No doubt there's some extra labor involved, but I think most of the
additional cost was the transmission control computer that Honda also
replaces as part of these particular repairs.
I have to say, overall my total bill (including a couple other things I
had them do while it was in) came in a bit under what I expected.
That's not the point. This isn't just "one of those things;" this
transmission was known by Honda to be pure junk from the get-go. They
let the accountants design this, cutting costs so far as to guarantee
that every unit will self-destruct at around 80K miles or so.
When Honda discovered this, it was on the heels of the pure junk 4 speed
automatic they hooked to their V6 engines, the unit they put onto
Accords from 98 through 02 and on Odysseys from 99 through 01 (and
various Acuras, naturally). That unit was the center of the largest
recall and service campaign Honda had ever been pushed into. When they
discovered that its replacement, my 5 speed auto that they introduced
with the 02 Odyssey, was also junk, they were quite sensitive to the
cost situation. They quickly fixed the design of the 5 speed auto, such
that mid-04 and up models got good units. But instead of taking care of
the customers that got the initial design of that unit, they stuck their
heads in the sand.
Keep in mind, this transmission was in a family van, which is
traditionally filled with children and mothers. And when the
transmission goes out, the car just STOPS accelerating forward. This is
NOT good when driving in the city, going through intersections and
trying to squeeze into various traffic.
I would go so far as to consider this dangerous to drive from the first
moment it starts failing.
Now, allow me to frame the above with a bit of context. In 1984 or so,
I bought a 79 Civic. Loved it. But at one point the front end started
swaying around. I took it to my dealer--this very dealer that I've
dealt with ever since, and which handled my Odyssey this go round.
The dealer called me to say they wouldn't be giving my car back that
day. Why? Because the FRONT BEAM was rusted out, and the car was--get
this--dangerous to drive. The good news, though, was that Honda was
picking up the repair COMPLETELY and I'd have the car back the next day,
after they got a new front beam installed. It was a safety issue, they
said, and Honda was simply taking care of it to the point of shipping a
new front beam across country for next day installation.
Great. (Just like they should have with my transmission--read on.)
Fast forward a few months, and my gas tank is leaking. ????? Back to
this dealer. Hey, guess what? Honda admitted to a bad design with the
gas tank straps trapping moisture and causing the tank to rust. They'll
buy me a new tank if I'll pay the labor to install it ($50 at the time).
I didn't even have to ASK for any of these things to be taken care of.
Honda and this dealer did this for me AUTOMATICALLY. No stonewalling,
no "we've never heard of anything like this, don't know what to tell
you," nothing like that at all.
Man, I am loving this Honda thing. They really know how to engender
loyalty. This is the mid-80s, and THEY ADMIT TO THEIR MISTAKES. Not
only that, THEY CORRECT THEIR MISTAKES and they don't force their
customers to pay for their mistakes. Wow.
Late 86 or early 87, my girlfriend (now wife) needs a car. I love my
shitbox Civic (we're college students), and that's all she really needs,
so we find one. A 79, copper, 1200 4 speed, just what the doctor
ordered. Fast forward a few months, and guess what? The gas tank is
Oh HO, say I. No problem; take it to the dealer, and explain how
there's a campaign on that, and that Honda will buy the part. She's
much closer to a different dealer, but I don't care. She takes it in on
a Thursday. Friday they call, the car is ready--but they want full
price for the repair. She asks them: didn't you check with Honda like
I said about this being covered by a service campaign? Well, no, they
didn't. If she wants the car now, she'll have to pay full ticket and
they'll check with Honda later (fat chance). Otherwise, she'd have to
leave the car there while they check with Honda on Monday.
She calls me, upset. She doesn't have the cash, and she needs the car
Hmmmm. It's 4:15 on a Friday afternoon. Hmmmm. I dig up the number
for the Honda zone office in my area, and I call them. I briefly
explain what's going on, and my history with this same situation. The
guy listens politely, I finish my piece, he says "that's crap, hang on"
and puts me on hold. A few minutes later he comes back and says, "It's
all taken care of, all you pay is labor. Go get your car."
WHEEEE! Sure enough, we roll into this other dealership right before
5pm on Friday. The service manager is there at the service desk, hears
my wife give her name to pick up her car, and addresses us with, "So,
you went over our heads, eh?" Sure as hell did, lady. Thanks for
nothing. Have a good life, we're out of here.
That was 1987 or so. That series of events nailed it shut. When I went
to spend my money on a car, it was "of course I'm buying a Honda. This
is a huge expense; why would I risk it with anything else?" This led to
my family buying Hondas, and finally to me buying the most expensive car
that dealership had sold to date--on Sept. 12, 2001, when I rolled out
of there in a $30,500 van (and then last year, when my brothers and I
went to buy our father a luxury SUV and ended up with a $50K Acura MDX
on the very same basis--"it's a Honda, why are we even looking at Volvo
Fast forward to this situation. Honda has radically changed, and really
doesn't give a rat's ass about their customers anymore. Honda is just
GM of the 70s and 80s--seeking the almighty immediate profit at the
expense of long term business and profits.
In one fell swoop, Honda has changed my tune into, "I'm spending a huge
amount of money to acquire a car; why would I risk that by buying a
That's a full 180, Honda. A full 180. Now you're no better than any
other crappy manufacturer out there, and in addition I have incentive
NOT to reward you for your recent behavior toward me.
How many others have you done this to, Honda?
I just read an editorial where someone has studied and claims that true
profit, long term profit, cannot be sustained when you're focusing so
hard on the short term. Honda *used* to understand that, but they no
I will still tell the original stories, partly because they're true but
mostly because they put a good framework to the final story showing just
how far Honda has fallen and what a sucker bet it is to buy that 06 90K
mile Odyssey for anywhere near the $20K asking price (just as an
example). I *want* the Honda legend to die, because it deserves to. I
*want* people to stop thinking that a used Honda is worth insane amounts
of money simply because it's a Honda.
read the fine print - they're only "certified" for the "window" that's
left over from the warranty - it doesn't extend beyond the original.
dealers taking up the slack on what /is/ built in to the design life.
and if you get a sucker in to buy that brand of used vehicle, maybe you
can get them to buy new when that one craps out. "free maintenance"?
same thing - suck the suckers in.
Years ago when I used to ride motorbikes (45+) it was said that it's no
good having a good forth gear, if the rest of the box can't cope. (In
those days manufacturers used rubbish metal for all the gears except top
as a cost saving.)
Maybe you should search the junkyards for a unit. I'll betcha you could
get a warranted used unit installed for less than $1K.
It's gotta be a bitch to be in this situation. Have you thought about
complaining to the media?
yeah, I gave some thought to grumbling in public, point out what schleps
American Honda are being.
I really didn't want to go with a junkyard dog. I mean, they came out
of the factory dogs; imagine what they look like in the junkyard today.
Is this "legendary transmission problem" something that I should start
watching for in a few years when the mileage on my 09 Civic EX (4cyl/4-door
sedan/5-speed auto trans) gets into the high five figures?
Not the same one, but yes--the auto transmission in a modern car is by
far the weakest link in the whole chain.
And let's face it: Honda is just like GM now, where they plan the car
to become obsolete so that you come back and buy a new one.
From what I've seen, it's cheap insurance to change the trans fluid at
least twice as often as what Honda says. No guarantees, though. But if
you're religious about having your maintenance and repairs done at the
dealer, that kind of diligence shows Honda that you're serious--and when
the transmission fails at 75K miles (not saying it will), you have a leg
to stand on when demanding accommodation for the repair.
In my case, it wouldn't have helped. However, I am a big proponent of
That being said, I haven't seen a HondaCare contract lately, and I can't
speak to today's terms and conditions. Read it carefully to see what it
covers and doesn't cover.
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