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Honda Civic Hybrid Transmission Problems

doradodorado Posts: 7
Bought 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid in 2005. Clean record.

At 44,000 miles transmission went dead per my Honda dealer service department. Replacement $3,500 for refurbished one (told they do not make original ones which raises questions re quality). No advance indication of potential failure.

Why such a short life-span for transmission? Should I replace or sell? Such a costly car!


  • kemtidkemtid Posts: 6
    I just traded my 2003 Hybrid in for a 2006 Hybrid yesterday(Friday). I Never had a problem with the tranny or anything else and it had over 50,220 miles on it. It is probably a fluke thing. If you can find and afford a 2006 the re-design is well worth the money.

    Kevin in CT
  • eaaeaa Posts: 32
    My 2003 with CVT tranny is still perfect. I get 60+ drivin smart. I have about 44K miles.
  • gregcookgregcook Posts: 5
    hi dorado
    my car appears to have just died in the driveway, I suspect the transmission
    current mileage approx. = 140,000
  • doradodorado Posts: 7
    Greg: Thank you for your comment. Did you have any advance indication that there might have been a transmission problem?
    Unfortunately there was no hint of a problem for me and, while the failure happen on the road, I was fortunately able to coast to a safe area.
  • gregcookgregcook Posts: 5
    Yes, it did the same thing to me a few months ago but I ignored it as an isolated event ... until yesterday
  • I have a 2003 that the internal computer came up w/ a code 1890, "slippage between shifts." Dealership told me that I needed a new transmission at 80,xxx miles, but to call Honda Care 800 number. Honda Care called me back and told me that they would pay for the parts, but I would have to pay for labor cost to install it. $920 and 2 weeks later, I have a new transmission and another 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty on the transmission only. I thought it was odd that I was able to drive for a week and a half on a bad transmission. I bought this car to save money on gasoline, not to have to put another $1,000 into the car every 3 years. I was told by my regular mechanic to have the work done and then start sending emails to anybody at Honda that will listen explaining what has happened and that I work for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (newspaper) and see what happens.
  • doradodorado Posts: 7
    Thank you for your posting. I also went to Honda Care on west coast and best I could get from them was the cost of a transmission at "warranty" price - cost $2,600; and this was at only 44,000 miles. I also got the 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty but this is not transferable if I were to trade in the car.

    Were you under warranty and that is why you got a free new transmission? My "new" transmission is a factory rebuilt one.

    In my case it was a near fatal happening when the tansmission just died without any warning while I was on a heavy traffic road -no power all of a sudden!

    All said and done, I had to pay $3,085 (includes necessary towing) which, again, makes the Hond Civic Hybrid a very expenseive car. I also bought it for gas savings and my former loyalty to Honda given the fact that I had a '93 Honda for 255,000 miles and my wife has a '03 Honda Accord.

    A writing campaign might also be something I should do.

    Thank you again for your comments.
  • I was not under warranty. As I stated, the car has 80,xxx miles on it. The car came w/ the standard 3 year/36,000 mile warranty.

    I suspect that Honda Care was trying to avoid bad publicity or maybe they are already aware of a bigger problem with their 2003 Civic Hybrids and are trying to sweep it under the carpet. I've only just begun to complain about this.

    Even having to pay $920 installation fee + $100 computer diagnosis fee on a 3 year old car is ridiculous. I too used to be a loyal Honda customer; we have a 2000 Honda Accord too, but I think I'm going to looking at other Manufacturers when our Accord needs to be replaced.
  • gregcookgregcook Posts: 5

    Based on these postings, it appears that there is an early trend to indicate 2003 HONDA Hybrid transmission problem/concern.

    I agree that using all publicity to pressure Honda is appropriate.

    Like you, I purchased the vehicle through my loyalty to Honda and a desire to save on gas mileage ... but the expenses are mounting!

  • raven02raven02 Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid with less than 9000 miles on it. The 3 year warranty will expire in October 2006. I am thinking that I have not driven it enough to really know if it is a lemon or not and perhaps I should just trade it in for a 2006 non-hybrid Civic since I just don't drive enough to get any value out of it. Has anyone heard of the transmission problem with the 2004 model year hybrid. Thanks
  • floglerflogler Posts: 2
    I have a 2003 Hybrid w/cvt trans. and had the same problem at 30000 miles. Fortunately all that was needed was a trans fluid change but it is enough for me to sell the car as they wanted 4000 dollars for a rebuilt if not under warranty. I also have the same year and model but with a five speed and it has been a great car and has gotten up to 75 mpg on highway.
  • doradodorado Posts: 7
    Glad to hear that all it took was a trans fluid change. It was my Honda dealership which determined I needed a new transmission which in my case cost $2,600 for a refurbished one - new 3/36000 warranty; but it does not carry over to a new owner if I were to trade in the car! I am sure I will take a beating if I were to trade in now so guess I will have to do with what I have.

    Thanks to all for responses to my initial posting of a 44,000 mile transmission failure.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    You might want to buy a HondaCare extended warranty for 100,000 miles, while you can (before the 3/36 expires).
  • mwowmmwowm Posts: 4
    My wifes 05 HCH -w- CVT did it at 35k miles all dealer maintance. D doesn't light up. car started jumping even if you try to put in park. Dealer replaced tranny; 2 weeks in the shop.
    Previously the MAINTANCE would come on and the car would not go. Put it in gear and it would sit there. Shut it off, curse, restart, it would go. Sometime the light would be on sometimes not. The dealer said they didn't know/believe us their computer said nothing was wrong.

    15k after the replacement tranny it has done it again.

    We just want to get rid of this POS before it is too late.
    I think a major part of the problem are the boneheads in the garage. :lemon:
  • tt_ertt_er Posts: 1
    My car has 116,xxx miles on it and the auto trans is already slipping on my 03 Honda Civic Hybrid. Due to the mileage I am not sure if Honda would work with me or not. Even with 116,xxx miles my trans should not be slipping.

    Any suggestions? By the way I am from the St. Louis area.

    Thank You,

  • doradodorado Posts: 7
    Since I posted my original message re the failure of the transmission on my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid I have been getting messages re transmission failures which leads me to believe that there is something basically wrong with the Honda Hybrid. The analysis of my transmission failure was done at a Honda dealership and should have been an accurate diagnosis.

    The best they would offer me was the price of the trans at warranty price.

    Good luck.
  • thaohienthaohien Posts: 2
    I have a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. And about a year ago, it started to shudder and jerk while coasting (i.e. at parking garage speeds) with little gas. It would also jerk going in reverse in the morning when the engine was not fully warmed up. After reading some posts on another site, I asked my dealership to replace the EGR valve. They tried several other things before finally resigning to admitting that it might be the valve. 3-4 weeks later, I FINALLY get the part and the replacement. Cost me over $400!!! The jerking seems gone now.

    But now over the past several months I have noticed a slipping feeling when going from a stopped position and accelerating on the the gas. It feels like my tires are rolling on gravel! I can hear the transmission struggle and rumble with the acceleration. Once accelerated, all other functions are normal and smooth. Also if I accelarate from coasting then no problems.

    I have now been told, after a cursary drive that it is definitely the transmission. Honda will pay 1/2 of the costs (2600) for a new transmission. After reading these posts looks like it actually might be a refurbished one with a new 3yr/36000 mi warranty. Perhaps another transmission fluid replacement would work (per this forum)?

    I am deeply unsatisfied with Honda and Honda service. We bought the Civic because of Honda's rep. for dependability and customer satisfaction, but I think now we will need to rethink this. I am very happy with the Hybrid mileage (45mpg), but the other maintenance problems continue to plaque us!

    We are likely going to do what we can to be rid of this lemon and go back to Toyotas which have a proven track record with us!
  • xafo1xafo1 Posts: 4
    Honda Hybrid 2003 automatic Transmission, a couple of days ago
    the car was riding smothly and suddenly it felt as if it went to neutral. the shift knob is in D the motor runs ok but it won´t move like if it was in neutral. The computer reading was error P0700 Transmision Control Malfunction. Now my problem is that since Honda doesn´t sell this model in my country they will not service it. My Mecanic will not touch it until he gets a hint of what the problem might be.

    Another thing does anybody know where i can get a service manual for this car.

    Thanks for your help

    [email protected]
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Welcome to the forum. What country are you in? The CVT in the early Civic Hybrids have had problems. It could need a fluid change. Hopefully it is still under warranty. I think it is very expensive if it is not.
  • xafo1xafo1 Posts: 4
    I am in Honduras Central America, Honda Dealers haven´t introduced hybrid here. what is CVT? no waranty here.... its a 2003. Any info on service manual to download or buy??

    Thanks for you response
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I think it stands for continuous variable transmission. I believe some of the poster's that had problems did a transmission oil change and that seemed to clear up the slipping. You might want to post in the thread below. It is for all kinds of problems with the Civic hybrids. You will find others that are having the same problem you are having. I do not know where to get manuals. I would think if Honda has a dealer in Honduras they could get the manual. Did you drive or ship the car down there?

    mwowm, "Honda Civic Hybrid Owners: Problems & Solutions" #577, 27 May 2006 8:57 pm
  • xafo1xafo1 Posts: 4
  • xafo1xafo1 Posts: 4
    It was shipped, Honda Dealer doesn`t take care of any problems with cars bought out of honduras. they dont have the manuals and have no interes is helping.
  • kathyc1kathyc1 Posts: 138
    OK, I've been reading the messages on this site and now I think I know why there are so many hybrids on used car lots. I was wondering about that. I wonder if Toyota is having the same transmission problem because I see a lot of them advertised too.
  • I brought my Honda Civic in April 2004 and have had no problems with the vehicle until July 2005.

    July 2005 - November 2005, I have had three transmission issues. Two out of the three issues resulted in having a new transmission ordered.

    The first transmission issue - July 11, 2005 - only 27,392 miles - I noticed that when I was at a stop light and attempted to get moving again, the transmission would slip and was sometimes hesitant.

    I took the vehicle to the dealership that afternoon and they stated that the transmission was going out. They order a new transmission.

    The new transmission was bad off the bat - July 19, 2005 - 28,182 miles. I got my car back and within a week, I returned the vehicle. The vehicle was leaking transmission fluid. They replace the part that was defective - which was the transmission filter - they stated it had a bad weld.

    On 11/17/05 - 39,248 miles - I heard a grinding noise. I took it back to the dealership. They ended up the replacing the transmission again.

    After the third incident, I sent a letter to the dealership, Honda, Better Business Bureau and Attorney General. Honda didn't contact me about the issue at all. They contacted the Better Business Bureau and then sent me a survey about how the Honda Rep handled my claim. In this letter to everyone, I proposed a trade in value to buy a new vehicle, which I never heard back on. Granted, the trade-in value was for about $4,000 - $5,000 more than the car was worth and the sales manager wouldn't budge about the trade-in value. I told him I just bought the car a year and a half ago and didn't expect to have 3 transmission issues within 6 months. I thought it extensive issues and thought that if I lost a little, Honda pitched in a little and then the dealership pitched in a little, I would buy a new (brand new) car and just get rid of it. I thought that the sales manager would call and see if Honda would agree, but they didn't do anything besides tell me no.

    I will probably NEVER buy another Honda vehicle due to the way I was treated and through that dealership. After buying two brand new vehicles from the dealership, they (sales) didn't seem to help me with the issue, with the exception of replacing the transmission, which was more service. Luckily, Honda picked up the tabs.

    Earlier this year (March 2006 - roughly 45,000 miles), I have been hearing a loud noise from my engine. It did it for roughly 15 minutes on my way to work. I left work early (again) and took the vehicle back to the dealership. The vehicle ran fine. I sat with a technician and had him drive it all over the place. They told me that it was probably since it was colder out that morning and the transmission wasn't warmed up. Or, I had a chunk of ice under the vehicle.

    Luckily for me, over the last two, almost three months, I haven't had any issues, but I am waiting for it to go out again, but this time I figured Honda won't cover it since I have about 55,000 miles on the vehicle. I am dreading that bill!
  • thaohienthaohien Posts: 2
    I have posted earlier about my transmission problems with my Honda Hybrid 2003. We'll I took my car to another dealership in town and they were much more proactive and helpful.

    However they told me that a transmission replacement was necessary, but Honda agreed to pay half the costs of parts and labor.

    Then, a few days later, I receive more information that Honda's engineering department was suggesting a replacement of the transmission pack before they recommended a full transmission replacement.

    I left my car yesterday morning and heard back this morning that the repair was complete. The service tech and the technicians and service manager supposedly has driven my car and have cleared it as good. I will be picking it up soon and hopefully the slippage will be gone for good.

    So, before replacing your transmission I'd like to make two possible suggestions (though I am an engineer, but not a mechanical one):

    Shuddering at low speeds try replacing the EGR valve.

    If it is slipping when going from zero to acceleration, investigate replacement of the transmission pack?? I'll write back with an update when I know more.
  • bbb99bbb99 Posts: 58
    I have an 03 HCH and the shuddering at low speeds starting happening around 37K. I've heard this is an EGR valve issue. More recently, the car has failed to start and the lights on the dash are going on and off. Namely, the IMA and SRS light. I, like all of us, bought this car because I thought it would last 200k and get great gas mileage. We have been duped. What will it take to get a recall on the car? How many cars have to have this problem? :mad:
  • eric99eric99 Posts: 1
    hello, I'm glad I found this site. Seems like there are many knowlable people here. I have an 03 civic hybrid CVT with 70,000 miles. When did honda come out with the new CVT fluid? When I changed my trans fluid at 35,000 (two years ago) I used the ATF-Z fluid, which at the time was the correct fluid for the CVT unit. The owners manual also says to use ATF-Z. I can imagine Honda re-formulated the CVT fluid to help prevent slippage problems and shutter. I have experienced CVT slippage, but it's a very rare event. Perhaps one time every 3 to 4 months when I am accelerating from a stop I will notice the RPMs raising too quickly and not enough acceleration. So, now with 70,000 I am going to change the fluid for the new CVT fluid. I see if I simply drain and re-fill, I don't get all the old ATF-Z out, so do I need to do the flush? Does a flush consist of multiple drain, fill, and drive cycles? If so, how many drain, fill, and drive cycles should I do, and how many quarts of CVT fluid should a purchase? I also read something about a service to the wet drive clutch in the CVT unit, burnishing I think? exactly what is this and is it something I can do myself? Thanks for the help!

  • 2mnycats2mnycats Posts: 11
    I'm considering buying a 2006 HCH, but this thread is really starting to worry me. I just cannot drive that oddball Prius -- I've tried!! Has anyone had a tranny problem with the 2006 version?
  • Well, as a matter of fact, yes. I have had my '06 for about six weeks and have put on about 3,800 miles. My wife has been driving it mainly, although I put on 900 of that this weekend. I was returning to Atlanta coming up I-85, a stretch that people typically exceed the 70mph limit (I had the cruise set to 70 so my mileage wouldn't get killed) when I pulled out to pass a slower car. I floored it, and the engine speed kicked way up. The car began to shudder while slowing down (a rather exciting moment as I was pulling into the fast lane of traffic). I managed to get over to the breakdown lane. As it slowed down the transmission engaged, at least until I tried to accelerate back up to speed. I limped home the final 30 miles, occassionally running into problems trying to maintain speed on uphill grades. Needless to say my first call in the morning is to the Honda dealer. Glad to know about the problems in older models; hopefully this is an easy (and pleasant) maintenance experience.
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