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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2018 Honda Pilot with the 6 speed, 44k miles. Has been having an issue with the trans “hunting” in the RPMs. I’m aware there is a TSB out in which they drain and refill the fluid 3 times and update the trans ECM software. I checked the trans fluid and it was somewhat dark. It didn’t really smell burned, but it smelled kinda funky. I don’t live close to a dealership and at the moment I couldn’t leave the vehicle at the dealer. I had to travel last week and needed to change the engine oil, so I made the decision to change the transmission fluid as well. (For what it’s worth, I was a heavy equipment mechanic for 7 years so I like to think I’m not mechanically un-inclined, but I’m also not an automatic transmission expert) I initially drained approx 3.8 qts of fluid. The fluid looked pretty dark and not pink or bright red.. I Put 3-ish quarts of new fluid back in, started the car and ran it to operating temperature, adding fluid until level was good. Drove vehicle for approx 10 minutes, let it sit for a little while, drained fluid again, fluid still looked bad. Drained it again, this time only about 2.9 quarts came out and it quit dripping. Re-filled with approx 2.6 qts of fluid, I ran vehicle up to operating temperature, turn vehicle off, pull trans dipstick and wipe clean (Fluid on dipstick was now bright pink/red). Re-installed dipstick and observed fluid level on dipstick. Slowly added fluid until between the marks, one thing to note: Every time I check it, The back side of the dipstick has fluid way up on the stick, but the side that has the word “hot” in between the 2 dots the fluid level is within the range. I’ve dipped the stick several times and each time this is the result. I’m assuming that the design of the dipstick must scrape down the dipstick tube on the back side each time you insert it, resulting with the excess fluid being on the back side. I would say the last time I added fluid I put a total of about 4.4 qts of fluid. I’ve driven the vehicle approx 450 miles on the highway and it seems to drive fine. The only thing is, I’m nervous because sometimes when stopped and the trans in D, when I take my foot off the brake on flat ground the car doesn’t move forward until I press the accelerator. Only thing I can think is it’s over or under filled, but the dipstick appears to show correct level. The owners manual says see dealer for trans fluid level, but short of figuring out a way I can get the car to the dealer and maybe have to wind up getting a rental or something, does anyone have any ideas???
 

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I would think the fluid would be high on both sides of the stick if over-filled. Is there any chance your hill assist is kicking on preventing movement until you touch the accelerator?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would think the fluid would be high on both sides of the stick if over-filled. Is there any chance your hill assist is kicking on preventing movement until you touch the accelerator?
Well, it’s never done that before, and I’m not 100% certain it has hill assist.
 

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Since you have identified 3 of the classic symptoms with "The Erratic RPM Gauge Of Death" .....,
Drain and fills of the ATF is critical. The TSB says 3 times. I'd say 4 to remove most of the suspended black clutch particles floating in the fluid. But from this point your troubles are not over. You must do one of two things or transmission failure is imminent.
  1. Take your vehicle to the dealership and have Honda update your software. This transmission adjustment solves what I've stated in #2. If your fluid changes have corrected the erratic behavior of the rpms somewhat, then Honda will likely make you pay for the update, since they must identify the need.
  2. Disable the VCM. The torque converter clutch lock problem that the TSB addresses is only occurring because of the vibrations caused by the VCM (it turns your 6 cylinder engine into a 3 cylinder). I use S-VCM.
 
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Our Pilot is also a 2018 EX-L with the 6 speed transmission. We purchased it from a local dealer with about 58k miles on it. Within a week, we had a transmission trouble code flash on the dashboard. Dealer did the 3x drain and fill. We took a trip out of town and the code flashed again. I noticed that rpms would vary when in cruise at 65 mph. It was clear to me that the torque converter lockup clutch was slipping.

Dealer replaced the torque converter under warranty. The car runs fine now.

I have installed the S-VCM device to disable VCM and prevent future problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Our Pilot is also a 2018 EX-L with the 6 speed transmission. We purchased it from a local dealer with about 58k miles on it. Within a week, we had a transmission trouble code flash on the dashboard. Dealer did the 3x drain and fill. We took a trip out of town and the code flashed again. I noticed that rpms would vary when in cruise at 65 mph. It was clear to me that the torque converter lockup clutch was slipping.

Dealer replaced the torque converter under warranty. The car runs fine now.

I have installed the S-VCM device to disable VCM and prevent future problems.
Hmm...I haven’t had any codes at all. I am going to purchase and install the VCM disabler. I also wonder if because the transmission doesn’t seem to be acting up like it was and I have no codes, that they won’t be willing to do anything. We had a 2016 CR-V that had such a terrible vibration when stopped due to the cvt transmission that we traded it in for this 2018 Pilot. We wanted a Touring like we had with our CRV, but I didn’t want the 9 speed because I had heard some not so good things about it, so I bought the EX-L so I could get the 6 speed, and now we are having transmission problems from it. Love the car but I must admit I’m getting frustrated and I’m tempted to get rid of it.
 

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You need to have the trans software updated, as it changes the tq converter slip parameters, and generally just works better. You may have to pay for the update now that you have already changed fluid and "fixed" it. Honda will only pay the warranty claim if the issue can be recorded on the hds and verified. Without the update, changing fluid is only a bandaid.
 

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You need to have the trans software updated, as it changes the tq converter slip parameters, and generally just works better. You may have to pay for the update now that you have already changed fluid and "fixed" it. Honda will only pay the warranty claim if the issue can be recorded on the hds and verified. Without the update, changing fluid is only a bandaid.
My fear is creating sharper shifts on Valvoline MaxLife ATF, if the software update tightens things up.
 

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Hmm...I haven’t had any codes at all. I am going to purchase and install the VCM disabler. I also wonder if because the transmission doesn’t seem to be acting up like it was and I have no codes, that they won’t be willing to do anything. We had a 2016 CR-V that had such a terrible vibration when stopped due to the cvt transmission that we traded it in for this 2018 Pilot. We wanted a Touring like we had with our CRV, but I didn’t want the 9 speed because I had heard some not so good things about it, so I bought the EX-L so I could get the 6 speed, and now we are having transmission problems from it. Love the car but I must admit I’m getting frustrated and I’m tempted to get rid of it.
I wouldn't assume that your torque converter is failing. However, the slipping lockup is a bad sign. I believe that VCM is the cause of this problem. In a way, I was fortunate that our transmission set a failure code-PO741-and Honda was forced to replace the torque converter. I have an additional lifetime powertrain warranty from the dealer, so I am somewhat reassured at this point.

I agree with the suggestion to have the transmission software updated. Yes on S-VCM. Keep the fluid clean, and watch for any sign of rpm wavering in cruise. You have some miles to go on the Honda powertrain warranty, so keep an eye on it. And good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks. I don’t mind to pay for the software update if it will help. I really wish I could have taken it in to a dealer and showed them the issues and they could have recorded it with their Honda software, and just let them perform the TSB and I know I would have been better off.
 

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Converter slipping 30% is far worse, and you could always use Honda fluid instead of maxlife:)
I'm not slipping anymore with the VCM disabled. Guess I'll keep using the red bottle of LubeGaurd to ease the firmer shifts.
 

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I'm not slipping anymore with the VCM disabled. Guess I'll keep using the red bottle of LubeGaurd to ease the firmer shifts.
You mean, not excessive slip. During vcm operation isn't the only time the converter slips. Lol, you using lubeguard to treat the side effects of maxlife?
 

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You mean, not excessive slip. During vcm operation isn't the only time the converter slips. Lol, you using lubeguard to treat the side effects of maxlife?
LubeGaurd seemed to help.
My last drain and fill with Beck Arnley DW-1 was not an improvement.
I'm not having any slips, flares or erratic rpms.
 
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