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The other transmission related thread has gotten very technical, which I am sure is extremely useful to many on this forum.

However, I am interested in a more general topic.

What should I monitor and do to avoid, as much as is possible, having expensive transmission problems?

I have a 2005 Touring model.

I do not do my own maintenance but believe I have a good, honest mechanic. I always ask if he is looking at the transmission fluid for
a. level
b. cleanliness

What else should I educate myself about regarding my transmission?
 

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These transmissions are very finicky and like fresh oil. In addition to the regular level and cleanliness checks, regular drain and fills should be performed.

There are very different opinions on fluid choice. There is the crowd that says use OEM fluid and nothing but OEM fluid. There is the crowd that says either OEM or aftermarket is fine. For some, it is a question of cost, for others, quality. For me personally, I use OEM ATF-DW1 on my 2012 MDX but use Amsoil signature series on my 2004 pilot which called for the old ATF-Z1. I'll let you choose which fluid you use, but the important thing is to do the drain and fill.
 

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I'm about on the same level as SlwRide and drive a 2001 w/ 180,000. I'm in the OEM fluid crowd and to date have ONLY had the dealer do all service (Drain & Fill's) with OEM fluid. I believe the owners manual says every 30,000. The service adviser at my dealership once told me every 30,000-40,000 depending on driving conditions. I don't tow, live in relatively flat terrain and rarely have the car loaded up with passengers, so I have the drain & fill done about every 35,000. It's pricey @ $235 for tranny & differential. Perhaps I should service every 25,000? I have noticed the dealer once used ATF-Z1 fluid, but now uses ATF-DW1. So my X has had both fluids in the case. I believe the Z1 has been discontinued and DW-1 superceeds.

At around 45,000 the dealer installed an "oil jet kit" as part of a recall. This isn't a "ATF cooler" right? Think it just jets more fluid onto 2nd gear?

I also drive in "D4" 95% of the time. I reserve "D5" ONLY for highway driving once I reach & maintain 60-65mph. I get MUCH better shifting performance around town. I assume this translates into less internal gear wear. Also SlwRide, when you go from reverse to drive, make sure you come to a complete stop before shifting. Come to a complete stop prior to putting into 'Park'. It's surprising how many people don't do this.
 

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Change the tranny fluid every 30k miles whether it looks dirty or not. I just purchased a model with 88k that was having shifting/torque-converter issues but tranny fluid that looked near new. After a trans tune treatment (in my garage) and drain and fill at the dealer, the shifting is now perfect.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Awesome guys. I was not aware of the D4 method of driving. I too do no towing and just drive around town.


I will also have "my guy" change the fluid. I've only had this vehicle for a year, and I have no idea when the last time the fluid was changed.

Much appreciated folks!
 

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I just picked up an 03 about three weeks ago. I had my oil change done at a local dealer who did recommend that I get a transmission fluid change so I got one a few days afterward.

My truck with about 146K miles on it runs like a charm and yes I too drive in "D4" most of the time unless I'm doing expressway speeds.

But the coolest thing is that I noticed that my GAS MILEAGE greatly increases when I'm doing my "city" driving in "D4" instead of "D5".
So, I encourage all to turn on your trip/mpg computer and shift to "D4" and do your own test.

You may be VERY PLEASED with the results(and savings)!

Just wanted to pass that on....
 

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Being in the TL-S side with the same transmission issues I can attest that...
Nothing. Nothing will prevent the trans from dying as this isn´t an issue with Oil Used but a Design Flaw. I had 2 rebuilds before doing the AV6 Swap.

What you want to do is PROLONG the inevitable as much as you can and that is keeping the ATF Fluid as fresh as possible to avoid extra Clutch Slipping.
Old Fluid and Burnt Fluid makes the Clutch Slips and this burn them faster.
If you can keep up with Yearly ATF changes and I mean a 3x3 not a single change then you will get the most out of the trans. Being said that, Some aftermarket fluids are simply not engineering to handle these issues.. We need as much Anti-Slipping additives as possible and DW-1 was specifically formulated for that, You can feel it right away if you always used Z1 and switching to DW-1 how the shifts are firmer and faster, Honda knows its transmissions better than anyone else. That is why playing with Aftermarket fluids is just wrong, If anything you want to use High Performance ATF for Racing Applications that has tons of anti-slip additives (Redline Racing or AMSOIL Signature) but going for the ELCHEAPO Valvoline? Nope nope nope you are killing your trans.

2005 models had the "Updated" trans that only made the Oil Jet Kit internal, It made some changes to fluid passages to the 3 gear clutch pack which made them a lot more reliable.

I wish the older MDX had a Swap like we do in the TL-S (AV6 Swap) side that fixes all issues.. But since the trans bell housing got updated in the next gen you are stuck with a faulty transmission for good.

That is why I always recommend that if you want a 1st gen MDX get a 2005 and up model.. Those were the least problematic ones, Avoid 01,02,03.. 04s can get the 05 trans if they were in the Recall extended period, look for blue bolts in the trans housing to spot an updated trans in 04 models.
 

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Dear Skirmich,

I have 03 and I have always changed tranny fluid every other oil change and have 125K on it. I can feel that the tranny seems tired since I get some jerks when accelerating. I don't know if I can use the so called "DW-1" for my 03 or is it only for 05.

Next time I go to my dealer, I will try to request the "DW-1" if it can be used.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.
 

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Hi 03mdxsm

"ATF Z1" which is what your manual calls for OEM ATF was discontinued in 2011, Honda simply stopped making it and Started making a New semi-Synthetic formula. The new ATF is called "DW-1" this OEM ATF replaces all previous Z1 applications EXCEPT for Differential use in older SH-AWD equipped cars (RL, MDX, RDX, TL).

So even if you try to request Z1 at the dealership odds are they don´t have any stock left and they will prompt you to get DW-1 Instead as its backwards compatible with Z1.

I was one of the first to shift to this New ATF in the TL community you can see my Review here: http://acurazine.com/forums/second-generation-tl-1999-2003-98/first-testing-new-honda-dw-1-atf-821230/
 

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I just changed the transmission fluid on my 2005 MDX with 185,000 miles on the clock. I just purchased the car, but I was able to examine the records on it through carfax and the paper records I had from the previous owner. The car was last changed at 126,000 miles. I assume it was a 4 quart change. When I examined the fluid, it was brown with a very, very slight red tint to it. When I pulled the drain plug, it was coated with black "shavings" that looked more like black goop.

I changed the fluid 2 times with the fluid I bought from the dealer. I think it was the DW1 fluid. I am going to change it again at the next oil change at 190,000 miles. I will then do one drain and fill every other oil change. I had to fill it from the dipstick because the fill plug was practically welded on to the transmission case.
 

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My 2003 transmission is still running strong with approximately 200,000 miles on it. I don't do anything out of the ordinary aside from regular and preventive maintenance whenever my mechanic spots anything. I drive in "D4" all the time consisting of a 50/50 mix of city/highway driving and I never tow anything. The 1st gen MDX has actually been one of the most reliable vehicles I have ever owned.
 

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I have an 06 with only 57K miles. I drive about 5k miles/yr so I'm always at a loss of when to change fluids because it would take me forever to meet the mileage requirement for a fluid change. Is there a site that could break down the life of fluids by age? Should I be changing the ATF and Rear Diff every two years? Thanks for your thoughts.
 

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I have an 06 with only 57K miles. I drive about 5k miles/yr so I'm always at a loss of when to change fluids because it would take me forever to meet the mileage requirement for a fluid change. Is there a site that could break down the life of fluids by age? Should I be changing the ATF and Rear Diff every two years? Thanks for your thoughts.
I'm kind of in the same boat with hand-me-down 1st-gen MDXs my student "kids" drive. The maintenance schedule in the Owner's Manual suggests ATF and rear diff fluid changes every 30k miles or every 2 years, whichever comes first. For the ATF change, the conservative approach is a "3x3", 3 changes of 3 quarts each with a short drive in between changes, then fine tune the fluid level after the last change. ATF is cheap compared to rebuilt transmissions.

AFAIK the reason for the time-based "backup" schedule is that there are corrosion inhibitors in the fluids that become depleted with time and exposure to atmospheric oxygen. Same with brake fluid, except brake fluid also absorbs water from the air. Brake fluid is supposed to be changed every 3 years, independent of mileage. Guess that's another thing to add to my list!
 

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I'm kind of in the same boat with hand-me-down 1st-gen MDXs my student "kids" drive. The maintenance schedule in the Owner's Manual suggests ATF and rear diff fluid changes every 30k miles or every 2 years, whichever comes first. For the ATF change, the conservative approach is a "3x3", 3 changes of 3 quarts each with a short drive in between changes, then fine tune the fluid level after the last change. ATF is cheap compared to rebuilt transmissions.

AFAIK the reason for the time-based "backup" schedule is that there are corrosion inhibitors in the fluids that become depleted with time and exposure to atmospheric oxygen. Same with brake fluid, except brake fluid also absorbs water from the air. Brake fluid is supposed to be changed every 3 years, independent of mileage. Guess that's another thing to add to my list!
Thank you!
 

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My 2003 transmission is still running strong with approximately 200,000 miles on it. I don't do anything out of the ordinary aside from regular and preventive maintenance whenever my mechanic spots anything. I drive in "D4" all the time consisting of a 50/50 mix of city/highway driving and I never tow anything. The 1st gen MDX has actually been one of the most reliable vehicles I have ever owned.
Same with my 02...Wife won't let me sell it...it's been that good of a vehicle.
 
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