CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Automatic Transmission

My car is 2002 Acura MDX and has approximately 173K (mostly freeway) miles.

The check engine light came on 13 months ago (Feb. 2009) so I brought it to the Acura dealer. They told me that I need to replace the transmission as it’s slipping.

I have kept driving it even it does slip from time to time and it’s been over a year now. Replacement cost is about 5K at the dealer and about 3K to repair at the local transmission shop. I really cannot afford to do either at this time. Besides, it keeps going and going with occasional hick ups… and the car is fine otherwise.

and your question is?

By all means, keep on driving. The transmission will eventually give up, and either drop into ‘limp mode’ giving you only the first gear, or quit altogether. But, it is hard to tel when that will happen. Given that it has been over a year, your really on borrowed time now. But, replacement cost will not change much when this happens. You’ll have to add a tow charge to the bill, tho.

Gears slipping in an automatic is very destructive. These clutches are not designed for noticeable slip, and the wear that happens is very accelerated. Eventually, the clutches will not hold, and the transmission will not go.

Agree; as per a previous post, the automatic packing it in usually signals the end of the road. Keep on driving carefully as long as you can and then sell it for parts when the trannie gives out.

I find it to be quite incredible that there is a diagnostic trouble code that says “replace or rebuild the transmission.”

I suppose I just find it incredible because there is no such thing. This doesn’t mean that the transmission isn’t on its way out - but what you were told was probably just Acura’s way of basically saying: “whatever this problem is, we don’t want to deal with it.”

Find a reputable, local and independent transmission shop (i.e. not a corporate chain type of shop) and ask them to look it over.

Have you at least checked the transmission fluid? Has the transmission ever been serviced?

What was (or were) the actual code(s) pulled from the computer? It may be on your invoice. Alternatively, many auto parts chain stores will read these codes for free. The format is P1234 - get the exact code(s) and post.

This happened to me with my 2001 MDX about 2 years ago, at about the same mileage point. I drove it until the transmission was totally gone, which happened on the highway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Once in New Orleans, I was able to make it to a shop and the guy couldn’t believe I’d driven it essentially with no transmission. I don’t advise it. I had it towed back to Baton Rouge and you’re right on the money. I got a new transmission at a local transmission shop to the tune of $3k and she’s been cruising ever since.

So, I’d say that yours will continue to drive as you said with hiccups, but when it totally gives out, which it will do eventually, it can be very dangerous - definitely makes for a stressful drive. Luckily for me I was on completely flat ground and would have been able to pull off of interstate 10 along the way.

Good luck!

You can drive it until it dies but if the car were mine I wouldn’t take any out of town trips in it.
It may decide to go belly-up at an inopportune time.

Check the Blue Book value of your car before you make a repair decision…

did you ever change the transmission fluid on this vehicle?