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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Driving on highway at about 70 MPH on my way to work this morning, I noticed heavy smoke from under the car. I immediately thought this was the infamous coolant leak. I got off the highway at the closest exit and pulled the car to a parking lot. In order to drive this baby to a safe place, I literally pushed until the tranny was slipping and it died on itself. I spent $75 to have it towed to the closest shop. The manager called a couple hours later that the radiator needed to be replaced and all the flush/replace coolant and tranny fluid stuff. This is a repair shop, not a dealer. They are going to replace the radiator with a NAPA aftermarket copy. The total cost of all these is quoted at $920. My 2005 MDX is at 126,000 miles and I have been taking care of it very well for all the things that are expected to fail. The dealer did all the services at 100,000 miles two years ago. Radiator was the next one on my list to replace. Unfortunately, it came before I can get to it. Anyway, to summarize, the total cost for today is about $1,000.

If you are on this model and drive close to this mileage, it may be time to replace the radiator before it gets to you. Good luck and Merry Christmas!
 

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Good advice. I have an 05 with 150k and plan to do this soon together with valave adjustment. Thanks for the warning and hope your MDX will be fine after the work is done by the shop. Merry Christmas
 

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The transmission hose attachment to the radiator blew right off while I was driving. The thread on the aluminum expanded or something. I had 174KM on my 2005 MDX. The tranny just stop working also. I guess due to lost of coolant and tranny fluid. I thought the tranny was gone for good. But it wasn't, there is a sensor to shut down tranny when it detects low on fluid. Any how I had my X towed back home. Took about 2 hours start to finish to replace New radiator and new tranny fluid. Total cost just under $300 CDN.

BTW you do not have to remove the front bumper to replace the radiator. I just remove the radiator fan. Slide the rad out and your good to go. Just have to be very careful. Very tight fit. I used flat cardboard to protect the fins on the new rad when you try to slide that back in place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Back on the road again

The shop has a good reputation among several of my colleagues. They got it done quickly. Total cost breakdown - Radiator $285, Hose kit $64, Thermostat $29.5, ATF fluid $55.8, Radiator cap $12, Labor $400. Drove around today to various shops for last minute gifts. Had not run into any issues other than the coolant smell from the radiator failure.

Long way to drive tomorrow. Hope it will be okay.
 

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I had the same radiator failure in June. I replaced the radiator and drained the cooling system several times.There was no evidence of radiator coolant getting into the transmission after having done the drain and refill 4 times. I now have about 2300 additional miles on the car and the transmission seems fine, but there are still some traces of trans fluid in the coolant.
 

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AJS914 - yes, that's what a lot of people do. While the chances that any given car will experience the radiator failure that mixes your antifreeze and tranny fluid, it's cheap insurance to eliminate the possibility by installing an external transmission cooler. They're dirt cheap and not at all difficult to install.
 

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flooded tranni, 4 radiators in 3 months, still runs like a champ though!!

Thank you for the info i am considering the external tranni cooler.. I have an 05 Touring w 226,000 miles (still runs like a cadi, well maint.) except one issue i keep running into since i purchased about 4 months ago.. that vehicle.. since my day of purchase... has had 4 new radiators. At this point, as heartbreaking as it is, shes posted on craigslist, i've chased every issue, did all my research, replaced every other part, flushed every fluid, but i have to give up on this one for i believe due to the previous owner improperly installing an inner-cooler & un-installing before i bought the car, there's no saving this radiator failure even if i found the answer now.. Engine still acts like nothings wrong (these vtecs are something else man, never made a noise, never smoked, never stalled or died or broke down) however considering how many times shes overheated... as in hit the H as i was removing the keys.. i never let her "overheat" never saw a fume come from the hood.. I can tell there has been some internal engine damage not only from previous owners poor installation of a part that didnt belong on this precious beauty, but i now have a "slightly cracked head & blown gasket" ((this diagnosis is still being confirmed once re-diagnosed, somethings not right if its still my daily driver )) though its believable, my MDX has yet to experience ANY symptoms of a blown gasket or cracked cyl head.. so i guess well see :) Riding on radiator #4, each leak about every month. I love her but shes gotta go, the shops hate me because they have to warranty my labor :)))
 

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The transmission hose attachment to the radiator blew right off while I was driving. The thread on the aluminum expanded or something. I had 174KM on my 2005 MDX. The tranny just stop working also. I guess due to lost of coolant and tranny fluid. I thought the tranny was gone for good. But it wasn't, there is a sensor to shut down tranny when it detects low on fluid. Any how I had my X towed back home. Took about 2 hours start to finish to replace New radiator and new tranny fluid. Total cost just under $300 CDN.

BTW you do not have to remove the front bumper to replace the radiator. I just remove the radiator fan. Slide the rad out and your good to go. Just have to be very careful. Very tight fit. I used flat cardboard to protect the fins on the new rad when you try to slide that back in place.
Did you notice any slippage before tranny just stopped working? I have an 05 with 180k and one day coming back from store (an uphill trip) I noticed poor shifting followed by a lot of tranny slippage to the point where it couldn't go anymore and then a puff of steam from the front ... looks like it's now leaking coolant and tranny fluid. Managed to tow it home with family truck and assume tranny is toast.
 

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Don't assume that, but be ready to do a considerable amount of work to get it repaired - obviously a new radiator, and lots of flushing of the coolant system, and of the transmission. IMHO, most of those who have had this issue were able to fix the tranny with lots of transmission fluid flushing. OTOH, most of them stopped immediately - driving a transmission full of water-contaminated fluid is not going to be good for the internals. Still, draining and filling the transmission several times is a LOT cheaper than replacing the tranny, and has a good possibility of resurrecting the tranny. If you can DIY, it's a no-brainer, IMHO.
 

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Thanks habbyguy. As a starting point, how many times did you drain/fill both the cooling system and tranny? I'm assuming 5-6 for tranny to start with but would like input from others that have gone through the process.
 

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Thanks habbyguy. As a starting point, how many times did you drain/fill both the cooling system and tranny? I'm assuming 5-6 for tranny to start with but would like input from others that have gone through the process.
If it were mine and I knew there had been coolant in the transmission I would break the "no flush" rule, not with a machine, but by disconnecting the return line coming back from the cooler then adding fluid through the fill hole to push contaminated fluid completely out instead of just diluting it, but that's just me. Start by pumping out about 3 qts then stop and add 3 qts 4X using 12 qts of fluid. The cooling system wouldn't concern me as much, though that one I would cough up the dough to have it flushed by a machine.
 
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I never had that problem (happily) but have read the tales of woe from those who had. I'd advise trying to work out the way to do a "full purge" of the tranny fluid a couple times. That's done by disconnecting one of the tranny cooler lines (the ones that go to your radiator) to drain into a container. I forget which one is the "output, but there are only two choices, so it's not going to take TOO long to find out if you have the right one.

Put the output line into a container that's got a two-quart line marked. Start the car and idle it until it pumps out two quarts. Then pour two quarts back in (using the fill port on top of the tranny or a tall, skinny funnel that will fit into the tranny dipstick port - works fine, but takes longer. Continue this two quarts at time until the fluid coming out looks "good". Warm up the tranny by idling it for a while, shut it off, wait 30 seconds, then check the fluid level and adjust as necessary. Then I'd drive the car for a while to see if it's shifting / working properly (or at least close to it). Ideally, repeat the above process again in a few days, though the fluid will probably start out looking OK, so you'll just go through however much fluid you have. I'm guessing you'll need a case of Honda tranny fluid for each process. Not dirt cheap, but chump change compared to replacing the tranny (or the car!). And you could save a few bucks and get some "generic fluid" that's rated for a Honda for the FIRST flush (since you'll replace it all anyway).

And FWIW, I'd also suggest adding 12 ounces of LubeGard Platinum during the final process - it seems to be work very well with Honda (and some other) trannies, and would seem to be a good prophylactic measure.
 

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Finally got around to fixing my MDX a few weeks back. Luckily I didn't have any type of coolant/trans fluid mix, but the driver's side cooler line did indeed blow out from the radiator. Replaced the radiator, did a 3 litre x 4 flush tranny flush just to be safe ... it drives perfect. Put around 500 miles on it since the fix and so far so good. Glad I found this thread as I assumed, based on MDX's being known for bad trannys, that mine was pooched. Probably going to keep the MDX for a few more years ... next up on the to-do list is to replace the seat bottoms with the ebay leather replacements (and rebuild the side bolsters using habbyguy's tips), maybe add the BT45 bluetooth adapter.
 

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Congrats on saving the old girl, and on your decision to keep a great car on the road for a few years. You dodged a bullet, and I can tell you that the seat cushion rebuild transformed the way we felt after some of our long (12-15 hour) "day trips".
 

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I believe it regarding the seats. While it looks like it's quite the process to remove and install the bottom covers I think it will be worth the effort. I briefly thought about moving to the 2nd gen MDX but I actually prefer the simplicity design-wise of the 1st gen interiors ... I figured the least I could do is invest in new covers and fix the side bolsters.
 
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