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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had an issue with my 04 transmission this morning, and wanted to get some opinions. I've been running Maxlife ATF in the trans since this summer, with 4 or 5 drain-and-fills total. All fluid levels are good, and I've had no major issues with the transmission since I bought this Pilot used in March, and since then have put 12k miles on it. This morning, it was chilly (about 50F) but there have been several much colder days lately and I've had no problems on those days. But today I started the engine, let it warm up for about a minute, then pulled forward out of my driveway and sped up, when it went to shift from 1st to 2nd gear, the engine just revved and the car rolled to a stop. It was like the gear-shift lever had been put in neutral, but it was still in D. I had no warning lights or anything unusual on the dash, just the D was lit solid. But even when sitting still and pressing the gas, the transmission wouldn't engage, it would just rev. I put the shift lever into P and then back to D, and then everything behaved normally after that. I had to make an important 400 mile trip today and couldn't cancel and the Pilot is my only vehicle, so I made the risky choice to continue on my trip. I had no other malfunctions, and everything was fine for the duration of my trip.

So was this what a slipping transmission feels like? Is this the beginning of the end for my transmission? Is this maybe due to the Maxlife and a sign that I should switch back to Honda ATF?
 

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Slipping is more like the engine revs higher than normal, but it still provides some motive force. I guess the first thing I'd do is check both ends of the shift mechanism for wear/looseness that might have allowed it to slip out of gear.
 

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In failure mode, it also often re-engages with an apparent BANG that you can hear and feel after the high-revving lag.

When I had mine replaced, I got a transmission cooler as part of the bargain. I've had some slow shifting on cold days before things warm up that I attribute to that.

I doubt that your choice of ATF has anything to do with it. I suspect that it is related to the electronics, not the mechanicals, especially if you didn't have anything else behave badly over 400 miles.
 

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In this thread, someone claims to have replaced their switches and it fixed their problem even though no CEL was set.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In this thread, someone claims to have replaced their switches and it fixed their problem even though no CEL was set.
I replaced the 3rd and 4th gear pressure switches back in the spring when I got the flashing D (or D3? ) indicator. Is there another one for first or second gear?

I did install a trans cooler kit this summer, but today wasn't as cold as other days when I had no problems, so I don't think it was cold fluid related.
 

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I replaced the 3rd and 4th gear pressure switches back in the spring when I got the flashing D
Did you use OEM or aftermarket switches? There have been reports of aftermarket switches failing.

Did it happen just that one time? Is it possible your shifter just wasn't engaged properly?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Did you use OEM or aftermarket switches? There have been reports of aftermarket switches failing.

Did it happen just that one time? Is it possible your shifter just wasn't engaged properly?
I used OEM switches from a Honda dealer.

It's only happened once. I just went out and tried to recreate it, since temps today are the same as yesterday. No unusual shifting this morning. Yesterday it definitely acted just like someone had bumped the gear shift lever into neutral, but nothing touched the lever when it dropped out, and the D on the dash was still lit.

I found this thread that explains the same behavior I had: Transmission issue
But unfortunately there's no solution provided their either.
 

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Shifter cable or range sensor, maybe?
 

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I found this thread that explains the same behavior I had: Transmission issue
But unfortunately there's no solution provided their either.
As mentioned in the thread I posted, it's suggested that the Honda ATF pump on this model is a little weak. If the shift solenoid filter screens have any clogging, it makes this situation worse. Sounds like a good idea to replace the old shift solenoids with new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
As mentioned in the thread I posted, it's suggested that the Honda ATF pump on this model is a little weak. If the shift solenoid filter screens have any clogging, it makes this situation worse. Sounds like a good idea to replace the old shift solenoids with new.
The single solenoids, or the dual solenoid pack? Can I just try cleaning the solenoid filter first before replacing, since it's not cheap?
 

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The single solenoids, or the dual solenoid pack? Can I just try cleaning the solenoid filter first before replacing, since it's not cheap?
Great question. Never had to do this. I assume there is a gasket too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update: it happened again yesterday morning as I was leaving my neighborhood and pulling out onto a busy street. Luckily no one was coming or I would have been t-boned. Temps were a little colder than last time it happened, but it's also been way colder lately, and I've driven over 1,000 miles since it slipped last month. But since this is my first winter with this Pilot, I'm wondering if it's just a cold weather thing, a side-effect of switching to Maxlife ATF and installing an aftermarket trans cooler, or if it's a sign of a bigger problem. It really makes me hesitate before pulling out into a busy road.
 

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Thanks for the Update,

Hi Andy, I haven't had this problem- yet.

But, I just read some threads and posts on here, that in fact do address this very thing. These threads were started years ago, and included the location of the solenoids, part #'s, ertc.
I haven't had to do it- yet.

IIRC, they changed out the transmission and or clutch solenoids? Have you tried this?
 

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Update: it happened again yesterday morning as I was leaving my neighborhood and pulling out onto a busy street. Luckily no one was coming or I would have been t-boned. Temps were a little colder than last time it happened, but it's also been way colder lately, and I've driven over 1,000 miles since it slipped last month. But since this is my first winter with this Pilot, I'm wondering if it's just a cold weather thing, a side-effect of switching to Maxlife ATF and installing an aftermarket trans cooler, or if it's a sign of a bigger problem. It really makes me hesitate before pulling out into a busy road.
I wouldn't think fluid at a fluid at all. If your not throwing a code, then possibly in the gear selector.
 

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[QUOTE="andywatson, post: 1682703, member: I'm wondering if it's just a cold weather thing, a side-effect of switching to Maxlife ATF and installing an aftermarket trans cooler, or if it's a sign of a bigger problem
[/QUOTE]
Doubtful the ATF cooler contributed to the issue unless debris floated through the lines. Residing in the north the ATF cooler is best run inline with the oem radiator trans cooler. Check your ATF for color, burnt or excess metallic buildup on the solenoid. Clogged filter? Clean the solenoids? Just tossing some things out there.
 

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[QUOTE="andywatson, post: 1682703, member: I'm wondering if it's just a cold weather thing, a side-effect of switching to Maxlife ATF and installing an aftermarket trans cooler, or if it's a sign of a bigger problem
Doubtful the ATF cooler contributed to the issue unless debris floated through the lines. Residing in the north the ATF cooler is best run inline with the oem radiator trans cooler. Check your ATF for color, burnt or excess metallic buildup on the solenoid. Clogged filter? Clean the solenoids? Just tossing some things out there.
[/QUOTE]
I seem to remember @andywatson flushing the cooler.
 

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Andy, have you ever replaced the external ATF filter? On the 2004, this is located on top of the transmission, hidden by the battery box. It's a small spin on filter with an oil line bolted into the top. Hot ATF is pumped from the transmission, thru the cooler built into the radiator, and then returns thru this external filter to feed the control solenoids.

I would suggest that you replace this filter. I have found them on Amazon for about $20. Honda wants about $60. You may also want to try a seal conditioner. Some forum members seem to like AT 205. If you try it, go easy. I think that it's a hot solvent, so just add one fourth or one half of the amount recommended. Good luck!
 

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What condition are your motor mounts? If the motor isn't sitting where it's supposed to, it can affect the shift linkage's function.
 
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