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Old 09-12-2012, 12:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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2003 MDX Transmission "Drops Out of Drive" at very low speed.

Hello to all. I recently acquired a 2003 MDX, and I have experienced an unusual transmission issue that I've never experienced on any vehicle I've owned before. It's very intermittent, having only occured 4 times thus far in approximately 500 miles. At either a complete stop at a traffic light (one occurence) or at a very low speed in a parking lot (3 occurences...i.e. slowing down to a crawl to cross over a speed bump) the transmission suddenly operates as though I put it in neutral, as though it fell out of Drive. Engine is free-reving when I step on the gas. When this has occured, I have grabbed the gear selector, pushed it up the gate into Neutral, then pulled it back into Drive, at which time the transmission engages the Drive mode and operates normally again. There is absolutely no slippage in any gear at any speed when driving the vehicle, the fluid appears to have been changed regularly and was reasonably clean with very little clutch shavings suspended in the ATF, and the transmission pump output pressure measured at the trans cooler line is excellent. The vehicle has 202,000 miles on it, but I have a couple other Hondas with the same transmission (minivans) in which I regularly changed the ATF completely (machine total fluid exchange) with many more miles on them (240K plus) that have had zero transmission issues and have not been rebuilt as of yet. Has anybody experienced this specific problem? Any ideas as to where to look for the problem? My experience with high mileage vehicles like this has always been (at a dealership and some transmission shops) that because of the mileage it's just "time" to replace the transmission with a factory reman unit (or rebuild the tranny that is in the vehicle) without the tech spending any diagnostic time or investing any effort in diagnostic evaluation. I don't want a complete swap or rebuild if I can help it when the transmission shows no other conventional "it's time" characteristics/malfunctions like slippage, torque converter issues, etc.
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gvoisine1 View Post
Hello to all. I recently acquired a 2003 MDX, and I have experienced an unusual transmission issue that I've never experienced on any vehicle I've owned before. It's very intermittent, having only occured 4 times thus far in approximately 500 miles. At either a complete stop at a traffic light (one occurence) or at a very low speed in a parking lot (3 occurences...i.e. slowing down to a crawl to cross over a speed bump) the transmission suddenly operates as though I put it in neutral, as though it fell out of Drive. Engine is free-reving when I step on the gas. When this has occured, I have grabbed the gear selector, pushed it up the gate into Neutral, then pulled it back into Drive, at which time the transmission engages the Drive mode and operates normally again. There is absolutely no slippage in any gear at any speed when driving the vehicle, the fluid appears to have been changed regularly and was reasonably clean with very little clutch shavings suspended in the ATF, and the transmission pump output pressure measured at the trans cooler line is excellent. The vehicle has 202,000 miles on it, but I have a couple other Hondas with the same transmission (minivans) in which I regularly changed the ATF completely (machine total fluid exchange) with many more miles on them (240K plus) that have had zero transmission issues and have not been rebuilt as of yet. Has anybody experienced this specific problem? Any ideas as to where to look for the problem? My experience with high mileage vehicles like this has always been (at a dealership and some transmission shops) that because of the mileage it's just "time" to replace the transmission with a factory reman unit (or rebuild the tranny that is in the vehicle) without the tech spending any diagnostic time or investing any effort in diagnostic evaluation. I don't want a complete swap or rebuild if I can help it when the transmission shows no other conventional "it's time" characteristics/malfunctions like slippage, torque converter issues, etc.
If it make you feel better mine does the same thing. Always happen at low speeds, step on the gas, engine revs, let of the gas and it will reengage. I don't have the answer but I would guess it's a sticky shift valve or perhaps a pressure related problem with the transmission. I have over 333,000 miles and it does this ten times a year. I don't worry about it. If it happened every day then it would become annoying. Sorry I cannot offer a solution but should you discover one that would be great.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've noticed this twice on my 03 with 130K on it. Always makes me nervous that the tranny is about to go. I usually notice this when it is 'in between gears'. Coming to a stop but not completely stopping and then giving it gas. I would say it is downshifting into 1st from 2nd and then I give it gas as it is downshifting.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You mentioned "machine total fluid exchange". Was ur ATF fluid flushed? If so, it can't be stated enough but I am pretty sure honda ATF should not be flushed, just drained and filled. If it wasn't flushed, then forget my post
At the dealership, I am pretty sure they know not to flush but if you or the previous owner(s) have been taking it to an indy shop, it is possible some could have flushed. In addition, honda tranny REALLY prefers honda ATF. I think there is one other type it will accept, can't remember right now. Sorry I can't offer a real solution but at least I can suggest why it might be happening?
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have a 03 mdx with 240,000 miles - it does exactly the same thing. I'm not the original owner but I talked w/ them a couple weeks ago and they said thats the reason they got rid of it; however, they said it never left them stranded. Mine is not my daily driver so I hope it'll hold out for a little while and then I'll either get it rebuilt or have a reman installed..

I'm in the process of installing a B&M tranny filter on the off chance that theres some contaminant in the fluid that is loosened up; not sure that it'll do any good to eliminate the issue; but, will post if anything encouraging happens...
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My 03 with 145K doesn't do this...yet...but I suspect with all the high mileage posts here that this is a simple wear issue and with the weak link being the tranny...even with the 03 to some degree...that this is the first step to eventual failure of tranny..just my suspicion on the matter...
good suggestions regarding drain and fill...my indy shop does exactly what cl206 stated.
Cheers..Matt
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I have a 2001 MDX with 214k miles and I am having exactly the same issues as OP. This just recently started. I did flush the ATF twice in the last week to make sure it is not a fluid issue. I bought ATF directly from Honda. Flushing the ATF did not help. Really hoping someone has been able to figure out the issue.
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Old 09-18-2012, 02:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Am having the same problem with my car. It happens usually first 30 mins of driving and inside traffic. Otherwise the car works normally. Problem is that it can be unpredictable and endanger someone. My diagnosis personhas tried all his best and doesn't seem to have any clue anymore on this. D transmission has been repaired. Icannot afford to but another transmission. Has any solution been found as at date. Is there any real advice now. All I saw were same testimonies and am in Nigeria. Any guidance please.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This sounds exactly like what I experienced with my 2003 MDX. I had the transmission rebuilt and it the symptom remained, so took it back in and was finally able to recreate the symptom for the tech.

It ended up being the sprag gear - which I guess is something that may not come in the rebuild kit for the transmission. In my case they missed it the first time, so they had to take it apart again.

Read through this article from Gears Magazine, it my case it described perfectly what I was experiencing.

http://www.gearsmagazine.com/view.as...9-0547fdd811ea

Here is a quote from the article:
'The typical customer complaint usually goes something like this: “I backed out of the driveway and drove for a short distance before coasting to a stop. When I tried to start moving again, the car wouldn’t move until I dropped it into manual 2nd or low.”'

Hope that helps somebody.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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woa!
thank you for that link sir.
Very informative


Quote:
Originally Posted by robotdan View Post
This sounds exactly like what I experienced with my 2003 MDX. I had the transmission rebuilt and it the symptom remained, so took it back in and was finally able to recreate the symptom for the tech.

It ended up being the sprag gear - which I guess is something that may not come in the rebuild kit for the transmission. In my case they missed it the first time, so they had to take it apart again.

Read through this article from Gears Magazine, it my case it described perfectly what I was experiencing.

http://www.gearsmagazine.com/view.as...9-0547fdd811ea

Here is a quote from the article:
'The typical customer complaint usually goes something like this: “I backed out of the driveway and drove for a short distance before coasting to a stop. When I tried to start moving again, the car wouldn’t move until I dropped it into manual 2nd or low.”'

Hope that helps somebody.
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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2001 MDX.

Did 208,000 miles on the original tranny.

Replaced with an Acura/honda remanned unit. 25k miles on remanned.

Reportedly doing this. (Ive never experienced it, my kids drive the car now.) About 12 times in 500 miles. Several times shifting to park then back to D worked. But 3,4 times they had to go to park, shut the engine off and restart.

No OBD codes, no lights. Did not pull any tranny DTCs yet.

Tranny was a reman, so no reused old parts from MY trans, but one wonder as to the extent of an 'acura reman'.... Install done by a Acura dealer with a bill showing remanned tranny.

Just adding my experience, if someone figures this out, post up.

A
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Old 12-27-2012, 12:44 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Big fan if 15k tranny service intervals. Also fan if redline D ATF.
So get 4quarts and do a drain and refill


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Old 01-15-2013, 01:28 PM   #13 (permalink)
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This used to happen for me as well BUT driving in D4 in the city seem to have fixed it. Now I drive D4 for local driving and D5 for highway driving. Try D4 and see if you are still experiencing the same issue.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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These described symptoms are similar to mine before my transmission finally went.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:35 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Yup, me too. Exactly this symptom. Already drove about 10k miles with this condition and it happened about 5-10 times only.

Here is a quote from the article:
'The typical customer complaint usually goes something like this: “I backed out of the driveway and drove for a short distance before coasting to a stop. When I tried to start moving again, the car wouldn’t move until I dropped it into manual 2nd or low.”'
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