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Honda Odyssey Transmission Problems



  • First thing, check the fluid level when it is warm (i.e. returning from running around town). Make sure you have enough fluid in the transmission! Low fluid levels can be fatal to any moving parts. Check the drain plug to make sure it's tight! Did you hit anything with the van (a big rock, a curb, even a big stick in the road)? If so the case may be damaged, although it would take a pretty big smack to do that.

    Has the tranny ever been serviced? If not, I'm sure it is due for a drain and refill. I would put a piece of cardboard under the engine/transmission assembly and note when and exactly where it leaks. Does it leak even if the van sits for a few days, or only when it's warm? There aren't a lot of penetrations in a tranmission case, but I do believe the Honda case is two halves, our 1999 Odyssey is for sure. If it leaks from the input side of the tranny it may a bad front seal. That would be a bummer, but you can live with it for a while.

    Hopefully this helps.


  • I would strongly suggest you start the process of calling the customer service line for Honda America and start a case and see if they will assist in the cost. Chances are, for whatever reason, your trans is on the way out (which as per this forum is quite common). Include info from this and other forums to strengthen your case that this due to the known trans problems.

    Given your mileage etc you may stand a decent chance of having them cover a significant amount. Don't do your own fluid changes as (per my experience) they don't take those into account.

    For my 2002 I had more miles and they basically told me to pony up $4100 and quite rudely denied any assistance, even after I showed them an exact similar situation where they covered everything from this board - however, from what I've seen on this forum, some folks have had a good result.

    Best not to even deal with the dealer and go straight to the customer line - (also I thought they had extended the warranty at least to 100k for these trans)

    Best of luck to you
  • Hi Paul...Thanks for your input. I've done pretty much all my own servicing on my Ody. Oil/filter every 3k....air and fuel filter when recommended, etc., other than the recalls. And wouldn't you know it, just a couple of weeks before the leak started, I had gone by the Honda dealer and picked up some ATF and had planned to do a drain and refill. Looks like it couldn't wait, huh? It leaks sitting, driving, laying down or standing on it's head. And I might add it's a right sizeable leak. It had gotten down to the bottom mark on the stick. I looked underneath and there isn't a hit mark or such. The fact that it appears to be coming from behind the flywheel insp. cover raises eyebrows....I would assume that to be a dry area. Anyway, I think I'm gonna sit on it until after the holidays and then take it to the dealer ( four cars in the driveway-I can spare one) and see what they say, as well as what other responses I get from this forum..Many thanks!!
  • Last night my 2003 Honda Odyssey van suddenly started to down-shift. It was like I had slammed on the brakes while going 40 miles an hour. I pulled over to the side of the road and the Engine Malfunction light and the TCS light were on. The "D" on was blinking.

    I figured the transmission was shot. I took it to a Transmission specialist who had rebuilt the transmission in another car I own early this year.

    Then I found this thread. I really thought Honda paying for a new transmission was a long shot. I don't have detailed records of maintenance and this is my first Honda. However, I went ahead and called the local dealer. He made no commitments and just said I needed to bring it in.

    Still thinking that Honda paying for anything was a long shot, I blew him off. But later decided I would call the 1-800 Honda Customer Service line. The lady that answered was very nice.

    A few hours later someone from the local dealership called and said they would pay for 100% of the repair. I called the transmission specialist I had taken my car to and he had already taken the transmission out and apart. He said I could have it like it is for $500 or he could finish the repair for $3,900. I told him to stop and I would pay the $500.

    But when I called Honda back they said they could offer me nothing if the transmission had already been taken apart by someone else.

    I'll keep my $3,900 in receipts and hope for/start a Class Action Lawsuit.
  • nrm1nrm1 Posts: 3
    Thanks for the info 2002odymike. I am hoping to talk to Honda soon. Does someone know if the case managers are local honda area managers or are based in corporate office?

  • sorry to hear about your problem but your post did help me with my problem.

    03 Odyssey just a tick after 75k on the odometer the trans started slipping when shifting between 2nd and 3rd.

    when at the dealer doing the write up i informed them that ' i expected financial relief'. to the dealers credit they called up honda and got a 90-10 deal. i pay 10% given that i had zero records to show the proper maintenance.

    i am sure i could have pressed the deal but being around xmas i have too many things on my plate and need my car back asap.
  • re: case manager question
    The Case Managers are assigned from Honda US corporate but oddly enough in my case they deferred back to the Area Manager that offered nothing.

    Here's how it went: Dealer said trans shot, $4100 please, I said pls ck with Honda to see if they will assist - they checked with the "area manager" who refused any assistance. I then called Honda cust service (corporate), they assigned a case manager who spoke with the area manager and then also refused assistance. When I tried to lobby the case manager, they said it was up to the area manager and she wasn't budging...escalation is impossible (!) according to our case manager

    so..kinda weird, the case manager defers to the area manager - all I can suggest is pray to get a decent human being as a case manager; mine, not only refused but then got quite unprofessional and rude with both me and my wife.

    I can hardly image a worse experience with a car company, but as I've mentioned in other posts; if I'd gotten the fair deal a few have on some of these posts I would still be a Honda devotee! Our Ody was our third, we've owned more Hondas than any other marque, now this...
  • We just started experiencing tran probs yesterday. I was on my way home and the engine light and TCS light came on. The van kind of jerked when it shifted gears but other than that it wasn't showing any probs so I continued to drive home. I had to go up a hill into our little town and it got slower and slower until it wouldn't move at all. It would not go into a gear. I was literally stuck in the middle of the road. Some very nice folks stopped and helped me roll it backwards to the side of the road. Eventually we got it rolled all the way down to the bottom of the hill. With the help of a mechanic friend, we drained the transmission fluid and replaced it. Still no luck!! We called our dealership and they said it sounded like the tran needed to be replaced - $4100. We NEED our car so we don't want to wait for the whole process with American Honda but at the same time we don't have $4100 either! Also, with Sunday and then New Year's coming up there's going to be another couple of days delay. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The mileage is 103,000. Our warranty just ended at 100,000!!
  • Bummed3,

    Be patient. Rent a van until yours is fixed by Honda. Don't get it fixed on your own & pay for the whole bill.

    Please read this thread & find out how to handle this issue.

    Work with your dealer first then call American Honda & open a case if you don't get anywhere.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    First off, since your van is already at the Honda dealer, see if they will help you get some funding from Honda of America.

    A decent dealer will call up corporate, and tell them that you're a loyal customer, yadada yadada, and get the money necessary. If the dealer hits road blocks or won't help you, call Honda of America yourself and explain your case. Explain that you bought a Honda for quality, you know other people have gotten their transmissions replaced free of charge, and while you're at it ask for a rental car credit. Offer to provide receipts of your rental car. If you get a good case manager, you'll get lucky.

    If that doesn't work, try again, and you might get another case manager who's more sympathetic. If you've owned Hondas before, let them know. Past ownership helps a little bit. Be ready to prove that you have had all your oil changes done on time, and did everything by the book.

    However, before doing all that, go out to a rental car place and rent yourself a minivan. When you return it, get a receipt so you can prove to Honda that you actually got a rental.

    Since you already have 103K miles, you might not get a completely free tranny, but you should be able to get something, plus the cost of the rental.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.
  • Just wanted to mention if they offer anything like sharing half cost or better, run with it and don't look back. It very well may be nothing...

    I am guessing Honda might be changing their policy on this or else we just ran into exceptionally bad luck, we had 109k on it, and they offered nothing (see my previous posts for the sordid details) - I hung in there and kept lobbying because I have seen on this and other forums, where folks with over 100k got a decent deal from Honda, but, we too could not afford $4100 so we now have a parked 02 Honda Ody that we can't use...

    Definately, take it to Honda and nowhere else and get involved with customer service as soon as possible. They didn't honor the trans changes I did myself (with Honda ATF) and acted like that meant they were never done, so it the work isn't done at a Honda dealer, chances are, it will work against you. I know this is not supposed to be the case, but it my case they basically said as much...

    Best of luck to you -
  • I have a 2002 Honda Odyssey EX. This is a Canadian vehicle bought in Canada.
    When in Colorado in 2003 I used L to go down the 10,000 foot mountains so that I would not run out of brakes. I started in D3; then shifted to 2; then to L. This is 5-speed. I currently have 185,000 kms (115M miles) on it and had to have a rebuilt transmission put in by honda at 178,600 kms in October 2007. Since the rebuilt I have been searching for information about downshifting. The dealer has advised not to shift down; espesially from D5 to 2 in one movement. Beside the rebuilt and wanted to know what else they updated. I was only told they also added a blue knob oiler thet the newest transmissions have. I take it in my case it's brought up to the 2004 equal.

    The Honda Manual Booklet states to use the gears like a manual transmission.

    After reading many forums I am not prepare to back to the manual shifting rather just use my brakes and let the transmisssion computer make these decisions.

    My previous Ford 1992 vehicle stated in the booklet what the gear speed ranges were.

    Expert comments please?
  • Thank you guys so much for your advice!! I will let you know how it goes. I hope we get somewhere with Honda! Of course, I'm scared to death that we won't and we'll be stuck with the $4100 bill! We'll see!
    Again, thank you so much for your comments and advice!
  • Make sure you speak to the dealer about the transmission recalls for Honda Odyssey. As indicated in my previous posts I've had my 99 Odyssey trany replace twice once at 78K and next at 150K.

    I had to pay 2100K to get my tranny replaced the second time. It could have been 4000k, but I insisted on an escalation to Honda for reimbursement.

    Honda doesn't want the negative publicity and they should foot part of the bill. Also make sure you ask the the service rep for recalls. Even if you have gone over the 100K, they should work with you...

    Good luck.
  • I purchased my 03 odyssey end of 2002. Honda had this safety recall in 2004 for all 03 Odyssey due to the defect with the 03 automatic transmission with heat build-up which may eventually lead to tooth chipping or gear breakage resulting in transmission lockup as explained in their Honda's Service Bulletin dated July 9, 2004. With this recall Honda was to install an oil jet kit to overcome this heat build-up problem.

    I took my car to my dealer for this recall. My dealer installed this oil jet kit which I now feel being deceived by Honda to do so. If the oil jet kit was not installed in 2004, my transmission might have broken down within 36,000 miles. I feel this 04 recall was merely to prolong this defective transmission's life to protect Honda to replace all the 03 Odyssey transmissions. Honda did not have the decency to ensure the functioning of this oil jet kit.

    I trusted Honda 100%. I took my car to my dealer in April, 2007 to have a 40 point checkup. I did the transmission service by this dealer as recommended. On Dec. 23, I was on my way back from the bay area, my car suddenly came to a complete stop shortly after the engine and tcs lights came on. I merely escaped a crash on the high traffic freeway. All the drivers following my car jammed their brakes and swerved to the side.

    I have computerized diagnostics from two reputable transmission shops which had arrived at the same conclusion that the transmission was locked up due to overheating as described in the above Honda's Service Bulletin. Honda denied responsibility only blaming this properly maintained transmission with only 89,000 miles to normal wear and tear due to high mileage. Is this a joke? How irresponsible can they get? The service manager did a great job to harass me and my husband and to threaten us to fight for our rights to hold Honda responsible for their design failure.

    May God bless us to obtain fairness in this as we will take this matter up with Honda corporation after this holiday. The representative of the Department of Highway Safety wants me to spread the word that anyone has problem like me should make a report by calling 800-424-9393 or visit their website at
  • Hi

    We have a 2003 Oddessy with 85k. Transmission is starting to go bad. We live in South Jersey. Any advice?

    Thanks, Dan
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Go straight to a Honda dealer and have them look at it. Be ready to prove that you are up to date with all your maintenance, and ask if Honda will pick up the tab for a new transmission and rental car.

    Don't go anywhere else- do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go directly to a Honda dealer.
  • Well, if anyone else has the problem with reverse that I was having, then you are on the slow road to transmission failure. My transmission gave out the weekend before Christmas.
  • o3odyo3ody Posts: 4
    Had the reverse 'clunk' for some time. Then the transmission started slipping between 2 and 3rd gear at 94k miles. Took it to the dealer, but told there was no problem. New Years Eve day the slipping began to happen almost every time the car shifted from 2 to 3rd. Took it back to the dealer at 98k miles. One drive around the block by the serv tech and I'm told I need a new transmission. No diagnostics run, no fluid levels checked, didn't even pop the hood. How is it possible that a drive around the block leads to a $4,000 repair? The answer is obvious-Honda knows they have a transmission problem. They settled the 2000 to 2002 transmission issue in court last year. Now I see the message boards being hit with 2003 and 2004 transmission failures. The problem was not fixed. They keeping upping the horsepower in their V-6's, but the transmission design does not seem to be keeping up with increase in engine power.
  • That seems very obvious that they didn't even pop the hood and knew the trans was toast. You may want to still contact Honda customer service to see if they might share the cost with you. In my case, they didn't (at all) but I had just over 109k.

    I wasn't aware there was a settlement for 2000-2002's - was this just the increase of the warranty to 100k? I couldn't find it online.

    While I don't expect Honda would cover all these failures 100%, I am appalled that in nearly all cases they first try to get 4k from the owner and then only after a long battle do they agree to assist for "some" cases. To me, it seems like they would offer a standard amount of assistance based on mileage as opposed to it being a gamble as to whether you get a reasonable case manager. Mine is still sitting as I can't see dropping 4k on a trans that might not last all that long (the rebuilds fail at an alarming rate as well - from this board I've seen 20-30k in some cases)

    This experience gave me a new insight on car warranties etc - I don't think I'll spend 30+k on a car again, and never another Honda. I figured that, sure, it might have a premature failure beyond the warranty, but if so many fail it really isn't a warranty issue alone anymore.
  • Thanks for the advice. Car is at dealer now.
  • blackexv6blackexv6 Posts: 503
    I see the message boards being hit with 2003 and 2004 transmission failures. The problem was not fixed.

    This is not surprising since the 2nd gear lubrication problem was not properly inspected by many dealerships (or the stress discoloration was really not that much of a factor in the whole failure) in the '03 Accord V6's & Odyssey.

    Also, it wouldn't surprise me to see some '05 & '06 Odyssey failures popping up. My '06 Odyssey with 28k miles slams gears & slips on several occasions.
  • o3odyo3ody Posts: 4
    here is a link for the transmission settlement.

    In my case, Honda is agreeing to pay for some of the transmission replacement. I'm still not sure I'm satisfied. Even if they agree to cover the whole cost, this has been a hassle and more importantly a dissapointment. My wife and I have owned 6 Hondas (this is the first mini-van) and we've never experienced a problem or breakdown. My experience has always been if you follow the maintenance schedule, the car will run forever. Now looking back, it's curious to me that our other 5 Hondas were 4-cylinders (4 of the 5 were manual transmissions).

    Here is my 2 cents. Think of the SUV/Truck craze of the 90's. Honda wasn't in this game because they didn't have their own products or V-6 engines (ie the Passport was a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo, the pre-1999 Ody was a small mini-van with a 4 cylinder engine and not big enough for the American consumer to haul the family off to DisneyWorld). They rushed to get these new vehicles developed and built. Likewise, they developed and built V-6 engines to go into these new models. They were behind the curve and needed into this very profitable segment of the auto industry (remember this is all before 9-11, high gas prices, etc). Unfortunately, I think they forgot the transmission design in their haste.

    Below is launch timeline for Honda's V6 models made in N. America:
    1998 - Accord V6 engine (most or all previous Accords were 4 cylinder, I think?)
    1999 - Odyssey V6 engine launch (previous model was 4 cylinder).
    1999 - Acura TL V6
    2000's - Acura MDX, Pilot, Ridgeline (all with V6)

    Honda launched a lot of new cars in a very short time to enter the SUV/truck/minivan race. They were way behind in this very profitable market. They pushed the Hp in these new vehichles because that's what the American consumer likes to see in their monthly addition of Car and Driver. They needed the Hp numbers to attract people away from the Big-3 brands and towards their new products. Look at the Ody, before 1999 it was a 150hp engine, since then it has gone from 210 to 240 to 255 hp. The 210Hp Ody's got the tranny settlement. Now those of us with the 240 hp engines are starting to see tranny problems. I'm sure the 255 hp Ody's are next, they just need a few more miles since this model was launched in 2005.

    If you look thru these sites you'll also find V6 Accord and Acura TL tranny complaints. They are pushing too much power thru undersized and poorly designed transmissions. It isn't a manufacturing defect. Honda would fix a manufacturing flaw. It's an inherent design flaw. To admit it's a manufacturing flaw allows them to fix the transmissions on a case by case basis -- 'oh yeah, that one had a bad bearing, replace it'. However, to admit it's a design flaw would put a serious squeeze on them to address every single Ody, TL and Accord out there.

    BTW, not sure why I haven't seen Pilot, MDX, Ridgeline issues with the transmission. I think these are all 4WD vehicles, so likely a very different transmission design.

    Since this tranny problem, paranoia has the best of me. I've spent a lot of time looking up other Ody defects. I see mpg is often an issue. Our mpg started dropping about a year ago. Hindsight now it seems that that the mpg got continually worse as the 'reverse clunk' got louder right upto the transmission failing.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 26,352
    I believe the Ridgeline (and I assume the pilot?) have a different (ie stronger) tranny design, that was finally adopted for the Odyssey (2007?) So you are right that eventually the '05-'06 models will start failing.

    At least Honda has set a precedent, and would have trouble arguing that if the older models were bad, and they kept using the same design, that it is now the customers fault when it fails!

    I assumed when I got out 2005 that they must have fixed the design flaws (plus the failure rate wasn't quite so bad in 2004 when we bought!) but now I am starting to expect the worst. I just hope if it goes, it goes early! If not, wait until I trade it in..

    For this reason, I make sure to get my oil changes, etc. at the dealer, and had them do a tranny fluid change at 30K (even though they said it wasn't required yet). If the trans in this van goes, it is a defect, since we drive it carefully, and over maintain.

    of course, my SIL has a 1999 that has led a hard life, and now has about 130k, and as far as I know, the tranny is working fine (I know it never failed on her).

    I can't seem to get more than 5-6 years out of a car before the desire for a new one becomes too strong (and the squeaks and rattles that vans develop become too annoying), so I will probably trade at 5/60 or 6/75, so I should be safe.

    2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • autowriteautowrite Posts: 226
    The 4 cyclinder Odyssey is still produced in Japan. The big Odyssey that came out in 1999 was really a Japanese LAGREAT. Also, currently in Japan there is still a vehicle called Elysion similar insize to the NA Odyssey.
    My Odyssey transmission went at 180,000 kms (Canadian). I currently have 185,000 kms. I have a dealer warranty on the rebuilt of 20,000kms.
  • autowriteautowrite Posts: 226
    The Pilot is NOT 4-wheel driive, per say. It's front wheel drive and changes to 4-wheel drive when conditions warrent it. The same as the Acura MDX. Conditions being if you lose transaction in snow, etc.
  • msanemsane Posts: 1
    I found this thread a few days ago, after experiencing the same issues with our newly purchased 2000 Ody LX with 116,000 miles. The CEL came on while we were in SD for Christmas. Took it to the dealer and they pulled two transmission codes and a P0420 catalytic converter code. The tech told us our transmission was going out, and needed to be replaced.

    Brought it back home to MN, found this thread, took it to a dealer 2 days ago and said I wanted to do a parts/labor split for payment (Honda pays for the parts, we pay labor) and told the service guy I was very informed about the transmission issues the Ody's have had for this year and know that Honda has done many out of warranty "goodwill" repairs for other people.

    Got a call from the dealer today and Honda agreed to do the parts/labor split on both the transmission AND the catalytic converter! So we'll pay just the labor to put them in. So finding this thread and being firm but polite with Honda saved us probably $3000. Thanks everyone!

    And if you are having similar issues, be informed and find a good dealer, because you can save yourself some serious cash and stress.
  • We have an 03 Odyssey with 60K miles that had a complete transmission failure on Christmas day. (nice) Anyway, we took it back to the dealer we bought it from and they kept it for two days and then told us we would have to replace the entire transmission at a cost of $5200.00. I have owned many Hondas (we had the first Accord that came in '79) and have had only good experiences with reliability. I regret not doing more research on the transmission issues before buying but here I am. I have read lots of the posts about help from National Honda, and we opened a case with them today. We got a quote on a rebuilt one for $1900.00, but I don't know what is best. Of course, as a female, I wonder if I am getting strung along a little too, but I couldn't believe the price. The service manager said there was nothing he could do to help, but would "support" my case with Honda, whatever that means. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • My 2003 Honda Odyssy transmission just went out...100,000, but had it into the dealer 4-weeks ago for the 95-100K service...$1,000! I am awaiting to hear from Honda if they will fix it. Do you have any information on how often this is happening, and what percent of the time Honda picks up the bill, and under what conditions? Are there any class action cases pending on the 2003? Please respond to my personal email because these bulliten boards are hard to navigate:

    Thank you.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I would go to another dealer. Any decent dealership service department would at least call up Honda and try to pry some assistance out of them- this is an extremely well documented problem and Honda knows it has to pay up, since it is a design defect.

    Before my transmission went, I had visited the dealer where I had it replaced maybe twice. When it went, I limped the car into the dealership, and they called up Honda and got them to do a parts/labor split, where I paid labor and they paid parts. I also got a free rental car for the time period.

    So try a different dealer. Getting the money takes some legwork, and it sounds like your dealer is too lazy to get the money from Honda and not you.
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