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Honda 2002 transmission issue

2002 Honda Accord Ex Automatic 2.3 L with 107,440 miles.

At 105,000 miles I had major car service done including brake flush, drain and fill transmission fluid, plugs, wires, filters, cleaning of throttle body, oil change, timing belt, water pump, etc.

In the last 6 months at around 104,000 miles, I’ve noticed a jump from 1st to 2nd gear when going from 15mph to 20 mph. Depending on how hard I press accelerator, the shift does not appear too harsh or abrupt. I have not noticed this jump in other gears. Since I don’t drive long distances but mainly stop and go trips, I only notice this problem from a cold start and accelerating from a stop. Therefore, I’m not sure if jump happens if car is driven a long time.

As mentioned above, I did change ATF at 105,000 miles.

When I took my car for an oil change to independent general mechanic (that has and does work on transmissions) he noticed this problem. He mentioned that I should first try to clean the shifting mechanisms to see if unclogging and removing the gunk/metals will help. He said since I don’t experience jump at other gears, that this is not a guarantee fix but worth trying.

What are my remedies? Do you recommend the cleaning? Is the transmission going to completely go?

I asked if I should drain and fill ATF and he said no so as to not shock the transmission.

Thank you for your suggestions!!!

I forgot to mention that rpm seems fine. The needle does not stay stuck in a position and goes up and down depending on acceleration.

sorry for extra comments but I wanted to mention that when down shifting the car, the car seems fine when going from whatever speed to 0.

At the 105,000 mile transmission fluid change, are you sure they used Honda Transmission Fluid? Hondas need a special fluid.

Draining and refilling ATF doesn’t shock the transmission.

thank you for the reply! Yes, when I got the ATF changed, I had it done at honda so I know they used honda fluid. Do you recommend another drain and fill?

I’m not 100% clear on what’s happening with the transmission. A drain & fill wouldn’t hurt but it might not help either. Was the transmission pan dropped and filter replaced?

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a good year for Honda transmissions, but the V6’s were a lot worse than the 4 cyl cars.

Maybe Transman will contribute his knowledge about this transmission, he’s the expert.

Yes Goldwing, the pan was dropped and the filter was replaced. I wish my manual had mentioned to change ATF at every 30,000 miles. Instead it mentions major transmission service at 120,000 miles, which implies to me that car will need “new transmission!”

I’m trying to figure out what are my remedies before putting in a rebuilt transmission.

lesson learned the hard way!

This is not your failing - you actually know what your maintenance schedule says. This is pretty much an industry-wide failure since there are almost no manufacturer’s that give suitable maintenance recommendations for transmissions. Not everyone agrees but to me this is simply a planned obsolesence-related kind of thing. I’m sure that somewhere there are engineers who wanted to give proper advice but who have been overruled by marketing & sales divisions.

Anyway, the first time I owned an automatic & it started shifting hard I took it to two different places. One was a dealer and the other was a transmission shop. They both said I needed to rebuild the transmission (neither told me why). I had no plans to do that so I just kept driving…and driving…and driving…for the next 60K miles or so…

I’d suggest taking it to an independent transmission shop (if you think your guy is already it then fine). Its not clear whether your recent service involved a new filter. So ask them to check it over, make sure it has a new filter & ask for a full fluid exchange. Then just keep on driving.

Btw - hard shifting, if it isn’t extreme, actually produces less wear on the transmissions clutches. It is basically less slip between gears. If its really bad you can damage hard parts, but reasonably mild “bump” shifts actually aren’t all that harmful.

Thanks cigroller for your reply. Your comment made me feel better!

The bumps are mild and tolerable. When I changed the ATF, it was drained and filled once. So there is not all brand new fluid in the transmission. I read online that putting completely new fluid (an exhange) would be bad. That is why I chose for drain and fill. I was planning to wait another 5,000 miles and repeat process.

Do you recommend doing a complete fluid exhange or have it drained and filled one more time? At Honda, my invoice says new washer so I don’t think they changed the filter. I’m not sure that they change the filter at Honda.

In my first post, I mention that the mechanic I went to for oil change recommended cleaning out the gunk and the screen. He showed me this sample part of the transmission. It had a lot of holes, a screen and a gasket. That is the part he recommended cleaning. He said if I changed the fluid, it might shock the transmission. His estimate for cleaning was around $285. Is this standard?

This weekend, I plan to take my car to a few shops but I hope they don’t push for rebuilt tranny. I want to do as much as I can such as cleaning and changing fluid and see where that gets me.

I would have it cleaned out as suggested. At that point a bunch more of the fluid would have been changed out. You won’t be on all new fluid, but a large percentage will be new.

If you decide that you want all new fluid there is nothing to the “shocking” the transmission notion. If anything bad happens after a full fluid exchange its because it was about to happen anyway.