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Old 01-15-2012, 11:56 AM
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The Real Service Schedule for the Honda Fit Automatic Transmission

In this thread, I will state my personal opinion on the real service schedule of the automatic transmission along with a service schedule which I have come up with myself.

I went to the local Honda dealer for an oil change at 32,000 miles with my service coupon. (I was charged $37 BTW for the oil change). The service advisor came back to me and said that I needed to have the automatic transmission fluid changed which would cost $100. The "3" was not on the Maintenance Minder so I declined the change and went back home to do further research.

I found through Googleing around that Honda's service schedule for the Automatic Transmission is at 60,000 miles and then every 30,000 miles. This schedule is not stated in the Owners manual or any documentation the car came with, but in the Helm's manual which is a factory authorized service manual.

Helm Incorporated: Why Choose Helminc.com

I also found that many other Honda dealerships had told owners the service interval was either 30,000 miles or when the Minute Minder stated "3" just like the one I went to.

I then looked for automatic transmission problems involving Honda vehicles and found a series of articles the New York times did on the issue as well as forum posts which suggested there were problems.

Despite Transmission Failures, Agency Will Not Require Further Action from Honda - NYTimes.com

Honda Transmission Problems Seem to Persist - NYTimes.com

Consumer complaints about Honda Transmissions

One poster in the FitFreak forum stated he was hearing some noise from his transmission and there were other people who stated they had the same issue:

Help with Transmission or Engine Noise

I concluded the factory service interval of 60,000 miles was probably too conservative and the dealership is right on the mark stating it should be changed at 30,000 miles.

As some of you may know, Honda states specifically that aftermarket flush machines cannot be used on their cars because they are afraid solvents, additives or non-Honda ATF will be introduced into the transmission which might cause failure.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...e-CLjUEBUQO8BA

However, Honda does have a flush procedure for the automatic transmission which is basically drain and refill the transmission 4 times.

Honda Auto Trans Flush Procedure - Official

The owner's manual only states to "replace" and "change" the fluid. It does not use the words "flush" or "drain&refill" leaving the owner in the dark about what to do. If you drain & refill the transmission once than you replace 40% of the fluid in the trans. However, if you drain and refill the trans 4 times (with some short driving in between) than you will in theory replace 97% of the fluid.

I recently drained and refilled my automatic transmission using the Honda flush procedure and here is what it looked like:


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

The color of the fluid in this picture is not transparent light red. It looks almost like used motor oil taking on a brownish color. This is transmission fluid that has reached the 32000 mile mark. Can you imagine what it would look like if I changed it at 60000 miles?

In changing the fluid, I noticed how easy this procedure was. The Honda Fit transmission has a drain plug and all you have to do is turn one bolt. You dont even need the ramps I am using in the picture. The pan slides underneath the vehicle and an average man's arm can reach the bolt easily. You dont even need a socket. The 3/8 ratchet fits directly on the bolt.

Now lets take a look at the bolt. The bolt is actually a magnet which sucks in metal particles from the fluid.


Uploaded with ImageShack.us


Uploaded with ImageShack.us


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Since this magnet is cooled and heated nearly everyday, it might be a good idea to replace the plug on the transmission every 2-3 years. Magnets exposed to heating/cooling like this might lose their strength over time.

It took me a total of 2.5 to 3.0 hours to drain and refill the transmission 4 times. In between the drain and fills, I drove about 3-4 miles to mix the fuel. While stopped, I rowed through the various gears several times and had even reversed for a short while.

While there is an official fill plug for the transmission, I opted to use a long funnel and just barely reached the dipstick hole. I had to take off the air cleaner as it was a tight fit. The funnel did get scratched a bit and I had to work it into that dipstick hole.:


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

The proper level for the fluid is between the range on the dipstick as shown in the picture. The fluid can only be checked right after the car has been driven and engine fully warmed up.


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

So, in conclusion, I believe the ATF fluid should be "drained and refilled" when you get your oil changed. The ATF fluid at my local Honda dealer is $9 per quart and you will need 3 quarts. The transmission only takes 2.6 quarts for the refill, however. You could change all of the fluid at the 30,000 mark, but it would be very time consuming as you would have to drive the car in between drain and refills.

Some dealerships or mechanics want $70 for the drain and refill, but I think you can haggle them down by letting them know this is just a matter of turning a simple drain plug. This is easier to do than changing the oil. You can elect to do this yourself and you can do it right in your driveway easily.

The actual magnetic drain plug should be replaced every two years as its unknown what the heat of the engine/trans fluid will do to the magnet over time. The plug serves a purpose of filtering the fluid. At each change, the plug should be wiped down with a clean dry cloth. Do not use any liquid, or anything for that matter, to clean the plug as there is a possibility of introducing that stuff into the transmission. This is another reason why the transmission fluid should be drained and refilled once every 7000 miles because you get a chance to wipe down the magnet so it can keep doing its job.

By 28000 miles you will have drained and refilled the transmission 4 times and replaced all of the factory fluid by then just as if you had did a flush at 30,000 miles except doing it at each oil change will be much easier than doing it all at once at 30000 miles.

Remember, each time you remove the plug there is a specific washer which goes with it that must be replaced. That costs about a $1.50.

While we don't know if the transmission fluid is the cause of the problems, I think its probably wise to change the fluid sooner than what the factory stipulates.

To review:
- There have been problems with Honda's automatic transmissions which usually crop up over 75000 miles.
- The maintenance interval of 60,000 miles is too conservative and might be the cause of these issues. I noted the fluid looked brown at 32000 miles.
- 1 drain&fill will replace 40% of the fluid in the case.
- 4 drain&fills is Hondas flush procedure which will take about 2.5 to 3 hours to perform in your driveway and cost you at the dealer about $150 if not more.
- You should probably drain and fill the transmission at each oil change at 7000 miles. This will replace all of the atf by the 30,000 mile mark and will be easier on you in the long run.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:59 AM
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:12 PM
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I wanted to add one other small detail. At 32000 miles, my transmission seemed to be shifting more firmly than when I drove it off the dealership lot. It wasnt shifting hard, but just a bit firmer. After doing the 4times drain and refill, the shifting has become smooth just like when I drove it off the lot.

There are many little details above. The most important details are:

- Check the fluid only when hot and make sure its right in between those marks. Not above or below.

- Make sure to use a new washer with the plug. Make sure the plug is tightened correctly and recheck after one week. Do not overtighten. You do not want to strip the threads on that transmission.

- The proper color of the fluid is light red transparent. If your ATF is a different color than its probably time for a flush.

- Use a long new funnel to fill the transmission. When done, throw it away. It is very important to make sure the funnel does not have any dust or other fluids on it otherwise you risk introducing something into the transmission that shouldnt be there. So use a new funnel each time.

The main reason I did this myself because I was afraid once I let the mechanic at it there was no way I knew they would do the flush procedure correctly. Would they drive the car around in between drain and fills? Would they use the forbidden flush machine? Would they actually do it 4 times or just do it once and hand me the keys?
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:26 PM
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Informative thread, good to know. Thanks for your time! (Even though i have a MT)
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:39 PM
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Wow you have to be kidding.

My last two cars have been an AT Camry and Malibu which I drove both to 150,000 miles and never once did a transmission fluid change or flush. Neither transmissions ever gave me a problem.

I'm thinking of getting a new Fit. I hear Hondas have the best transmissions in the world. And now you tell me this?
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:49 PM
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Good Job on doing the footwork on this one, ATF is cheap and easy to drain!

I haven't gone out to mine and checked yet, but draining it with the nose high looks like it might put the drain plug higher than some of the fluid?

On your funnel issue...find what size Tygon tubing will fit down the fill hole, all hardware stores carry it in different sizes and do something like this...
(over the years I have a accumulated a large collection of different size funnels and Tygon)

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:52 PM
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Toyotas are the king of reliability, fuel economy and longetitivy, but they are not fun to drive. I have been all over the world to quite a few island nations which seemed to exclusively use the Toyota Corolla because they were the only ones which held up under the conditions on those islands. The Corolla seems to dominate the Philippines and Jamaica. You will not see a Honda Civic in those countries except on an exceptional occasion nor will you see many other car models. In New York City, which is the absolute worst place a car can operate under, the cars from the 90s around here seem to be Toyotas. I dont see many other cars which have survived over 10 years of NYC driving and still on the road. I see lots of 90s era Corollas and Camries wondering around on the streets of NYC. In terms of durability, the two cars which will take the most punishment and last way over 300,000 miles are the Ford Crown Victoria and the Toyota Prius. These are the only two cars I have seen go over 300,000 miles and still operating on the road.

So with that said, every car out there has its own specific issue even Toyotas. Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, Fords, Chevrolets, etc. will definately have more problems than Hondas, Nissans, Mazda or Toyota. You do not want to see an Audi or VW at 75000 miles. I can assure you it will be a little more than some noise from the transmission. I worked at a Toyota dealership at one point in my life and have owned a few Toyotas so I know the problems intimately on those vehicles. Toyotas do need to be serviced and maintained like any car. Toyotas are not 100% problem free.

I think if you just change the ATF sooner than the factory schedule than the transmission will not be an issue on any Honda. I think the once every 60,000 mile bit is way too conservative. I do think the entire transmission should be flushed at some point rather than just a drain&fill.

Last edited by SevereService; 01-15-2012 at 01:00 PM..
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fstyle751 View Post
Wow you have to be kidding.

My last two cars have been an AT Camry and Malibu which I drove both to 150,000 miles and never once did a transmission fluid change or flush. Neither transmissions ever gave me a problem.

I'm thinking of getting a new Fit. I hear Hondas have the best transmissions in the world. And now you tell me this?
After the odyssey problem, I'm not sure why you'd think Hondas have the best transmission.
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Old 01-15-2012, 01:18 PM
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I wanted to add one more thing to this thread. Honda switched ATF formulations in 2011 from Z1 to DW1. I am not a chemist, but I would suspect the new formulation is at least a little more durable than the old. However, the near brownish liquid you see coming out of my Fit is DW1.

My GPS says I spend approximately 25% of my time stopped and my average speed is 30 mph. Basically most of my driving is city driving, stop&go. So probably my driving will tend to wear down the fluid more than most.

One hint the fluid needs to be changed more frequently is the design of the transmission itself. This transmission has a drain plug where as most transmissions on other cars have an actual pan where, in order to drop it, you need to loosen several very small bolts. So the designers of this transmission felt it probably should be serviced more often and so they put a drain plug on it.
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Old 01-15-2012, 01:37 PM
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I suspect that a lot of car makers found that their ATF change intervals were just plain wrong earlier in the decade and thus are moving to more often changes and easier done changes.

Also, I was under the impression based on reports here that the 3 service pops up for most people at between 30 and 40 k
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:01 PM
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I was at 32000 miles and my Maintenance Minder did not pop the 3 code for ATF change.
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Old 01-15-2012, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YouKantPimpInaKIA View Post
Good Job on doing the footwork on this one, ATF is cheap and easy to drain!

I haven't gone out to mine and checked yet, but draining it with the nose high looks like it might put the drain plug higher than some of the fluid?
Step 2 in the 09 service manual is to use a lift or 'raise the front of the vehicle'. Since you are only replacing 2.6 of 6.18 US qt the difference is probably not important. 2-3-4 refills should overcome this issue.

Step 3 is to remove the splash shield but from the image above and my own exploring shows the drain plug to be readily accessible from below. That is ATF and not engine oil coming out ;-)

36 lb.ft torque sound about right for the plug replacement?
Quote:

On your funnel issue...find what size Tygon tubing will fit down the fill hole.
Do you have an OD for that tubing and funnel?
...
just checked and it's larger than I thought. About 2 cm?

Washer size 18mm
Quote:

all hardware stores carry it in different sizes and do something like this...
(over the years I have a accumulated a large collection of different size funnels and Tygon)
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Last edited by pharmpk; 01-23-2012 at 11:01 PM..
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:08 PM
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That was the first funnel I came across in my garage, it was used for photo purposes only, it's 1/2 ID/5/8 OD and probably too big to go down the fill tube?
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:47 PM
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Great thread...tried to rep you for it, but seems like you must have posted another good thread elsewhere and I have to wait...

I think I will at least drain and fill it every other oil change, I am coming up on my second, we will see how much they want to charge me for it.
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:15 PM
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So we know that the transmission fluid from the bottle is at least $9 per quart and they will need to break open 3 bottles if they dont have it in bulk so lets say $27 for the fluid alone. So the drain and fill would probably be more costly than what they charge for the oil change. It seems about the same amount of work for the drain and fill of the transmission will be used as the oil change.

The oil changes at the dealership are already premium priced. I reviewed several threads and it seems folks are being charged anywhere from $60 to $90 for a drain and fill of the transmission which seems about right when considering how much they charge for the motor oil change.

Therefore, if you get your car serviced at the dealership than its best to get the engine flushed at 30,000 miles. Before you do that though, ask them how they are going to do it. There is a video in the following link which comes from the Acura TSX board. The video is where a news channel visited 5 different Jiffy Lubes in the Southern California area which didnt do the work which was charged:

Trans fluid change at dealership - AcuraZine Community

The reason why I did mine is because I didnt know exactly what they were going to do once it disappears into the dealership's service bay. At least at my local independent mechanic I can watch what they are doing.

I finally just broke down and did it myself as I couldnt be certain what they would do back there. At least, I can somewhat verify what they do during the oil change by marking the engine oil filter and looking at the oil on the dipstick after.

It took me 2.5 to 3 hours to perform the flush as outlined in Honda's instructions and I was left with a big pan full of old transmission fluid which I have to transport and dispose of. Yuck. However, the result was a transmission filled with fresh ATF like it just came from the factory.

In the future, I plan on changing the fluid myself every 7000 miles...1 time drain and fill.

Last edited by SevereService; 01-15-2012 at 05:19 PM..
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:42 PM
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In the April 2011 edition of Consumers Reports in the Reliability History section the Honda Fit Model Years 2007-2010 Transmission Major and Minor have a "Much Better than Average Rating" (red ball).

That means less than 1% of respondents with a Fit had problems with transmissions compared with the average number of transmission problems for all vehicles.

I think this thread is creating a problem.

By the way it does show the Odyssey had a problem on 2007. But not the Fit.
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:05 PM
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fstyle751, Honda's MT are some of the best in the world. They have always had not so great autotragics. So what you heard was in reference to their manual transmissions.

About not replacing fluid on your other cars with 150,000 miles, that's just crazy in my opinion. Automatic transmissions create more heat than manuals, yes MT and AT fluid are different beasts, but AT fluid is not immune to chemical breakdowns. You may not have felt any problem, but your tranny may of wished it had new lubrication, if it could wish.

Good info SS, though to me this is just "uncommon sense". I just cannot fathom why many people do not do better maintenance on their vehicles and then want to charge a premium when they sell used. Ridiculous!!!
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:07 PM
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The Fit's owner's manual suggests for severe service "fluid changes more frequently than recommended by the maintenance minder," and suggests the first at 60K, then at 30K intervals.

I think normal service is 120K as suggested on this page (source not confirmed).

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2009 page 251
3 ● Replace transmission fluid
Driving in mountainous areas at very low vehicle
speeds results in higher transmission temperatures.
This requires transmission fluid changes more
frequently than recommended by the maintenance
minder.
If you regularly drive your vehicle under these
conditions, have the transmission fluid changed at
60,000 miles (100,000 km), then every 30,000 miles
(48,000 km). (For A/T only)
That said, to repeat the other thread, I'll go with 30K intervals. By the time the maintenance minder says to change it I should have replaced all the fluid at least once.
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:30 PM
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Every 30,000 miles is good, though the 1st can be deferred. No need to go crazy with that full flush either. I'd suggest every 30k, drain/refill (not the 4x flush). Just wasting fluid at that point.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:51 PM
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To clarify, the Honda Fit is a very reliable car. A Honda Fit at 75000 miles will have less problems than say a Ford Fusion or Ford Focus at 75000 miles.

I drive my car in mainly city driving everyday for my job. I make 10 stops a day usually, the traffic is stop&go, 25% of my time Im stopped and the rest of the time I travel at 30 mph. I wear out brakes about once every 15-20000 miles.

There have been a few problems with Honda's automatic transmissions in the past so for maximum reliability you want to change the fluid out sooner than the manual suggests. If you want a really bulletproof transmission than go with Toyota, but that is far less fun to drive than a Honda.

All of the local Honda dealership service departments suggest changing the fluid at 30,000 miles and from looking on the web many others around the nation suggest it as well.

So I am anal with these maintenance items because I want to keep the car for a while or until the wheels fall off. I dont want to be among the few experiencing noise or having to replace a transmission later on.

I feel the color and smell of the fluid is an indicator. If its looking brownish and smelling burnt, than you have to change out that fluid. For some, that might occur at 60,000 miles while for others that might occur at 15000 miles. It all depends on how and where you drive.

For true maximum longetivity and reliability, my suggestion is to do a drain and fill at every 7000 miles. If your plan is to trade it in prior to 75000 miles or its leased than you may just want to stick with the 60,000 mile or maintenance minder 3 formula as stated in the owners manual.
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