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1998 Honda

I recently bought a 1998 Honda Accord with 124,000 miles. The car had one owner for 14 years. The carfax indicates the owner maintained service on the vehicle, but didn’t go into detail about the work that was done. (only that the started had be replaced) When I come to a complete stop the car downshifts rough into first gear. It almost feels like it slightly jumps forward. Is this a problem I need to address and if so what is the problem? I bought it from a trusted dealership who had their mechanics give it a check and said nothing was wrong with it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I hate the “as-is/ no warranty” aspect of used cars.
Get the tranny checked. The forward jump could be a hazard in waiting.
Have it checked someplace other than the dealer you bought it from. Get that diagnosis
then take it to the dealer and have them diagnose it. Don’t let them know you had someone else look at it until after they give you their take. Give them a chance to make good on it. Maybe they’ll fix it at no or a low cost. Or they won’t. Either way, the issue sounds like it needs addressing. Soon.

I too hate the “as-is/no warranty” aspect of used cars, but if you do your homework first, and get them thoroughly checked out by your mechanic before you buy them, they can be great deals. (Don’t rely on the seller’s mechanic, who might have a conflict of interest.)

I can’t tell you how often people come here with a complaint about a used car they just bought. The ironic thing is most of these people listen to Car Talk, where Tom and Ray have been saying “get a used car checked out by your mechanic from stem to stern before you buy it” for decades.

This Accord only has 124,000 miles on the odometer, but it’s a 14-year-old car, so you should expect some problems. This problem is probably a transmission issue.

The first thing to do is check the transmission fluid. Is the fluid low? Does it look fresh and clean, or old and icky (brown)?

If the fluid is low or old, replacing the fluid might help for at least a little while, but chances are, you will probably end up needing a replacement transmission. I recommend you take the car to a good transmission shop. Stay away from national chains like Aamco, and look for a good independent shop. If you do need a new transmission, getting a rebuilt one installed might be the best option.

The transmission on this car locks the torque converter as soon at it goes into second gear. It may need a new lock up solenoid which is very easy to change on this trannie, but the first thing I would do is recommended above. I would change the fluid anyway with the new Honda fluid, maybe 4 times a week apart, that might clear up the problem. The new ATF is compatible with the older Honda’s and it helps them shift better.

The transmission fluid looks very clean. I was worried it may be something wrong with the transmission. I will get it checked right away. Thank you for the advice.

The 98 Accord is a great car but with known issues in the automatic transmissions. I have a 99 Accord (the same generation) but with a standard transmission so I have been very lucky, all the way to 200,000 miles so far. The 98 through 02 Accords had some reliability issues with the automatics so I would follow the advice above and have it checked out. The good news is, if everything else on the car is in good shape, fixing the transmission should leave you with a pretty good car.

Thanks bloody knuckles. Its a great car…and I am confident that once that issue is fixed I will get many good years out of it. If I let up on the brake a little before i come to a complete stop it doesn’t downshift so rough. I am learning how to drive this car after driving a brand new Jeep for a couple months and I know it isn’t going to run as smooth.