Help! Transmission Dead? Again...another $4,000 down the drain!

Is my transmission dead if the fluid was on the low mark and my car revs high but doesn’t budge an inch??? I just replaced the transmission in 2004 so this is the 2nd one in the same car. My warranty is expired again so I don’t have any recourse. I’ve added 2 quarts of fluid but I can’t tell if it’s full and neither could my neighbor. The owner’s manual states the capacity for a fluid change is 3 quarts while the capacity for a total flush is 6 quarts so I don’t know if I need to add 0, 3, or 4 quarts more??? I have a 2001 Honda Civic Ex 2-door Coupe. Can anybody help me figure out if I can just add more transmission fluid and then my car will work? I don’t have the money to buy another new transmission. I had to be towed out of traffic with tons of cars honking at me and a couple of cars almost hit each other.

You have to check your transmission with the car running in park or neutral after shifting through all the gears and the car warmed up to operating temp on level ground. Then pull the transmission dipstick, wipe it very clean with a rag, reinsert it and when you pull it out you should be able to read it.

What oldtimer is trying to imply with his instructions is that proper technique will enable you to fill the transmission correctly.

You don’t need to know right now exactly how many qts are needed. Just be sure that you are using genuine Honda trans fluid, not something generic. Slowly add fluid while intermittently checking the dipstick as per the above directions. When it is almost up to the “full” mark, stop and wait a couple of minutes while the engine is idling. While it is idling, more the shift lever through all of the gears, slowly. Then, check the fluid again in order to see if any more is needed to bring it up to the “full” mark.

While I am not optimistic about this transmission, at least if you don’t overfill it, you will not do any additional damage. However, one way or another, this car needs to be taken to an independent transmission shop (NOT to AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, or any other chain). Even if the transmission seems to work properly after refilling it, the source of the leak needs to be investigated or you will be going through this same scenario regularly until you finally wind up stranded somewhere.

Are you checking the fluid level correctly? Checking automatic transmission is not the same as checking engine oil.

Read the owner’s manual for the proper procedure to check the transmission fluid. If you add too much it’s just as bad as not having enough.

How many miles on the transmission since it was “just replaced” five years ago, in 2004? Have you always maintained the correct fluid level in the current transmission? Has the fluid ever been replaced?

I’ve followed the owner’s manual, many times, which states to warm up engine to normal operating temperature, then turn off engine, wait sixty seconds, and check transmission fluid before thirty seconds elapses to get the most accurate results. The neighbor said that it doesn’t matter and that I could just check it while the engine ran.

I’ve only gotten one clean reading. The other readings looked like the fluid was splattered on the dipstick so I’m not sure if it’s full or not.

After the first quart, I test drove my car in the parking lot a couple of laps and it seemed to fix the problem, then it died again. The second quart didn’t help it and my neighbor had to push my car into my space. My neighbor commented that it was strange that when he shifted my car gears in reverse and drive that my car didn’t jerk into gear. I shifted it through all the gears but no response. Now, I’m worried that it’s hopeless.

I’ve got over 100,000 miles on this second transmission. The mechanic always checks the fluids when I have my car serviced but sometimes I think the mechanic doesn’t check. I’m not sure if the tune-ups included replacement of the transmission fluid or if it’s a separate service? I always pay for the most comprehensive service.

I want this car to last my lifetime or at least 10 or 20 years. It’s about 8 years old now. I can’t afford to buy a new car. My first Honda lasted 20 years and would’ve lasted longer if someone didn’t steal it.

There are rows of Hondas just like yours in salvage yards…Next time buy a stick-shift car if you want to keep it forever. Avoid rubber timing belts too. If the transmission does not get you the belt will…

Since there are indeed rows of these cars in the salvage yards, perhaps a junkyard transmission is the way to go if needed. It will be a lot cheaper than a $4000 rebuild. Of course it’s a crap shoot, but most salvage yards will give you some warranty on a used tranny. The installation is your responsibility though.

on a HONDA and a HONDA only, the tranny must be checked with the car up to operating temperature and the vehicle off. if you don’t do that then you’re getting the wrong reading.

I’m pretty sure, however, that the point is that they went to the boneyard because of the transmission.

“I want this car to last my lifetime or at least 10 or 20 years.”

That is an admirable goal. However, if you want to get a really long lifespan from your car, YOU need to take some responsibility for checking the fluids on a regular basis.

By telling us that you are not sure if your mechanic has ever changed the transmission fluid or if he has even checked it, you are actually telling us that you don’t refer to the Honda Maintenance Schedule prior to having the car serviced, that you don’t give the mechanic a list of exactly what you want to have done as per the Honda Maintenance Schedule, and that you don’t ever look under the hood until there is a problem. Unfortunately, that type of scenario is not likely to allow the car to last as long as you want it to.

The fact that this transmission failed after ~100k miles tells me that it is likely that the trans fluid was never changed during those 100k miles. When a transmission is maintained as it should be, it usually can be counted on to last for 175k-200k. When a transmission is not maintained as it should be, it can be counted on to fail any time after ~90k miles.

I wish you sincere good luck with your car, but until you start taking charge of its maintenance, rather than trusting it to others, you are not going to achieve your longevity goal with the car, or you will spend far more to achieve it than is actually necessary.