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Discussion Starter #1
SO, my transmission started slipping in and out of first and second gear two days ago and when I start the car , a really loud whining/whirring sound is coming from the transmission until the engine reaches operating temp. I took the car to my mechanic whom I known for years and he is telling me that the trans is shot. My car has 186,000+ miles on it. I have always taken meticulous care of all fluids, especially my transmission fluid(changing it at Honda recommened intervals following the fill 3 times procedure). The last time I change the trans fluid was about 40,000 miles ago. I've never gotten stuck in the snow and spun the tires, or towed anything with it. I just find it odd that it would go without any symptoms. In any event, I just want some feedback on what everyone thinks I should do. I mean, should I take it to the Honda dealer and let them check it out and test the trans to make sure its not just something minor...i.e. do pressure tests, etc? And if it is the transmission, should I have my trans rebuilt or just find a salvage yard that has one with low miles? I mean it will be quite hard to find a used tranny that fits an 03-04 with low miles. What is acceptable as far as low mileage if I do use a salvage yard? Also, if anyone has any idea if the 2003 Honda CR-V uses the same trans?? I heard from someone that its very possible that the Element and CR-V do use that same transmission since they are practically the same car. If so, it helps a lot in my search for a new transmission if I need to find one. Any help, feedback, suggestions will be a great help.
 

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Here's what I would do.
If the car is still drivable, I would buy a salvage trans and have it rebuilt and dropped in.
If I can't drive it, then I'm dropping in the cheapest salvage trans I could find until I can get my original rebuilt and back in the car.
 

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When mine went out on me I got a re-manned one from Honda and did the swap myself. See "tranny" below. I have always wanted to rebuild one but don't have the proper tools. In my case, the time and cost of having someone else rebuild it versus getting one from Honda was worth it to reduce the down time of my car. I had to have it for work.

Then there's the nagging feeling I have about trusting someone else to do it right the first time. All to often, I've handed over my hard earned cash only to be let down by some mechanic who has to cut corners to get the job done faster or he makes no money. I was not willing to take that risk with something so crucial.

Are you 100% sure it's the transmission? Is the D light flashing? Do you like to get dirty?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
When mine went out on me I got a re-manned one from Honda and did the swap myself. See "tranny" below. I have always wanted to rebuild one but don't have the proper tools. In my case, the time and cost of having someone else rebuild it versus getting one from Honda was worth it to reduce the down time of my car. I had to have it for work.

Then there's the nagging feeling I have about trusting someone else to do it right the first time. All to often, I've handed over my hard earned cash only to be let down by some mechanic who has to cut corners to get the job done faster or he makes no money. I was not willing to take that risk with something so crucial.

Are you 100% sure it's the transmission? Is the D light flashing? Do you like to get dirty?
The D light is not flashing and the check engine light isn't on. Just have a lot of revving get in drive and hard shifting and the whirring/whining sound when its cold and I first start it. There is plenty of fluid. On one instance, I couldn't even get the car to move in reverse after shifting. I don't mind getting dirty.
 

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In the symptom troubleshooting index of the factory manual there's only one that mentions no reverse. The probable causes all lead to rebuilding the tranny except for shift solenoid valve E defective. A common probable cause among other symptoms is the shift cable out of adjustment or low atf. Might be an easy fix but if you had no reverse it's probably not that. With your symptoms, almost all of the causes are leading to pulling the tranny.

Have you been quoted any prices for rebuilding it? Swapping it yourself would include the price of the tranny, maybe freight, 9 qts of atf and probably an alignment afterwards. There's a core charge but you get that back. If you have a jack, jack stands, tools and a way to support the motor while the motor mounts are off, it's pretty straight forward.

Up to you to decide if you want to give your money to someone else and trust that it's done right the first time, or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just an update...I swapped out the trans fluid as Honda recommends to do a few days after my initial post and the problems went away...until this week. Now the check engine light is on and the D light is blinking and it shifts into drive and reverse when it wants to. Mechanic thinks I need another tranny, but I am doubtful. I guess I should get codes read.
 

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Sounds familiar

my E just started slipping within the last couple weeks in the morning. After that first shift from 1st to 2nd, it is fine. May be my 1st to 2nd clutch going out. Now I know not to change the tyranny fluid. Good luck with yours.
 

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TPJ147, you can fix your problem with 3 quarts honda tranny fluid and 1 quart of transX. I had the same problem as you to a T. The fluid change and transX fixed it.
 

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thanks

the Honda stealership and a family friend that works on Hondas suggested to not change the fluid because it could get worse. if i feel lucky, ill try what you say. thanks for the advice. I hope you have a Merry Christmas
 

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It bothers me so much when I hear that kind of advice. It's such flawed logic. It's one thing to follow the recommended schedule and change the fluid because you should. It's completely different to assume changing the fluid can fix or make an existing problem worse. If the transmission has a problem, saying changing the fluid will make it worse is just stupid. The problem WILL get worse whether you change the fluid or not so blaming it on the new fluid is so unbelievably retarded (imho).

Ok, rant over. I just had to get that off my chest.
 

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i am considering using some stop slip product whether it be Lucas Oil or TransX. how many quarts does the transmission drain out during draining of the tranny. I dont know how much stop slip to use as well. yall help me.
 

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Locksmith,

I respect your opinion, you've got great posts here and tackled a big problem on your tranny. Clearly, whatever you're doing is the right thing, if your Element has gotten over 400K miles, even IF your trans didn't make it with you....

OK, so I have heard the same thing. I don't know why, but with cars being so much more "maintenance free" these days, I kinda just assumed I didn't need to change my ATF.

So now I'm at 140K (almost) and I've owned the car for about 100,000 miles. I don't have any troubles with the transmission at all.

I want it to last, and changing fluid makes sense, but you do always hear that with the "detergent" in the ATF that any sludge buildup in the tranny can be dislodged and cause issues.

I'm sure you've heard of the mechanic's trick to use in engine oil periodically as motor flush. Heck I've even heard of people using it as a hand cleaner for heavy grime...

I honestly don't know what I should do. Leave it, or have the dealer flush it, or just do the Fill/Run/Drain/Refill 3X thing that Honda recommends.

Anyone?
 

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It's not a 3X drain and refill. If you can do an oil change, you can to an ATF change. It's got a drain plug, 3/8 drive ratchet fits it. Remove it, let it drain, refill through the dipstick hole and bring it up to level. Must be checked on a level surface idling in park. If you've had it that long I highly recommend doing it.

The whole sludge thing... I just don't know. The only experience I have with additives dislodging sludge is when I had a 1986 Mercury Cougar 5.0 V8. Someone recommended I do an engine flush with Berryman B12 Chemtool, biggest mistake I ever made. Basically, the engine flush dislodged a bunch of carbon build up from the heads and it all went in the oil pan, clogged up the oil pick up screen and lost all oil pressure. Had to pull the motor to fix that advice.

The transmission is not going to have carbon build up. If anything it's gonna have some metal shavings (assuming there's nothing major wrong with it) but the drain plug has a built in magnet to collect those. First time I did a ATF change, the plug magnet was covered in metal shavings.

Speaking of transmissions I just shelled out $2800 today after having the transmission rebuilt on my wife's 03 VW Beetle (that was a bargain considering VW wants almost $6000 for a remanned one). When they dropped the pan they let me in the shop to look and showed my the dark grey buildup of "stuff" all over the pan. Nothing like anything I've ever seen an engine do, completely different worlds. The way he explained it was the existing problem, sticking valve body causing hard shifting, was wearing everything down at an exponential rate. The VW tranny is a non serviceable tranny. No dipstick, drain plug or service interval. Supposed to be a lifetime tranny but it crapped out soon as the factory warranty was done. Go figure.

TLDR: Do it, no additives.
 

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My car started "slipping" in cruise control the other day. I thought was the transmission (which has a life time warranty thru the dealership I bought new from)... anyway, I bring it in there yesterday and it's not the transmission. They said I need a new engine oil switch. Oil wasn't getting to the engine I guess but behaved exactly as described when the tranny is about to give out. I was hoping it was the tranny because that would have been free. Instead, they are charging me $325 for a new oil switch. Does that seem reasonable and do you think they have it right? It has been stalling lately so I changed the plugs and thought I needed a valve job, but could it all have been the oil switch leading up to this?
 
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