A/T fluid dipstick hard to reach

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On the '94 Accord it's virtually impossible to access the dipstick because it's buried down among several parts with hardly enough room for the hand to get through there. I was wondering if Honda mechanics use
some kind of special extension tool to do that. Anybody knows? Without some tool it is also rather dangerous to reach there with hot running engine that is required for proper fluid level checking.
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The engine must NOT be running when you check the A/T fluid level!
Warm up the engine thoroughly, then SHUT IT OFF. You check the level within ONE MINUTE of shutdown.
--
Tegger

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On 9/1/2012 6:50 PM, Tegger wrote:

Oh yes, you're right. I just wrote that from memory, remembering that the engine had to be hot enough to turn on the fans. So I thought the engine had to be running. My bad.
However, that still makes the dip stick hard to reach with adult size hands and arm. So I figure there must be some kind of special extension tool that attaches to the dipstick loop firmly enough so one can not only pull it out (that's ectually easy with a piece of coat hanger wire,) but also reinsert the darn thing. Doing it with a hand also blocks the view of the hole and the end of the dipstick to mate them properly.
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Actually, what prompted me to post the original subject matter was something I just discovered: the AT started flaring during upshifting between the 2nd and 3rd, or between the 3rd and 4th -- or in both instances. I havent quite nailed it yet as I was just trying to get home in a hurry.
My initial instinct was that perhaps the ATF level was low, but since then I studied the trouble shooting section in the Honda shop manual and realized that it could be several reasons, including loose throttle cable or stuck valves. Figures ... Unfortunately there is no TCM code present (OBD 1,) so that does not help.
I think I start with replacing the old ATF because last time it was done was 15K miles ago, though it should be good for 24K. But for severe conditions 12K interval is recommended.
Anybody here has had a similar experience and fixed it without major AT overhaul or swap?
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wrote:

"Flaring?"
I've been bitching for a decade about the horrible behavior by Honda A/Ts, and I gather it's pretty much universal.
I've seen replacing the fluid help, but only for a very brief period, maybe a month or a thousand miles or so before it deteriorates again.
Hoping the new CVTs are somehow better.
J.
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On 9/2/2012 10:25 AM, JRStern wrote:

Actually, this Accord's transmission did not show flaring before the last few days and it has 307,500 miles in it. Frankly, that flaring is so worrysome to me that it keeps me close to home till I find a fix for it. I don't fathom how you could have been living with it so long. But I agree with you on CVTs: that's what I'll be looking for in my next car. They are just so much simpler and good A/T service technicians are hard to find.
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Good idea.
Flaring means the clutch packs aren't gripping the way they ought to. The usual reasons for this are worn clutch packs (most likely in your case), or shift-control solenoids that are sticking. A good dealer or A/T garage familiar with Hondas should be able to plumb into the test-ports to check line pressures and determine the source of the problem.
--
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On 9/3/2012 11:45 PM, Tegger wrote: > Good idea. > > Flaring means the clutch packs aren't gripping the way they ought to. The > usual reasons for this are worn clutch packs (most likely in your case), or > shift-control solenoids that are sticking. A good dealer or A/T garage > familiar with Hondas should be able to plumb into the test-ports to check > line pressures and determine the source of the problem.
Well, I've been googling all over about this issue and it seems to be pretty common complaint of Honda owners. Fortunately, many times the solution is rather simple: adjusting the throttle control cable that runs from the throttle to the transmission by removing the slack from it at the transmission end. I've experimented with that, but with no success yet. Some guys also solved the problem by replacing the ATF with new OEM fluid. These are the easy solutions. Other causes of the problem could indeed be clogged filters in those two twin-pack solenoids, one of them being the one you mention here, but the few guys who actually removed them found the filter screens clean. Unfortunately the other fixes are to expensive for me to contemplate.
I wish I could just find a real Honda AT expert in the Seattle area who could at least tell me if this is fixable without major AT disassembly. Not knowing such an expert, I would not trust just any shop that claims to work with ATs. Most are hacks who want to sell new or overhauled ATs for exhorbitant prices even if the problem could be fixed by some simple adjustments. So right now I am in the process of looking for an honest AT specialist if there is one around here.
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On 09/04/2012 01:06 AM, cameo wrote:

"overhauled" transmissions are often just used transmissions that have been painted silver. the other project from last weekend was fixing an "overhauled" transmission with a broken speedo drive. the previous owner had paid serious coin for this thing before it failed, and when i cracked it open, it was clear that it had never been opened before - the seal was a form-in-place factory oem that's impossible to remove without scraping and other visible tell-tales.
anyway, caveat emptor with that stuff. a trustable source is much more important that price.
--
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On 09/03/2012 11:45 PM, Tegger wrote:

you've not driven many [any?] honda automatics.
it's a common problem with hondas. even my new 2000 civic did it, and that was neither worn or suffering from solenoid problems - they were electronically controlled.

"empty your wallet without addressing the transmission behavior in any way."

what you should have said.
--
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On 09/02/2012 10:25 AM, JRStern wrote:

all my hondas have done it when i gun it coming hard out of a corner. particularly left corners. my assumption is that oil's sloshing in the pan and air is getting into the pressure lines.
there's no "cure" other than going in hotter and gunning later once you're out of the apex - change your timing.
as for the design that causes it, i don't think it's particularly good, but given all the other benefits of the honda transmission, like efficiency and longevity [on the older ones at least], i'm prepared to live with it. if it was a frod or g.m. that grenaded at 100k, and then /also/ flared, i'd have a different opinion.
--
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On 9/3/2012 7:16 PM, jim beam wrote:

While googling for this issue, I saw several responses suggesting that bad engine mounts could also be the cause of this. I would think that your cornering episodes might suggest exactly that reason, don't you think? In my case the problem happens even when no turning is involved. Though this link address the opposite problem, harsh shifting, but the solutions are pretty similar. Check the reply at the bottom of the page: "Apart from throttle cable out of adjustment, fluid condition, engine mounts, throttle position sensor and trans internal faults can cause harsh shifting." <http://www.2carpros.com/questions/honda-accord-1994-honda-accord-transmission-slippage

I just can't see myself driving around with this condition very long or far from home. Especially after knowing how well that tanny worked till last Saturday. But interestingly, a waitress I know who drives a '97 or '98 Accord, after telling her about my prolem, she told me she also noticed that recently in her car but did not pay too much attention to it till now. And so it goes ...
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On 09/04/2012 12:55 AM, cameo wrote:

not in my case - they've been replaced.

<http://www.2carpros.com/questions/honda-accord-1994-honda-accord-transmission-slippage
harsh shifting is usually the wrong grade of transmission fluid. most service techs assume that because the original spec was dexron 2, that they can just use dexron 3, but that's not the case and it makes hondas shift like someone just slammed the door on your tail. you have to use either honda atf or one of the "japanese specific" aftermarket atf's that complies with the original dexron 2 spec.

well, if it's new, maybe i misunderstood - i'm simply describing what happens in my hondas, and it's consistent between all of them.

--
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On 9/4/2012 7:45 PM, jim beam wrote:

Sorry to say, but the inevitable happened sooner than I thought. Today was a nice sunny 75 degree day in my area and I ventured a few miles farther from my previous comfort zone for lunch. Driving back during the hottest part of the day must have accelerated the problem and about 2 miles from home the transmission started revving up between the gears not only worse than I've seen before, but it had a problem even getting the gears engaged. Earlier, on the way to the restaurant, I was able to handle this by manually downshifting from 4 to 3 and even from 3 to 2, but this time even that didn't seem to work. So the car was barely crowling when I pulled into the parking lot of another restaurant under a tree to cool the engine down. Because I noticed previously that the transmission behaves much better before the engine really warms up, I was hoping to be able to resume my trip after an hour or so. Luckily I was also about a mile from my local Honda dealership, so I decided to drive right there instead of attempting to clime a small hill to drive home.
So now my car is at the dealership which will check it out and let me know tomorrow what they find. I am already dreading what they are going to tell me, but I didn't have much choice as things turned out.
What puzzles me though why engine temperature was such a factor in this. It almost suggests that pehaps some serious amount of dirt accummulated at the bottom of the AT during the rest period that then got churned up during driving and clogged the debree screens of some of those solenoids. If that is indeed the case, then an ATF flush and maybe some control cale adjustment should probably cure it. But I doubt the dealer would let me off that cheaply even if that was the cause. I could see some serious phantom billing down the road.
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Such "dirt" can only come from one place: the friction surfaces of the clutch packs.

At 300,000 miles, it's an excellent bet that your clutch packs are worn out. That means a rebuild or replacement.
--
Tegger

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On 9/5/2012 4:48 AM, Tegger wrote:

Well, I've just the call from the dealership and the service rep was confirming what you are suggesting. He also said that the only way to fix it is a replacement transmission and they only can get used ones for this model. One that is available right now had 50K miles in it and would cost me $2,200 it. I told I would like to talk to them personally today before I decide what to do but considering my alternatives, I am leaning toward accepting the deal if they also give me decent warranty with it.
Of course they also "found" some other issues that they think I should get fixed, such as replacing steering rack assembly ($945) and drive shaft ($403.) Also oil pan gasket ($337) and spark plug tubes ($324.) Interesting, because my independent mechanic never noticed anything wrong with them. So I'll probably postpone those issues for my own mechanic's 2nd opinion. Frankly, I think these items would probably fall under the category of phantom billing.
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Is it leaking? With 300K on the clock, you're probably better off just topping up the fluid regularly, and living with the drips on the driveway.
I'll bet the boots are split.

Boots are split, I'll bet. Let an independent garage do this one. This sort of thing is their bread-and-butter.

Not worth spending the money on as long as you don't mind the drips and the need to keep a close eye on the oil level.

"Tubes"? Are you sure you don't mean "seals"? did they find oil on top of the sprk plugs?

If you'd ever been on the other side of the counter, you'd understand why dealers do this.It's only partially due to profit-enhancement.
--
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On 9/5/2012 5:38 PM, Tegger wrote:

Yes, they noted that the power streering fluid was seeping. But I don't really see any oil spots on the floor of my garage.

They noted that the right outer CV joint boot was torn and/or leaking and recommended replacing the drive shaft. That is possible, because something similar was done on the left side a year or two ago.

They found engine oil seep, but again, no spots in my garage.

Yes, tubes! The justified it with engine oil seep.

Now you really made me curious. Come on, Tegger, lay it ot for us.
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Turn the steering wheel all the way to the right. Now walk around to the front-right corner of the car, and peek inside the wheel well at the inside of the wheel. If the boot is split, it will be abundantly obvious.
You WILL need to get this done. An independent can do this for less than $403. Be warned that there's a possibility that you may go through a couple of aftermarket shafts before you end up with one that doesn't make noise out-of-the-box. And make sure the garge lets air into the inner boot after installation! If they forget, the boot will be puckered, and it will split in a week! Make sure they show you that they've let air into the boot.

WHERE was this "seep"? If it wasn't on the spark plugs, and there are no drips hanging down from the engine, then you don't need to do anything.
It is rare to find a car with 300K on it that does NOT leak oil from somewhere!

It's simple: 1) they don't want comebacks, which are expensive and are bad for public relations, and 2) they want to minimize the chance that something will go wrong soon after the customer leaves the shop that they'll blame the garage as having caused.
Those two reasons generally mean that dealers tend to be especially careful when they inspect cars in their shop, and report everything they find.
And, with the neglect that most owners visit upon their cars, garages more often than not DO find problems with customers' cars that the customers are unaware of. My independent guy once told me that even if he wanted to, he wouldn't ever have to rip anybody off: folks create their own problems because nobody takes care of their cars.
A lot of people have hate-ons for auto garages and are deeply suspicious of them -- especially of dealers -- and they walk in with big chips on their shoulders. People are always on the lookout for ripoffs when other factors (including simple incompetence) are usually to blame. Unfortunately, garages don't help much when some of them get really aggressive pushing unneeded servicing in order to boost revenue.
Mind you, it's not a BAD idea to fix all those things, and it's certainly a GOOD idea to do them. Whether or not you DO get those things done depends on YOUR priorities: is it IMPORTANT enough to you to fix? There's a gray-zone a mile wide, in there.
People forget that they can ask their dealer/garage these questions: 1) what are the possible consequences of NOT doing a particular service? 2) will something IMPORTANT get dangerously damaged if I don't have a certain thing done?
--
Tegger

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On 9/6/2012 5:26 AM, Tegger wrote:

Thanks for the tip. I will definitely have that done but not by the dealer. However, the dealer's diagnostic check kist will be a handy thing to compare it with my independent shop's own opinion and prices.

I have no idea where the seep was but if it was serious I would see some of it on the garage floor. But I see none. In the past the mechanic found some seepage at the distributor but after replacing it, the seepage stopped.
I do have some oil loss between oil changes at every which I replenish in the interval; about 1-1.5 qt in the 3,750 mile interval. I figure that's just oil burned up.

In my experiences most garages usually tell it even without asking.
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