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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2011 MDX with 158k miles on it.
Serviced regularly - timing belt change, water pump, check and fill fluid levels, needed repairs, etc...
And 10k miles ago a mechanic added 4 quarts of tranny fluid during a 150k mile service. They charged for 4 quarts, but my understanding is that this car hold about 3.5 quarts.
When driving the car rides and shifts great...very smooth.

The other day I had a transmission problem:
When shifting into Reverse or Drive it seems like there is a delayed response...it takes a little longer than usual for the gear to engage.
The other night I shifted into Reverse and the check transmission message showed up, the D gear started flashing, and a P117a warning message also came up. Stepped on the gas and car would not move since the gear never engaged.
Put car in park turned off and turned car back on. Warning messages were still showing but was able to finally engage Reverse then back into Drive.
Got home turned car off and back on, and all warning messages are gone like nothing ever happened.
Did some googling and could be an array of issues to rule out, such as just a glitch, a transmission pressure switch, external solenoid, etc...

Yesterday I used ODB scanner and a few related codes showed up, all codes mention a solenoid.

I checked the tranny fluid several times (after driving for an hour) and the dipstick was always dry after reinserting it and pulling back out to check fluid level.

I added just one quart of DW1 tranny fluid to start with. I checked the fluid level an hour after driving back home, car would sit for a couple hours, checked fluid level again after driving to store, then checked again when I got home.
Good news was that I was not able to replicate the check transmission light, blinking D light after just one quart of tranny fluid was added.
The image below shows a light haze of tranny fluid to the left of the little hole. It seems like I am very low on tranny fluid and might need another 2 quarts or so of fluid. I would think when checking tranny fluid there should be a lot more fluid on the dipstick, similar to checking engine oil. But in my case, I just see a light haze of fluid.

Am I running low on tranny fluid and why would I be so low? Does towing burn tranny fluid? I occasionally pull a 3,500 lb boat.


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You have too much fluid by the dipstick pic.

Turn engine on and let get up to operating temp. Turn off and within 60 seconds of turning off check trans dipstick. Level needs to be between the 2 dots.

Great way to tell if you have too much fluid is to get the car in an open and level place. With engine at operating temp, put car in neutral and see if it creeps forward. If yes, too much fluid. In neutral the car should be able to move forwards and back with some effort by folks pushing, car shouldn't be "stuck" or have resistance in Neutral if that makes sense.

When you drain the trans pan, depending on how long you let it drain for, you can get 3-4 quarts out with varying amount between those.

What fluid was used? Honda's and Acuras are very picky and Honda DW-1 is the recommended one. You can use lubegard red or plat 2-3 oz to help fluid last longer with towing.

Wrong fluid can cause the delay in shifting between gears, and the P1717 is caused by a loose or failing range switch on the side of the trans. I believe it's about $70 for the part and about an hour of time to change it out properly. Mine went out around 150K miles on my 07 MDX.

Figure out the proper level of fluid first and go from there.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have not been able to replicate the issue with check transmission fluid message and flashing D light.
I did another ODB scan today and the P codes are no longer showing up...no issues showing at all.

Before I added transmission fluid (1 quart) I kept getting the transmission error messages and the ODB scan also showed three P codes related to a solenoid issue.
I am confused how I would have too much transmission fluid now after adding just one quart.
 

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I have not been able to replicate the issue with check transmission fluid message and flashing D light.
I did another ODB scan today and the P codes are no longer showing up...no issues showing at all.

Before I added transmission fluid (1 quart) I kept getting the transmission error messages and the ODB scan also showed three P codes related to a solenoid issue.
I am confused how I would have too much transmission fluid now after adding just one quart.
I would question the check method along with the possibility of holding the dipstick in a manner that resulted in the fluid running "up" the dipstick in the process of taking the photo.

The proper level checking technique is as follows:
1. Drive the vehicle until normal operating temperature is reached.
2. Park on level surface and turn engine off.
3. Remove dipstick, wipe, return fully, and remove again within 60 seconds of turning engine off. Fluid should be between two holes on the dipstick.

Worth noting...it can be challenging to insert and remove the dipstick with no interference from the tube. It's not unusual for one side of the dipstick to read higher than the other, and newer/cleaner fluid can be hard to read.

Going back to the mechanic adding 4 quarts of fluid, did they really add 4 quarts or did they charge you for 4 quarts? Standard SOP is to charge for 4 quarts even if only 3.5 was added, so you can't just go by the paperwork. Can towing overheat the fluid to the point of burning some off? Absolutely. I've seen it happen personally. You don't say what fluid you are using, but I highly suggest switching to Valvoline MaxLife to get to a full synthetic fluid. Since I switched away from Honda fluid I've not had any issues with fluid boil over or loss of fluid. Full disclaimer, I don't tow with my MDX, but I do with my Honda Odyssey with the same transmission. You'll also want to investigate the possibility of a fluid leak as well if you seem to be losing fluid. To get a proper fluid change done you will need to do a 4X drain/fill of the trans fluid making sure to drive it and get the trans to shift through all the gears in between each drain/fill. This can be done on a single day or every Saturday for 4 weeks, doesn't matter. The Valvoline MaxLife fluid is available at most Walmart stores for ~$18 per 4 qt container, so it is easy to get and cheap. I've been running it for 120K miles now with great results and my Ody had 230K+ on it with zero trans issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not sure if they really added 4 quarts. I use a Honda/Acura mechanic since they are a little less expensive than Acura dealer.

Over the summer we pulled the boat in the Ozarks with fairly steep and long inclines. Using S mode to manual shift. 4th gear with 4500-5500k RPM works best, and you can tell the engine is working hard. Engine temp gets above normal operating temp, but not red lining. This might contribute to buring a lot of the tranny fluid.

At this point I am considering selling the MDX. Will probably use my regular Honda/Acura mechanic to inspect tranny fluid concern, and then take to Acura dealership to do a full inspection to get vehicle ready to sell.
 

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Not sure if they really added 4 quarts. I use a Honda/Acura mechanic since they are a little less expensive than Acura dealer.

Over the summer we pulled the boat in the Ozarks with fairly steep and long inclines. Using S mode to manual shift. 4th gear with 4500-5500k RPM works best, and you can tell the engine is working hard. Engine temp gets above normal operating temp, but not red lining. This might contribute to buring a lot of the tranny fluid.

At this point I am considering selling the MDX. Will probably use my regular Honda/Acura mechanic to inspect tranny fluid concern, and then take to Acura dealership to do a full inspection to get vehicle ready to sell.
Like I said, I have first hand experience with burning trans fluid. Pulling my 3,500 lb camper in the Rockies to be specific. I had already changed to synthetic fluid in preparation for the trip, but a 4X drain and fill changes about 87%, not 100%, so when I checked it I was down a quart. Once I topped it back up I had no more fluid disappear. And just to confirm what I mean by no more fluid disappearing I mean the 2nd half of that trip and an even more aggressive trip the following summer of 7K+ miles of hard towing with no fluid loss. I also make a habit of doing a 3X drain and fill at the end of the towing season each year. The synthetic fluid still looks fine. I just do it as a preventative measure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have a 2011 MDX with 158k miles on it.
Serviced regularly - timing belt change, water pump, check and fill fluid levels, needed repairs, etc...
And 10k miles ago a mechanic added 4 quarts of tranny fluid during a 150k mile service. They charged for 4 quarts, but my understanding is that this car hold about 3.5 quarts.
When driving the car rides and shifts great...very smooth.

The other day I had a transmission problem:
When shifting into Reverse or Drive it seems like there is a delayed response...it takes a little longer than usual for the gear to engage.
The other night I shifted into Reverse and the check transmission message showed up, the D gear started flashing, and a P117a warning message also came up. Stepped on the gas and car would not move since the gear never engaged.
Put car in park turned off and turned car back on. Warning messages were still showing but was able to finally engage Reverse then back into Drive.
Got home turned car off and back on, and all warning messages are gone like nothing ever happened.
Did some googling and could be an array of issues to rule out, such as just a glitch, a transmission pressure switch, external solenoid, etc...

Yesterday I used ODB scanner and a few related codes showed up, all codes mention a solenoid.

I checked the tranny fluid several times (after driving for an hour) and the dipstick was always dry after reinserting it and pulling back out to check fluid level.

I added just one quart of DW1 tranny fluid to start with. I checked the fluid level an hour after driving back home, car would sit for a couple hours, checked fluid level again after driving to store, then checked again when I got home.
Good news was that I was not able to replicate the check transmission light, blinking D light after just one quart of tranny fluid was added.
The image below shows a light haze of tranny fluid to the left of the little hole. It seems like I am very low on tranny fluid and might need another 2 quarts or so of fluid. I would think when checking tranny fluid there should be a lot more fluid on the dipstick, similar to checking engine oil. But in my case, I just see a light haze of fluid.

Am I running low on tranny fluid and why would I be so low? Does towing burn tranny fluid? I occasionally pull a 3,500 lb boat.


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Took car to dealership and here is what they said:
Transmission fluid was low. Only had the 1 quart I added on Saturday. This is because the Honda/Acura mechanic I use, overfilled the transmission fluid, which caused the fluid to aerate and start spraying out. That mechanic filled tranny fluid about 10k miles ago. So, between pulling a boat in the Ozarks for hours at a time and some other long road trips, it took abiut 10k miles for all fluid to spray out. Cost about $150. Could have spent another ~$200 for dealership mechanic to take apart parts of transmission to inspect gaskets, etc, but I declined and will monitor tranny fluid levels.
 

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Hey everyone, I know this is an old thread but I'd like to add something in here for the Google searches. Transmission dipsticks have holes and not marks for a reason. If there is fluid bridging the hole, you are reading residual fluid you came into contact with in the tube. At mechanic school they always told us to make sure the bottom hole had fluid bridging it and the top hole did not. I initially didn't buy this when I was young but they proved it. if you take the dipstick and dip it into a tranny fluid container or small cup, you will notice if it goes to the proper level, it will bridge the hole. Also, pretty much every honda and acura vehicle ever made( not sure about the newest ones though) require you to check the fluid about 60 seconds after you turn the vehicle off.

If anyone knows anything different I'm open to education.
 
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