I have a 2002 Honda Civic automatic transmission 4cylinder 1.7Liter.It has 130K on it. I drove for about 15-20 minutes one day and came to a stop sign. Once I left the stop, my car’s RPM’s zoomed up very high and my car would not go into 1st gear. I pulled over and after about 10 minutes I was able to drive about a mile before it started doing the same thing as before,it wouldn’t go into any gear this time.

I had the car towed and it sat over night. The next day the car operated fine for 15- 20 minutes then it would not go into gear again. The engine will run fine but the car will not engage into any gear or engage into drive,reverse,etc. The car seems to go into neutral on its own. It’s as if the car gets to a certain operating temperature and then it fails to operate.

Does anyone have advice or suggestions about what is causing this probelm? Is it perhaps a transmission problem or something else??

Did you have the car towed to a mechanic? Has anyone looked at it? Has the transmission fluid been changed at the proper intervals?

First thing to do is check the transmission fluid level. I think you’re going to have to take the car to a transmission specialist.

Yes, I did have the car looked at by two different mechanics. Both suggested a new transmission. The fluid levels are fine and have been changed according to the driver’s manual. I am just doubtful about what I have been told and don’t understand how the car can run fine and change gears fine and then after 20 minutes seemingly go into a neutral state. Does this sound like a common transmission problem behavior?

The mechanic who has been ‘working’ on it had the car for 6 weeeks and when I got it back my car did the same thing as before. It’s as if the mechanic did nothing at all to my car. So, maybe I need a new mechanic too.

What work did this mechanic allegedly do to the car during the 6 weeks that he had the car?
Exactly what does the repair invoice state?

The mechanic says he put another transmission in the car. I think he did nothing to the car. After 6 weeks that he had it, I drove it and it did the same thing it did before I had it towed.

Still, I am unsure and doubtful about the diagnosis given about my car. What happens after 15-20 minutes that makes the car not engage into any gears? Could the problem be a faulty torque converter? Why does the transmission operate fine for 20 minutes driving before the car becomes neutralized??

The most likely cause of ‘neutraling’ is overheating of the transmission fluid. Either the transmission is slipping and overheating the fluid until the pump can no longer develop pressure or the fluid is not being cooled by the heat exchanger in the radiator. So have the mechanic make sure that the radiator transmission cooler is not plugged up from the first transmission failure.

Hope that helps.

The 1.7L Civic also came with a CVT transmission. Do you have the CVT??


NO. My Honda Civic LX has a conventional automatic transmission.