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2005 Odyssey Transmission Failing?

I have a 2005 Honda Odyssey. A few day ago I noticed a weird smell, sort of like burning chemicals, only after driving the 25 miles to work and later that day the same. Drove it over the weekend around town with no problems. Just to be safe, took it to my trusted local mechanic on Monday…he could find no problems except black walnut debris from critters. Drove it to work Tuesday, no problems there. On way home at stop sign, hit the gas to go forward and car wouldn’t go forward. Luckily I was going downhill and could pull over. Tow truck driver was able to drive it up flatbed and brought it to shop. Mechanic said transmission fluid was dark and flush/changed it three times. It is driving absolutely fine with no problems(to the surprise of my mechanic) though mechanic said transmission life may be limited. I am now afraid to drive my car as I commute to work and have three children. It has 106,000 miles and always has been maintained on schedule. The transmission fluid was flushed last year for the first time at around 95,000 miles as recommended by mechanic. New transmission at dealer is $4,500 or mechanic will charge $3,500 though mechanic is wondering if new trans is th it. Not sure what do. Trade car in for new or fix car or do nothing since car is driving fine?

Even though your transmission is probably on the way out, it’s hard to recommend spending that much when you’re not sure. I’d probably just drive it until something happens, making sure to be prepared for a breakdown at any time.

I’m confused about your statement on maintenance. I believe your transmission is the same one that’s in my 2005 MDX. My fluid needs to be replaced every 30,000 miles, if I remember correctly. Are you sure you’ve maintained it according to the manual? If not, that could be the reason for the transmission problems here. (Many of the folks on this board will recommend changing it every 30,000 miles no matter what the manual says, by the way.)

If you have no changed the REQUIRED timing belt ($700-$1000 job) I would strongly consider trading this one in. I agree the likelyhood is transmission life is likely compromise

It has 106,000 miles and always has been maintained on schedule. The transmission fluid was flushed last year for the first time at around 95,000 miles as recommended by mechanic.

If you didn’t change the tranny fluid for 95,000 miles then it wasn’t maintained on schedule.

I think there’s an external transmission fluid filter, has this been changed? It’s a screw-on filter, smaller than an oil filter.

My mechanic told me with the fluid used we didn’t need to change tranny fluid until 100,000 miles, as it is we did it at 95,000. I could not find anywhere in the owners manual/schedules it says to do it every 30,000 miles and did not realize this was necessary. Would this alone cause the transmission to go bad?

Honda Has Been Blamed By Many Owners For Transmission Problems.

They even extended the warranty on certain Oddyssey models.

Here’s a link to one of many discussions:

Any transmission on any well designed modern car should easily go well over 100,000 miles without a fluid change. It’s too easy to blame the owner when a transmission self-destructs.


Honda corrected their automatic transmission issues of early 2000’s by 2005.

The main issue really is a minivan. They are notorious for short transmission life due to larger stress of vehicle weight/passengers and type of stop/go driving. Basically instead of designing a new transmission they adapt their car ones for van usage. Dodge Caravans and Ford Windstars face a similar fate too for years.

I think only the Toyota Sienna has escaped this common failure.

"I am now afraid to drive my car as I commute to work and have three children."
That’s Perfect ! It Doesn’t Have Anything To Do With The Transmission, But You’ve Got The Idea !

Study up on the Odyssey transmission problems, practice sobbing, make an appointment to meet with a Honda Service And Parts Representative at a Honda dealer, take the kids (make sure they’re tired and hungry), and make your appeal. Be sad, but polite, and begging shouldn’t be off the table. Honda might come up with some “goodwill” help for you. You won’t know if you don’t try.

Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with knowledge. Do your homework.


“Honda corrected their automatic transmission issues of early 2000’s by 2005.”

This runs contrary to what I’ve read. Not everybody agrees with you.

"Dodge Caravans and Ford Windstars face a similar fate too for years."
I don’t agree with this one, either. I have a Caravan and know several other owners, none of whom had transmission problems.


My 2002 Odyssey owner’s manual maintenance schedule says to “Replace transission fluid” at 45,000 miles - 75,000 miles - 105,000 miles - etc for normal conditions.

30,000 miles - 60,000 miles - 90,000 miles etc for severe conditions.

Nobody that knows these Hondas would recommend waiting until 95,000 miles.

The transmission is probably on the way out. Dark fluid is generally caused by friction material contamination and burning fluid. It’s days are numbered.

The 100k miles transmission fluid life is one of many bogus recommendations that are detrimental to the proper care of a car. Car makers make many improper recommendations although improper is a polite way of putting it. Utter BS is more appropriate.

Giving the timing belt scenario and a shaky transmission I would be very antsy about putting around 4500-5500 in a 7 year old car.
If a low miles transmission could be acquired for considerably less then that’s an option anyway.

If your transmission fluid was changed for the first time at 95k miles it has not been maintained on schedule in fact it has been seriously neglected and thats probably a major contributor to its early demise. Your transmission fluid needs to be changed every 25-30k miles and refilled using only Honda fluid. How does the rest of the car look? Run? Is it worth it to you to replace the transmission??


I have changed the oil every 3,000 miles and other fluids on schedule. This one I relied on my mechanic’s advice. Hindsight is always 20/20. The car is in good condition aside from this. My last 2007 Honda Accord, which I bought new as well, went until it was 190,000 before I sold it a couple years ago and it was still running fine. This was a hard lesson and it’s unfortunate I was unaware that not changing the transmission fluid every 30,000 mi. would kill the transmission.

Question: Will a new or rebuilt transmission run as long as the original transmission if I maintain it properly? I’m very nervous to do a job this expensive and have it fail in a year.

Unfortunately, some mechanics make faulty recommendations based on what they read. In this case, your mechanic likely read a factory recommendation about 100k miles fluid or forever and took it as Gospel truth.

A properly maintained new transmission will last as long as the original.
A properly rebuilt one will do the same.
The thing with the second option is that you really need to know who was doing the rebuild and if it was a proper by the book rebuild.

Some rebuilders perform a soft rebuild, which means seals, gaskets, and clutches. This may or may not work over the long haul; or even the short one in some cases.
A hard rebuild would mean new electronics, bushings, bearings, updates to correct weaknesses, new converter, etc. and this would be the one you really want for the long term.

Update to my post: It turns out that we had the transmission fluid changed at the dealer at 45,000 miles (they had the record), again at 96,000 miles, and then had my mechanic (not dealer) flush at 106,000 miles. Brought it to the dealer, had the dealer flush trans fluid again as fluid was STILL dark after the first 3X flush. It ran ok for a couple weeks, but now I am getting the burning fluid smell again with no other symptoms. It is not showing any codes. Oh, and since then the heat shield is about to fall off.

I think we need clarification on the use of word “flush”. I think Honda recommends only a drain and refill, 3 to be specific, but not a flush. Also make sure your mechanic used the Honda brand ATF and not something else. Honda transmissions have issues with non-Honda oil.

The fluid was flushed at 106,000 mi. as the fluid was black and smelling burnt, and then at dealer (which I am sure was Honda fluid) again shortly thereafter, as it was still somewhat dark after the flush at the mechanic.

Similar problems with an Aztek my parents owned. (Yes, I tried to talk them out of buying it)

Once slipping, an automatic transmission can be destroyed in seconds not minutes.
Fluid that is burnt, black in color, and smells badly means the transmission is toast.
Anything done after could be referred to as praying for Manna from heaven, grasping at straws, or howling at the wind just to name a few.