Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Transmission - specific symptom

Dear knowledgeable people:

I know you all prob. think I’m OCD and are prob. right. BUT - I can give you a specific example of what the 98’ Honda does that makes me worry about the transmission.

This morning, on my daily route to work - I was driving down this notorious hill at 40mph - the hill ends at a traffic light and is fairly steep. In order to stop at the light, I take my foot off of the accelerator at (40 mph). There is a slight jump, and then the tach needle drops rapidly from 3000 rpms to 1000 rpms, then I brake to a stop at the base of the hill/traffic light. No CEL, no other jumps or jolts.

This happens everytime I drive down that hill, unless I creep down it at a lower speed.

Is this normal??

For those who may not know:

The car is a '98 Honda Civic EX w/ 118k automatic, 4 -cyclinder, v-tech engine. Bought it at 81K.

Trans fluid flushed last Oct.

Fuel filter changed last Thanksgiving

Spark plugs replaced last Thanksgiving

Trottle body cleaned - low idle issue

New distributor - late Sept./Early Oct. this year

IAC cleaned (not replaced)- low idle issue

Reg, oil changes

Timing belt 105K

Checked my trans fluid last week after driving and while running parked in p-lot- fluid was clear pink - Good level

Use to run more smoothly up until the last 6 mos.

Thanks again! Maybe it’s just old, but I feel like this issue could be improved if I had a better idea what might be causing it.


Most automatic transmissions adjust the shift points based on the position of the throttle. Because of this, the transmission will often upshift as you let up on the gas pedal. Could that be what is happening?

Honda’s automatic transmissions have a bad reputation. I suppose it could be a bad sign with the age and mileage of your car. If it was normal, I doubt it would have emerged as a symptom in the last six months.

I would love to see what transman has to say about this.

When you let off the gas, the car is going to “coast” at around 1000 rpm. That’s normal.

The slight jump you described may just be the car downshifting to 3rd or 4th gear.

Someone please correct me if i’m wrong?

It could be a lock-up converter disengaging under load, not sure if this car has one.

My '89 Honda Accord does this exact same thing and has done it for as long as I can remember. My vote is for normal but i’d be interested to see what other people have to say.

YOU have OCD. Your car, on the other hand, is just fine. It will get you to the psychotherapist without a problem :slight_smile:

You wouldn’t be the first to come to the OCD conclusion :). If I became a mechanic/or just got used to aging cars and all their quirks - I’m sure that would cure me w/o a shrink.

Thanks for that information, shame to hear that about Honda transmissions. I hope it could be related to carbon build up, or some other kind of grime - but if it were, I’m sure it’s anyone’s guess what part that could be. I know it’s normal for shifting to be perceptible - it’s hard to describe, but when I take my foot off the gas, from time to time and esp. on those hills, it just drops speed faster than it used to - as oppo. to gradually dropping to a lower speed. 45mph and over, the transition is smooth and seems normal.

Lock up converter? Showing my lack of knowledge, but what might that be? I will check the manual to see if I can find that term. I really do feel like it’s related to some worn out or dirty part - I hope it’s not transmission - I’m preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

Thanks - It would be great to know that it’s normal and to save money. Great to hear you have a 19 year old Honda! Do you do your own repairs? I think I should learn.

Maybe you are onto something.

Yeah, i try and do what I can on my own. So far the only thing i’ve had to do with the transmission was change the fluid.

Cool Beans!

Checked the owner’s manual - it does have one.

Why would a car downshift while going down hill?

why would there be a “load” going downhill and stopping? On Chevy S10s ('99 to’01 at least) The converter unlocks when you let up on the gas or hit the brakes.