Service on Honda Accord




I just took my 2003 Honda Accord (manual transmission) in for an oil change and general 60,000 mile service inspection at one of the franchise tire places. I asked to have the transmission fluid changed (per Honda’s maintenance schedule), and the service tech told me there’s no transmission fluid in manual cars. Is this the case, or does he not know what he’s talking about?

Also, he recommended a coolant flush and brake system flush, both of which I passed on. This caused him to get a little snide (“why would you do that to your car?”). Do I actually need either (I live in southern Florida)?

Any help would be appreciated.


Manual transmissions use oil, not transmission fluid. What does your owner’s manual say regarding manual transmission oil check/change?

Check it for coolant change info as well. Usually all that’s necessary is drain & refill, not a flush.

Likewise check for replacing the brake fluid.

If you bought using Honda Finance, the service recommendations are listed on their site as well.


I would defintely change the coolant at this mileage, and check all the hoses; if your owner’s manual says to change the gear box oil, you should do that too. On American cars this is normally not required, but I remember early Japanese cars requiring it. In retrospect this turned out to be overkill and unnecessary. The brake fluid should be changed if you have antilock brakes; otherwise I would leave them alone until your next major brake job. Make sure the fluid level is correct. The service centers push a variety of easy to do services, whether you need them or not. If you needed an engine overhaul they would probably not bother to tell you since that is something they can’t do.


Check your owners manual. There are manual transmissions that use transmission fluid not gear oil.


This is another good reason why you should NEVER take your car to a tire place for anything other than tires. What does the service tech think is in the transmission; nothing? It wouldn’t last long if that were true. There is lubricant in the transmission. It might be gear oil or it might be transmission fluid.

Honda likes to specify “Honda Manual Transmission Fluid,” as opposed to automatic transmission fluid. Some manufacturers use ATF in their manual transmissions. Regardless, there is some sort of fluid in your manual transmission, as I’m sure you know. Please find a REAL mechanic to help you take care of your Honda.

By the way, the coolant and brake fluid flushes are both good ideas, and I’m sure if you consult the maintenance schedule you will find recommended intervals for both. Just don’t let the guys at a tire place do it.


That’s proof that ASE certification has nothing to do with sales technique.


I had a feeling they were trying to hose me. Thanks for the insight everyone. My owner’s manual says engine coolant doesn’t need to be touched until 120,000 miles, so I’ll wait on that. I’m also not due for brake fluid replacement until the end of next year. That would just leave the transmission fluid, for which I thankfully have a real mechanic. For the record, Honda does have their own manual transmission fluid; they also say you can use motor oil as a temporary fix. Thanks again for all your help.


Manual transmissions use oil, not transmission fluid.

NOT ALWAYS…GM has used ATF (Dexron II or greater) in their manual transmissions for years.