Accord transmission problems - best approach?

Well, it finally happened. A couple of days ago, the CEL came on in my wife's 98 Accord V6. She also reported that she thought the car wasn't
shifting normally. I drove it and couldn't be sure, but I thought it was not shifting as decisively as it normally does. Fearing the worst, I had her take it over to our favored independent shop this morning so he could pull the code. Sure enough, he reported that it indicated problems with the transmission.
The car has 116K miles on it. We purchased it used (certified, with a HondaCare warranty) from a Honda dealer about five years ago with 41K miles on it. Major service interval maintenance has been performed at the same dealer, and a drain-and-refill was just performed about three months ago. I am well aware of the numerous problems with the V6 auto transmissions, as well as Honda's quiet warranty extension on the 00/01 model years and "unofficial" warranty extension on some of the other years. Frankly, it's ridiculous that a Honda transmission should be heading toward failure at under 120K miles.
The code was reset after being read today. Assuming it recurs, I plan to take the car in to the dealer and attempt to make the case that Honda should cover the cost of a replacement transmission as this is a well- documented engineering flaw and they have provided similar consideration in the past to other owners. I'm not sure how much this dealer will be willing to go to bat for me with American Honda, but I'm prepared to contact American Honda directly if I can't reach a mutually acceptable agreement with the dealer. I'm hoping that my long history of Honda ownership will count in my favor if they're on the fence about doing anything.
For those of you who have dealt with this problem previously, and have managed to convince Honda to absorb some/all of the cost of a new transmission, any words of advice as to the best approach to take, or links to other sites I might want to check out?
Thanks in advance,
Dave
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Dave Garrett wrote:

=========================== What's the code ? ? ? ?
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In article
motsco snipped-for-privacy@interbaun.com says...

[snip]
I don't have it - yet. I wasn't there when the shop read it, and not being very familiar with ECUs and trouble codes, my wife didn't think to ask him for it. I called the shop today to find out what it was, but they'd closed up early (it's a small shop and the two owners are the sole employees). FWIW, I trust this shop implicitly - they are knowledgable and honest, so I'm absolutely certain they're not trying to sell me an expensive transmission repair I don't need.
I'll post the code when I have it. It's been two days and the CEL hasn't come on again yet after being reset.
Dave
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How can you know it is the same issue as with other owners? How are you going to prove that this is engineering flaw? What exactly is the problem with your transmission? The code #?
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It isn't exactly a secret that there have been instances of Honda V6 auto transmission failures in numbers far above what could be considered a normal statistical average. I don't know exactly how many failures there have been, and I'm sure Honda isn't eager to publicize that kind of data, but there have been enough to cause at least one class-action lawsuit to be filed and the factory warranty period extended to 100,000 miles for certain model years.
It's not just random chance that has caused failures specific to V6 auto trannys over multiple model years of Accords and Odysseys dating back to 1998. I don't know what else you'd call it besides an engineering flaw. It's certainly a marked downturn for a company that used to be known for the superior engineering of its powerplants.
The problem with mine is an increasing reluctance to shift. And as I mentioned in another post, I don't have the code # yet but will post it when I do.
Dave
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It resulted in the largest recall ever, and is the direct result of Honda giving too much power to the beancounters in the late 80s/early 90s. They went too far, and damn near destroyed Honda's carefully built reputation. But what did they care--they needed results for next quarter, screw this long term thing.
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The 1998 Accord is, as far as I can determine, not part of the inherently defective crowd.
Honda has very publicly admitted to the existence of several serious defects in V6 auto trannies for the '99 to '04 model years of various models, and has been generous in fixing them. Honda has had its eye on Toyota and their past troubles with certain 1MZ-FE 3.0 V6's, and is not eager to be tarred with the same brush.
Your '98? Well, it's ten years old, with ten years of potential neglect and abuse. The wrong fluid, neglected changes, who knows what. To "mashup" Curly and the rock group REM, "What's the Code, Kenneth?"
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says...

OK. I mistyped the model year in my original post. It's a '99, not a '98. Purchased with 41K miles on it, as a certified used car from the same dealer that's serviced it since then. The maintenance intervals as specified in the owner's manual for severe conditions have been followed since then (it gets well over 90 degrees here for several months out of the year).
Since the tranny fluid changes have been performed at a Honda dealer, I assume they're using Honda ATF. But this is the same dealer whose service department aggressively pushes powerflushing the transmission whenever the topic comes up. I have always refused to have it flushed, but I did have them do a drain-and-fill (once, not 3x) about three months ago when they said the fluid didn't look too good. It was due for a fluid change at 120K (we're only at about 115K now), but I didn't want to risk waiting for the 120K service if the fluid was showing its age.
I finally had a chance to drive the car today to get a better feel for what was going on, since the extent of my wife's description of the problem so far has been "it's shifting funny". For the first part of our trip today, it drove fine, with no problems. About midway through our errands, after driving maybe 15-20 miles, I noticed a rough downshift - much rougher than normal, almost enough to chirp the tires. By the time we made another couple of stops, it was very hesitant to upshift. The engine would rev higher, but the car would barely move, and when it did finally upshift, the upshifts were very abrupt and jerky. Downshifting was similarly delayed and rough - the car would come to a complete stop, and sit for a couple of seconds before the final downshift would occur. It eventually got to the point to where it was almost undrivable, and I wasn't sure we were going to make it home, but we did. Oh, and the CEL has yet to come back on since it was reset.
My wife mentioned that the problem seems to be worst in the afternoons, which are obviously the hottest part of the day. I was hoping to buy a little time to research the problem further, but based on our drive today, the car is unsafe to drive with the transmission acting like this, so I'm going to have to do something sooner rather than later. My father suggested taking it to a transmission shop to see if it can be repaired as opposed to swapping it out for a remanufactured tranny, but I'm more inclined to start with calling Honda's US customer service department. Since the model year is outside the scope of the warranty extension, and since it would've been past the warranty period at this point anyway, I don't expect a free ride, but I don't think some sort of consideration is unreasonable. With proper maintenance, there's no reason a transmission shouldn't last for the life of the car.
Dave
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So, you do not know how the car was driven, or exactly what was put in there before the 41K mark...
It is possible that the car may have been running non-Z1 for quite some time...
Also, is the radiator full and the overflow at the MAX line?
It sounds like there may be a problem with the cooling system or the flow of tranny fluid to the cooler. Or, you may benefit from adding a cooler to the car, like would be added if you were planning on towing things. Clearly the heat is a factor...
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I've had the same same problem on my 01 V6 Accord. I had about 120K miles on mine as well and I was unaware of the warranty extension (somewhat to my dismay when I did find out later). I do not think the extension was large enough in terms of miles to cover it anyways. At first the dealership wanted about $3500 but then they matched a $2800 quote from a small transmission repair shop.
I have a friend who has an Accura plagued by the same transmission problems and having received a similar extension. He's had to replace the transmission multiple times. The last time he had to replace it he was outside of the extension, but after some negotiations, the dealership convinced the manufacturer to provide the parts for free and my buddy only had to pay for labor. That's the path I'd take if I had to deal with this issue again.
Gabor
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snipped-for-privacy@compassnet.com says...

Update: took the car to the dealer, and as I expected, the tranny was toast. The dealer quoted $3450 to replace it. I told them I would be requesting a goodwill repair from Honda, and immediately faxed a polite letter to American Honda documenting my long history of Honda ownership and awareness of the problems with V6 trannies over the past ten years (including a citation of the applicable TSB number). Within a couple of days, I got a phone call from a case manager in Torrance, and as soon as he talked to the dealer to verify the service history of the car there, Honda offered to cover the cost of a remanufactured tranny if I would pay for the labor to install it ($560). That was all I was really hoping for, and I expressed my appreciation to the case manager for Honda's consideration. The new tranny has a 3/36 warranty, and he said he hoped I wouldn't ever have to use the warranty but it was good to know I'm covered if future problems arise.
Got the car back yesterday, and the difference is unbelievable. Judging by how smoothly the new tranny shifts, I have to think that the old one had been going south for some time, as it shifted much more roughly than the new one even before it started exhibiting clear signs of imminent failure.
Interestingly, I'd just had a brake job done about a month ago, and at that time discovered that the front motor mount and one of the side ones were cracked, so I had them replaced. When they pulled the tranny prior to installing the new one, they found the tranny mount was also worn out and replaced it as well. I'd been thinking that something in the front suspension was worn out because the car seemed to be riding rougher over bumps than it used to, but after the various mount replacements, the ride is back to normal. I don't think I've ever had to replace motor mounts on any of the cars I've previously owned.
This was really the first major repair I'd had to have done on this car in the 75,000 miles we've owned it. Prior to this, aside from normal maintenance of brakes, fluids, and batteries, I'd only had to replace the starter, an O2 sensor, and the factory CD player (which was covered while the car was still under warranty). Here's hoping for another similar stretch of relatively trouble-free motoring.
Dave
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Wasn't 1998 the first year of that design of Accord that went until 2002 (1999 was the first year of a new design Odyssey minivan)? If so, wouldn't it have similar issues as the 1999-2002 Accord (perhaps worse, being the first year of a new design)?
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If you have had this car serviced by the "dealer" for the last 5 years. They may go to bat for you. 10 year old car: At what point do you take full responsibility and own the car?
I'm curious, just what is your expectation regarding transmission life?
Dave Garrett wrote:

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My expectations are for the whole life of the car, 300 thousand miles or more. Properly mainained transmission should never go bad in my opinion :-) Are my expectations too high for honda?
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Your expectations are too high for anyone.
While most of them will last that long, mechanical failures do occur, and at that age/mileage, it is hard to tell the cause, especially if you don't know the maintenance history...
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Pszemol wrote:

Your expectation (IMO) is unreasonable for any brand car, including Honda, equipped with an automatic transmission.
At what point do you take full responsibility and own the whole car?
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TomP wrote:

you're /way/ too used to being ripped off by detroit garbage whose design spec /is/ 100k. honda /used/ to make automatic transmissions that went 300k no problems. that's why people bought them. failure at detroit intervals puts honda at detroit quality - not good for owner loyalty.
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