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Transmission system warning

64669 Views 113 Replies 37 Participants Last post by  sequoiasoon
My wife has a 17 Ex with 45,000 miles. While on the highway driving she got a transmission system warning pop on the dash with a flashing D and P. When the car shuts off it goes away and I was able to get the warning to come back up on the highway again at about 65 mph. Car feels and drives fine. No apparent issues other than the warnings. I have a code reader but it says no codes found. Plan to take to dealer in am. Hope it’s covered under power train and hopefully nothing major. Just wanted to see if anyone else had similar.


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Just got it back. Part came in this morning and transmission replaced today. Paperwork said the code was P0741. Test drove it for awhile. Seems to drive the same as before! Hopefully it’s the last issue we have!
I had the same issue on 2018 EX-L. We purchased the Pilot used with 58k miles. Transmission system problem flashed on display when I set cruise control at 65 mph. P0741 diagnostic code, just like you had. Dealer changed out ATF, said it's fixed. Problem repeated about one hour into a 3 hour drive. Again, at 65 mph in cruise. I could see by the wavering tach needle, that the torque converter lockup was slipping at 65 mph. Honda replaced the torque converter under warranty.

I am convinced that this is the result of the VCM system, which plays the lockup clutch back and forth as it tries to smooth out the vibrations of VCM. Excessive wear and premature failure of the torque converter lockup clutch is the result. At 58k miles, my torque converter was shot. By the way, my service rep had to delay repair almost 2 weeks, because Honda has a nationwide shortage of torque converters. Maybe because VCM is eating them up?

I just ordered an S-VCM unit, so I can disable this function. Just sayin--
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My only question is can I be confident in the car with a remanufactured transmission once it goes past 60k and it’s no longer covered. I’d really hate to have to trade the thing in but I don’t want to be hesitant to take long family trips in it.
I would suggest that you install a VCM disabling device. Honda has admitted that the VCM system is able to cycle the torque converter lockup clutch and allow a certain amount of slip, in order to smooth out vibrations. My theory is that this excessive cycling causes the clutch to wear out prematurely. Sometimes in the warranty period, and sometimes not.

I just ordered S-VCM for my 2018 EX-L. There are other devices out there as well.
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Are you still under warranty ? Have the dealer check it out, and read any transmission trouble code. P0741 means torque converter lockup clutch is slipping. Probably need a new torque converter or new transmission.
I've had continual trans problems. Pilot is back in the shop at 66k. At 44k the trans was doing the juttering where it would have little power until you hit about 20mph then the system would drop into gear and shutter all without a warning light or code. 3 trans flushes fixed it, but last month developed an emissions problem and juttering happened one more time. Emissions problems were fixed by injector replacement. Now the trans light came on, back to the shop. They said it needed 3 more trans flushes. Got the car back and the first day and trans light came back on, back to the shop again. Now they recommend torque converter replacement. We'll see how this goes.
Do you have the six speed?
Yes, EXL 2017
We have a 2018 EX-L, we purchased with about 58k miles. It was most likely a lease return that was ridden hard and put away wet. Anyway, we had immediate transmission codes flashing on the dash. Long story short, Honda replaced the torque converter. I have installed S-VCM device to prevent future problems.
My 2017 Pilot has 48491 miles on it. About 6 months ago I had all these warning lights: hill start assist, trail stability, road departure, vehicle stability, emissions system, power steering came on. The service dept reset the alerts and told us to replace the battery. Seemed to run fine after that. Yesterday a new transmission warning came on, with a few others and the car won't move now. I fear the worst. This is my 6th Honda and I think I got a lemon.
You should still be covered by the 60k mile powertrain warranty on the transmission. I hope that you called the dealer and had them take the vehicle in for service. They should be able to read the trouble codes that were triggered by the transmission problem. Ask them what the trouble codes were. Have them put this information on the service record, and save your copy. If you indeed have a bad torque converter (and I don't want to make that assumption), then the trouble codes will reinforce this diagnosis, and Honda will be responsible for a warranty repair.

My experience was that the dealer did a transmission fluid change and told me that everything was now fine. Within 100 miles, the same transmission trouble code appeared, and my Pilot went back to the dealer. Initially, the service advisor told me that they would be installing a new transmission. Then, the Honda tech support advised the dealer service dept. that only a new torque converter was required. I was ok with this, as shifting was fine, and the problem that I observed was torque converter lockup slip at 65 mph. My advice is to ask a lot of questions about what is really happening, ask them what trouble codes they read with their diagnostic computer, take notes, have the dealer document everything they say in writing, and save the paper.
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I have a 2018 Pilot E-XL. I had some slight jerking when going up slight hills. The tach needle would move in time while this happened. The dealer recommended changing the transmission fluid. I did, and no more slight jerking. However, on Feb. 11, 2021, the transmission warning system light came on. I assumed it was a glitch as it was -44F. But the warning would disappear when I turned the car off and on and not come back on for days or weeks. This past Sunday we were coming home from Minneapolis and it stayed on the entire two hundred miles it took to get home. The car ran fine! So today I took it to the dealer and was told that it is the torque converter. They said they are on back order and have no idea when they are going to get any in. If that wasn’t bad enough, he then told me that it will cost $3705 to fix it. There are only 65,000 miles on my car, I haven’t even had it a year, I don’t have an extended warranty, and I don’t have $3705 to fix it. I used to love Honda’s as they would last forever. Now I sad and sickened that this happened. I’ll be paying on a dead horse. So depressed.
This almost sounds like what happened with our 2018 EX-L , purchased at Bloomington Richfield Honda with 58,500 miles. Did the first transmission warning light occur before you had 60k miles on the Pilot? Is there any way to document this? I am not sure, but I believe that when this warning triggers, the vehicle computer stores the information on just when and how this light appeared. The dealer should be able to read when this trouble code appeared. If you still fall outside of the 60k warranty period, I think that you should have a good case to appeal to Honda corporate for consideration and sharing the cost of a new torque converter. And then, please install an S-VCM unit!
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I am new here. I have a 2018 Pilot with 26,000 miles which I bought brand new. In October 2020, after almost three years of driving, I had my first experience with the transmission system warning as you described. The dealer flushed the system and everything seemed fine until 2 days ago. Again, while driving in the freeway to my destination, transmission system warning. The message went away when the car was turned off and then on again. I drove back home and the transmission warning came up again. My car has been at the dealer for 2 days and they said they are speaking with Honda headquarters to decide what to do next. This is the third day I do not have a car and they just called and said they need to replace the torque converter but the part won't be in for a week! I want to know what your experience has been so far since your new tranny. I am afraid this will happen again and I will need one but luckily I am under warranty still. Had I known about these problems that seem common, I would have never bought a Pilot. I bought it because I love my Accord and it never failed me. I still have it....a 2004 and it never has needed a new transmission!

My question to you is this...what is a S-VCM unit and what does it do?

In answer to your question regarding my experience with this warranty repair: When the transmission system warning symbol came on, I immediately drove back to the dealership where we had purchased the Pilot and left it there for service. They did a 3x drain and fill of the transmission with Honda ATF, did a test drive, and pronounced the problem solved. A week later, the transmission warning reoccurred during a out of town trip. It seemed like cruising on the freeway at 65 mph would cause the torque converter lockup clutch to slip and trigger the warning. If I cruised at 75 mph, the slip did not occur.

When we returned home, I left the Pilot with the dealer again. It sat in their lot for two weeks while we waited for shipment of a new torque converter. I also insisted on a new external transmission filter at Honda's expense, and I paid for the installation of an auxiliary cooler (they charged me for the parts only). When I got the Pilot home, I installed an S-VCM device to disable the Honda VCM system. As was noted by Viper in the post above, the S-VCM unit tricks the car's computer into thinking that the engine is not quite warmed up. The computer then does not activate the VCM program. The VCM program gives a slight increase in fuel economy, but causes multiple reliability issues.

Since that time, the Pilot has worked fine, with no trouble codes and no slip during cruise, as shown by watching the tachometer.

It is interesting that Honda still has a shortage of new torque converters in their supply chain. My guess is that there is a steady rate of TC failure in the Gen 3 Pilots, due to the Gen 3 VCM system.
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I agree with Viper that the installation is not that difficult. If you are familiar with changing out the air filter on a car, or installing a new battery, this job is about the same level of difficulty. The most challenging part for me was to unclip the existing connection on the coolant temperature sensor. This connection can be a bit resistant to coming loose. If this all sounds unfamiliar to you, then a local trusted mechanic should be able to install it easily. Don't ask the dealer to do this, as the VCM system is part of the fuel economy package for Honda to meet federal CAFE standards. I would bet that a dealer would refuse to install the S-VCM.
Did you find out what the problem was? This happened to my 2017 honda pilot 2 weeks ago. Took it to dealer & they checked it for codes nothing came up so they drained the Transmission fluid 3 times & put new one in there. The same light came on again today 🤦🏽‍♀️ don't know what it can be.
When the transmission system light came on the first time, it must have set a trouble code in the computer. Your car’s symptoms sound like torque converter clutch failure, P0741. Have the dealer check for codes again. Is the Pilot under a powertrain warranty?
Hi. I'm having the same issue. What did you have to do to correct that?
What year Pilot? 6 speed? How many miles?
If I install the SVCM device, am I advised to remove it before taking the car to the dealer, or doing a trade-in? I am getting another vehicle through work so plan to sell the Pilot.

My 2017 Pilot EX-L (100,000 km) started having the RPM "juttering" issue a couple of years (~40,000 km) ago, usually at 1200rpm (any speed). My mechanic couldn't find a solution and unfortunately I didn't stumble on this forum until recently. No error codes were thrown during this time.

A month ago it finally threw the P0741 code at highway speed, then came on again a few days later also at highway speed. I did the recommended 3x transmission fluid flush and error code went away, and the RPM juttering disappeared. Unfortunately though, the P0741 came back this past weekend during a road trip. The juttering is still gone and the car seems to be shifting fine, but once I hit 95km/h the error code comes on.

I've ordered the SVCM device and will install it next week. I'm hoping the error code will go away once the device is installed. As I said, the car seems to run fine and I don't detect any issues with shifting. I also don't do any towing.

I've been driving Hondas for 30 years so this issue is definitely a let-down!
The 6 speed transmission +VCM will eat up the torque converter clutch. Your Pilot mileage is right about where the torque converters will die due to clutch failure. By all means, install a VCM disabler, like S-VCM, and do 3x drain and fill ATF service with Valvoline Maxlife ATF. You may buy a few more years of life for your transmission.
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