'96 Honda Accord - Replace Transmission or Get a Different Car?

Hi all,

I’ve checked the other posts about this subject and have been on multiple forums found via Google but wanted to get input from others still.

I own a '96 Honda Accord EX (4 speed transmission) currently with 133,000 miles on it. Last February (2014) I downshifted the car while going up a hill (yes, I now know that was a bad idea) and the subsequent jerk was immediately followed by a check engine light. The code was P0715 for Turbine Speed Sensor Failure; I read up what I could on Google, and brought the car to a Honda Center a couple days later to have a diagnostic run. They said the transmission was still okay and working fine, but recommended a transmission flush to replace all the fluid and clean the filter/pan (I can’t remember exactly), which I did. They said the transmission would continue to deteriorate and that I should be aware that it will probably fail at some point, but the flush should buy me some time. (I’ve since read about transmission flushes as well.)

Fast forward to now, the car is still driving okay and the check engine light has stayed off. The transmission shifts into every gear and has not caused me any issues, but I can tell it’s getting jerkier. I’ve driven Sprinters with terrible transmissions where you can fully feel a ‘thud’ as it shifts and, thankfully, my car is not there yet, but it’s deteriorating. Work put into the car over the past two years includes replacing 2 wheel bearings, fixing the CV axle, and replacing the spark plugs, with maintenance and the flush it adds up to about $1600 total. It was given to me as a gift and the previous owner took care of it (it had only 108,000 miles in 2012 and has since been cross-country twice).

My question is this, would it be worth it to replace the transmission, or should I move on to a different car? I’ve seen estimates for transmissions in the $1,000-2,000 range but don’t know yet how much my particular one would cost. I’m planning on returning to school in the next couple months, so my budget for a used car is $10,000 max, preferably less. My main goal is to have a reliable, safe car and not go into too much debt. I would consider leasing as an option too, but I have no interest in constantly having new cars.

Any advice is welcome and appreciated. I’ve never shopped around for cars, nor have I had a car payment, so I’m feeling intimidated by the process.

The transmission needs to be properly diagnosed . . . and not by AAMCO

I wouldn’t expect much quality with a $1000 transmission. Seems too low

I noticed you didn’t mention a timing belt in your maintenance. If it’s never been done, you are way overdue

Accords are pretty reliable. If this one isn’t too rusty, and is in good overall condition, I’d say it’s worth repairing/replacing the transmission

Here’s some reading material


“the car is still driving okay and the check engine light has stayed off. The transmission shifts into every gear and has not caused me any issues,”
“I’m planning on returning to school in the next couple months, so my budget for a used car is $10,000 max, preferably less”

Those two statements said it all. Keep it. Check the tranny fluid occasionally IAW the directions in the owner’s manual. When eventually the tranny gives way, you can decide then. By then you’ll probably be out of school, benefitting from your degree, and able to afford something you really want. But for right now, it ain’t broke and it’s serving your needs, so I see no reason to do anything at all.

Do not lease. You’ll be shoveling monthly payments into a car and getting zero equity on it. When the lease runs out they’ll come take the car and leave you with nothing, nada, zip, no car and no money. And those cross country trips? The mileage limitations on the lease will make those totally unaffordable. When you lease a car you do not own it, the leasing company does. And they hold you to strict limitations to protect their vehicle.

All that other stuff is normal wear & tear for a vehicle this age. Nothing you listed other than the tranny is any indication that the car’s useful life is getting short.

Best of luck in school. Focus on that for as long as the Honda keeps chuggin’ along.

If it were my vehicle I’d install a used transmission.

That’s what I’m doing at this time with the wife’s 97 Accord.

She likes the fact that she doesn’t have a car payment, and likes the lower insurance premiums.


do nothing costs nothing.
you have a $2k car. it works.
why spend $10k on a better car now?
honda trans dies. buy another $2k car.

No offense, but if the transmission dies, I wouldn’t buy another 2K car. That might be tempting fate. It might turn out to have even more problems than OP’s current car.

Keep it and drive it until it dies. Then replace the tranny and keep going. Rplace timing belt now though. It will leave you stranded.

Don’t be afraid to try a miricale additive. And remember just because your buying a 10k car does not mean brakes, tires, fluids and other components are good. Get an inspection on yur car like you were buying it used, and see what potential problems you may have to deal with to help make your decisions.

96 Accord? 133K? Well, first off, if you absolutely need a reliable ride, you are better off moving to something newer. This is a well designed reliable car, but at 20+ years the deterioration rate will speed up, not slow down. If you don’t mind to have it off the road from time to time for necessary maintenance, both scheduled and unscheduled, then keep it, but keep all the recommended engine and transmission maintenance up to date. It still has a lot of miles left in it if you do that.

But what about the transmission? Automatic transmission problems are one of the most common problems posted here. So you are not alone. Folks buy them partly b/c, unlike a manual transmission, automatics don’t have a clutch that wears out and needs occasional replacement.

But here’s the thing: they do have clutches. And the clutches wear out. And are designed so they can be replaced with new ones. So before considering to install a new transmission, check with the transmission shop to see if the existing one can be rebuilt. Usually they can, and – for an extra $$$ investment – can be rebuilt with heavy duty parts so that the result is a better transmission than when it was new.