Blinking D4 shift indicator

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Last (and first) time it happened was over a year ago, and now it happened again. I parked my '94 Accord for a short time to pick up a newspaper and when I tried to start the car again, I noticed the D4
shift indicator in the instrument panel was blinking. This time I knew what to expect when trying to shift into a forward gear: the car hardly moved, as if the engine was not engaging the transmission firmly (or the transmission the wheels.) The RPM was there, but the car was hardly moving. Only the reverse seemed to work OK. Having been through this experience before, I suspected that the problem will cure itself by just letting the car park a bit longer before I start it again. Sure enough, that's what happened and I was able to drive on fine.
This is one nasty problem, because the Honda dealer supposedly already fixed it after the first occurance by replacing the shift control solenoid valve assembly but now I think that was a wrong and unnecessary fix. The real cause must be somewhere else. I suspect this problem might be related to another similar problem I've had a couple times in the last two years where the car would not even start after some short stops, usually on a hot day. Most of you guys were betting on that one, when I first reported it here last year, that it was caused by a failing main relay. In that case the engine would not even start, but the problem would disappear after waiting with the start for a few minutes.
Now I wonder if the failing main relay might be causing both of these problems. I'm afraid to take the car to the same Honda dealer who might try to sell me yet another shift control solenoid that does not really fix the problem.
What do you think, guys? Should I try another Honda dealer or an independent Honda shop? I don't really have the tools and know-how to fix it myself. Having some insight from you, however, might help me to judge if the next service technician really knows what he is supposed to.
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wrote:

When my D4 started to blink, the problem WAS solved with a transmission control module (the computer). YMMV
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On 09/10/2010 11:43 PM, Cameo wrote:

what code are you getting?
--
nomina rutrum rutrum

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I don't have a code reader.
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On 09/11/2010 11:36 AM, Cameo wrote:

you don't need one for the 94. use a bent paperclip on the readout connector, and get the code from the gauge light flashes.
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Oh, I see ... There is a blue plastic female connector under the glove box with a 3-prong and a 2-prong male connector stuck in it. I assume the the latter is the readout connector, right? It has a red and green wire connected to it.
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The 2-prong is the one.
Turn the key to "II" after inserting the paper clip.
--
Tegger

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Thanks for the confirm, Tegger. I did as you wrote and the D4 light returned a code with a series of flashes. After about 2 secs of setting the key to position 2, there was one short blink followed by a long pause, then 8 short blinks in rapid succession. This sequence then kept repeating. I'm not sure whether that 1st blink with the long pause should be interpreted as one long flash that would mean 10, or just 1. Adding the blinks together in the first case would mean code 18 (10 + 1), in the latter case code 9 (1 + 8). However, the code chart I got only goes up to 15.
In any case, I made a short video clip of the flashing sequence so you can see it for yourself and let me know how to interpret it. The video quality is pretty crappy from my shaking hand, but you can still see the D4 shift indicator flashes pretty clearly. You should be able to get the video streaming from the following link:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/pgq5GlSHXyFTuVOuYLX5OxG_5eaM5TeH4rH7k6zp73E?feat=directlink
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wrote:

You've got codes 1 and 8.
How does the transmission behave if you put the lever in 2 instead of D4?
--
Tegger

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Oh, that makes sense. I just didn't know the computer can save multiple codes. Can they be codes from different episodes or they are just from the last one? I wonder because before this last episode I had a similar one earlier but at that time I could not even start the car after a short stop. That's when most of you guys suspected the main relay as the cause. Unfortunately I still didn't have the chance to watch the odometer's needle during cranking (as you suggested) at such episode. Now I wonder if one of the two codes was produced et that earlier episode and the other code at this last one. What if they did not reset the earlier code? How would you clear it anyway?
I got hold of the diagnostic troubleshooting chart for codes 1 and 8 and both of them suggest solenoids located next to each other: the lock-up control (code 1) and shift control (code 8) solenoids. However, as the shift control solenoid was replaced last year (probably unnecessarily) I doubt that would be at fault this time.

It behaves normally now but I'm not sure if that was also the case during the episode.
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On 09/12/2010 07:22 PM, Cameo wrote:

the next thing to do is erase the codes and see what comes back. if both go away and don't recur, you have an intermittent which is more likely to be a loose electrical connector or just a glitch. if it one or both return immediately, you have a solid failures which you can then repair.
--
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OK, so how do I do that?
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Remove the Backup (Radio) fuse for ten seconds. This will also erase your radio presets and will reset the clock.
Given your other symptoms, I think your tranny has deeper problems.
--
Tegger

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OK, done. I drove about 10 miles and then I checked for any code again. There was/is none.

Are you trying to put the fear of God in me? :-( Except the one or two episodes like that the car runs fine. The A/T also shifts smoothly. In any case, I'll be checking for any returned code more frequently now that I know how easy it is.
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wrote:

Yeah, he is...because Honda's record with transmissions hasn't exactly been stellar. The transmission doesn't fail all at once. These intermittent issues tend to become more and more frequent as it heads south...
...said the 2001 Accord owner with experience...
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Flatlander wrote:

Considering my 2000 Accord at 189k and my 2005 Pilot at 122k continue to run fine with no apparent transmission problems, but I never had a GM, Ford or Chrysler product last 120k on a transmission, I have to seriously question your claim.
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I think some model years are better than others.
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wrote:

Covered by a recall - which is a good thing about Honda.
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Why, Subaru doesn't have recalls?
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On 9/16/2010 11:12 AM, Clams wrote:

I have! I have a 1982 F250 with close to 200k miles and a 1994 F250 with 130k miles and have not had a transmission problem with either. I also own a 1986 Honda Civic with about 185k miles and no tranny problems but it is a manual so I guess that doesn't count, eh!!! DaveD
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