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Honda is well aware (as are most of us who have been around a good while) that a single dump and fill changes somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the fluid in the transmission. Even with this awareness, their maintenance schedule is still a SINGLE dump and fill around every 45k miles (non towing). There are plenty of high mileage GenI Ridgelines running around that have done no more (and some less than) follow the maintenance schedule for the transmission.
In Honda's thinking, adding a portion of new fluid every 45k miles likely serves to "refresh" the fluid sufficiently for proper function, and gives you the opportunity to clean any metal fragments from the drain bolt magnet (with the magnet cleaned, it can now more effectively attract metal shavings again) as well giving you an opportunity to examine the fluid.
Changing the fluid more often than required obviously adds to the maintenance cost and time and puts more waste into the environment. I have seen little evidence on this forum over the years that it is necessary (at least for the GenI)
 

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2008 Ridgeline RTS in Billet Silver Metallic
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I believe the MM schedule would have the first change at 45k miles and subsequent changes every 30k thereafter for normal service conditions.

You probably know I'm a proponent of doing the tranny fluid every other OCI. Since the Honda 5AT is not a conventional automatic and operates under higher temps and pressures, I prefer more frequent fluid changes. The time it takes is minimal and the cost is also minimal. I understand about waste into the environment, but it is what it is.
 

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I’m a G1 owner (2011), so I obviously have a different transmission. But the significant point I want to make is that a “drain & fill” on my trans does not change all the fluid - it’s actually less than half that comes out. This means that there is lots of dirty/compromised fluid left in the trans after a fluid change. There is no practical way to change all the fluid without a power flush. Therefore, I am a proponent of doing a trans “drain & fill” at each oil change, or at least every other oil change. My 2 cents.
That being said how often do you actually change it and what’s your mileage at.
 

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That being said how often do you actually change it and what’s your mileage at.
I only have 75K on my RL, but I have been using it occasionally for towing a 4K# travel trailer (longest trip 1500 miles). I bought the RL used with 35K on the odo. I’ve done 6 trans drain & fills during the time I’ve owned it, and only use Honda fluid). I use full synthetic motor oil and change it btwn 5K & 7.5K depending on service. I haven’t had any issues with the truck. I turn in my used oil to the local Autozone, so I don’t suffer any guilt about environmental damage.
 

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I only have 75K on my RL, but I have been using it occasionally for towing a 4K# travel trailer (longest trip 1500 miles). I bought the RL used with 35K on the odo. I’ve done 6 trans drain & fills during the time I’ve owned it, and only use Honda fluid). I use full synthetic motor oil and change it btwn 5K & 7.5K depending on service. I haven’t had any issues with the truck. I turn in my used oil to the local Autozone, so I don’t suffer any guilt about environmental damage.
Producing new fluids has an environmental impact as does recycling the old.
 

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Producing new fluids has an environmental impact as does recycling the old.
Agreed. Most choices we make have an environmental cost associated with them. For example, EVs are cheap and clean to operate, but expensive to produce and decommission. I try to make informed choices and weigh the cost to my wallet and the environment. I pay more for my electricity because it is generated by newer, cleaner natural gas plants vs the older, cheaper to operate coal plants. I retired the RL from towing duty and now use an Ecodiesel Jeep that gets twice the fuel mileage as a tow vehicle (It also gets 28mpg around town). As for the cost of extra fluid changes, I wonder how that compares to the cost of a transmission failure? Not just the repair cost, but the environmental cost of producing and storing replacement parts in a warehouse for years, the disposal of ruined parts and lubricating & cleaning fluids used during service, etc. It’s a complex problem that doesn’t have easy answers.
 

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Agreed. Most choices we make have an environmental cost associated with them. For example, EVs are cheap and clean to operate, but expensive to produce and decommission. I try to make informed choices and weigh the cost to my wallet and the environment. I pay more for my electricity because it is generated by newer, cleaner natural gas plants vs the older, cheaper to operate coal plants. I retired the RL from towing duty and now use an Ecodiesel Jeep that gets twice the fuel mileage as a tow vehicle (It also gets 28mpg around town). As for the cost of extra fluid changes, I wonder how that compares to the cost of a transmission failure? Not just the repair cost, but the environmental cost of producing and storing replacement parts in a warehouse for years, the disposal of ruined parts and lubricating & cleaning fluids used during service, etc. It’s a complex problem that doesn’t have easy answers.
I'll repeat . . .There is little evidence that changing the fluid more frequently than Honda recommends is necessary to get a long service life (for GenI; I really don't know if we can say this is about the the AT6 in the GenII.) There are very few reports of transmission failures in GenI RIdgeline and plenty of reports of high mileage GenI Ridgelines still going strong just following the maintenance minder.
There is also the degree of "overmaintaining". Doing a dump and fill every oil change (at 5k-7.5kintervals) would be around 7-9 times more frequent that Honda would require for a non severe use vehicle
Given the above its hard to make an environmental based argument on "overmaintaining" the GenI's transmission. Towing requires increased frequency of fluid changes so following those guidelines obviously is not "over maintaining."
Replacing your current vehicle with one that is better suited to the towing job certainly could be the right choice to make but I don't see that there is much of an environmental or even financial argument in its favor. Quite the opposite most likely.
 

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Without a study being performed, it is probably difficult to make a case for or against more frequent trans fluid changes. Relying on anecdotal evidence is sketchy at best. As far as G1 trans failures, there is the infamous SMOD issue, although that is unrelated to fluid change intervals. It’s probably best to admit that we have different perspectives on the issue and leave it at that.
 

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Without a study being performed, it is probably difficult to make a case for or against more frequent trans fluid changes. Relying on anecdotal evidence is sketchy at best. As far as G1 trans failures, there is the infamous SMOD issue, although that is unrelated to fluid change intervals. It’s probably best to admit that we have different perspectives on the issue and leave it at that.
Honda has done studies. Overmaintaining the transmission fluid will not protect against SMOD and as you say is unrelated. GenI has 15years under its belt and people flock to forums like this when they have troubles. I agree that this subject is a bit like politics. Enjoy your Ridge and Jeep!
 

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One of the things I like about the Ridgeline is how easy it is to self maintain. A fluid change (on the 6 speed auto anyway) is very cheap and easy. You can do it in a matter of minutes.

I'm obsessive about doing fluid changes. I tend to do them unnecessarily early. Better too soon than too late.
Is there an atf external filter and if so did you change it?
 
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