1996 Civic - First signs of transmission slip?

Hello,
I have a 1996 Civic with 77,000 miles and automatic transmission. Generally, it's in very good condition although lately i've noticed a very specific condition which is my cause for concern.
The specific condition is when the car is at roughly 35mph, 3rd gear with light engine load (i.e. a gentle hill) which demands a specific throttle setting to hold speed. This causes the engine RPM to oscillate between 1900 and 2100 with a period of 1 second. I can both hear the note of the engine changing and see it happening on the gauge. Simply changing the accelerator position stops the problem.
Is the transmission starting to slip? Is this the start of a big problem or just a little niggle? I tried replacing the transmission fluid recently with Dexron III (it was due for a change). Gear changes are slightly smoother but it didn't fix this issue.
Any comments would be much appreciated! Thanks, Jez
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Jez wrote:

there's slippage, it immediately stores a code. suggest you get it scanned - if there's a problem, it will show.
if you've changed the transmission fluid, make sure you use the special honda-only atf.
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Jez wrote:

============================= You need to get that Dexron OUT of your Honda. Use only Honda Z1. Let it drain a long time, fill with Z1, and drive a week. Repeat the process. Dexron is missing some special friction modifiers your Honda can't survive without. You will wreck it if you drive too long with it in there. Same for Amsoil.
'Curly'
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'Curly Q. Links' wrote:

I filled it with Dexron III on the advice of my Haynes manual which states "Honda ATF, Dexron II or III". I have drained it and filled with Honda ATF-Z1 this afternoon as a precaution. Is it really necessary to drain again in a week and refill? It's not cheap that stuff :-/
Jez
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'Curly Q. Links' wrote:

I've checked the Honda owners manual which also states "Use Honda ATF or equivalent Dexron II ATF only". Considering I've been told that Dexron III is designed to be a replacement for II, perhaps you could explain what's going on.. Why is Dexron recommended in two different documents if it wrecks the transmission? Seems a bit strange to me...
Jez
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Jez wrote:

the honda manual says you can use dexron as a stop-gap, not for full service. once you get that stuff out of your system and your shifting gets back to normal, you'll see what we mean.
regarding your other post on the need to drain & refill again, the reason is that you can't drain the wole transmission - you only get 2.5 quarts out on drain [because of all the fluid retained in the converter], but you need 5.7 quarts on assembly from new. therefore you only change 44% each time. you can see that it takes a few changes to get that stuff out of there, and you need to do it each time after an interval to make sure stuff is circulating out of the converter.
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I called the Honda shop where i live after changing my front axles.They told me(shop technician)to fill it with 10w30.I did ask for the special honda oil but they told me that it will just do the same...Where do they get training to say such things?

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komp4sale wrote:

-------------------------------
For those who are confused, do not put 10-W30 in your Automatic tranny. It can be used in a Honda Manual tranny, at least temporarily.
I think there are (at least) two different conversations happening :-(
'Curly'
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jim beam wrote:

Okay I see what you mean. I'll drain again in a week and refill. Thanks for the assistance.
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jim beam wrote:

I've done a second drain today after a week of driving. Gear shifting wasn't my concern although admittedly it is slightly smoother now. I'll have to drive more to find out if the problem I mentioned before has been solved.
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Jez wrote:

------------------------------
The problem with the RPM sounds just like a TPS problem, but it's unusual for your vehicle to have it at such a low mileage. Do you live on flat land and use the Cruise control all the time?
Get hold of a multimeter with a needle (not digital) and unplug the TPS (back side of the throttle) and set the Ohms scale to 10x or 100x, hook up to any two of the TPS pins, and if the meter swings when you open the throttle, you've got the common and one of the other two. SLOWLY open the throttle and watch the needle. If it spikes offscale at the same position as 1900-2100 rpm, you've found that your TPS is shot. Good luck on an inexpensive fix. I used to have an e-mail address for a russian guy who could get you one on the BLACK MARKET :-(
Use Google groups to search for tps. Some have found sources for the potentiometer (only). It's really just a pot, like the one in your volume control on your stereo.
'Curly'
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'Curly Q. Links' wrote:

Thanks Curly. I've had a look around on google groups and other people have posted similar problems related to the TPS. I'll try the multimeter test when I get a spare mo.
The car doesn't have a cruise control (unfortunately!). I do about 50% highway driving however the previous owner may have had a different profile.
One question still lingers - why would the RPM vary though? The speed (as far as I can remember) stays more or less constant. This is why I was originally concerned about the transmission.
Jez
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Jez wrote:

so, what code are you getting from the scanner? if there's a fault, it /will/ be detected & stored!
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jim beam wrote:

I've decided to get an expert to fix some rust next week so I'll ask them to scan the ECU at the same time. I'll keep you posted :-)
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jim beam wrote:

There are no codes reported. I've also checked my haynes manual and there are no codes related to transmission slipping. How do I check which transmission I have? The haynes manual lists:
S1LA - 4-speed auto with lock-up clutch S4PA, S5MA - 4-speed auto with electronic control S4XA - 4-speed auto with Transmission Control Module AR4A - 4-speed auto controlled by Powertrain Control Module (PCM)
I'm suspecting it's only got the basic electronic one but not sure.
What else could be causing this? I've tried injector cleaner and I've checked the TPS as described by Curly.
I appreciate this is a fairly specific problem which may be caused by any number of things!
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Jez wrote:

=========================== The quicker way to see if it's the TPS (and this works WAY better with manual transmission). Put the car in first gear, and drive at the exact RPM where you have trouble. This might be jogging speed in first gear. If it's got a TPS problem, you might just see / feel it more clearly in first gear. My Ford Aerostar rod like a bucking bronco when the TPS went bad (manual tranny).
O.T. Have you ever used injector cleaner? You should, maybe a couple times per year.
'Curly'
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'Curly Q. Links' wrote:

I checked the TPS today and it seems fine. There are no abnormal variations in resistance. I put some STP injector cleaner into the tank at the last fill. Time will tell if that solves the problem! Thanks again Curly.
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