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

Intermittent 30-60 sec acceleration failure after sudden braking

Today, for the first time, my 2007 CRV suddenly failed to respond to an acceleration attempt after I had to suddenly press on the brake on a highway. Both meters seemed to respond and moved in some way but the car was either non-responsive or was slowing down. It all took 30-60 seconds until the car went back to normal on its own without even stopping. What could have caused it? Normally, I would probably wait until it happens again to start worrying but since I drive with my child most of the time, I don’t want to take any chances. Please, provide some advice.

“Both meters seemed to respond and moved in some way…”

Can you tell us which “meters” you are referring to?

If you are telling us that the tachometer (the instrument that registers engine speed) indicated that the engine was speeding up, but that the car did not respond to the accelerator for 30-60 seconds, then my first thought would be a slipping transmission.

Have you checked the transmission’s dipstick?
For that matter, has the transmission ever been serviced?
At 5 years of age, the trans fluid should have been changed at least once already, based on elapsed time, and if you have driven more than 60k miles, the fluid should have been changed twice already. A low fluid level can result in transmission slippage, as can failure to change the fluid on schedule.

What can you tell us about those “meters”, and about the transmission?

^good questions.

Also look for vacuum leaks. Maybe you have a leak in the vicinity of the brake booster. Get some starter fluid, start the car and spritz it around vacuum hoses. If the engine speed changes, look in that area for cracked hoses.

If you had to hit the brakes hard, perhaps there was some rain, sand, or dirt on the road surface that caused some traction loss. This would kick in the ABS and stability control systems. In effect, the car takes over and limits driver input until everything stabilizes. The motor might respond but not with full power until the ABS, Traction control, and stability control systems sense that everything is OK.

You might want to take a look at your tires. If they are getting worn down that can cause traction loss. Also, one or more of the tires could be under inflated and that will make for handling problems in emergency braking situations.

Yes, both the tachometer and the speedometer seemed to respond. I didn’t check the transmission dipstick but the car went through a check-up just last Thursday and they recommended working on the transmission fluid next time around. Hmmmm…

The car has about 75000 miles on and I would have to look into the paperwork to see if the transmission fluid has ever been changed/added.

I’ll try to look for the vacuum leaks

Thank you both for the advice!

As VDCdriver says, the transmission is the first suspect here.

However, as the reported symptoms are a bit unclear, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for someone to check that motor mounts and transmission mounts are okay, as these have been a weak spot on Hondas.

ps. the car has been serviced regularly so I am assuming the transmission fluid has been changed when it was due for it but will look into the paperwork.

"I am assuming the transmission fluid has been changed when it was due for it but will look into the paperwork. "

The problem is that, according to many car mfrs nowadays, their cars are NEVER due for a trans fluid change!

Yup! So-called “lifetime fluid”–which is the automotive equivalent of believing in The Easter Bunny.

The reason for this nonsense is that there is a virtual race between car companies to be able to report the lowest possible cost of maintenance to prospective buyers. As a result, they are now deleting things like trans fluid changes and valve lash adjustments from their maintenance schedules–not because they are no longer needed, but because they want to appear to be producing cars that are almost maintenance-free.

The problem with these deleted maintenance items is that the resulting problems are not likely to show up during the warranty period. But, after the warranty runs out and the car owner is holding the bag for repair bills of…maybe…$2k, that car owner will likely regret following that low-maintenance schedule.

What is essential for car owners who expect to be able to avoid big-ticket repair bills is to educate themselves, and–in many cases–maintain their vehicle better than the mfr specifies.
If a mechanic recommends more maintenance than is specified by the mfr, many car owners are very quick to call him a thief. As a result, many mechanics will just roll over and play dead, and follow those deficient modern maintenance schedules, even if they know that it is the wrong thing to do.

Trust me. People do call conscientious mechanics by some very bad names, so it is just natural for mechanics to avoid making these important maintenance suggestions after awhile.

The bottom line is that you should be taking charge of overseeing the car’s maintenance, and not leaving it to others to make those decisions for you.

P.S.–One additional note is that when the trans fluid is changed, it is vital to use ONLY genuine Honda fluid, as Honda transmissions do require different fluid than others. A so-called “universal fluid for imports” will not do, and additives to supposedly bring other fluids up to Honda specs are also useless and damaging. Pay the extra cost for fluid from the Honda dealer, or you risk causing problems when the fluid is changed.

Could the brakes be dragging?

I totally agree with VCDriver.
By the way, since we’re talking about maintenance, and lack thereof . . .
My neighbor specifically DIDN’T want me to service his automatic transmission fluid and filter, because he was sure it had been done by the quick-lube place he visits (I do repairs and major tune-ups).
Well, the transmission bought the farm at 75,000 miles. He asked me what I figured the dealer would want for the repair. I estimated $1000 for labor (full-size truck, 4L60E trans) and $2000 for the part. My estimates were right on the money.