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ATTENTION!
JUST TO BE CLEAR TO EVERYONE READING THIS THREAD. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR DW-1 ATF TO MAXLIFE ATF IN YOUR 6-SPEED TRANSMISSION.
This is my own experiment on a waranty-less transmission that was already beginning to have shifting issues.
Sorry for the long rantings.

I understood from the get go, that you weren't trying to push others in to following suit. Your reasoning is the same reason I tried a Maxlife swap in my WARRANTY-less tranny. It was a perfect opportunity since the tranny is being pulled anyway on my dime. I was completely in the dark about Honda AT issues until I experienced my own premature transmission failure with DW-1.

My new honda reamnaufactured transmission will have a 3/36,000 Honda warranty. I plan on using DW-1. I'll be doing D&F's at each oil change. Once that warranty is out, I'll be using a SYNTHETIC Fluid. Because of a whole host of reasons, which I think are beaten to death in a lot of threads.
  • These transmissions appear to be suffer a great number of shift quality issues and failures.
  • The most oft reported reason for transmission issues on these pilots are heat related premature fluid failure, (Dark ugly fluid, that shouldnt be dark and ugly at 20,000 miles) requiring frequent fluid changes. Literally thread after thread of multiple drain and fills, seems to be the norm and apparently solves most of the problems.
  • My personal lack of confidence in Honda's DW-1 fluid and quality control. ie. Some older bottles of DW-1 were marked as full synthetic. Newer bottles do not mention anything at all about the base oil, leading me to believe that it could be straight dinosaur oil. Some people on other Honda boards have sent samples for analysis and cite it as semi-synthetic, yet others listed it as straight dino oil. This all means to me that in a very short period of time, Honda is probably changing formulation. Maybe because they don't have confidence that they got it right. I've asked my Honda dealers parts and service department, and was told it is not synthetic.
  • Synthetic trans fluid is inarguably more effective in both high an low temperature applications, and does not break down at extreme transmission operating temperatures.
  • Dino oil begins breaking down at about 230F. It carbonizes and bakes itself to the surface. (Could be the reason the valve body on my 22,000 mile tranny is clogged up.) Bad things don't start happening to Synthetic oil bases till north of 400F.
  • Torque converter normal operating temperatures run around 200F, and the fluid is expected to operate best at sump temperatures of 175F. Under heavy loads hard acceleration those torque converter temperatures generally go over 300F. (That's where Dino and Semisynthetic fluids start to bake themselves into everything they touch.)
  • Honda has always been slow to react to change (sometimes good sometimes bad IMHO.) Apparently the rest of trhe auto industry jumped off the Dino Oil base wagon years ago.
  • Honda has always built small light cars, the Pilot is neither small nor light. I'm afraid the engineering department is applying institutional knowledge and what they learned on small light cars to their ideology on transmission fluid.
The only question for me is making sure the friction modifiers add package is correct or close enough for Honda transmissions.

As a young man back in the early 1980's I worked in a Honda Dealership and was admonished for recommending NON-Honda motor oil. To the best of my knowledge, in the U.S. all of Honda's fluids are NON HONDA, they are only Honda Spec provided to Honda by a supplier who currently has that contract. Over the years Honda has bought fluids from multiple suppliers, and are the middleman in the profit stream supplying that fluid to consumers.

This all of course is my OPINION based on my own personal experience. It is not some endorsement of what you should or should not do.
 

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Discussion Starter #42
Sorry for the long rantings.

I understood from the get go, that you weren't trying to push others in to following suit. Your reasoning is the same reason I tried a Maxlife swap in my WARRANTY-less tranny. It was a perfect opportunity since the tranny is being pulled anyway on my dime. I was completely in the dark about Honda AT issues until I experienced my own premature transmission failure with DW-1.

My new honda reamnaufactured transmission will have a 3/36,000 Honda warranty. I plan on using DW-1. I'll be doing D&F's at each oil change. Once that warranty is out, I'll be using a SYNTHETIC Fluid. Because of a whole host of reasons, which I think are beaten to death in a lot of threads.
  • These transmissions appear to be suffer a great number of shift quality issues and failures.
  • The most oft reported reason for transmission issues on these pilots are heat related premature fluid failure, (Dark ugly fluid, that shouldnt be dark and ugly at 20,000 miles) requiring frequent fluid changes. Literally thread after thread of multiple drain and fills, seems to be the norm and apparently solves most of the problems.
  • My personal lack of confidence in Honda's DW-1 fluid and quality control. ie. Some older bottles of DW-1 were marked as full synthetic. Newer bottles do not mention anything at all about the base oil, leading me to believe that it could be straight dinosaur oil. Some people on other Honda boards have sent samples for analysis and cite it as semi-synthetic, yet others listed it as straight dino oil. This all means to me that in a very short period of time, Honda is probably changing formulation. Maybe because they don't have confidence that they got it right. I've asked my Honda dealers parts and service department, and was told it is not synthetic.
  • Synthetic trans fluid is inarguably more effective in both high an low temperature applications, and does not break down at extreme transmission operating temperatures.
  • Dino oil begins breaking down at about 230F. It carbonizes and bakes itself to the surface. (Could be the reason the valve body on my 22,000 mile tranny is clogged up.) Bad things don't start happening to Synthetic oil bases till north of 400F.
  • Torque converter normal operating temperatures run around 200F, and the fluid is expected to operate best at sump temperatures of 175F. Under heavy loads hard acceleration those torque converter temperatures generally go over 300F. (That's where Dino and Semisynthetic fluids start to bake themselves into everything they touch.)
  • Honda has always been slow to react to change (sometimes good sometimes bad IMHO.) Apparently the rest of trhe auto industry jumped off the Dino Oil base wagon years ago.
  • Honda has always built small light cars, the Pilot is neither small nor light. I'm afraid the engineering department is applying institutional knowledge and what they learned on small light cars to their ideology on transmission fluid.
The only question for me is making sure the friction modifiers add package is correct or close enough for Honda transmissions.

As a young man back in the early 1980's I worked in a Honda Dealership and was admonished for recommending NON-Honda motor oil. To the best of my knowledge, in the U.S. all of Honda's fluids are NON HONDA, they are only Honda Spec provided to Honda by a supplier who currently has that contract. Over the years Honda has bought fluids from multiple suppliers, and are the middleman in the profit stream supplying that fluid to consumers.

This all of course is my OPINION based on my own personal experience. It is not some endorsement of what you should or should not do.
Thanks for your input on this.
I was just fearful others may go and change to MaxLife based on my being satisfied with the results so far. Unfortunately the wife has already told me that she doesn't want it anymore. She doesn't trust it. It's very disheartening after all the labor I put into it to restore it. The car is like brand new inside. I've bought a lot of Honda's in my lifetime based on the family's experience with them. Numorous Civics, Odesseys, Accords, Crosstours, CRVs and so I felt good about buying this Pilot. Financially, I'm still on the plus side with this vehicle, having bought it for less than half its value, plus parts to restore it (my free labor). That would quickly turn to the negative if I had to buy a rebuilt transmission. It's not going to happen at this moment. I can't see myself putting the same problematic 6-speed back into it until a solution is made known. At this point, since I have seen improvement changing fluids, I feel the need to regulate the transmission temp some how. To have it operate between 175-190°. Wife yelling sell it, sell it now. Lol
 

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you are misquoting me however. The discussion you are quoting was about my F150. :)
Correct, Boom! I didn't see where the discussion turned to a Ford F150 until now when you pointed that out.

But didn't the previous generation Pilot that you have come with a towing package as standard and transmission fluid running through the radiator for cooling? The current generation doesn't come standard with either I believe. This is the first Honda Pilot I've owned and heard about the towing having been removed from this generation as factory install.

I did have a 2012 Acura MDX which from what I remember there was a problem from transmission fluid leaking into the radiator and then into the engine?
 

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IMHO I wouldn't worry about getting the trans temp any warmer unless you live in ND or Northern Canada in the winter, then I'd think about it. Especially with synthetic fluid.

I know the 175F number is optimum for the fluid. 180F is required to remove moisture content. 80F or above keeps torque converters happy. I think I saw 160 something on your OBD, should be plenty warm, especially for synthetic. I also have no idea where the temperature sensor in the transmission is. The predominance of the heat is in the TC, and I'm guessing that fluid exiting the TC would be considerably higher.

I'll be lucky if I'm at break even or possibly a bit upside down after paying for another transmission, compared to the retail value of an R title low mileage pilot. Unlike you, I did none of the work.

If it were mine and not my wife's baby, I'd drive the current trans till it was fried, or the fluid changes free it up, assuming the valving, or journals are gunked up. For the time that I drove it while malfunctioning, I was able to coax it into locking up 5th gear. Or maybe its mechanical? Not knowing, if its worn, bad clutch springs, assuming these clutches have springs. I just couldn't let her drive it and get stuck somewhere. or limp home at 30mph. Bit the bullet and bought a reman.

My wife loves this Pilot, and as long as I can get the transmission under control, and not suffer any MIF's (maintenance induced malfunctions.) with the transmission swap, I'm hoping to get 10 ish years and130k+ out of it, and run it till it dies.

We had a 2007 Accord V6 AT that had judder issues that started at 8k miles. I took it back to the dealership to troubleshoot, 2 Z1 fluid changes didn't help. Went to a local trans shop, They actually did a flush somehow without damaging the trans pump and I think they used Castrol. The problem disappeared immediately, we ran it till around 200,000 with only 1 other fluid change. Not a single problem. At the time I thought it was an anomaly and not the norm. In fact my neighbor bought it and is still driving it. Probably has 230k on it now.
 

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Discussion Starter #45
Just an update. We've put 260 miles on the rebuilt 2017 Pilot EX-L since last photo. The transmission continues to perform very well on MaxLife. The wife actually drove most if those miles. 👍
134072
 

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Discussion Starter #46
Ok,
I took a long trip in the 6-speed Pilot today. We logged 293 miles. That puts the Pilot over the 500 mile mark for the week while using MaxLife (80%, 3 D&Fs). Very pleased with the transmissions performance. I do feel that the VCM is affecting the overall performance of the vehicle (I put my thoughts on this in a current VCM thread). I'll draw out a sample of ATF tomorrow and put in a jar to see color. It was a 50° day and the transmission temperature Never exceeded 156°.
134082
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Discussion Starter #48
@Nail Grease

If you do put an inline thermostat in for your cooler. Please post the chosen part and installation info. I'd be very interested.
I was just thinking of masking it of during the cooler months then opening it up when it warms up. I can monitor with my Torque Pro App. But a Thermostatic bypass valve would be uber.
 

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Are you considering a VCMuzzler? I would if I had a VCM-equipped Pilot.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
S-VCM installed. As I expected, the erratic behavior of the of the drivetrain system is in my opinion, Solved. No more hesitation when you hit the gas or a flighty rpm gauge when your simply trying to hold your speed without cruise control. Transmission is still performing great with MaxLife ATF even though the 40° outside temp did not allow the transmission to exceed 129.2°. The S-VCM worked great, tricking the computer with a 165.2° temperature. So I'm glad to say that what I thought was a greater transmission issue appears to be not.
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Discussion Starter #52 (Edited)
@Nail Grease

If you do put an inline thermostat in for your cooler. Please post the chosen part and installation info. I'd be very interested.
As far as transmission temp reaching 175° as a optimum operating temperature, I have been left scratching my head wondering if it is an issue. Last night, I installed S-VCM on my 2012 Crosstour, plugged in my reader and was shocked to find an even lower transmission temp (118.4°) than the Pilot after 20 minutes of driving. It was 40° outside. The transmission fluid is run through the radiator as with older model Pilots. (This vehicle is at about 50% MaxLife ATF)
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I think the 175F only relates to the fluid temperature, and not the sump temperature.

My OBD won't read the Honda trans temp, but I did order one of the BT plugs that you listed. I'll post our Pilots trans temps, when the tool arrives.

I know its apples to oranges, but somewhat relevant.

My truck sometimes takes the better part of 30ish minutes to get above 150F driving highway speeds in high 30F to low 40F ambient temps. That's with the trans cooler on the bottom of the radiator, and the engine coolant running over 200F, the whole time. Eventually it'll get up to 180-190 range unless I'm towing it rises quicker.

Ambient Temps in the teens and twenties, it never really breaks 160F. same caveat on towing.
 

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I occasionally drive through North and South Dakota from year to year in sub zero temps, and the trans temp on my Ram doesn't rise above the 120F mark, mostly barely creeps over 100F from fuel stops.

I wondered the same thing about low temp, thinking, the trans is eventually going to come apart. 160k or so later and multiple trips in those conditions, the trans is still going strong. Again, another apples to orange comparison, because it isn't a Honda, but I think the physics are very similar.

However, my fuel economy goes to crap at those low temps, but I'm thinking that's mostly because of the differential gear lube.

I've got the same concern you do about the Pilot. Wiish I had a better answer, but I'm less nervous about temps less than 175, than I am about temps over 200.
 

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Discussion Starter #57 (Edited)
, but I'm less nervous about temps less than 175, than I am about temps over 200.
Certainly so.
I'm glad that MaxLife is a little thinner than DW-1. I think the temperature I'm running at right now is providing adequate protection after what I saw in the Crosstour. I'm definitely glad that I have a transmission cooler for summer, when we get into 95° to 105° days. I'm afraid to speculate what that will translate to in trans temp. I don't doubt that trans temp would be over 200° on pilots with no cooler.
 
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