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Need advice on what to do about Honda with failed transmission

NYMomof2NYMomof2 Registered User Posts: 5,948 Senior Member
edited January 2009 in Parent Cafe
I am only on my 3rd car (in my life). The first one was a '68 Ford Custom. The next one (after a long period of being carfree) was a 1988 Volvo station wagon, which I kept for 13 years. The next, my current car, is a 2001 Honda Odyssey - 7 seats, including 5 kid seats, lots of cargo room. I have been thinking lately that I don't really want a minivan any more, but we usually keep our cars at least 10 years and I had been assuming that I'd get another one in 2-3 years, probably some sort of energy-efficient vehicle.

My Honda transmission has just failed at 61,000 miles. The service station guy told me that he'd had quite a few Honda owners whose transmissions failed at about my mileage. I googled "Honda Odyssey transmission failure" and got over 500,000 hits. Read a couple of very active car forum threads and learned that Honda Odyssey transmissions have been failing at very high rates for years. There was a class action suit on the 1999-2001 models that forced Honda to extend the warranty to 7.75 years. I am 6 months past that, so out of warranty. (There is a class action suit being prepared for later-year models, which also have transmission failures.) Sometimes Honda pays part of the repair cost out of "good will." The dealership where I bought it called Honda, and they refused to cover this at all. The repair cost is $2700.

Now I am trying to decide what to do. I am tempted to just get a new car now, and maybe just trade in this car as is. But I am totally unprepared to make a decision about what I will be driving for the next decade or so. I will never again buy a Honda, of course, but I am not interested in cars and don't follow them until I am getting ready to make a purchase. I'm wondering whether I should lease a car for a few months or a year to buy some time? But then I would have to pay to have this car fixed and then sell it.

Any ideas?
Post edited by NYMomof2 on

Replies to: Need advice on what to do about Honda with failed transmission

  • chocoholicchocoholic Registered User Posts: 2,995 Senior Member
    When my Odyssey transmission failed 2 years ago, at 75,000 miles, (2000 model) the warranty had been extended to 80,000 miles, and so the trans. was covered.

    I got a re-built trans. and now have 115,000 miles on the van.

    I would call the company, send emails, etc. Don't just take the dealers word for it.
  • hmom5hmom5 - Posts: 10,882 Senior Member
    Car prices are phenomenally good right now on both new and cars a few years old. I'd do the research and buy a car now if you can afford it. Prices will start getting higher when the credit crunch eases which is an Obama priority. You can steal cars right now unless you want a Prius!

    I'm not surprised Honda is not extending the same good will they did in the past. The car makers are all hurting badly right now.
  • coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,432 Senior Member
    Honda dealer service had wrong diagnosis on my odyssey. They said it was a transmission switch failure and they replaced the switch. 2 weeks later the car died again on the road. I brought it in again and the technician said they key did not have enough electrical contact. They replaced the part that had contact with the key and that fixed the problem. Maybe you need a second opinion from a smaller car repair shop.
  • NYMomof2NYMomof2 Registered User Posts: 5,948 Senior Member
    The opinion is actually from a transmission place used by my local service station. I get all service from the service station, and I trust them completely. They trust the transmission place. I did not get the diagnosis from Honda.

    chocoholic, We bought the car in November, 2000, so the extended warranty time has expired. I don't think a transmission should fail at 60k miles, but Honda is under no obligation to help pay for the repair, even for a known issue that has plagued their cars for years.

    hmom5, I had been assuming that I would buy some sort of hybrid in when I replaced this car. It did occur to me that this is probably a good time to buy.
  • hmom5hmom5 - Posts: 10,882 Senior Member
    We just helped our grad student buy a car under 2 years old with very low milage, with an extended warranty for less than half of what it sold for new.
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    I'm sorry the Odyssey didn't work out. I've had a Honda in the past and was very pleased with the maintenance record, but then it wasn't an Odyssey.

    I'll be in the market someday soon for a new car, but I am absolutely afraid to buy ANY car. No matter what car you want to research, all you have to do is google "car make problems" and get scared to death! Your comment about googling for Odyssey van transmission problems made me think of it.

    61,000 is way too early for a transmission to fail, in my book. Can it have something to do with mini vans? I had a friend who had replaced her auto transmission on her Chrysler minivan 3 times in 110K miles! She now drives a toyota
  • mimk6mimk6 Registered User Posts: 4,162 Senior Member
    NYMom, when my transmission failed on my Honda Odyssey, I was also just past my warranty. They replaced it for free. Mine was a 2002 but it was already clear that 2001 was a bad year for transmissions. Honda knows that. You may be able to get them to replace it for free. Good luck. I just kind of pleaded my case and some guy at the local Honda place went to bat for me. You better believe I sent in a rave review about his job performance!
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    BTW, 2001 was a bad year for Volvo V70s also...my other choice for the new car at that time was a Honda Odyssey mini-van! Looks like it would have been a disaster also!

    [BTW, I've got 160K on my 2001 car. And you've only got 61K?]
  • scualumscualum Registered User Posts: 2,864 Senior Member
    I seem to recall that the odyssey is not really a Honda design - someone else's design rebadged under the Honda Logo.

    Regardless, I would not stop at the dealer but would instead push higher in the reporting structure to the district manager.
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    Here's the problem - if you just 'trade it in' like it is you'll likely lose more than what it costs to get it fixed. This means you're probably ahead getting it fixed and once you do that you probably won't want to sell it anymore since it now works (unless you're tired of having the van).

    I think you should go down to the dealer you purchased it from and speak to the service manager in person stating once again you think Honda should fix it because it's a known chronic problem. If this doesn't get you anywhere, see if you can speak to the manager of the dealership (a real one). If that doesn't get you anywhere ask (insist if necessary) for the number of the Honda Regional Service Manager and discuss it with them. They can sometimes override other decisions and part of their job is to handle disputes like this.

    If none of that works, then ask the dealership for an estimate on a tranny fix. If they say they want to see it first ask them to make an assumption - assume the tranny is bad and needs to be replaced - how much? If it's within reason compared to the independent you might want to have them fix it. Maybe you'll get lucky and they'll find something simple wrong with it. If there's any way to research satisfaction with Honda dealerships' service in your area you might want to do that since you can bring it to any Honda dealership - not just the one you purchased it at.

    Good luck!
  • anxiousmomanxiousmom Registered User Posts: 5,733 Senior Member
    Now you've scared me! I have a 2002 ody van that I love. Bought the extended warranty on the internet when I bought the van, and it's good until this July. (7 years/100000 miles) If it's going to fail, I hope it does so by June, or hang on for another two years until DS is out of college!!!
  • NewHope33NewHope33 Registered User Posts: 6,208 Senior Member
    Unless you have a Chrysler minivan (or you're letting neighborhood boys drive the Odyssey every night) 61,000 miles is W-A-Y too early to have transmission problems. I understand why the dealer is reluctant to pay for your repair. But the Honda folks further up should be contacted. Begin with the regional headquarters, and then contact the national HQ is necessary.

    Regardless, it will be to your economic benefit to repair the transmission. Decide whether you want to keep or trade the Odyssey after it's running again. Good luck.
  • coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,432 Senior Member
    2003 Honda Odyssey Transmission Problems - Technical Discussion Discussions at AutomobileMag.com

    You probably need to call honda representatives.

    I think it's more to do with the electrical system than with the mechanical gears.

    honda odyssey transmission? - Honda Car Forum - Accord Parts Civic Tuning Acura Racing
  • archiemomarchiemom Registered User Posts: 1,616 Senior Member
    No real help here, since my Honda Odyssey is a 1998 model manufactured prior to the major model changes. But we recently began having electrical problems where the car would just shut down for no apparent reason. All it took was the replacement of the ignition switch (I think) which was covered by a recall from a few years ago. Now the minivan works perfectly...240,000 miles and going strong. I recommend pursuing your issues with Honda.
  • SchmoomcgooSchmoomcgoo Registered User Posts: 1,295 Senior Member
    I had a 1999 Odyssey that had its transmission replaced twice. Both times (the first replacement failed within a few months of installation) were covered under warranty; I remember being surprised that it was covered because my extended warranty had just expired.

    You should definitely call Honda dealers and talk to the service managers, telling them what your experience has been and asking their advice. You may find that a) a dealer doesn't have to wrestle with Honda the way an independent shop might, and/or b) another dealership will do the work for whatever Honda will pay, where your independent shop is not willing. I just don't think Honda's going to be as willing to bend over backwards for an independent. Also, there was a recall on my 1999 "electrical harness" or something like that, if I remember correctly, so there may be something to that. If one Honda dealer turns you down, I'd call another. Their willingness to work with you may be dependent upon individual dealer circumstance.

    It can't hurt--nothing ventured nothing gained, right? I've owned Honda's since 1994 and dealt with three different dealerships and I can't imagine Honda not making this right for you.
This discussion has been closed.