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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2001 MDX Touring, 250K miles. Almost completing a 1200 mile round trip, we experienced for the second time a trans temp overheat warning light, small amount of smoke, no slippage or drivability issues since I caught it fast. We did not want to risk a total breakdown at 3AM, so we had it towed home Jerri-Dan style.

I spent better part of 2 days looking for evidence of leaks or mixing of fluids. No contamination of either transmission or radiator found, no evidence of major leaks other than small amounts of trans fluid on the trans case. Trans dipstick was not down at all. Since a Honda dealership could not find reasons for the first occurrence two years ago and I can't find any this time, I just cleaned it up and test drove it. It runs absolutely fine, no slippage, no hunting of gears. After the first failure, I did do the three-time drain and replace of trans fluid but no other repair.

The BIG QUESTION: Is it wise to keep driving it and hope these are just fluke happenings, or, as my wise wife says, "I don't trust it anymore. It is going to let us down big time on the next long trip".

I hate to let it go since it drives so well, uses no oil, I have most of the little annoyances fixed, and it is a great luxury vehicle after years of driving beaters. Used car evaluations on the internet put its value at about $1600-$2400, so I hate to spend big bucks on a new transmission and radiator only to have some other major component fail. And since we only buy used cars, how much do I have to spend to buy reliability on another used SUV? All opinions or actual case histories welcomed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
skirmich,, thanks for the advice. My concern about the overheat is that the first time it happened the trans somehow lost three and a half quarts of ATF. That pretty much makes it undependable for more than a couple of miles to get to a shop. The Honda shop that worked on it could find no reason or even how the fluid got out. I would like to know how the fluid gets out but the Honda shop just said it could come out the dipstick or some "breather" which they did not define well They just replenished the ATF and pressure cleaned the areas that were soaked with ATF and said we were good to go. And yes, the ATF used is correct. I know that shop put the right fluid in and as I mentioned in the first post I did a 3 times drain and replenish with fluid bought at a Honda dealer after we got home following the first incident.

Also, the 1st Gen MDX transmission is the one with all the black marks of reliability, with its recalls and known failures. I hope that by 2nd Gen it was fixed for all of you owners. I am second owner of this one and have talked to the first owner and have his maintenance log. The transmission never let him down like it did us after we put a lot more miles on it. For a little more confidence building I am going to take the MDX to my local Honda dealer (don't have an Acura dealer nearby) and let them do a diagnosis opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
kirmich,, thanks for the advice. My concern about the overheat is that the first time it happened the trans somehow lost three and a half quarts of ATF. That pretty much makes it undependable for more than a couple of miles to get to a shop. The Honda shop that worked on it could find no reason or even how the fluid got out. I would like to know how the fluid gets out but the Honda shop just said it could come out the dipstick or some "breather" which they did not define well They just replenished the ATF and pressure cleaned the areas that were soaked with ATF and said we were good to go. And yes, the ATF used is correct. I know that shop put the right fluid in and as I mentioned in the first post I did a 3 times drain and replenish with fluid bought at a Honda dealer after we got home following the first incident.

Also, the 1st Gen MDX transmission is the one with all the black marks of reliability, with its recalls and known failures. I hope that by 2nd Gen it was fixed for all of you owners. I am second owner of this one and have talked to the first owner and have his maintenance log. The transmission never let him down like it did us after we put a lot more miles on it. For a little more confidence building I am going to take the MDX to my local Honda dealer (don't have an Acura dealer nearby) and let them do a diagnosis opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What the dealer found about the overheating transmission

Well, guys and gals,

I took the 2001 MDX with the overheating trans to my local Honda dealer. Happily,they are reasonable in that they only charge $52 for a diagnosis. They found a P0070 trouble code and their solution is a $274 parts and labor "transmission pressure switch" which they sort of half-heartedly say might have caused the overheating. Otherwise, they only found miscellaneous oil leaks, which I did not ask them to do. (Remedy for oil leak: replace oil pump seal, possibly oil pump for either $896, or $1177. Does this vehicle have an external oil pump? Why would an oil pump, which in my experience is usually enclosed in the oil pan, have a seal needing replacement? Just a side question, I won't have the work done, the amount lost must be tiny as the car does not consume oil between changes.)

Would like to hear if any of you with a 1st gen MDX have had same experience with overheating and fluid loss and what your remedy was.

An interesting sideline: a used car dealer told me of a local shop which will install and guarantee a rebuilt transmission for this car for $1400. He has done a lot of business with them and is very satisfied. Seems like that is a lot cheaper than trying to find a replacement used car.
 
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