Transmission rebuild on a 2001 Honda Accord- that didn't fix anything. What should I do next?

An independent mechanic rebuilt my 2001 Honda Accord transmission for $ 1960.00.

The first problem I had with my car shifting was when I tried to pass a car. The car kind of bucked and would not accelerate enough to pass cars. The fix engine light was on. I took it to a small town mechanic who did some diagnostics and said it was not the transmission. He reset the engine light but it came back on as I was driving home ( 150 miles away). On my next trip downstate ( 150 miles) I had my oil changed. As soon as I left the oil change place my car would not shift from 1st to 2nd gear consistently, and once it dropped into neutral then kind of slammed into second. The D4 light was blinking. This happened inconsistently, but I did not drive it more than 10 miles.

Being 150 miles away from home, I didn’t know where to take my car. The local KIA dealership said they could get the diagnostic codes for me but could not fix it. After diagnostics they said the codes indicated some “sort of trouble with the transmission” but couldn’t tell what. I called the closest Honda dealership and an independent transmission specialist. I gave both places the codes. Both said it sounded like a transmission problem but couldn’t say for sure until they saw the car.

The transmission guy warned me that when people bring their vehicles in for a second opinion, the dealership always recommended very expensive full repairs that are not needed. He told me I should not drive the car, even though it was drivable, (since the problem was intermittent), so I had it towed in to him in the closest big city. He said he would check the car over ( I have a gas leak, some inconsistent electrical problems and my oil light had come on before I had the oil changed) to see if it was worth the price of a repair and call me.
I made the 150 mile trip home and waited four days before I called him, since I hadn’t heard him. When I called him, he said ,“the transmission rebuild was almost done”. He said second gear was “burned out”. I was ticked because he did not call me or give me any details ahead of time or put anything specific in writing for me. He said he could “take it back out” if that is what I wanted. I didn’t know what to do, so I told him not to take “it” back out.

I picked up the car on Saturday and drove it 15 miles. It worked fine. The next day I drove the car a block and it did EXACTLY the same thing it did before I had it “repaired”. The car would not shift from 1st into second… then it kind of dropped into neutral then clunked into second gear and the D4 light was blinking. When I called him he said he would have to look at it to see what the problem could be. (electrical or something else).

***Now what should I do? He wants to see the car right away to do some diagnostics. Should I have it towed somewhere else? If I do that, will I have any way of making him accountable? What about the $$$$$ I spent on the transmission- do I just kiss that goodbye?

( ps. he did not give me the repaired parts. My written estimate from the time the car was dropped off said ,“transmission repair $2,200-2,600”. The final paperwork said, " Exchange transmission bench unit" and “10 qts. fluid”.
After signing the paperwork when I paid for it, I realized that he had me sign a line that said “authorization for inspection or repair” that he had dated May 2nd, when I had actually signed it the day I picked it up- May 11th. )
My car has 176,000 miles on it.
Thanks to anyone who has advice on what to do next.

It sounds like the shop is not exactly honest, nor honorable. Fudging the dates on legally binding paperwork is, well, illegal. And TEN quarts of fluid? Did they count the water they were drinking? For your sake, I hope this is not a lesson in ‘read and understand everything you’re about to sign.’

Contact the Better Business Bureau definitely. You might need to go to small claims court to get your money back. That is, if you can demonstrate that the shop’s work was incompetent or negligent or some such. Or maybe they’ll actually fix it at no cost to you; you never know.

One thing that concerns me is your statement “my oil light had come on before I had the oil changed”. Did it stay on for more than a moment? If so, did you turn off the engine? But that would toast the rings/head/etc. not the transmission.

Best of luck,

there is a guy named Honda blackbird on this site that seems very astute and helpful. ask him

There are a number of shift solenoids mounted externally on the transmission. Where these shift solenoids replaced when the transmission was rebuilt?


Thanks for the comments. My oil light was blinking but I had to drive about 5 miles to get to a gas station. I was out in the country. It took 3 qts, but it was the wrong viscosity - so 100 miles later when I arrived at my destination I had it changed. The transmission guy said he did not see any sign of leaks. I was somewhat over my change date, but not extremely over. It has never been low on oil like that before.

I have no idea if he replaced the shift solenoids. He just said that second gear was burnt out- so he replaced the clutches. Another guy there said first gear was also burnt out, but second gear was “really toasted”. All the paperwork says is: " 1 exchange transmission bench unit."
The KIA dealership helped me out by running a check to get me the diagnostic codes before I took it to the transmission guy. I gave the codes to the transmission guy before he worked on the car. 0700 0730 0780. Are those helpful?
I did contact the BBB- they also felt that I have a legitimate gripe here.

How do I get my question to Honda Blackbird?
Thanks again for the responses.

P0700=Transmission Control System Malfunction.

P0730=Incorrect Gear Ratio.

P0780=Shift Malfunction.

1 Exchange Transmission Bench Unit= Rebuild transmission and reinstall.

This doesn’t mean the shift solenoids were replaced.


I have another question. Would you have the car towed to the Honda Dealership and have them diagnose it? ( $ 100.00 diagnostic fee). I am leaning toward that option. When I called the transmission guy he said he wanted to look at it because it might be something electrical or a switch (? I think he said a switch).

You need to go to the Honda dealer. The $100 diagnostic fee is more than just reading the codes, it includes following a detailed flow chart in the factory repair manual that isolates down to the faulty component. In your case, the problem could be as simple as replacing the A/B solenoid valve which is located on the outside of the transmission. I say may because it could also be a lot more serious, but at least you know and only pay for what is needed.

The fact that the independent started off by bad mouthing the dealer should have been a red flag.

Your problem could also be due to a short in the gear position switch. It is located in the console under the stick. You didn’t happen to spill a sugary acid drink (cola) down there did you?

No I don’t drink sodas, but I might have spilled sparkling water one time or another… but not like a lot a bottle or anything.
When you say “stick” you mean the automatic gear shifter right, because it is not a manual.

Yes, I meant the stick that comes up from the console that you use to select the gear. I am a little concerned here because the 700 and 780 codes are not used by Honda and the 730 does not cause the D4 to blink, it turns the D4 off. The P0730 means that the transmission is not shifting properly, but you all ready knew that.

I suspect that there are codes in there that are not read by the generic code readers.

If the independent mechanic did rebuild your transmission, but used a generic ATF in it instead of the Honda ATF, it won’t shift right. You didn’t allow anyone to “flush” the transmission just prior to these issues did you? Especially a quicky lube place?

No flushing of the transmission. The guys who first looked at it, (when it wouldn’t shift so I could pass cars on the highway), said the transmission fluid did not look burnt.

I strongly suspect you have engine problems now if the oil light you’re referring to is the red no oil pressure lamp. At that mileage, the engine is probably burning it and running the engine chronically low on oil or nearly out of oil just exacerbates the problem.

Driving 5 miles with a blinking oil pressure lamp is an eternity.

Oh that is such a bummer. The transmission guy told me he was going to check that out first, then call me before he started to work on the car, because I wasn’t sure if it was worth repairing the transmission. He never called, just rebuilt the transmission.
Like I said, he offered to pull “it” back out… when I griped that he did not keep his word and didn’t give me anything in writing.

The oil light just blinked, which my manual says is low oil, not NO oil… ( she said hopefully). If it stays on continuously apparently that means no oil.
I know what you mean, but also driving it to the gas station which may only have been 3 miles for all I know, felt like an eternity. Really, it wasn’t THAT far… under other circumstances.

oil light = low oil pressure

oil light = you should stop car and check engine oil level