakes at 28 or 41 miles an hr. Ford dealer is now helping with there warranty that I

        have with them…

  13. 2007 CRV with same shutter problem at ~42 mph. Spoke with dealer about the info in this blog, suggesting that it’s a well known Honda transmission problem. Dealer said they hadn’t heard of any such problems. Dealer suggested that we could wait for 60k transmission service (car has ~55k on it). Told him that we didn’t want to wait and we brought it right in. Was informed by dealer that torque converter was bad and needed replacing (fancy that!). They said it was covered under warranty – (I suspect since they knew we were well informed). We’ll see how it goes. Any suggestions on the use of the dextron III vs honda transmission fluid?

    • Sorry to hear you are having this problem. I would definitely stick to factory fluid on this one.

  14. I have a 1997 Honda CR-V and experienced the shudder problem after the first 4-5 years (48-60,000 miles) when driving between 35 and 45 mph. It was so bad that the dashboard rattled like crazy. The dealer’s mechanics wanted to sell me a new transmission for $5,000, but I opted out. They told me that Honda did not allow them to open up the transmission to find the exact problem. The problem lasted for years, but if I was going to have to change out the transmission, I decided to wait until it quit completely. After about 8-10 years, the problem just about stopped. After I moved to another city, I asked the servicemen at the dealership here to check it out. They said they opened up the transmission (?) and that it would cost less to replace it. The car is now 14 years old, has 160,000 miles. It’s running great.

  15. I have a Honda CRV 2005 with 100,000 miles. Transmission fluid changed flushed regularly and as required by Honda. Transmission squeels under load in 2nd gear.Honda advises to rplace transmission at $3000 cost.
    NEVER EVER BUYING HONDA AGAIN. Have had many other repairs ($3000) in 6 years also , making this CRV the most expensive repair cost vehicle ever owned in 40 years of driving.It’s junk.

  16. Update from 28/01/2011: I thought you all might be interested in this – I finally broke down and had Honda take a look at my 2005 CRV. I could tell the cocky service manager, after hearing my story, didn’t buy it. After all, Honda is infallible. But luckily for me, the service repair technician listened carefully and had me take him on a test drive to show him the shudder. Of course, I couldn’t reproduce it during the test drive! But as i was checking out and paying my bill, the technician came over and spoke on condition of anonymity – he had given my CRV a firmware update that he said had transmission updates, although he was unsure what they were. He said the update would have cost me $$$, and slipped it in without reporting it to his manager in hopes it would solve my problem. He had replaced the fluid with Honda transmission fluid, so this was a good test. So far, I haven’t had a problem – the transmission shifts better, is more predictable, and stays in OD more, without the constant downshifting. And this with about 20,000 miles since that fix with no shudder or discernible change in performance. I will report back if there is any change. I wish I could report the firmware version that was installed, but as he snuck this in, nothing was written down. Hope this helps someone.

  17. Well, i might as well add myself to your list. My 2002 CRV started shuddering off and on a little less than a year ago. It started at 35 mph, Now at 45 to 50 mph. But only every once in a while. and when I accelerate i can make it go away. SO, my question is, how much longer do I have with this car? I can’t afford to fix. This totally sux and shame on you HONDA!

    • No telling, it could last quite a while that way. My advise is to keep up on all maintenance, including transmission flush every 20,000 miles, and keep on driving. No use worrying about things that YOU cannot change.

  18. i have honda cr-v 2002 and 1994 accord both has gear problem infact the crv hard to shift gear wath is the solution

  19. Well, this sucks, to put it lightly.

    I’ve always been impressed with Honda reliability, but my wife’s ’03 is now exhibiting a slight shudder while lightly accelerating, and only a couple times per drive around town.

    I’m going to flush the fluid and keep driving it, and probably look for another vehicle to replace it.

    Thanks for the info.

  20. We have a 2011 CRV AWD with less than 25k miles and experiencing the same shuddering problem. It occurs right after shifting into OD and running at a constant speed between 45~50 mph with low RPMs, and is especially noticeable on a flat surface where you are just maintaining a constant speed.

    It started out as a barely noticeable problem and overtime has very slowly became worse. We took it into the dealership for it’s first scheduled service and asked them to take a look at this problem as well. They said everything was OK and were not able to reproduce the problem. Of course we noticed the problem immediately when driving home.

    Called the dealership and complained about the problem and took it back a week later. This time I have to give them credit as the Service Manager actually went on a test drive with me. I made him drive and just as I explained, he was easily able to recreate the problem. We scheduled the car to go in for them to run some test, capture data and send it to there test facility(?) in CA. From this they determined it was the Torque Converter and replaced it.

    Needless to say, we were pleased they identified the problem and corrected it early (while under warranty). Unfortunately, it didn’t fix the problem. If anything, it just seems to have shifted it up to a higher speed range, although it is still occurs 48~50 mph. Have since called and spoke with the Service Manager again, but his patience seems to be waning.

    While I’m not a trained mechanic (I am of the “shade tree” variety and have worked on cars since I was 16), I am a degreed electrical engineer, and have worked for an OEM automotive parts manufacturer in various Purchasing capacities for 17 years. In fact, Honda is one of our most demanding customers. My point simply is, I’m not completely clueless when it comes to these matters.

    We’ve owned 6 different Honda vehicles over the years so that tells you something, I have been a believer in their products. I will continue to work with dealership, will escalate my complaint within Honda, and will make more noise (such as in this blog) in hopes of getting this problem resolved and possibly helping others along the way.

  21. i have 2009 crv my problem his the lightfor malfunction indicator lamp stay on plus the d indacator thank you

  22. We have a 2006 CRV which at 75,000KM is now starting to shudder. The dealer recommends a transmission oil flush to start with and if that fails, a Torque Converter replacement as some $3,000+.Not sure yet what this includes but reading all of these posts, it looks like we will be up for considerab;e cost.

    • UPDATE : Took the Hinda to a transmission specialist. He used a proper flush machine to replace the fluid and he included an additive with the new fluid to remove any ‘brassing’ in the torque converter. Running as new again.

  23. I just bought a 2006 crv, 75,000mi and it shuttered. I bought a case of Honda fluid changed out 4 quarts, drove it 125 mi changed it again and am going to change it after i get 125 more on it. As soon as i changed it the first time the shutter was gone. The fluid was almost black on first change an wasn’t so bad on second change, im hopeing it will be much more red this time.

  24. I’ve noticed this too on my 03 model – started noticing it not long after I’d bought it. It has 140,000klm on the clock and is otherwise perfect. I started researching this and have read all the issues. I’ve fixed it. Simple. Default mode with the auto when you start up has O/D active. At 60kph it would sometimes vibrate intermittently at 60kph (revs @ 1500). I had 4 new tyres put on, balanced and a wheel alignment – no change. When the vibration started, it would go as soon as I backed off throttle, or applied more. Must be something about the inherent balance at that engine speed in OD. Anyhoo, since it has never vibrated above or below that engine speed in OD, and the commute is mainly 60kph for me, I simply disengage the O/D once I get going and am driving around town. At 60kph this puts the engine speed at around 2000rpm, and no vibrations whatsoever! If I’m travelling on higher limit roads, or the open road, I just engage the OD once speed is going to be constantly over 70kph (for fuel economy etc) and it’s been sweet ever since! With the O/D off in commute traffic, there’s far better pickup too, and the lack of vibration must be a good thing as far as wear and tear goes. I’m not happy that this is an obvious design flaw, albeit an irritation rather than anything major, I find leaving the O/D off when commuting has fixed the problem.

  25. I have a 2006 honda CR-v it is doing the shuttering thing between 25 and 35 it has been doing it intermittently for a few months now, I have done the full tune up, tranny service, brakes, and tires. (it needed all of that work had 60k miles on it) anyway after servicing the tranny (not at a honda dealer) the shuttering got a little better still there but less notice able and less often. Just took it to my honda dealer O’Brian honda of salem and the service writer said yeah sounds like a torque converter. Of cores I have service it according to the book, but i always do the harder use schedule and do it early. So i did the tranny at about 55k miles and now I find out I should have done it at 20K 40K and at 60K that is way excessive this at over $200 a shot at the dealer Honda needs to wake up and realize thay have a real problem here if this tranny needs to be service that much honda need to work out with there dealers a better price for it. even if my CR-V needs a tranny I am not gonna give up on Honda this CR-V has been one of the best cars my wife and i have owned. (easy for me to say though i have an extended warranty that gonna pay for it). I guess moral to the story do your home work before you buy a new car and all it takes is 1 big repair bill and the extended warranty just paid for itself. All the people on this site are bagging on honda, Okay your mad. has any one tried to contact Honda and try to offer them the opportunity to make it rite? of cores it is a waist of your time if you have a vehicle older then about 6 or 7 years old or had more the 100k miles on it. Because guess what folks you car has already exceeded the life span of a Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Kia, Hyundai, and well damn near every other vehicle out on the road except Toyota and Subaru. so you think going and getting a different make of car is your solution. Let me tell you the grass in not greener on the other side of the fence, only difference is toyota, and subaru want $3500 to $4500 to do a tranny in one of there mid size suv’s honda less then $2000 So lets think about this you can pay more upfront and when you have problems and you will its called vehicle ownership you can pay more to get it fixed. Or you can stay with honda and pay less upfront and less to fix it. This is why when you buy a used car you pay less for it then a new one, a 2012 honda has all the same things weather it is used or new but if you buy one used with 10k miles on it it is $4000 to $5000 cheeper (because it is not new anymore it is used) and statistically used cars are gonna cost more to keep on the road. Year and miles don’t mean anything, what matters is it is now used. That is why it is less expensive (up front). So when you start looking for a new or new to you car #1 Dont and i mean Dont buy the first year of a new body style and model, or power train. # 2 Don’t waist your time looking at Consumer reports or JD power or Kelly Blue book, or Edmond’s reports on a car they are too too easy to buy. talk to real owners at the store, gas station, bank, anywhere you can find them they are the true unpaid for info on a car you are interested in. #3 Drive it a-lot like all day take it on the highway and to work and home and to the store (if a dealer wont let you do this then call another some one will you are about to spend will over $20k with them) Like i always say drive it like you stole it (but fallow the laws). #4 DO NOT listen to a word other then how to use different things in the car the sales man says, he is a moron he is gonna tell you what you want to here and what the dealer he works for tells him to tell you. HIS JOB IS TO MAKE YOU LIKE HIM AND THE CAR.

  26. Update: I changed my tranny fluid about 3 months ago (by myself) 140,000 miles. The shudder/slipping tranny had gone on for a few years. It immediately helped. No more shudder. I just hope it lasts for years and years to come! Hope this info helps someone!

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