2002 Accord EX V6 automatic upshifting late into some gears

Hey all,

After a round of extensive maintenance this month, I thought my '02 was once again a road-ready betty. Just my luck! On the drive home from the shop Friday afternoon, I noticed a hard shift when upshifting from 2nd to 3rd. I’ve done some test driving over the last couple of days, and here’s what I’ve noticed:

  1. If I apply too much gas, I intermittently get a little bump—very subtle—when it kicks into first gear from a running stop. The car seems to engage fine at start.
  2. If I apply too much gas approaching 30MPH in 2nd gear, where I think it would normally shift into 3rd, the transmission upshifts late and hard. The more gas I apply, the harder the shift.
  3. Once, when gunning it at highway speeds, I got a little bump shifting into a cruising gear at around 70MPH.

I’m able to completely eliminate this problem if I am prudent with the accelerator. If I back off the gas before the tachometer hits 3000RPMs and wait a few seconds before accelerating again, the transmission shifts smoothly. I have not noticed any issues with coasting or downshifting.

I’ve had this car for a decade and 146K miles and it’s driven like a dream every day until this symptom presented on Friday. I don’t remember the last time the transmission fluid was changed, but I’ve never missed a scheduled service and I always use Honda dealer shops. I checked the fluid yesterday, and I think the colour (winey red) and odor (sweet) were both good. The car had been driven recently, and the level on the dipstick was higher than the second dot.

I’d hoped to keep this car running until next Spring, when I plan to retire and replace my it (recommendations welcome!). Any ideas on the most likely causes for this issue, and ballpark estimates on repair cost?

Thanks in advance!

It sounds like you are describing a trans issue, and this year is well known for the v6 transmission failures. But, it is possible that you are just describing broken engine mounts. The right mount would definitely have been broken when they did your timing belt, if it wasn’t replaced before then. The front mount, when broken, jumps and “bumps” when shifting. It is easy to check. Set the parking brake, press the brake pedal with your LEFT foot, shift into drive. Now just tap on the accelerator pedal with your right foot, to around 1200 to 1500 RPM’s. (don’t hold the pedal, just a quick tap) If the front mount is broken, the engine will jump up in the front, and clunk back into place as the RPM’s come down. To check the rear mount, you do this in reverse, but it doesn’t break as often, and won’t cause your complaint. The 2 small trans mounts are under the left side of the trans, and should be visually inspected.
Try this, or have your Honda shop check the mounts.

I’ll check this shortly; I just had Honda replace a front mount. Could they have screwed up the install?

Updated: I tried the test you described and didn’t notice significant movement beyond the car trying to inch forward when I gave it gas.

I’m not in the market for a transmission rebuild/replacement on this car. I only want to keep it running through next spring. I’ve read a few VTEC threads around the web that suggest my issue might be a symptom of a dirty/malfunctioning/failing solenoid or solenoids, or a buildup/blockage elsewhere in the transmission. Does that sound possible to you? Are tranny repairs of that kind prohibitively expensive given my situation (more than $800)?

If what you are feeling is the trans, it could stay like this, without progressively getting worse with time. I have had many customers drive their Honda for a few years with this issue, without any problem. Just don’t focus on it. Drive it normally, and I bet it will last till next spring. Sorry for my late response.

Is the Check Engine light on?


Trans shifted ok before recent work?