Most shops that repair Hondas on a regular basis are well aware that the No. 1 Honda transmission failure is the torque converter clutch. If you happen to be new to world of Honda trans, here’s how the story typically develops, so you will recognize it when it happens:
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The customer drives down the road and suddenly it neutrals, so he coasts to the side of the road. He tries reverse, then drive again. If he’s creative, he may even pull it to manual low and 2. Nothing. If he’s really clever, he may even check the fluid level. Seeing it is not low, he shuts it off for a couple minutes while trying to figure out what to do. At this point he will typically make one of two choices:
A. A tow truck deposits it at your bay door. You start it up and drive it right in the shop, and the customer says, “Hey! How’d you get it to move?”
B. He waits a while, starts the engine, pulls it to D, and it goes in gear. He takes off down the road and goes a mile or so, then it neutrals again. He repeats the pattern until he finally gets it to your shop.
In both scenarios above, you explain to the customer that his trans has a clogged filter. When he asks if you can service the trans, you then have the distinct honor of informing him that it requires trans removal, disassembly, a complete bath, and several hours of valve body and solenoid work because the unit is contaminated with converter clutch lining. And oh yeah, it also needs a new converter.
Whether you are rebuilding the trans in your own shop, having it rebuilt by a local trans shop, or installing a reman unit from either the dealer or an aftermarket source, there are a couple of very important things that need your attention if you want the converter to have a reasonable lifespan. But it is equally important you understand why these things are important. So let us first discuss lockup clutch function and learn why the converters fail.