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Discussion Starter #1
Hello MDX community
I've joined this forum to get your opinion on whether to change MDX tranny fluid and how to do it.
I've searced quite a lot on this forum and find it hard to find an agreed upon consensus about the subject matter.

It seems that changing your fluid is the way to go. My mechanic says otherwise, he's had cars not drive out the garage after a fluid change. So I've been reluctant to doing it until I've reecently been getting early signs of tranmission issues.

Problems:
1. On 5th gear ( highway ) my RPM would jump by 3-500rpm very quickly every 10 seconds.
2. Cluncky gear changes, slow and hesitant
3. brownish coloured fluid, don't know last time it was changed

2002 MDX, 390K - subject to the tranny recall, full tranmission changed 2004.

I want to take the best care of this beautiful car and keep it until the last KM.

My question is should I take the risk of changing the fluid, should I do the 3x3 method?
I'm sure I can look this up but does the filter get changed as well when doing the 3x3 method, my mechanic has never heard of the 3x3...

Thanks everyone,
Appeciate your thoughts
 

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Yes, you should change your transmission fluid. There is a lot of mythology about changing fluid causing additional problems, but it's not a problem if you're not doing a power flush (which can stir up sediment in the transmission pan, which migrates to valves and solenoids). If your fluid is dark and dirty, I'd seriously recommend doing a drain and refill a few times, a day to a week apart. That will remove something like 90% of the old fluid. I also recommend putting in 8 ounces of LubeGard Platinum (I've had great luck with other trannies, including an Odyssey) using the stuff.

There's no way to clean the filter (since it's internal to the tranny), though it IS a good idea to add a magnetic inline filter in the cooling line. They're not expensive, and will likely trap stuff that your "well used" internal filter might miss, including the important metal bits that could otherwise clog up your shift solenoids (since they're essentially electromagnets).

The good news is that a few drain and refills and a mag filter won't cost much or take long to do... particularly when you compare it to replacing a toasted transmission! Our Honda trannies are very particular about fluid condition, particularly the '01-02 models, so I'd recommend doing an additional drain and refill every other oil change going forward, too. Cheap insurance!

That may or may not fix your 5th gear issue - that's probably the torque converter lockup kicking in and out. New fluid may well fix it. Worst case, just drive in D4, particularly around town. It won't hurt anything and will prevent the tranny from trying to lock up the TC.
 

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I calculated that my trans fluid had not been changed in about 60k-70k miles. I drained and filled twice and did another two times about 15k later. No problems to date. Car runs great. If the car has a lot more mileage in between changes, I would drain and fill once and then again at the next oil change. Keep doing it until fluid is fresh.
 

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As a previous owner of a 2003 Odyssey, the transmissions in any Honda product scare the hell outta me. Hopefully, the 2001-2002 MDX's don't have the 5KAT BYBA transmissions in them. It was after the Honda Dealership in North Richland Hills, TX did the 'expensive' service (160K service) and triple flushed the transmission. As it turned out, yeah... it really wound up being expensive when the 1st, 2nd and 3rd clutch packs went to see Jesus. Despite just having it serviced by a Honda dealership, they wanted us to pay for a new or rebuilt tranny. So... in regard to the MDX, there are so many theories and techniques, that in the end, it's still a 50/50 chance (like many things in life) when changing the fluid. Hopefully, it's just your TCC solenoid or a little bit of fuzz in your hall sensors (I believe there are 4) placed near most of the control solenoids.

After we started having problems, I installed a mag filter on the return side. They can be taken apart and reused (the housing and magnet only) after replacing an easily sourced paper cartridge. After 25 miles, I took it apart and was sickened by how much metal was in it. Later I found that it was my 1st and 2nd clutch plates who were making that mess as it was metal on metal.
 

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1st gen MDX do have a variant of the B family transmissions thus they are far unreliable... These transmissions were equipped on the CL, TL, Accord, Pilot, MDX, Odyssey they all shared the same transmission design.

In 2003 Honda changed the transmission design of the MDX into a "Heavy Duty" variant supposedly more reliable than the previous... It wasn´t until the 2nd Generation MDX (2007-2009, 2010-2013 used a 6 Speed) that it fully re-designed the 5 Speed Auto thus ending the bad transmission reputation of the 1st gen MDX.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hey everyone,
Would like to thank you a million times for your input. Especially to Habbyguy, you nailed it!
After the first drain and fill I already see improvements in the shifting quality.
Did it myself too! Plus I did not see metal particles in the old tranny fluid.
As for lubegaurd platinum, anyone know where to get it in Canada (ontario)? - Napa auto, CDN tire don't have it. Buying it online is $$.
TNX guys...
G
 

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Glad to hear that, GaspardB! It looks like Amazon.com has the LubeGard products in Canada. Ebay.ca also has it available.

I'd recommend doing a couple more drain-and-refills and then adding 8 ounces of LubeGard (Platinum if you can find it, Red if you can't), in place of half a quart of fluid during the last change. Let us know how it goes!
 

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Hi everyone, just bought an '05 MDX, noticed a semi hard downshift when letting off the throttle about 30-40mph. Probably @ 3rd gear or so... Is this a tranny issue I keep reading about .. I have no experience with imports since I've been in European s the last decade or so.. also a small amount of jiggle while idling every 4-5 seconds while parked or waiting at a light.. any info is much appreciated. I'm looking to do a flush soon if anyone has priced out this procedure and where to find the proper fluids and new drain plugs and stuff that'd be equally helpful. Thanks in advance. I'm in the Seattle area and am wondering if there's a page dedicated to where we all live so I can meet some fellow mdxers would be RAD too!

Sent from my MotoG3 using Tapatalk
 

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I'm betting dollars to donuts that you don't have a transmission problem, but a motor mount problem. You can tell if the "clunk" you're experiencing happens without the tach jumping (which indicates the tranny actually downshifted).

Normally, you can get a good idea if there's a bad mount by having someone (that you trust!) put the car through the P-R-N-D-N-R sequence with their foot firmly (!) on the brake. Look for movement in the motor, particularly rotating front-to-rear. If you hear a metallic "clunk" the mount is almost certainly the problem. The front and rear ones aren't that much fun to change out, though the two under the transmission are a piece of cake (though they're not likely the problem). Here's a diagram of where to look for the mounts...

And to continue in the transmission discussion - I wouldn't recommend a "flush" - at least one that uses pressurized fluid through the transmission, since that type tends to stir up a metallic fog from the sediment that accumulates harmlessly in the recesses of your transmission pan and elsewhere, causing more problems than it will cure. Better to just buy a case of Honda (!) fluid and do a few drain-and-refills. You'll drain about three quarts each time, and replace it with the same amount (exactly). This is not going to cause any problems, is dirt cheap, and is by far the best thing you'll ever do to save future repair costs on your MDX (the tranny is always the weak link - keep it happy, and you should go 300,000+ miles).
 

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I recommend using valvoline maxlife in these transmissions in conjunction with Lubeguard red and instant shudder fix. It's the perfect combination for my 2006 with now 130,000 miles. I did the first 3x drain and fill with valvoline at 118,000 miles and added Lubeguard red. The transmission definitely shifted more firmly/sporty never rough better than feeling like butter to how it was before. A few months ago I noticed that the MDX would make a little clunk that you could feel after accelerating at in town speeds after completely letting off the gas quickly. And on the highway if you quickly let off gas after accelerating the vehicle would make two small jolts. Very small. Added Lubeguard instant shudder fix and the transmission has never been better. It still shifts firmly and behaves phenomenally, all issues resolved. It worked instantly after I put it in but then the results went away, then after a little more driving it was better than ever. 2 weeks ago I did a single change with the maxlife and I added 3ounces of lube guard highly friction modified ATF supplement and at first the transmission was shifting too smooth but after I checked the level after going on the test run I realized it was a little low so I went back added the needed maxlife fluid and the shifting went back to firm. The only real problem this transmission has other then those resolved shudders is the whining at about 60-70mph with gas pedal applied which I think most of these have as a normal thing.
 

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I'll echo Matt13113's opinion on the LubeGard products. I've had really great luck with LubeGard Platinum and Red, as well as ShudderFixx (sic).

That whine IS a common "feature" with our beloved MDXs, which is annoying but not the end of the world. I'm going to try to quantify the whine using a spectrum analyzer and see how much difference a fresh application of LubeGard Platinum and/or ShudderFixx will make. I'm still using Honda fluid but suspect that the Valvoline Maxlife is fine (used that in a buddy's Honda tranny with good results).
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Fixed: Problem number one ( RPM jumping periodically/randomly at highway speed ) but replacing the worn out battery cables. Its been 4 months now, haven't seen it jump again.
 

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I'm trying to determine if I should do this as well, change out the fluid and add the LubeGuard Plat. or maybe try replacing the throttle position sensor. I don't notice any heavy shifting or clunk, but I do notice the MDX shifts pretty often when I am on the highway. This vehicle was bought used with 200k on it, but had full vehicle service records done at the dealer since brand new and I remember seeing that the transmission has had its service done.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hey jchan,
I 100% recommended changing the fluid. I did it myself with very little mechanical experience and found it pretty easy. I noticed significant changes in the smoothness of the shifting. I had brought my car to Honda and they 'changed' the fluid only having realized years later that they only performed 1 of the 3 ( 1x3) needed fluid changed. They most probably did it because it just a timely process, having to drain and fill 3 times, driving around and shifting all gears every fill.
I did not introduce Lubegaurd as I was simply happy with the result in just changing the fluid and I couldn't find it at a reasonable price here in Canada.
Hope this helps.
 

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I agree - change the fluid often - it's the cheapest insurance you'll ever buy. I do like the LubeGard additive, but with or without it, the new fluid might help in a lot of subtle ways.

I doubt changing out the TPS is going to really change anything. See my thread on the subject here: http://www.mdxers.org/forums/73-first-generation-mdx-2001-2006/103570-shift-happy-tranny.html

It does seem that the effect of changing the calibration of the TPS is "wearing off" a bit - I still haven't been on a legitimate road trip long enough to get a really good idea of the long-term effect of the changes I made, but it's clearly better than it was. I'd be concerned that a new TPS might be just as bad (or good, I suppose) as the one it's replacing, at least in terms of setting shift points for the transmission.
 

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Hey jchan,
I 100% recommended changing the fluid. I did it myself with very little mechanical experience and found it pretty easy. I noticed significant changes in the smoothness of the shifting. I had brought my car to Honda and they 'changed' the fluid only having realized years later that they only performed 1 of the 3 ( 1x3) needed fluid changed. They most probably did it because it just a timely process, having to drain and fill 3 times, driving around and shifting all gears every fill.
I did not introduce Lubegaurd as I was simply happy with the result in just changing the fluid and I couldn't find it at a reasonable price here in Canada.
Hope this helps.
Okey, so I am about to tackle this. I am pretty familiar with doing repairs but this will be the first time I have done this 3x3 thing since I've never heard of it before. After reading this whole thread, it seems that some people are changing the fluids more often (every other oil change, 12k miles etc)? Is there a reason for that? How often should I be doing something like this? I plan on doing the first of the 3x3 tomorrow morning (Friday), and if possible, the following day and again probably Monday. I already ordered LubeGard Platinum and will probably go to Walmart and pick up the Valvoline MaxLife ATF, guess I will need 12 qts total? or maybe just pick up 3 of the gallon jugs? Looks like the 8oz of LubeGard goes in on the last fill. If I am missing anything, please advise. It sounds pretty straight forward enough though.
 

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If you're not experiencing transmission problems, I would skip the LubeGard. Honda/Acura recommends against all additives and snake oils. I know some people have used it as a last-ditch effort and some claim it helps... But I wouldn't do it unless you're already considering a transmission rebuild/replacement.

A 3x3 change is ALWAYS great preventive maintenance, however. I would say 60k is the absolute MAX I'd go between changes. I think 30k is better. More frequently than that is a waste of money, however.
 
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