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2003 Honda Odyssey Transmission- DO WE REALLY?

We currently have a 2003 Honda odyssey with about 119K miles. About once a month the transmission does not want to change between 2nd and 3rd gear causing it to rev very high. The only resolution is take your foot off the gas until its back to an idle state. Now I have read that these transmissions suck and have a bunch of problems. We are driving to NC from DE this summer and would like some suggestions on whether anyone thinks we need a new trans. Last year when we drove to NC the car started to buck and rev really high when on cruise control for awhile. not sure if its connected but it was not fun. Any help is appreciated, thanks.

No one will be able to tell you anything remotely based on the minimal info available. It seems obvious that you do have a transmission issue, and you are correct about the Odyssey transmissions of that generation.

The only thing you can really do is take it to a locally owner, dedicated transmission shop for an evaluation.

Note that Honda has been known to work with people on dealing with these transmissions, so that might be a reason to start at a local Honda dealer - but only if they have a decent reputation.

I agree–as I usually do–with cigroller.
Unless you are someone who really likes to gamble, I would suggest that you get things sorted out with that trans before taking it on a road trip. Being able to select a local, independent trans shop
(NOT a chain operation like AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, or Mr. Transmission), based on recommendations from friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers is far better than having to rely on whatever unknown trans shops might be available when you break down on the highway.

And, as cigroller pointed out, Honda has been “working” with owners of these defective transmissions, so it might be a good idea to begin at a well-reputed Honda dealership. If they can’t help you with the cost of trans repairs, then you can go to an indy shop–which would most likely be cheaper than a non-discounted price at the dealership.

Thanks for your help, Maybe i will take it to Honda first, My step-brother does run a local transmission shop but still might be better to check Honda first right?

It won’t hurt to TRY a Honda dealer, but a 9 year old vehicle with 120K miles on it, the chances are pretty slim you will get any satisfaction there…But it’s worth a try…

In general, Honda’s record with automatic transmissions is pretty dismal and rebuilding them is both difficult and expensive…

This problem with it not changing gears only happens MAYBE once a month and how can i be sure that Honda wont just say its a bad trans to get money out of me. I mean there is no way to really check a bad trans without taking it apart right? we really dont want to get rid of the car. We just had to buy a new car because my transmission went and we dont want another car payment.

Any good transmission tech with the right equipment can get pretty close, if not exact, about diagnosis without even removing the transmission from the van. So no - diagnosis does not require disassembly. So if you’re worried about it, take it to your step brother - if you trust him, and if he’s a good transmission tech.

Beware of what passes for a transmission tech. I called a local “transmission” shop in my town once. I asked them about their experience with a very common issue in a transmission that I have. They professed to know nothing about it. It seems that their “specialty” is really just limited to fluid servicing and removal & replacement. Lots of places, including most general mechanics, are like that. They don’t bother. Anything that “acts” like a transmission problem is reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

There must be over 200 different automatic transmissions on the road in The States today…NO technician can be expert in all of them…Only a Honda transmission specialist has the knowledge to sort out your problem…

From your description, is could be something as simple as fluid foaming causing a drop in oil pressure resulting in erratic operation…But I’m just guessing like everyone else…Have you ever had the transmission SERVICED?? The fluid and filter changed and replaced with the “special” Hondamatic fluid?? That possibly could cure your problem…

Called the original mechanic that read the CEL. Gave a code of p07030, which from what i read is the kiss of death for the transmission.

As much as there may be 200 or whatever different auto transmissions on the road, they all operate by the same basic principles with the same basic kinds of parts. The details vary and those can be pulled from a shop manual.

I assume the code is P0730 (these codes have only 4 digits). That is frequently taken to be the kiss of death as it basically means the transmission is slipping. (Its normally generated by output shaft speed that is wrong given input shaft speed - i.e. the transmission isn’t putting out the revs the engine is giving it). However, this can have more than one cause. Many of those causes mean that you need a new transmission (dead internal clutches, seals…). Some don’t (e.g. solenoids that don’t provide proper pressure). So you have a code - but you still need an actual diagnosis. Given the history of these transmissions I’ll give you about 90/10 odds that you’ll need a new trans if you want to keep the van.

Before you spend $3500 on a tranny rebuild, I would spend $100 on having it serviced…

I’d agree with Caddyman. Take it to the step brother. Have him pull the pan off. If there is any debris in the pan, and or a thick layer of black slimy stuff in the bottom call it a day. If the pan is reasonably clean (there will always be some stuff in it), then its possible that its not a goner.

I did bring it into him before the CEL came on and he said everything looked fine and replaced the fluid.

Did he remove the pan? If he’s an experienced trans tech and found no signs of trouble in the pan, then there may be hope for the van yet.

When you say there may be hope, what do you mean? Might be something smaller like an electrical issue

There’s no way I’d take a transmission that’s acting up on a trip. That could really mess up your trip.

Yes, what I mean is that it could be something smaller. I am not a transmission tech, but bits and pieces of the story suggest this might not be a total transmission teardown issue.

Think of it this way: an auto transmission works by having fluid pressure applied to clutches. Think of a clutch as two disks that have to get mushed together really hard so that one disk spins the other one. That’s basically what is going on in there.

So, going by the P0730 (though there could be more problems!), you have some slipping going on. That can happen because the clutches are just worn out and can’t grip each other anymore. But, if that was true then a) a trans tech should have found an amount of “clutch mud” in the pan that pointed to an issue; b) it wouldn’t only be an occasional thing.

That leads to wondering about having enough fluid pressure top apply the clutches. Improper pressure can come from bad internal seals - the fluid basically gets shot down a passage, but it leaks so the pressure can’t be kept up. This would mean a teardown. But, it can also come from - yes - “electrical” issues. That could be power problems to supply the solenoids that control shifts and provide fluid pressure. Or it can involve a problem with solenoids themselves.

On another note entirely, while the P0730 codes certainly points at the transmission, there are plenty of quirky engine issues that can mess with the transmission. E.g. MAF & TPS sensors are two important things, and quirky behavior on their part can result in the computer doing all sorts of wrong things with transmission controls - including not providing appropriate line pressures.

Of course, I’m just blathering vaguely based on very little info. The bottom line is that someone who knows something and can inspect the thing and put it on a scanner has to do that. The right scanner will tell a tech what the solenoids are doing when. The fluid pressures in the transmission can also be measured and evaluated. You still need a diagnosis.

If you’re lucky our resident transmission expert will stop by and you can hear from an actual tech.

Ha hopefully ill be lucky, i just emailed my step-brother so well see how that goes. I hate having to leave me car at a shop for a few days… i unfortunately have to go to work lol

Joshhud, These transmissions you will find issues with the converter clutches coming apart and throwing trash in the valve body and the CPC screens. Another common issue is the shaft bushings. They tend to wear a lot in these. You cant pull the pan in these since they do not have a pan. They are a 3 piece case which needs to be split open to disassemble. Double check that code you posted. I want to make sure of it before I give you any other information. I want my info to be right. Please repost the P- code for me.


See…I figured if I blathered long enough, half-baked or not, the thread might stay alive long enough for transman to come by.