# Car troubles D:

1. Jun 21, 2011

### khemist

I saw someone post some issues they had with their car and got some good help, so I figured I would try here.

I have a 1995 honda civic dx, automatic, ~170k miles. I had the transmission fluid flushed maybe 3k-4k miles ago.

When I first start driving the car, generally if the car has been sitting for a couple hours, it shifts into 2nd and then the rpm drops considerably. I can press the pedal down far enough where it will rev higher, but it jumps from maybe 500-1000 rpm to maybe 4000? After the first shifting sequence this problem goes away and does not resurface until I park for some time. I think it is a transmission issue, but I am not quite sure.

Thanks for any help :D

2. Jun 21, 2011

### dlgoff

It sounds like it is down-shifting, as it should, when you press the accelerator pedal down far enough.

3. Jun 21, 2011

### brewnog

Sounds like the normal kickdown feature of an automatic, except you say the problem goes away. Have you driven other automatics? Can you describe how yours is different from a normal functioning auto?

4. Jun 21, 2011

### khemist

When I accelerate, and the car goes into the first shift up to 2nd gear, the rpm drops and I get almost no power from the engine. If I mash the pedal to the ground I do not think it downshifts but it gets a really high rpm. It is almost as if it goes from 1000 rpm to around 4000 (I do not have a tachometer though) while still in 2nd.

So it accelerates fine in first to about 15-20 mph, shifts up, and I lose all ability to accelerate unless I press the accelerator to the ground (it is almost like the engine does not register the accelerator being pressed). This happens for at most 15 seconds (usually around 5 seconds) and then goes back to normal.

5. Jun 21, 2011

### dlgoff

Oh. Now it sounds like the transmission isn't actually going to 2nd or something is slipping. IMO letting it "slip" or whatever it's doing for 15 seconds will cause more damage. I would take it to an automatic transmission mechanic who is more knowledgeable than me.

6. Jun 21, 2011

### khemist

Yea I talked to a guy at autozone and he said he thinks its going straight from 1st to 3rd. I really dont want to pay someone to tell me that I need to pay more to fix it but I might have to. Thanks

7. Jun 21, 2011

### BobG

So, an accurate description of the problem is:

When the car has been sitting and all of the transmission fluid has settled into the pan, the first shifting sequence skips second gear.

Once the transmission fluid has flowed completely through the transmission and is flowing at normal operating pressures, the transmission operates normally.

Is this accurate? If so, the pattern is significant information to tell the mechanic. The problem is in the flow of the transmission fluid.

Also check your transmission fluid level and check for transmission fluid under your car. Having too little transmission fluid could be messing with the transmission's ability to maintain the proper pressure for the fluid.

Also make sure you're using the right transmission fluid. Honda has its own transmission fluid (even though it was most likely just Dexron II). Since Dexron III is much more popular and easier to find than Honda ATF or Dexron II, some mechanics and owners have occasionally substituted Dexron III for the transmission fluid:

Note: Skipping second gear completely is worse than just harsh shifting.

Newer Hondas require Honda ATF-Z1 transmission fluid, but that fluid is also supposed to work on older Hondas, as well. (So it's Dexron II with a new label?)

Last edited: Jun 21, 2011
8. Jun 21, 2011

### BishopUser

Sometimes eratic RPMs and jerky shifting can be symptoms of a bad Throttle Positioning Sensor, which is pretty common and a cheap fix (guessing $150-$300?). Try googling more info to see if other symptoms match up.

9. Jun 21, 2011

### khemist

Thanks for your insight. I actually believe that I have transmission fluid leaking but it is extremely slow. A friend of mine told me that the seal between the engine and transmission could be cracked, which could cause a leak, which might be why this is happening. I will talk to my friend soon about it to see what I can do.

10. Jun 21, 2011

### S_Happens

It may not simply be going up an extra gear or two and your symptoms are not typical of a TPS sensor issue (more common for TPS would be hard starts, hard shifts, and shifts at a different rpm than normal for actual throttle position). It does sound like initially it's going up to a higher gear, because if it was simply clutch(es) slipping the rpms should increase with the lost load at the same throttle position.

Whatever gear it's tryign to go into, it sounds like your clutch(es) for that gear are slipping on that initial try. I'm not intimate with any Honda transmissions, so I can't be certain. If the clutch(es) are slipping then it could be due to a seal issue (internal piston), transmission fluid being low, or partial plugging of a passageway that happened during the flush you just did. Since it happens only on that first set of gear shifts, I'd tend more towards insufficient fluid.

Like was stated, I would start with checking the transmission fluid level and condition. If there is no obvious issue there, then you'll have to take it to someone more competant. I didn't post anything more insightful than BobG, but maybe the fact that a seperate analysis came to very similar conclusions will mean something for you, and I wanted to point out that it's not consistant with a TPS issue.

11. Jun 22, 2011

### khemist

Any suggestion on how to check the level? I have found sites which show me where the drainage and filling areas are, but how would I know if my fluid is full?

12. Jun 22, 2011

### S_Happens

Typically automatic transmissions have dipsticks, although it may be hard to find. You need to check the owner's manual or a reference manual anyway to find out the proper way to check it (looks like some Hondas may require the engine to be off).

13. Jun 22, 2011

### BobG

For a car that old, you should buy a repair manual from either an auto parts store or online. Chilton's or Hayne's are the most popular. The repair manuals are by make and model and usually cover a few years worth of models (car manufacturers usually run the same model for several years with only a few cosmetic changes).

Hayne's is probably the best for the average person that will never completely disassemble their car's engine and put it back together in one night just because they're bored.

Either repair manual should tell you exactly where the dipstick is located. The transmission fluid dipstick isn't always very easy to find since you don't check it nearly as often as your oil, but you're looking for something that would look very similar to your oil dipstick. (Which is a good reason to make it hard to find, since there's always the novice or two that somehow finds a way to add motor oil to their transmission.)

If it's low, you usually add transmission fluid right down the dipstick spout (which means you need a funnel).

14. Jun 24, 2011

### khemist

I just checked my transmission fluid level and if anything it is OVER filled. The dipstick was coated to the top line marking full...

I am thinking I should simply bite the bullet and have a transmission guy look over it, but I would rather not pay the money. Does anyone else have any suggestions?

I appreciate all the responses so far.

15. Jun 24, 2011

### BobG

Check your receipt from the transmission flush. You were surely charged for the transmission fluid to refill the transmission and the receipt could tell you what type of transmission fluid they put in.

16. Jun 24, 2011

### khemist

I will see what I can do. If they used the wrong type, should I just drain out the fluid that is in there and replace it, or is there some major maintenance I should look to do?

17. Jun 24, 2011

### BobG

The transmission would have to be flushed again and the proper transmission fluid put in.

If the shop put in the wrong fluid, then they should redo the job for free. But, that can sometimes be hard to get them to admit to when it's so common to use some alternative to the "special" brand fluid some car makers have seen as a way for their dealers to make a little extra money (no one wants to carry so many special brands of transmission fluid on their shelves, so you wind up having to have the dealer do it at a much higher price). The alternative is usually like the difference between buying generic acetaminophen or buying the brand name Tylenol, but they still have to use the correct alternative fluid.

Given that your transmission operates normally except when you first start your car, I'd say it's doubtful you have to do anything beyond putting in the proper fluid, but I couldn't say for sure.

Last edited: Jun 24, 2011
18. Jun 24, 2011

### khemist

I really appreciate your help. I will find out tonight what kind of fluid he put in, and if its the wrong kind I will insist that he uses the correct fluid for free.

Now as a side note, I am thinking of doing a little aftermarket upgrades as well. Possibly a cold air intake seeing as that is a fairly inexpensive way to get a few extra horses (unless, of course, I can get by from using an upgraded square filter in the stock intake), also thinking about an exhaust system but I think it might be a little out of my budget. Is there anything that could be done which would improve fuel economy and add a little horses, without breaking the bank? Depending on the job, I most likely would be able to replace/ swap parts out myself.