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Discussion Starter #1
2001 MDX
82K miles
Oil change & Service done on time
No noticeable issue

until

last week. While driving I noticed a sudden jerk when accelerating from 30mph to 40mph. Noticed the same when reversing.

After reaching home, I noticed the light around D on dashboard flashing. Checked the owners manual which suggested issue with transmission. In addition the Check Engine light was on. Next day I wanted to take my MDX to the mechanic but in the morning the light around D was not flashing.

My mechanic fixed the Check Engine issue. He advised me to replace the transmission. The quote was $4000 + labor with 3 year warranty or $2500 + labor with no warranty for a salvaged transmission.

I do not have that kind of money to fix it now. I have to wait until Feb for my tax refund to arrive which will help me offset the cost. My mechanic says I should be fine driving locally but not take it on freeway since it can stall any time. Except for the noticeable jerk when accelerating from 30mph-40mph I do not see any issue while driving. My question is: Can I drive like this (not driving on freeway) for the next 4 months driving 15 miles a day to work? Will it affect other parts of the MDX?

Did any other member have this issue and how did you solve this?

Thanks
 

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When's the last time you changed your transmission fluid? What's the fluid level like now? Is it dark or does it smell burnt?
 

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Shops can be very unoriginal when it comes to diagnosing problems with automatic transmissions. There are a host of repairable things that can and do go wrong with transmissions that can be fixed for a whole lot less than a new tranny costs. If the transmission is slipping once it's in gear, you're pretty much assured that you'll be spending lots of money to replace or rebuild the transmission. But it's also very common for the shift solenoids (basically, electrically controlled valves that control what's happening inside the tranny) to get "sticky", especially if you've got debris in your transmission fluid. It's far from a sure thing, but doing a couple drain-and-refills is a cheap option that just might make things better. Couldn't hurt, other than the cost of a few quarts of fluid (per change - doing two or three cycles is usually the way to get most of the fluid changed).
 

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Good tips -- the shift solenoids are pretty easy to replace on these. They may be worth a shot. I think there are two, and they're about 30-50 bucks a piece as I recall.
 

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I've fixed two of my cars that I bought for chump change because they had shift problems. One (VW Jetta turbo) required replacing all the shift solenoids, and (sadly) also a temperature sensor that lives in the bowels of the tranny, requiring me to drop the tranny... the other (Volvo V70 T5) was just a $30 cap for an external valve that took about 30 minutes to swap. I haven't really had to look at the MDX tranny yet (thankfully!) but if it's not difficult to swap the shift solenoids, it's a no-brainer if the option is to replace the tranny. I would recommend doing a few drain-and-fills first, since the solenoids usually fail because of metallic debris in the fluid building up around the bores (since they're electromagnets, and attract metal). If you put new shift solenoids in but still have dirty fluid, they will likely fail far too soon.
 

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The shift solenoids on the MDX are pretty simple to replace. Indeed, the dreaded "blinking D5" problem was the first issue I had with mine that brought me to this forum. One is underneath and exposed, takes 5 minutes to replace. The other is above and isn't much worse, just have to move a couple things to get to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
pibcak, my mechanic said the fluid level is ok. I'll ask him if it was dark or smelled burnt.

habbyguy - thanks for the tips. I'll discuss with my mechanic about replacing/cleaning shift solenoids and report back soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My mechanic said the transmission fluid level was normal and it was not dark and not burnt.

He agreed to try the solenoid clean/replacement first before trying expensive tranny replacement. He was not sure where the solenoids were. So I am going to show him the diagram that habbyguy shared. He will work on my MDX next week. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Thanks for your help.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK. My mechanic wants me to leave my van in his shop for 2 days since he is not sure where the solenoids are. He says the diagram is helpful but this is the first time he attempting something like this, so he is not sure what to expect. He also mentioned if the gasket has to be replaced, he has to order it and it will take time. Not sure what exactly a gasket is and how it is related to this issue. I have full faith in him, he is a honest mechanic.

What is the effort involved in cleaning the solenoids for a good mechanic? - in terms of hours. Is it better to take my van to a MDX specialist?

Thanks.
 

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I think the diagram shows the gaskets associated with the solenoids. I'd suggest doing some research on the effort it takes to clean and/or replace the solenoids. From what I saw in a short search, it doesn't really look like a huge job - they appear to be located such that they can be pulled without TOO much fuss. It's been my experience that most Honda gaskets don't really NEED to be replaced, but I've never had to pull the shift solenoids on my MDX, so they could be an exception to this rule.

That said, if your mechanic hasn't ever dealt with shift solenoids, he's probably not the right one - or at least might not be. I'm just a shadetree mechanic who works on his own cars - and occasionally those of close friends when they're in a bind - and I've done shift solenoids on one car, and "dealt with" those on another (I got them to "unbind" by not driving the car for a couple weeks - pure dumb luck). If he's a good mechanic, pulling them out and checking / cleaning them shouldn't be too hard, and with any luck you'll have a nice-shifting MDX when it's done.

Keep us posted!
 
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