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2007 Honda Civic EX Transmission

A little background information: 2007 Honda Civic EX, 62000 miles, never been in an accident other than a couple bumper breakers, I’m the second owner and bought the car Certified Pre-Owned in 2008. I take pretty decent care of the car – regular tune ups and oil changes.

The check engine light comes on sporadically. It’ll be on for a full day, and then it’ll disappear, and won’t reappear for a week, sometimes more.

Last summer, I got into one of those bumper breakers I mentioned before. I rolled into a car in front of me at about 7 mph when I took my eyes off the road for a moment because a woman swung open her car door next to me as I passed, and it grabbed my attention. Cracked my bumper, knocked off the Honda “H” logo, and otherwise caused cosmetic damage, but no mechanical damage from what I could tell. I didn’t have anybody look at it, but since then I have had 2 oil changes, 2 tune ups and an inspection, and nobody noticed any problems. It turns out that my radiator had the slightest ding in it and was causing me to very slowly leak coolant. There were never any signs – no corrosion, no pools under the car, nothing like that. It wasn’t until this week when my car began overheating and my check engine light came on that I realized there was a problem. I had the radiator replaced and the transmission fluid changed because it was pretty well burnt up.

At the mechanic, they hooked up my car to their computer and the on-board computer gave them this error message: “P0848 3rd Clutch Transmission Fluid Pressure SW (Open or Stuck)”. The mechanic tells me that I need a whole new transmission.

I am completely in disbelief. At only 62000 miles? Only a year or so removed from when my CPO Powertrain Warranty expired? It’s a big pill to swallow. Especially since I’m a relatively poor 30 year old who is getting married in November and don’t have a penny to spare.

So, here are my questions for you:

(1) What does this error message mean?
(2) Does it really mean that I need a whole new transmission? If not, what is the recommended procedure to fix the problem?
(3) Whatever the case, what would be a reasonable price to pay for the parts and labor? (I live in Brooklyn, NY.)

Thank you.

New cars have many electric solenoids and switches inside trans. That’s how they operate. Sometime you can drop pan and change switches. Some fwd trans have a large side cover on trans that covers valve body where switches are. The trans usually has to be lowered to remove side cover. It’s a labor intensive job. Honda cars are known for being sensitive about dirty trans fluid. It’s best to err on the side of changing fluid more often. Clean fluid is good. But it won’t fix a broke electrical solenoid.

Burnt transmission fluid is definitely a bad thing. Have you been changing the fluid according to the maintenance schedule so far?

Yes, and we changed out the burnt fluid too. The Check Engine light was off for two days after, but came on again this morning. If it follows the same pattern, it’ll be off tomorrow.

Do you notice any problems with the gearshifts, especially into 3rd? Try manually shifting up through the gears. Any big difference going into 3rd? The error message means the PCM has detected this switch is stuck OFF or the connector is faulty. This sensor is at the bottom of the transmission and is easily changed. I would simply request that the 3rd Clutch Transmission Fluid Pressure Switch connector be checked and if OK, to have the sensor replaced. I’d be surprised if that cost over $150.

If you overheated the engine enough to cook transmission solenoids, I would also be worried about future head gasket issues.

First off, congrats on your upcoming nuptials! And you are right, we depend on our cars for so much, car problems just are not fun. Who has the time to worry about this kind of stuff anyway? I guess when our cars stop working, then we make time somehow.

I think when the mechanic says you need a new transmission, he means it needs to be rebuilt. That just means a transmission specialist will remove it from the car, take it apart, install in new seals, clutches, solenoids, possibly replace some other parts if they look worn, put it back together, and reinstall your transmission back into your car. All the parts usually come in a big kit, the transmission shop simply takes the old ones out, and puts the new ones in. The transmission shop does this every day; it is no big deal to them. It’s not rocket science, just a big, time consuming job requiring special equipment is all. Otherwise you’d see DIY’er neighbors with their auto-transmission taken apart in their driveway all the time.

It is possible that the problem can be isolated to something less expensive. As mentioned above But the way I’d work it is, I’d find the best transmission shop in town and ask them to do a diagnosis. Find one having the Honda specific scan tool. Ask them if there are less expensive methods, while not being as good as a total rebuild, would get you back on the road for some more miles. Get a recommendation from your own mechanic who they’d take their own car too for transmission problems.

Honda transmission rebuild, $3500…Years ago, I posted that salvage yards were full of Hondas with blown transmissions that totaled the car…I was hammered for that statement…But it was true then and it is still true now…You should have had that CEL code read when it first appeared, the problem might have been repairable then…