Story time!! Everyone gather round, grab a cup of joe and have a seat!
Despite my futile attempt at over-maintaining (here
), it was all for naught. At 86,000 miles, the transmission has failed. Let me preface by saying that Honda did help out quite a bit with the cost for the transmission replacement and the dealership (Russell & Smith Honda) stepped up big time. The truck was never taken off-road, nor doing any sort of towing. The closest thing to towing would be hauling my 425 pounds motorcycle 150 miles to COTA race track and back a couple times. The transmission was completely trouble free prior to the failure. There was no warning, no sign of any sort. Everything had always worked perfectly as it should from day 1.
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It all started by a subtle lurch while driving home from work, cruising in traffic hours (40-50 mph). It behaved as if it missed a gear. The RPM would suddenly surge while driving, like your kid yanking the shifter to Neutral while you were driving. There was no engine light, or any indication. As I got closer to home, more stop and go traffic, the truck progressively shifted harder and harder. As I pulled into the garage, the dash lit up like a Christmas tree, engine light and all sorts of warnings. I pulled the code P0776: Clutch Pressure Control Solenoid Valve B Stuck Off:
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I dropped off the truck at the dealership that very evening. I went back home and did some research. To my horror, there are many stories like this on ROC. To that, I appreciate greatly of the guys who went before me and shared their wisdom. The information helped tremendously as you will see shortly.
The advisor from dealership called me a day or two later. He said they attempted to "flush" the transmission fluid hoping to unstuck the solenoid but it did not worked, and that the truck will need a new transmission as dealership does not fix or replace internal parts. He mentioned something about the transmission fluid looks off and doesn't seem like original Honda DW-1 fluid. I can see the direction of this conversation was heading and what he was hinting at. I have done all maintenance work myself after the 3 years/36K miles warranty has expired. All the oil change, transmission fluid, transfer fluid, and rear differential fluid, all done by me. Only Honda OEM fluids have been used. Since they did not have those maintenance work on record, sorry we cannot help you. I told the advisor all the work has been done on the schedule, and it's ludicrous that the technician thinks the fluid is not DW-1 when it's certainly is. I was told that the cost to replace the transmission with a remanufactured (reman) unit would be $10,600, all inclusive of labor and and taxes.
I asked the advisor if there's a good-will application from Honda to help with the cost, considering that I have bought 3 Honda vehicles from this dealership, with the latest a 2022 Pilot. The advisor said yes, he can forward to his boss to submit a good-will application for this transmission replacement. However, he will need a copy of the receipts of all the fluids I have purchased if I indeed did all the work myself. Apparently they still think I was being untruthful and I that I used unapproved fluid that caused the problem. Luckily, I was able to pull the receipts from the online purchase at Majestic Honda and sent them off to the advisor. He called me the following evening and said the good-will application has been approved!! Pretty quick turn around I would say! He said considering my loyalty to Honda and to the dealership, and the fact that I did indeed purchased all the fluids for the vehicle from another dealership, Honda will foot a majority of the cost, and my total cost out the door would be $4,500, down from $10,600. Now, based on my research around this forums, other guys are paying 3000 for a new transmission, although that was before covid inflation. I told the advisor that at the risk of sounding ungrateful, even though I really am, why am I paying $4500 when other folks are paying $3000. He went off rambling something about they're not the same work (they are) and cost inflation yada yada (true and I understand), but he can try to help me somewhat and reduced the total to be $4300. At that point, I figured to not push my luck any further and told the guy ok , $4300, let's do it, but add in a brake fluid change for me while you're at it. While we were on the phone, I asked for the cost to do timing belt and valve adjustment for future reference since it's almost time to do those anyway. He told me timing belt job would be $1300 and valve adjustment $600 on top. Why am I telling you this? This is why.
Before I hung up the phone with the guy, I told him I will swing by to pick up the parking tag for my work since it will be at least a week for the new transmission to come in and a few more days for them to work on it. I got to the dealership, the advisor walked me to the truck to get the tag. Before I left, he pulled me aside and told me his boss has a proposal for me. In my head I was thinking yes sure, your boss wants to buy the truck from me for bottom price, and I can drive home with a brand new 2023 Ridgeline (and 72 more months of payment). But that wasn't what I heard. He said my boss proposed that if it's ok with me, since they are already down there replacing the transmission, they can replace the timing belt, free of charge. I was shocked and bewildered. WHAT??? Free? From a Honda dealership? I thought the guy was messing around. I asked 3 times if I heard him correctly and he said yes sir, we will do your timing belt for free. I went home and sent a text to the advisor, wanting to making SURE that they will also replace the water pump and the tensioner, and not just the timing belt. They actually did it, free of charge!
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The final bill was 4600. New transmission, torque converter, timing belt job (belt, tensioner, water pump), brake fluid flush and 14 days of car rental (which I paid for 4 days because dealership can only cover 10 days). I essentially paid 3K for a new transmission + new torque converter, and $1300 for timing belt job. The new transmission definitely has a new programming. Whereas before it would want to upshift as soon as it could, the new transmisson is eager to go above 3K RPM and STAY in the powerband as long as it could. I normally turned ECO off with the old transmission because with the ECO on it bogged down too much. The new transmission, with same foot pressure, it's impossible to drive smoothly in stop and go traffic. It's like a wild horse that just want to rev up and take off. Perhaps I could learn to feather the pedal with the new transmission to drive smoothly with ECO off with more seat time. For now, driving with ECO on is perfectly fine with me.
The technician noted a few thing. The timing belt tensioner was leaking a little bit. It was good timing that they did the timing belt at 86K miles. The left front strut was slightly leaking. Weird that the other 3 are fine, and the truck has never been off paved roads. But that's for another day for another thread.
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My take in all of this? I'm glad Honda took responsibility and helped out, even though I did not have warranty of any sort. As the truck is an asphalt queen, it's embarrassing for a Honda to need a new transmission at 86K miles. I was shocked and genuinely surprised that my dealership offered to throw in a timing belt job, even after I have submitted defeat and they had zero reason to help out. It really does help cushioning the blow quite a bit. The new transmission is fantastic! I wish I didn't have to pay $4600 for it.
Lesson 1: ALWAYS USE HONDA FLUIDS. If anything happened, don't count on Honda to help if you used anything aftermarket.
Lesson 2: Buy from reputable source and save your receipts!
Lesson 3: Honda 6-speed transmission is fine for a 3500 pounds Accord (I had one), but not a 5000 pounds Ridgeline.
Zroger, please add one to the statistics.