2003 Honda Civiv Hybrid: lurching at low speeds, especially deceleration

My 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid has lurched for over a year now. The dealership has run tests and can’t seem to figure it out – though my budget has only allowed them to take a look at it 2 or 3 times.

Things I know:

  • lurches are accompanied by RPM fluctuations
  • only lurches at slow speeds (under 30 mph?)
  • only lurches on a slow, steady deceleration – does not lurch in acceleration or quick deceleration
  • dealership replaced O2 sensor; had no effect
  • Jiffy Lube flushed oil and (I think) transmission fluid systems; had no effect
  • previous owner did not perform regular maintenance; missed oil changes, etc.
  • lurching seemed to get really bad last summer, getting progressively worse until the car died on the road. The nearest mechanic said I was out of oil (which surprised me because I had changed the oil maybe 2 months prior?)
  • lurching can be minimized by turning off AC/heat

Things that MIGHT be playing a part?

  • seems like it gets worse in summer heat. Definitely still happens in winter though, so this may be my imagination.

Adele, it may be the transmission. I have the same model/year, had to replace the transmission at 111K miles when there was a total disconnect to the wheels at 70 mph - I suspect a belt broke inside the transmission. Now have 204K on the car. Both the first and the current transmission occasionally “lurch” when I am going under 40 mph and slowing down while lightly applying the brake. It feels like the transmission is down-shifting as the lurch occurs. I don’t understand how a continuous variable speed (?) transmission works, but I think that’s where the problem is. Good luck!