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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 1997 CR-V with about 120,000 miles on it. Very well taken care of runs great. I bought it about 1.5 years ago. Not a daily driver. I had the trans fluid changed when I bought it as a matter of course.

Lately I have noticed the following transmission issue.

When cold, the transmission will shift into neutral and the engine rev high between 3-4, although it could be 2-3. Otherwise smooth shifting and running, and once warm the problem disappears. Fluid is clean, no sign of any particles of any sort. No strange noises or gear noises.

I have seen that there are at least two external valves that can be cleaned, but the fact that this disappears when warm seems to indicate to me that a clogged filter isn't the issue.

Could it be possible that a non-Honda fluid could be responsible?

If anyone has any thoughts I would sure appreciate it! Thanks in advance for any help.
 

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1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
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Check the shift solenoids individually to make sure they are functioning properly. If one of them is sticking it can cause shifting issues.

I would also check the linear solenoid to make sure that is functioning right, although if I recall correctly, a malfunctioning linear solenoid will prevent the car from shifting out of gear not the other way.

If it's not one of those, I would suspect a worn clutch, unfortunately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Check the shift solenoids individually to make sure they are functioning properly. If one of them is sticking it can cause shifting issues.

I would also check the linear solenoid to make sure that is functioning right, although if I recall correctly, a malfunctioning linear solenoid will prevent the car from shifting out of gear not the other way.

If it's not one of those, I would suspect a worn clutch, unfortunately.
Thank you for your help.

I have seen the procedure for checking those on eBay and do that, thanks.

If it is a worn clutch, why would it manifest itself only in one gear selection and not others? Does each gear have its own clutch assy?
 

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1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
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This is one of the simplest automatic transmissions. Each gear has its own clutch, except for reverse, which uses fourth gear, and first which has several clutches because there are two first gear modes. If you have a bad clutch, the only way to fix it is to rebuild the transmission because they are all well inside.

Do not go to eBay or some sort of third party for service instructions. There is a service manual posted at the top of this section of this forum. I would reference that, or get a hard copy. if you do get a paperback service manual, make sure it is the Honda service manual and not a third party's manual.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you.

Bummer. I don't know if I will be doing it myself. I live overseas and I can get a rebuild/good used for about $350 installed so I might go that route.

My days of digging into the guts of a transmission are probably behind me. . I did the one on my old AMC Hornet years ago in my parent's garage. I didn't have the proper jack so I lowered the transmission onto my chest and then slid on my back out from under the car :)

I do have the Honda manual pdf that I downloaded, thanks!
 

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1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
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Here's my advice on that. If you throw a used transmission in, it may have the same issue as your old one or worse.

What I would do is, try to take your car to a transmission specialist and see if they can diagnose and repair it without pulling it out for rebuild.

If it does have to get rebuilt, I would suggest rebuilding it. if you have it rebuilt, you know all the parts inside are new, and the transmission is solid. You have no such guarantees with any used transmission or a transmission rebuilt by the shop that is not local to you.

The other thing you're running to if you want to just swap the transmission out, is compatibility issues. A transmission from a 99 to 01 CRV is absolutely not compatible with your car. if you wanted to replace the transmission it would absolutely have to be one built specifically for a 97 or 98 CRV. A lot of people selling transmissions don't bother to learn this. They then list them as a 97 to 01 transmission, so you don't know if the one they're selling is compatible with your car or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here's my advice on that. If you throw a used transmission in, it may have the same issue as your old one or worse.

What I would do is, try to take your car to a transmission specialist and see if they can diagnose and repair it without pulling it out for rebuild.

If it does have to get rebuilt, I would suggest rebuilding it. if you have it rebuilt, you know all the parts inside are new, and the transmission is solid. You have no such guarantees with any used transmission or a transmission rebuilt by the shop that is not local to you.

The other thing you're running to if you want to just swap the transmission out, is compatibility issues. A transmission from a 99 to 01 CRV is absolutely not compatible with your car. if you wanted to replace the transmission it would absolutely have to be one built specifically for a 97 or 98 CRV. A lot of people selling transmissions don't bother to learn this. They then list them as a 97 to 01 transmission, so you don't know if the one they're selling is compatible with your car or not.
I really appreciate your advice, particularly on the need to get the right tranny if I went that route. I am in Thailand, which might be the CR-V capital of the world. Even the older ones like mine seem to be ubiquitous. I doubt you could go 5 minutes without passing a couple gen 1 versions. Taxes on imported vehicles is very high, so cars tend to maintain their value and be maintained better. Labor for repairs is cheaper which also contributes to cars being maintained well. A lot of parts come in from Japan as well, new and used since they can only economically run cars for about 5 years.

I digress. I have a question. Today while out for a drive I put the shift lever in each gear - 4, 3, 2, 1 and found that it operated just fine. I am wondering if I might have diagnosed and/or described the issue incorrectly (slippage rather than failure to engage), because wouldn't it be slipping in 3rd if the problem was the 3rd gear (or other gear) clutch?
 

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1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
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I would pay attention to the moment when you shift gears. That seemed to be your problem before. See if it slips right at the moment when you switch from one gear to another while accelerating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I would pay attention to the moment when you shift gears. That seemed to be your problem before. See if it slips right at the moment when you switch from one gear to another while accelerating.
Thanks. I will do that tomorrow and report back.
 

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Boy it sounds like you are lucky, I paid about $3500 usd for my trans to be rebuilt in my 99 V about 5 or more years ago, but I didn’t get a new car or a new car loan, so I’ve got my money’s worth I’d say
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Took it through its paces cold today. 1, 2, 3 no issues. It's 4th. It's either slipping, or not entering the gear, not sure which. Once warm, say 5 minutes, everything is fine, kicks down and goes back up under hard acceleration, no slippage or going out of gear. Other than this issue the transmission is smooth and quiet, no clunks or rough shifts. The fluid is clean and doesn't smell burnt, so I wonder if it isn't o-rings somewhere that expand and seal as the tranny warms up?

I consulted with a shop I know that specializes in these and a rebuild is about 1000 US. The other shop suggested a 2nd hand from Japan for around 500. I would probably go with the former.

Clutching at straws (bad pun intended), is there any possibility that this could be due to using the wrong fluid? Would it be worth a couple changes with the genuine Honda fluid?

One more thing. If faced with the need to tear it down and repair, any harm in trying one of the transmission treatment fluids by K&W before going that route? If I got an extra 6mos to a few years it would be worth the 10 dollar investment. I know that one of their functions is to soften hardened seals, so if that's what's causing this I am thinking it might be worth giving it a shot.
 

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1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
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There are o-rings to seal the piston that is inside the clutch, but you're most likely looking at just worn clutch plates that require a little bit more travel until they warm up and expand a little.

If you're going to tear it down and rebuild it, there's no harm in using a repair fluid, but most of those do the opposite of what you want. They will make the fluid thicker, which is what happens when it's cold rather than making it thinner like when it's hot.

Something I do out of habit because I used to drive a stick shift, is I let up on the gas when I want the car to change gears. One thing that does is it uses the automatic gear shifting system to make the car change gears when I want it to, rather than when I'm not expecting it. The other thing that it does is it unloads the drivetrain at the moment of the gear change. It may make it easier to drive your car, or it may not. Might be worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There are o-rings to seal the piston that is inside the clutch, but you're most likely looking at just worn clutch plates that require a little bit more travel until they warm up and expand a little.

If you're going to tear it down and rebuild it, there's no harm in using a repair fluid, but most of those do the opposite of what you want. They will make the fluid thicker, which is what happens when it's cold rather than making it thinner like when it's hot.

Something I do out of habit because I used to drive a stick shift, is I let up on the gas when I want the car to change gears. One thing that does is it uses the automatic gear shifting system to make the car change gears when I want it to, rather than when I'm not expecting it. The other thing that it does is it unloads the drivetrain at the moment of the gear change. It may make it easier to drive your car, or it may not. Might be worth a try.
Thank you very much for your analysis. I grew up on sticks so I do that do the letting up thing sometimes too.

Since the problem seems to be getting worse I don't really have anything to lose by doing a Hail Mary with the treatment fluid so I will give that a go. I will report back with results once it is clear that it worked at least temporarily or didn't work at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Update: About three weeks ago I poured in a bottle of K-R Transmission Tune-Up (bottle is in trash so I am not sure of the name). The next day the problem I mentioned here disappeared, and over the four different times I have driven it since the problem has not shown up. So far so good. If I remember, I will report back at significant milestones, or if it shows the same problem again. Thanks again to all with advice! :)
 

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1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
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If you can find the same of that fluid, that'd be awesome, in case someone else needs to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If you can find the same of that fluid, that'd be awesome, in case someone else needs to use it.
It was K &W Trans X. Cost me about USD 20 here in Thailand, undoubtedly less in the USA. Given the symptoms, which I may not have adequately described, I suspect it was servo seals or the like that had hardened and prevented the one gear from engaging until the transmission warmed up and the seals expanded. It didn't really feel like clutch plates were slipping and there was no sign of discoloration or burnt smell in the fluid. In any case, even if the transmission goes bust tomorrow it was money well spent since it gave the transmission an extra 3 weeks of life. I will be sure to report back here if it starts showing that symptom again. Thanks again for your advice, appreciated!
 

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That's great news.
Mine is vibrating a lot at cruise speeds. I suspect busted differential ball bearings.
Once I replace it or fix it, I will install an external transm. Fluid filter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That's great news.
Mine is vibrating a lot at cruise speeds. I suspect busted differential ball bearings.
Once I replace it or fix it, I will install an external transm. Fluid filter.
So far, so good. In retrospect it seems pretty certain (to me) that my issue is related to hardened seals. The treatment softened those up. How long it works is impossible to say, but $20 for an additional 3 months (so far) of use is a bargain.

Good luck with your issue!
 
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