2003 Honda Odyssey Jerks on Acceleration

2003 Honda Odyssey EXL with 236,000 miles on it was jerking, very scary, and the rpms were revving up while driving. We asked around and had it checked and was told it was the transmission. We waited 9 months, not wanting to put the money into it and let it sit, not driving it at all. Then we decided to fix it last week.

We thought we were replacing the transmission, but, after working on it, the place we took it - very reputable - only did the solenoid, saying that fixed the problem. When we took it home an hour away, it was fine - much, much better than when we left it. But, the next day my husband felt a small jerk. We took it back that night and left it with them for a couple more days. They couldn’t make the problem recur, so they sent it home with us. We were getting ready to go on a major road trip, so we had the oil changed, and all other stuff for regular maintenance seemed good. Had all fluids checked and new tires on and new battery. Also had recall done on ignition switch. Left on major cross-country trip. Drove about 5 hours and it started again. Just a little - one time. No place was open and we were on deadline, so kept driving cross country.

Eventually the check engine light came on (can’t remember if it was before or after started jerking), but that has been on for a couple years and we keep having it checked and they tell us it is not worth fixing - hard to figure out the emissions problem. Could be several things. One was the solenoid, another the gas cap. We had both those replaced. Problem has gotten worse as we have crossed the U.S. on Memorial Day weekend - so no opportunity to have mechanic look at it or get codes due to everything closed. Checked transmission and oil fluid levels, and they are good.

If we accelerate VERY slowly, we are okay. But, the TCS light comes on if we accelerate too quickly sometimes, and it will stay on until we stop and turn the car off. Sometimes it doesn’t come on at all, but the check engine light is always on now. In the last 200 miles, we now have occasionally the D (drive) light flash - if the TCS light is on and we are getting jerking, and the rpm’s stay up in the high 2’s or close to 3 and the van doesn’t seem to shift into the higher gear. If it flashes, it won’t quit or shift into the higher gear until we stop for maybe 20-30 minutes. Then, the light will stop flashing and the rpms are okay. As long as we accelerate really slowly, really slowly, it won’t flash again. One time, on an off-ramp, we jerked when we were decelerating, but that was only once in about 1500 miles - or ever as far as I can remember. The jerk on acceleration has actually been going on for a couple years, but it was always just momentary and only occasionally. Now it is a problem.

We are on the road, what should we do? I’m scared this will cost us a lot more than if they had done it at home! We were going to buy a newer vehicle, but in the end, decided it was better to have this fixed. Now what?

With 236,000 miles on the vehicle the transmission is probably on its way out. The daughters transmission in her Civic with 214,000 miles on it displayed the same symtoms. I ended up replacing the transmission with a used one from a local auto recycler.

If you’re on the road, I would suggest that you get to a parts store and purchase a bottle of this. http://www.lucasoil.com/products/display_products.sd?iid=29&catid=2 And carry it in the vehicle. It could mean the difference in making it to your destination or being stuck in the middle nowhere.



I don’t think this is the solution for your problem.

But has this recall already been performed?


If the TCS light is coming on while accelerating (assuming this is “Traction Control System”, the TCS thinks the vehicle is spinning its tires and is cutting back engine power and holding the gear the transmission is in. Which will make it feel like it’s jerking. You may not have a transmission problem at all. I’d start by taking it somewhere that can actually diagnose the problem—you may have one or more bad wheel sensors, some deteriorated wiring, or a faulty control unit. It would also be useful to know diagnostic codes are present–the check engine light has cried wolf so many times that now when it may have useful information, you’re ignoring it. The key here I think is that if you accelerate very, very gently, it doesn’t happen. One of the sensors may be flaking out once it heats up from braking. Or if you have a bad wheel bearing, that could be causing erroneous inputs. The point is, you need someone that can properly diagnose the problem to get in there and check it out.

Every knowledgeable Honda tech will tell you that this is an internal transmission issue. It needs a rebuild or replacement. The trans failure is setting the TCS light, ignore it. Go to a dealer, or a Honda specialist shop, have them drive it and maybe drain and fill the trans fluid. Get their opinion if your van will make the trip. It is unusual for the trans to totally shut down, it will probably get to where you are going. My opinion is based on my 35 years as a Honda and Acura dealership technician. Out of the 1000’s of transmission rebuilds and replacements I saw done, or did myself, only a few were towed in, the vast majority were driven in.