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'94 Accord Trans slipping- Should i stay or should I go?

Hi, your advice is much appreciated! I noticed my '94 accord LX slipping a bit mainly between 2nd and 3rd gear. I took it to my fairly trusty local (non-chain) mechanic who drove it a little and said he thought trans death was inevitable but he could not estimate when it would happen. Car has only 126K miles. He wanted to re-build it for $1400 (which I hear is reasonable but still an investment in a car this old.) The trans fluid is full (actually a little over the full line) bright red, clean smelling. We had the trans flushed 5 months ago but just found out they used Chevron ATF not Honda. I’ve read that only Honda fluid should be used, so I want to get that in there. Have not been driving it since the diagnosis. Do you think that there’s any chance that switching to the Honda ATF will fix this and full trans rebuild won’t be needed? Or if it’s slipping is the trans already toast? I’ve heard some people advise against trans flushes in cars this old, to only drain and re-fill- is this true? If it does have a failing trans is there any way to estimate how long it will last? We are moving to New York in about 6 months and won’t need a car, so I’d like to avoid sinking a ton of money on this car, or buying a new one! If it does need a re-build, do you think it’s worth it in a car this old? I bought it a year and a half ago and have already done the timing belt and about $400 of other smaller stuff.

The trans fluid, May help. At least it will not hurt anything other then you pocketbook. The key to this whole thing is you only need the car to last 6 months. I would not spend the money at that point, but rather nurse it thrugh. I would also pick up a non slip additive from the local automates store if the changing of the fluids does nit help, again not a fix but a band aid that may hold untill you move.

Change it to Honda brand fluid as per your plan, then hope for the best. It should last 6 months.

Certain years Honda’s required only Honda fluid. Our 96 Accord did NOT. The standard fluid was Dexron III. Never had a problem with the tranny…Gave it to niece when it had about 250k miles…she sold it when she graduated from college with over 300k miles. No tranny issues what-so-ever.

The key to transmission fluid isn’t brand but type. These days Honda requires a “type” that is best gotten from Honda. But its true that in the mid-90s Hondas basically took Dexron. The fact is that you might find that whatever this Chevron fluid was might very well be the same thing that comes in a Honda bottle and ccame off the same line produced by some third company that is neither Chevron nor Honda.

So before I went and dumped $100+ on another fluid change I’d ask a transmission shop to look at it. I have no idea what your mechanics area of expertise is, but often having a general mechanic deal with an automatic transmission is sort of like having your family doctor do heart surgery while you’re on an office visit. Reinforcing that is the mechanic’s claim that they will rebuild your tranny for $1400. Something is not quite right there.

I have no idea what your mechanics area of expertise is, but often having a general mechanic deal with an automatic transmission is sort of like having your family doctor do heart surgery while you’re on an office visit.

My general mechanic I deal with for the big stuff and things I don’t have time for. If you bring a tranny problem to him…He’ll pull the tranny then send it out to be fixed. He knows his limits. He has rebuilt auto transmissions before…he’s not an expert at it and it’s usually cheaper and less time consuming for him to send it out. That way he just pulls the tranny out…sends it to the specialist…Then he can put another car in the bay to work on while the transmission is being fixed.

The R&R labor cost on that transmission is usually around $1400…Then the cost of rebuilding it…If your mechanic will “rebuild” your transmission for that money and guarantee it for 3 years, I would take that offer in a minute…

Unless things have changed, rebuilding Honda automatics is a $3000-$3500 job…

I have a 97 accord and I had a 93 Civic, neither of them took Dexron III. Both required Honda ATF. Flushing with a generic ATF was two mistakes, not just one. Honda specifies in its repair manual for that generation NOT to do a flush. A drain and refill is all that is specified.

You can drain out as much fluid as possible, refill with the correct Honda ATF and while the car is up on jackstands (or lift), start it up, put it in gear, run it up until the transmission torque converter locks up (about 60mph and 2400 rpm), brake down to zero, run up again, brake to zero, shut down and do another drain and fill.

Also look and see if your transmission has a cable that goes from the throttle body to a bell crank on the side of the transmission. If it has one, check for slack. If there is any slack in the movement, then the transmission will slip while shifting. The cable is adjustable.

BTW, each of the above fluid changes takes 2.5 qts. If you are using the new DM ATF, two changes should be enough, but if you want to get it all, do 4 of those changes. It is a better procedure that doing the changes a week apart as it gives the transmission just enough time to suck the new stiff into the torque converter and put the old stuff in the pan and not mix it all up.


14yraseasamastertechl1 , that is the Honda recommended method of doing a complete fluid exchange. There is NO approved flush for Honda transmissions. And the cable is NOT a kick down cable, it is used to control the hydraulic pressure in the transmission. It reduces pressure under light throttle.

OK thanks everyone for the input. Here’s an update. We got Honda ATF from the dealership and the place that originally did the flush drained (not flushed) out the trans and refilled with the Honda fluid (for free.) Because we don’t have a jack we had to get it done there. Then the car was driven for about 5 miles, then drained and filled with Honda ATF again. After that it was driven home and the slipping seemed a bit worse for a few miles while going up a hill, and then better. The plan now is to drive lightly for the next few days and see how it goes, then drain and refill with the Honda ATF again in a week. Any more wisdom here? Would it matter if we did anything special while driving- avoid hills, drive on the freeway, avoid the freeway, drive in D3? How many miles would be best to drive before the 3rd round of Honda ATF? I will check on the throttle body to trans cable that might be slack tomorrow.

Dont waste your money on shift solenoids, thats not the cause of the slipping. Whats happening is the third clutch is leaking. Its most likely either the piston seals or the sealing rings on the mainshaft.


So I have a 94 honda accord as well its an automatic and im pretty the transmission went out on me it started to rev up the RPMs when i would push on the gas. Then just a few days ago I went to go to work and i started it up and let it warm up sat there for about 10min put it in gear and let off the break and it just sat there didn’t move at all I pushed a bit on the gas to see if it would move but it didn’t

Now, you have to decide whether this 25 year old car is worth “investing” a few thousand dollars for a rebuilt transmission. I don’t perceive this as something that would be a sound economic decision, but your values system may be different from mine.

Ive already put $4000 into her I have another transmission to put it but its used