Over the past 45 years, the Japanese brand, Honda has produced one of the most loved cars in the world – the Honda Accord. It’s actually been one of the best-selling cars in the United States since the ‘90s. But would that reputation remain intact given all the Honda Accord transmission problems?
Any dedicated car enthusiast would know about the four-door sedan model under the Accord lineup. And while the cars do have their cult following, customer complaints over the years have expressed how some models are clearly not as good as the others.
The problems are persistent with some models while the others run perfectly fine. In general, the Honda Accord line is very reliable with the exception of four years – 2003, 2008, 2009, and 2013. These four models stand out for having a concerning number of consumer complaints and issues, a common one being the Honda Accord transmission problems.
You should definitely avoid these four models if you’re planning on buying something from the range. But, if it’s too late and you have one already that’s been malfunctioning and driving you crazy, we have the solution.
- The Story
- Drive with Problem?
- Replacement and Repair
- How to Solve Problems
- Bottom Line
The ‘70s were where the U.S. automakers really shone. America couldn’t get enough full-sized vehicles powered by strong engines. They were also under the assumption that the country has an endless source of oil. Manufacturers came up with vehicles appealing to those desires.
Federal regulations began getting stricter, pushing up the price of new vehicles owing to emissions and safety necessities. Low gas prices acted as an opposing force, causing the auto industry to keep making trucks and cars that were faster, bigger, more luxurious, and more powerful.
Suddenly, the oil embargo with the Arabs caused a drastic attitude change within the people. Fuel prices rose up harshly, creating an unprecedented need for smaller cars with improved fuel efficiency. However, the U.S. auto industry took significantly longer to respond to the crisis and that opened up the market to foreign automakers who were producing smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. 1979 was a total game-changer in every aspect.
By 1980, unemployment, interest rates, and inflation were at an all-time high, causing a ruckus in the U.S. economy. Local automakers incurred huge operating losses. Japanese auto manufacturer, Honda capitalized on this economic turmoil and introduced the revolutionary Honda Accord in 1976 to the U.S. market.
The original 1989 design was a compact hatchback but the company soon expanded the line due to popular interest. By the ‘90s, the name had many intermediate-sized sedans, wagons, coupes, and cars. Things seemed to be going great for Honda. So, where exactly did it go wrong? Here’s a video on everything about these cars if you want to know more about their timeline.
2003 Honda Accord Transmission Problems
Customer data has indicated that the 2003 Honda Accord experiences multiple issues with the transmission. A frequently mentioned complaint would be how the transmission starts to slip and ultimately needs replacement quickly after the odometer hits the 90,000 miles mark.
The models of the early 2000s mainly faced problems with the transmission and the manufacturers got into trouble for it too. As a result of the overflowing criticism, Honda had to extend the transmission warranty to 109k miles or 93 months for their 2000 to 2001 models. This, however, was done as a part of a settlement of a lawsuit.
That was enough to convince the owners of the Honda Accord’s 2000-2001 models but the other variants had no such protective barrier. When the transmission failed, people had to get repairs which have an average cost of more than $2,000. Keep in mind that there are differences between manual and automatic transmissions.
2008 Honda Accord Transmission Problems
The 2008 Honda Accord is definitely the most infamous of the bunch, coming down with performance complaints like excessive oil consumption, poor brakes, and uncomfortable seats. Honda found itself in court once again in 2010 fighting against another class-action lawsuit; Only this time it was for excessive and premature brake wear.
In 2011, Honda stated that if the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) received a software update, that could solve the excessive oil consumption problem. But that didn’t save them from the pending lawsuits.
Aside from the mechanical issues, owners of this model continually said that the seats were far too uncomfortable. These issues aren’t restricted to a certain body type; complaints have been pouring in from people of different weights and heights. Seating complaints like the cause of back pain, leg circulation problems, and more are most probably due to poor cushioning, seat angle, and lumbar support.
Customers noted that the uncomfortable feeling wasn’t that noticeable when they took the Accord for a test drive. Still, some owners said that they could feel the discomfort after a brief span of 15 to 20 minutes.
2009 Honda Accord Transmission Problems
Following the footsteps of its defamed predecessor, the 2009 Accord had plenty of complaints from its owners. The majority of these issues included extreme oil consumption, braking reliability, uncomfortable seating, a dated interior, and of course, the Honda Accord transmission problems.
The worst cases of transmission problems would usually be instances of the transmission slipping, torque converter shaking, faulty transmission, transmission shudder, and a whining sound emitting from the car.
2013 Honda Accord Transmission Problems
In comparison to the downright bad models from 2008 and 2009, the 2013 model had changes that fixed a handful of the problems. Despite that, the new model showed starter failure close to the 36,000 miles mark. Not to mention how the OEM battery wasn’t giving enough power to the equipped V6 engine. Pair that with the transmission problems and you have a genuinely troubling car.
Owners complained that the car hesitated and slipped during acceleration, would rev high when it’s chilly outside, and transmission would fail prematurely.
The slipping and hesitation can be fixed quite easily by replacing the axle, replacing the seal, updating the PCM, and finally, refilling the transmission fluid. It shouldn’t cost more than $350. This is a pretty great deal if you’re comparing it to the costs of fixing other more severe issues the Honda Accord is prone to creating.
Honda Accord Transmission Problems Troubleshooting
If you plan on doing a self-diagnosis of the transmission problems with your Honda Accord, you need to have the right knowledge, experience, and tools. You must know whether to look and what to repair or replace or you can end up doing more damage than good.
If this isn’t something you’re 100% confident you can do, save yourself and your transmission from a world of hassle by bringing it to a local mechanic or transmission repair center.
Either of them, if good, will know how to attach the Honda Accord to a diagnostic tool and computer to detect the diagnostic trouble codes or DTC. The trouble codes are stored inside your car’s built-in computer, otherwise known as the electronic control module.
After the mechanics have a clear picture of what the problem is, it will be much easier for them to visually locate the area of error and work on it.
1. Related DTC Codes
P0657: Voltage problem on circuit “A” – This transmission error is mostly caused by a bad, or short ground on the PCM wiring harness or PCM.
P0715: Turbine/Input speed sensor malfunction – Typically, this means that the input sensor is unable to read the engine RPM, preventing the transmission from shifting gears when needed.
P0717: Turbine/Input speed sensor no signal – The PCM isn’t getting a signal from the input speed sensor, stopping the computer from registering when the transmission must be shifted.
P0720: Failed input/output speed sensor – The trouble code comes into action when the transmission has a bad speed sensor.
P0766: Failed shift solenoid D – A DTC that is stored when there is a problem with the valve body or the shift solenoid.
P0791: Intermediate shaft speed sensor on circuit “A” – Possibly due to a malfunction in the intermediate shaft speed sensor. This could happen because of a wiring problem, a failed shift solenoid, or a bad sensor.
P0793: No signal on intermediate shaft speed sensor circuit – The computer generates this DTC if it can’t contact the intermediate shaft speed sensor.
P2703: Failed friction element D – A DTC which is triggered by a broken friction element such as a clutch disc.
Step 1: Turn the engine on and shift the gear into “drive.” A faulty shift linkage could prevent it from shifting properly so keep that in mind. While somewhat uncommon, this could be the case with an Accord that has over 100,000 miles. Extended use wears out the bushings as well as the linkage.
Step 2: While in gear, remove your foot from the brake pedal. The car should creep forward. If it doesn’t, that could translate to a bad torque converter. This is a common phenomenon with high mileage Honda Accord. Get a qualified mechanic to replace the converter. Manual transmissions won’t raise this problem as there’s no torque converter.
Does your Accord train in gear while driving? If not, this could be indicative of a major issue with the automatic transmission. In the case of manual transmissions, this can generally be accounted to the worn clutch disc; not that serious of a problem. For automatic transmissions, on the other hand, it could mean anything from a worn clutch to missing or broken teeth on the planetary gear system in use. Changing the transmission fluid could fix the issue if the problems are minor.
Honda Accord Transmission Recall
1. 2005-2010 Honda Accord – Automatic Transmission Control Module
NHTSA Recall: 11V395000. The brand recalled its 2005 and 2010 model year cars from the lineup in 2011. Both year models featured an automatic transmission. Made between July 2004 to September 2010, those Honda Accords came with a bad secondary shaft bearing susceptible to fracture. That could cause all kinds of damage.
The recall said that particular driving styles could cause fractures to the outer brace. The outer brace is basically the round metal band holding the ball bearings. If there is a fracture:
- a) The Check Engine Light could light up/the engine can stall if there is a piece of the broken bearing lodged between a sensor housing and the idle gear, or,
- b) Bits of the bearing could get stuck in the park pawl, making the car roll away after it hits the “Park” gear.
If it’s the latter, you could put everything at risk through your Accord, from pedestrians to picket fences.
Honda dealers all over were told to reprogram the control module to prevent this from happening. Not sure whether your car underwent this step? Call Honda Customer Service at 1-800-999-1009. Make sure to have your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at hand.
2. 1998 Honda Accord – Automatic Transmission Bearing Failure
NHTSA Recall: 98V018000. 33,966 Accord Sedans and Accord Coupes had to be recalled in 1998 to fix the issue that was hindering the automatic transmission from engaging Park entirely.
A dye was used to paint over the transmission cover and that caused a malfunction on the cover’s right side. This stopped the park pawl actuation lever from engaging Park. An issue like this would make the Honda Accord roll after the gear was set to Park.
Back then, Honda instructed all the car dealers to put a cover over the park pawl. This would let the actuation level more freely. Contact Honda Customer Service if you’re unsure if this fix needs to be performed on your vehicle. And don’t forget the VIN!
3. 2003-2004 Honda Accord – Automatic Transmission
NHTSA Recall #: 04V176000. A whopping million vehicles were recalled in 2004 as the automatic transmission equipped in the 2003 to the 2004 model years of Honda Accord seemed to be rather erroneous. Severe gear breakage/damage could lead to an unexpected seizure in the transmission, which could cause an accident.
There isn’t enough transmission fluid flowing in the system and this can cause extreme heat buildup between the secondary shaft and countershaft second gears.
Ultimately, this can result in chipped gear teeth, reduced material strength, and in some of the more severe cases, total gear failure (it snaps). Any unusual noise generally indicates a problem. A broken gear, however, can push the transmission into complete lockup, bringing the car to an abrupt stop.
After the recall was issued, Honda gave the dealers two choices to deal with it: 1) Vehicles will lesser mileage (under 15,000 miles) got a special ATF oil jet kit that would be installed on the fluid return line.
Specifically designed to deal with this problem, the kit would inject cool transmission fluid into the second gear directly. 2) Vehicles with more than 15,000 miles would get their gears inspected by the dealer.
They would then either install a whole remanufacturer transmission or a new jet kit. To confirm if the fix was done on your call, feel free to contact Honda on their local customer service.
Can You Drive With A Bad Transmission
Don’t make the mistake of taking Honda Accord transmission problems lightly. If not given immediate attention, the problems could worsen and even lead to a complete breakdown of your car. It’s crucial to get it checked and fixed in time.
If your car can still turn on, chug along, accelerate, or make it up a hill, you may be convinced that the car is fine and leave repairs for later. But this isn’t always the best choice.
Depending on the severity and frequency of the Honda Accord transmission problems, you have to get work done on it. There are many important and expensive parts that are coordinating a transmission. When one thing isn’t working, it messes up the whole harmony. Continuing to drive even when you’re aware of the faulty transmission is nothing more than calling for a disaster.
Honda Accord Transmission Replacement Cost
A Honda Accord transmission’s lifespan depends on the condition it was in when it was first installed, the maintenance schedule you follow, and the prevalence of any extreme issues noticeable. Factory design faults are always a part of the equation. Taking that into account, the low end of this particular car’s replacement schedule falls around 130,000 miles.
That being said, if you take better care of your car, it could definitely last longer. In fact, the line could be extended to 180,000 miles. A good-quality transmission replacement ideally lasts more than 180,000 miles given you solve the problem the moment you notice it and maintain a regular maintenance schedule.
Replacement vs Repair
The first part of replacing the transmission on a Honda Accord is lifting the vehicle off the ground to gain access to the bottom parts that have to be unbolted. Using a transmission jack, the transmission can then be lowered in order to install a new one.
Expect to pay anywhere between $1800 to $3500 for the transmission repair cost of changing your Honda Accord transmission. Alternatively, you could buy a remanufactured transmission. This would be slightly cheaper, costing about $1300 to $3400.
Or, you can purchase a rebuilt transmission too if you’re saving money. That will set you back about $1100 to $2800. Running on a tight budget? No worries. You could probably get away with it by buying a decent used transmission for the range of $800 to $1500.
What Happens When Transmission Goes Out
With the prices out of the way, let’s talk in detail about the three choices you have:
Option 1: Purchase A Used/Salvaged Honda Accord Transmission
But, there’s no way to tell the true condition of these internal parts, so you could just be paying all that money to regain that problem from a different angle. Plus, the warranty covers only the transmission provided it’s defective. It doesn’t include the labor costs of having it get checked.
Option 2: Get A Rebuilt Honda Accord Transmission
A rebuilt transmission is always an option. At a local transmission repair shop, they will remove that compartment to install a handful of new parts. One thing to consider here is that the technical know-how and experience will vary from one mechanic to another. And the warranty may only provide coverage at specific repair shops spread across a limited geographical region.
Option 3: Purchase A Remanufactured Honda Accord Transmission
Consider purchasing a remanufactured transmission if your Honda Accord is your mode of transport regularly.
Honda Accord Transmission Problems: Bottom Line
The Honda Accord has proven to be a valuable asset someone can invest in to reap great value. But like with anything, curses come with blessings. There are some issues reported by customers frequently about the four model years we discussed today so we’d suggest you steer clear of those. All in all, with a track record as clean as that, the Honda Accord is here to dominate the markets for a very long time.
FAQs On Honda Accord Transmission Problems
If you’re still curious to learn more about Honda Accord transmission problems, our FAQs here might help…
What Causes Automatic Transmission To Fail
A car’s automatic transmission can fail due to numerous reasons. The most common one relates to the transmission fluid, which is responsible for cooling and lubricating the transmission. Moreover, an automatic gearbox relies on the transmission fluid’s hydraulic pressure to actuate and change gears. Therefore, it’s crucial that the transmission fluid is changed and serviced every once in a while. For example, a low level of transmission fluid (likely due to a leak) or driving with worn and burnt-out fluids will put more strain on the gearbox. Over time, this will cause it to fail. Other than that, mechanical problems such as worn-out gears, bad clutches, or a faulty valve body will also cause automatic transmission failure.
How To Know If A Transmission Is Bad
There are several ways to tell if your transmission is going out. Most of which can be felt as your car is attempting to change gears. For instance, you might notice that a gear change is taking longer to shift. Or, how the transmission is unable to change gears, or how gear changes are harsh and jerky. In some cases, the gearbox might change gears properly at first but would slip and shudder after the fact. The driveability of your car would also be impacted by a bad transmission. You may begin to notice some shaking and grinding sensations, all due to a transmission that is unable to change gears. You could even smell a burning scent in some situations, which is indicative that the transmission is overheating.
How To Tell If Transmission Is Slipping
One of the most common symptoms of a faulty transmission is gear slippage. This is a scenario when the transmission isn’t responsive to your input. In this situation, it may change gears very slowly, outright refuse or is unable to change gears at all, or it might randomly shift up or down on its own. There are several other symptoms that you may notice besides this. For instance, the engine might rev weirdly or chugs along, as the transmission isn’t able to correspond with a good gear change. Otherwise, you might notice how your car’s performance and acceleration are severely impacted. Other than that, you might be able to hear grinding and whining sounds. In addition, a burning smell accompanies an overheating gearbox.
Why Does My Car Go Into Gear But Not Move
If your transmission is on its way out, you might experience problems such as the car not moving an inch, even if you’ve already put it in gear. In a lot of cases, the most obvious culprit is the transmission fluid. Specifically, your transmission has an insufficient fluid, likely due to a leak somewhere in the system. This is especially important for cars with automatic gearboxes, as it relies on hydraulic pressure from the transmission fluid to actuate and change gears automatically. Without enough gearbox fluid, it can’t sufficiently pressurize the system to be able to perform a good gear change. But other than that, this same issue may be caused by a clogged transmission fluid filter, faulty valve body, bad torque converter, or a malfunctioning shift solenoid, among others.
Can A Bad Differential Cause Transmission Problems
When your car’s differentials go awry, it can impact the transmission’s well-being, too. With a damaged differential, the transmission might have issues delivering torque and power to the shafts. Moreover, a poorly functioning differential might grind and cause increased friction between metal components. This won’t just rapidly wear down a car’s differential and cause premature failure. However, it would also put a lot of undue strain on the transmission. Over time, the gearing in the transmission will also wear out. Thus, it’s a good idea to have your differential checked out any time you’re noticing odd behavior. Making repairs early on while the issue is minor can alleviate much of the stress experienced by the differential and transmission, averting complete component failure.
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