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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife's 2017 Pilot EX AWD 6-spd (w/ OEM cooler) has an annoying quirk. It surges under acceleration, but this isn't the good kind of acceleration surge. It seems to 'step' its way up the RPM range. It is more noticeable when pulling up a hill in 3rd gear since you have more time between shifts. I make sure my foot is planted against the side of the foot well to make sure it's not my foot moving the pedal. I'll look at the RPMs and they will 'tick' up in 100 - 200 RPM increment and it is just enough that you can also feel it. I've pretty much eliminated that it was a notchy pedal position sensor because the RPM steps are only seen under acceleration. It's not slipping since you'd feel deceleration and not acceleration during RPM step ups. I ran the issue past my favorite Service Advisor at the local Honda dealer, but he said he hadn't heard of anything like it.

I drained and filled (1x) the transmission fluid though it only had 25K miles. I don't notice the surging quite as much, but I haven't been able to drive it in hilly conditions since the fluid change. What else could I check? Mass Air Flow? Better gas to prevent knocking that I cannot humanly detect? Any ideas if this could be something serious?
 

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Sounds like torque convertor slipping, which seems to be somewhat common, especially with worn transmission fluid. If so, then I'd generally recommend

1. More frequent transmission fluid changes.
2. If you tow or drive lots of hills or stop and go traffic consider an ATF cooler to manage the transmission temps better. (edit: noticed you already have one)
3. Disable the VCM system which seems to exacerbate torque convertor slippage, especially when the fluid is worn. (S-VCM or VCM Tuner II Advanced)


Edit: Much more rare to have this (seems like) with a cooler. That's why most people don't think it is heat-induced.
 

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My wife's 2017 Pilot EX AWD 6-spd (w/ OEM cooler) has an annoying quirk. It surges under acceleration, but this isn't the good kind of acceleration surge. It seems to 'step' its way up the RPM range. It is more noticeable when pulling up a hill in 3rd gear since you have more time between shifts. I make sure my foot is planted against the side of the foot well to make sure it's not my foot moving the pedal. I'll look at the RPMs and they will 'tick' up in 100 - 200 RPM increment and it is just enough that you can also feel it. I've pretty much eliminated that it was a notchy pedal position sensor because the RPM steps are only seen under acceleration. It's not slipping since you'd feel deceleration and not acceleration during RPM step ups. I ran the issue past my favorite Service Advisor at the local Honda dealer, but he said he hadn't heard of anything like it.

I drained and filled (1x) the transmission fluid though it only had 25K miles. I don't notice the surging quite as much, but I haven't been able to drive it in hilly conditions since the fluid change. What else could I check? Mass Air Flow? Better gas to prevent knocking that I cannot humanly detect? Any ideas if this could be something serious?
I've experience the same exact issue. And I think agree with everything that viper74656 said.

I call it "rpm flutter." I'm pretty certain that it's related to the trans fluid. I've had the VCMuzzler II installed since about 16k. No towing. I did the first drain/fill at about 41k. I first noticed the issue at some point over 50k. Car now has 59k and I just a second drain/fill. The "rpm flutter" seems to be gone. I will be doing another drain/fill at 60k and every 15k from this point forward. Not expensive so better safe than sorry.

I thought Hondas were supposed to be super reliable. I trust my 06 Tacoma with 216k much more than any of these 16-19's Pilots. If it's not the fuel injectors, it's the trans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sounds like torque convertor slipping, which seems to be somewhat common, especially with worn transmission fluid. If so, then I'd generally recommend

1. More frequent transmission fluid changes.
2. If you tow or drive lots of hills or stop and go traffic consider an ATF cooler to manage the transmission temps better.
3. Disable the VCM system which seems to exacerbate torque convertor slippage, especially when the fluid is worn. (S-VCM or VCM Tuner II Advanced)

I plan on doing a single drain and fill every 15K since I hear the normal interval is a 3x drain and fill every 30K after the first service at approx 40K*. I installed an OEM cooler at 2K miles to get the tow rating up to 5000 lbs. I rarely do tow, but when I do it is usually only 15 miles at a time with a 3000 lb pontoon boat. Until the powertrain warranty is expired, I don't want to reprogram anything.

Like I said, I don't think it is slipping. Doesn't feel like transmission slip. Another way to look at it, if it is not surging, it is reducing power for a beat at a time while excellerating. Going at a constant speed and throttle, it seems smooth, hill or down hills. It is also very well composed shifting. Waaaay better than my 2016 Accord V6 that dances through the gears with clown shoes on.


*On board maintenance calculations notwithstanding.
 

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My wife's 2017 Pilot EX AWD 6-spd (w/ OEM cooler) has an annoying quirk. It surges under acceleration, but this isn't the good kind of acceleration surge. It seems to 'step' its way up the RPM range. It is more noticeable when pulling up a hill in 3rd gear since you have more time between shifts. I make sure my foot is planted against the side of the foot well to make sure it's not my foot moving the pedal. I'll look at the RPMs and they will 'tick' up in 100 - 200 RPM increment and it is just enough that you can also feel it. I've pretty much eliminated that it was a notchy pedal position sensor because the RPM steps are only seen under acceleration. It's not slipping since you'd feel deceleration and not acceleration during RPM step ups. I ran the issue past my favorite Service Advisor at the local Honda dealer, but he said he hadn't heard of anything like it.

I drained and filled (1x) the transmission fluid though it only had 25K miles. I don't notice the surging quite as much, but I haven't been able to drive it in hilly conditions since the fluid change. What else could I check? Mass Air Flow? Better gas to prevent knocking that I cannot humanly detect? Any ideas if this could be something serious?
If the RPM surge happens when you apply modest pressure to the pedal, it could simply be the torque converter lockup clutch releasing under acceleration load. If you pressed more pedal, then the transmission would downshift in response. This could be normal operation.

Or, it could be the lockup clutch slipping under load, which is not a good thing. Try setting cruise control at 60 mph up a modest grade. Watch the tach as you reach and hold speed. It should lock into a steady position once the lockup clutch sets. If you see a wavering tach, then the lockup clutch is slipping. If you are still in warranty mileage, then you need to document this with your service advisor. Get him to ride along and observe and document the issue. A slipping torque converter lockup clutch can overheat the fluid and damage the entire transmission.

VCM and the vehicle computer will engage/disengage the TC lockup repeatedly in an effort to smooth out vibrations. This seems to cause excessive wear to the lockup clutch. S-VCM or similar devices are intended to put VCM to sleep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If the RPM surge happens when you apply modest pressure to the pedal, it could simply be the torque converter lockup clutch releasing under acceleration load. If you pressed more pedal, then the transmission would downshift in response. This could be normal operation.

Or, it could be the lockup clutch slipping under load, which is not a good thing. Try setting cruise control at 60 mph up a modest grade. Watch the tach as you reach and hold speed. It should lock into a steady position once the lockup clutch sets. If you see a wavering tach, then the lockup clutch is slipping. If you are still in warranty mileage, then you need to document this with your service advisor. Get him to ride along and observe and document the issue. A slipping torque converter lockup clutch can overheat the fluid and damage the entire transmission.

VCM and the vehicle computer will engage/disengage the TC lockup repeatedly in an effort to smooth out vibrations. This seems to cause excessive wear to the lockup clutch. S-VCM or similar devices are intended to put VCM to sleep.
I really haven't noticed any issues with the RPM fluctuation while cruising steady at speed, but I will try your 'cruise control acceleration up a modest grade' test and see how it behaves during the acceleration and once it reaches the set speed.

One other note, when I did the drain and fill at 25K miles, the fluid didn't look (slightly darker than fresh) too bad, but it did smell like it had lead a hot life.
 

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My wife's 2017 Pilot EX AWD 6-spd (w/ OEM cooler) has an annoying quirk. It surges under acceleration, but this isn't the good kind of acceleration surge. It seems to 'step' its way up the RPM range. It is more noticeable when pulling up a hill in 3rd gear since you have more time between shifts. I make sure my foot is planted against the side of the foot well to make sure it's not my foot moving the pedal. I'll look at the RPMs and they will 'tick' up in 100 - 200 RPM increment and it is just enough that you can also feel it. I've pretty much eliminated that it was a notchy pedal position sensor because the RPM steps are only seen under acceleration. It's not slipping since you'd feel deceleration and not acceleration during RPM step ups. I ran the issue past my favorite Service Advisor at the local Honda dealer, but he said he hadn't heard of anything like it.

I drained and filled (1x) the transmission fluid though it only had 25K miles. I don't notice the surging quite as much, but I haven't been able to drive it in hilly conditions since the fluid change. What else could I check? Mass Air Flow? Better gas to prevent knocking that I cannot humanly detect? Any ideas if this could be something serious?
I think I'm experiencing something similar. The only difference would be (and I'm not 100% certain that it is) that rpm surge occurs when cruising at steady speed say 30mph and hitting the accelerator gently to increase speed without downshifting - rpm would spike up 100-200 revolutions and then settle back down and car would increase speed. I have no idea if that's normal or not. Just like yours, steady highway speeds in cruise control with no rpm dance, shifts are smooth as they can be. Fluid has been changed several times (at 20k triple change and then two double drains every 10k).
 

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I think I'm experiencing something similar. The only difference would be (and I'm not 100% certain that it is) that rpm surge occurs when cruising at steady speed say 30mph and hitting the accelerator gently to increase speed without downshifting - rpm would spike up 100-200 revolutions and then settle back down and car would increase speed. I have no idea if that's normal or not. Just like yours, steady highway speeds in cruise control with no rpm dance, shifts are smooth as they can be. Fluid has been changed several times (at 20k triple change and then two double drains every 10k).
I think that Honda would say that this is normal, because you are not setting the Transmission System Problem warning light and the P0741 trouble code. However, a spiking or wavering tach needle while the TC is trying to lockup is indicating some slip. Does this mean the TC lockup clutch is going to fail? Don't know. If fresh fluid helps, by all means change it. If you are under warranty, get the dealer to document it.
 

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I think that Honda would say that this is normal, because you are not setting the Transmission System Problem warning light and the P0741 trouble code. However, a spiking or wavering tach needle while the TC is trying to lockup is indicating some slip. Does this mean the TC lockup clutch is going to fail? Don't know. If fresh fluid helps, by all means change it. If you are under warranty, get the dealer to document it.
Can you explain what happens within the transmission when I'm cruising in say 5th gear at 30mph at steady speed? Is torque converter being locked up? What happens when I'm applying gas to accelerate - does torque converter unlocks and lock up clutch being engaged?
 

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Can you explain what happens within the transmission when I'm cruising in say 5th gear at 30mph at steady speed? Is torque converter being locked up? What happens when I'm applying gas to accelerate - does torque converter unlocks and lock up clutch being engaged?
I don't know enough detail about the transmission programming to answer this. In the interest of maximum fuel economy for CAFE standards, I do think that Honda has programmed the TC lockup to function at modest cruising speeds, as you describe. VCM will function as well, for greater fuel economy, and the computer will engage/disengage the lockup to help smooth out engine vibrations. If you accelerate, or apply more pedal on an uphill, at some point VCM will turn off and the lockup clutch will release prior to downshifting.

I think that it is easier to see TC lockup slip when cruising at about 55 to 65 mph. Our 2018 had several slip episodes severe enough to trigger the Transmission Warning light at about 65 mph. This occurred when the engine and transmission were fully warmed up and cruising on the freeway. When I stopped, shut down, and restarted, the light was gone. The warning reoccurred when cruising again at 65. I then stopped, restarted, and used D4 to accelerate to 70 mph, shifted to D, and then cruised above 75 mph. At the higher speed, the slip seemed to be gone, and the warning did not repeat for the 100 miles we drove that day. Honda later replaced the TC under warranty.
 

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I just verified rpm at speed:

50 mph is at 1500 rpm

60 mph is at 1750 rpm

This is a 2018 with the 6 speed, a new torque converter installed, and S-VCM installed.
 

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Bring it in if you are under warranty for TSB 17-015.

They will update the software on your car so it does not burn the transmission fluid and will give you a free 3x drain and fill.
would they need to verify the judder? I don't think I have, plus the number of D&F i've done thus far keeps that fluid fresh...

Although, when you had the software updated, have you noticed any improvement/difference in the transmission performance?
 

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not sure what they do, but I think part of it is to read the transmission data. When I took mine in with these exact same symptoms (revs would ratchet up when accelarating at part throttle with some load) they had it in for at most 30min, no driving, and came back with the "that's TSB 17-014 (or 5?)" and did a 3x DnF with a reprogramming straight away under warranty (38k miles). Fixed the problem completely. I'll be installing a transmission cooler as soon as I have spare funds!
 

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not sure what they do, but I think part of it is to read the transmission data. When I took mine in with these exact same symptoms (revs would ratchet up when accelarating at part throttle with some load) they had it in for at most 30min, no driving, and came back with the "that's TSB 17-014 (or 5?)" and did a 3x DnF with a reprogramming straight away under warranty (38k miles). Fixed the problem completely. I'll be installing a transmission cooler as soon as I have spare funds!
Just spoke to honda, they said bring it in and they'll run the test to verify it needs to be updated. I asked them what it would cost to get a cooler installed and they said honda offers them for AWD models, which is quite a news for me. I have one on the way arriving Friday and website I've ordered it from stated it fits my FWD exl. Was HONDA service advisor full of it? I'm pretty certain you guys out there with FWD have those coolers installed?
 

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Wow, are they going to give you a cooler at no cost? Smile and keep nodding your head! With all my tranny problems right after buying our used 2018, the best that I could get from the dealer was supposed cost price on the cooler. This was $350 installed. This dealer is providing a lifetime powertrain warranty if I keep all repairs and service approved, so I let them do the cooler, rather than do a non Honda aftermarket unit myself.
 

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Wow, are they going to give you a cooler at no cost? Smile and keep nodding your head! With all my tranny problems right after buying our used 2018, the best that I could get from the dealer was supposed cost price on the cooler. This was $350 installed. This dealer is providing a lifetime powertrain warranty if I keep all repairs approved, so I let them do the cooler, rather than do a non Honda aftermarket unit myself.
Sorry if I wasn't clear - I've ordered cooler on line and paid for it myself. Honda said they would look into updating the transmission software only and told me honda doesn't offer cooler for FWD pilots, only AWD. Is that correct? I was under impression oem cooler fits models. Am I wrong?
 

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Sorry if I wasn't clear - I've ordered cooler on line and paid for it myself. Honda said they would look into updating the transmission software only and told me honda doesn't offer cooler for FWD pilots, only AWD. Is that correct? I was under impression oem cooler fits models. Am I wrong?
I don't know why you couldn't install a cooler on a front wheel drive Pilot, but apparently Honda has other ideas. Is your Pilot front drive? If Honda won't install one, you could simply buy an aftermarket unit and install yourself, or have a shop do it for you. Unless Honda is claiming that you are voiding the warranty.
 
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