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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would be very interested to hear from any 3rd Gen owners who have had torque converter problems. Especially regarding the lockup clutch failing to hold, leading to trouble codes and dashboard notifications of transmission problems.

If you have experienced this, was the vehicle fixed under warranty? What did Honda do to resolve the issue?
 

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We do know that the 3rd gen VCM system does change the operation of the torque converter when it activates to reduce vibrations in the drive line from having one bank of cylinders deactivated. I have been lucky not to have issues with the VCM or transmission at this point and keeping fingers crossed. Frequent fluid changes and a transmission cooler should reduce the likelihood of a failure. I would think that a torque converter failure would be covered under the Honda 5 year powertrain warranty. I had a lockup converter failure on a Dodge a few years ago and it was covered under their powertrain warranty.
 

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For a little more data I'm in a high volume Honda dealer, we haven't replaced any converters in a 3rd gen. Fluid changes and updating the pcm/tcm software have fixed all our customers vehs.
 

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For a little more data I'm in a high volume Honda dealer, we haven't replaced any converters in a 3rd gen. Fluid changes and updating the pcm/tcm software have fixed all our customers vehs.
I finally found the TSB that was released one month before my vehicle was made. Wouldn't my vehicle have had the latest software fix? Is there another?
 

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I have a 2018 Pilot with 6 spd AT. After a long drive from Alabama to Iowa I noticed the transmission would shudder and act like it's not fully locked under a slight grade (around 65-70mph). Temps were high the entire trip. After checking my fluid when I got home it looked bad. I did 3X drain and fill of the ATF, changed the ATF inline filter, and installed the transmission cooler. Hopefully this will keep the issue away. Any thoughts that I also need a TCM software update? I just now have about 36k miles on the Pilot.
 

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I have a 2018 Pilot with 6 spd AT. After a long drive from Alabama to Iowa I noticed the transmission would shudder and act like it's not fully locked under a slight grade (around 65-70mph). Temps were high the entire trip. After checking my fluid when I got home it looked bad. I did 3X drain and fill of the ATF, changed the ATF inline filter, and installed the transmission cooler. Hopefully this will keep the issue away. Any thoughts that I also need a TCM software update? I just now have about 36k miles on the Pilot.
I would think your vehicle has the updated software unless there is another since your vehicle was made. Hopefully the transmission fluid change was enough. But if you want to be sure. Find an open highway and lock on the cruise control and watch the rpm gauge for any erratic behavior. The only way I got this to stop is when I disabled the VCM.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I have a 2018 Pilot with 6 spd AT. After a long drive from Alabama to Iowa I noticed the transmission would shudder and act like it's not fully locked under a slight grade (around 65-70mph). Temps were high the entire trip. After checking my fluid when I got home it looked bad. I did 3X drain and fill of the ATF, changed the ATF inline filter, and installed the transmission cooler. Hopefully this will keep the issue away. Any thoughts that I also need a TCM software update? I just now have about 36k miles on the Pilot.
We just bought a 2018 with 58,500 miles on it in July. The day after we bought it, I was driving on a local freeway, cruise control at 65mph. The dash chimed an alarm, and a flashing message came up "Transmission System Problem". I was dismayed, to say the least. Drove directly to the dealer where we bought it and dropped it off for service. They found a PO741 code and then did a 3x drain and fill on the transmission. Told me all codes were clear. No metal fuzz on the drain magnet. Said that all software updates were current.

The next weekend, we drove the Pilot to Duluth for an overnight visit (3 hours away). An hour into the drive, the same alarm chime and warning flashed. I pulled over and stopped, everything seemed fine under the hood. Restarted, alarm was gone. As soon as I set cruise control at 65, the transmission alarm came up again. Pulled over, shut down, restarted and then drove in D4 until I hit 70 mph. Shifted to D, accelerated to 77, and set cruise. We were fine as long as I stayed 7 or 8 mph above the speed limit.

The car was fine for the next two days, as long as I was either driving up and down the hills of Duluth, or driving at 75+ mph on the freeway. If I tried to cruise at 65, I could see the Tachometer wavering as the torque converter clutch started to slip. At 75, the tach was rock solid.

Back to the dealership, they diagnosed PO741 again, and replaced the torque converter under warranty. The car was in the shop for 2 weeks, because it took 10 days to get a new TC. Service advisor told me that Honda had a nationwide critical shortage of torque converters (??). Why??

Long story short, I now have a new torque converter. Did VCM wear out the original TC clutch? Should I install a VCM disabling device?
 

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Did VCM wear out the original TC clutch?
In my opinion, Yes.
Should I install a VCM disabling device?
If you are convinced that your problem is solved, you no longer have an erratic behaving rpm gauge and your transmission fluid is staying relatively clean with normal maintenance intervals, then I would be more comfortable. I'm disabling the VCM for all the long term benifits. Also, I like my vehicle running on 6 cylinders 100% of the time. If you do decide to use a VCM disabling device, remember to inspect your cooling system regularly. That includes making sure your cooling fans are functioning normally. Please let us know how things are going with this repair and what you decide to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
In my opinion, Yes.

If you are convinced that your problem is solved, you no longer have an erratic behaving rpm gauge and your transmission fluid is staying relatively clean with normal maintenance intervals, then I would be more comfortable. I'm disabling the VCM for all the long term benifits. Also, I like my vehicle running on 6 cylinders 100% of the time. If you do decide to use a VCM disabling device, remember to inspect your cooling system regularly. That includes making sure your cooling fans are functioning normally. Please let us know how things are going with this repair and what you decide to do.
I am leaning towards installing a disabler, perhaps the S-VCM unit. If future feedback indicates problems, it's easy to remove. Does anybody have problems caused by a VCM disabler?
 

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I am leaning towards installing a disabler, perhaps the S-VCM unit. If future feedback indicates problems, it's easy to remove. Does anybody have problems caused by a VCM disabler?
I had one incident with disabling the VCM on my 2012 Crosstour. The driver complained that the AC was not cooling when at idle, but was cooling fine going down the highway. When I was checking the Freon pressure (was ok), I noticed the passenger side cooling fan was not coming on. I determined that the AC condenser was not being cooled adequately which was causing the compressor to go on and off. Having S-VCM made diagnosing an over heating problem more difficult. I replaced the cooling fan and all is well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I had one incident with disabling the VCM on my 2012 Crosstour. The driver complained that the AC was not cooling when at idle, but was cooling fine going down the highway. When I was checking the Freon pressure (was ok), I noticed the passenger side cooling fan was not coming on. I determined that the AC condenser was not being cooled adequately which was causing the compressor to go on and off. Having S-VCM made diagnosing an over heating problem more difficult. I replaced the cooling fan and all is well.
Did the S-VCM cause the cooling problem, or just mask the existing issue ?
 

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I thought SVCM was smart enough to let you know if the engine was overheating. I thought I had read that when there was a certain temperature (don't recall the number), SVCM would allow the signal to carry over to the car and it would show on the temperature gauge.
 

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You should be ok. The software update applies to all 16-17 vins lx, ex, ex-l.
My 2009 Pilot had a transmission cooler and I think Honda cut too many costs when making it an option on the newer generation . It’s probably ok for most driving habits. Long 10 hr drives in hot weather with the car loaded is enough to over heat the fluid causing it to break down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I have a 2018 Pilot with 6 spd AT. After a long drive from Alabama to Iowa I noticed the transmission would shudder and act like it's not fully locked under a slight grade (around 65-70mph). Temps were high the entire trip. After checking my fluid when I got home it looked bad. I did 3X drain and fill of the ATF, changed the ATF inline filter, and installed the transmission cooler. Hopefully this will keep the issue away. Any thoughts that I also need a TCM software update? I just now have about 36k miles on the Pilot.
I have to focus on your statement: "Temps were high the entire trip". This is not normal. A Pilot with a properly functioning cooling system, a good engine and transmission, and correct oil and ATF levels, should not show signs of overheating. Did the dashboard temp gauge show high temps? Something is wrong. Highway cruising, even with a fully loaded car, should not cause the Pilot to overheat. Something else has to be going on: Air flow to the radiator blocked, or torque converter slipping, or a huge roof rack dragging in the wind.

My bias is to suspect torque converter clutch slipping due to excess wear from VCM action. Or maybe not. Or something else. But overheating just because you drove all day is not normal.

If the TC Clutch is slipping, it can get so hot that the steel TC housing turns blue from heat. If this was happening, it would certainly pump a lot of extra heat into the cooling system through the ATF/Coolant heat exchanger. This could push your temp gauge into higher than normal levels. And this would also cook your ATF and turn it black.

If this is going on in your Pilot, you need to watch the Tach at cruise for signs of slipping, and you may be looking at a new torque converter on warranty.
 

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