I have a 2007 Honda Civic with 79,000 miles on it. Two weeks ago, the regular service light for an oil change came on, along with the code saying I needed a transmission fluid change. I took the car to a local shop (I have recently moved) and they changed the fluid and did the oil change last Thursday. Car drove fine all weekend. Five days later, I was on an extended trip - I had been on the highway about 90 minutes, when the car lost acceleration, the RPMs went way up, and I saw a little steam coming from the front. I immediately pulled off to the side of the road and called AAA. I turned the car back on to run the AC for a few minutes, then turned it off. About ten minutes later, when I tried to turn it on, it faltered (like a dying battery).
So, had it towed to my original dealer in my old hometown, which is where I had been heading. They diagnosed the following
1) alternator needs to be replaced, hence the loss of power
2) the transmission fluid was brown, looked dirty, and smelled burnt. In other words, they don't think it was changed. They also noted that while they didn't see a leak, there appeared to be spilled transmission fluid under the hood.
They want to flush the transmission fluid, although they won't really be able to test how the car drives until they can get the alternator installed (it had to be ordered).
1) Could something that the local shop did with the transmission fluid (or didn't do, as the case may be), cause an alternator to fail, or are these two unrelated incidents that just happened to fall together?
2) What else causes an alternator to go, other than age?
3) Is brown and burnt smelling transmission fluid a pretty good indication that the local shop pulled one over on me and didn't change the transmission fluid, or could it have gotten brown and burnt smelling in five days?
I am so sad that my dependable, awesome Honda has suddenly become unreliable in my eyes, since I am in it a good portion of my week. I'm looking for excuses on why it's not the car's fault!