2000 Civic HX what's wrong? Local Honda dealer doesn't know

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To be brief, I've got a 2000 Civic HX automatic with a CVT (multimatic) transmission. For almost two years now I've driven it a lot, but it's never been driven hard. Contrary to what a lot of kids my age will say, I know my car's not fast.

Anyways, in July of 2001 my car got taken in for a warranty repair (maybe 15,000 miles on it). When accelerating with anything other than a feather touch, the whole engine compartment would shake violently. It progressed to that from being a mild shake, and to that from being a slight noise when I pushed the pedal hard.

The Honda dealer by my parents' house did the repair and noted it as "Service Bulletin 01-014 - Differential Seal or Axle Spring Clip"
I would describe the problem as an axle slipping as it tries to turn the wheel, or something along those lines (I don't know the specifics of the parts)

Over the next year I drove it a lot and with 35,836 miles on it, my transmission just slipped hard while I was on the interstate (revved to 6000 RPMs with no "go" while in drive). Since it was barely still in warranty, the same dealership had the tranny replaced.

Now I've got about 61,500 miles on it. When I accelerate, I hear that same grinding noise, progressively getting worse now, for about 3 and a half weeks. I took it in a week and a half ago to the local dealership, not the same one that did the previous work (I'm away at school). I showed them the work order for the first repair and described the problem. Only the service manager knew anything about a CVT and he was able to reproduce what I'd seen. They had no idea what was causing it and that service bulletin # was meaningless in their computer.

Given my car's problem history, they just got the OK from the district representative for Honda Corporate, to give me a new transmission free of charge. Now, I can understand the value in a fresh transmission that I don't pay for, but I'm concerned that it won't fix the problem (since it feels like it's coming from the wheel area) or keep it from coming back. And I also may feel a little guilty about wasting Honda's money...

Anyone know enough about the HX models to tell me if maybe there was a small design flaw in the drivetrain, or if there's something the local dealer doesn't know about?

posted by  bad duck

Don't have any hands on with the Honda CVT's (not old enough to see them at my shops) but will check TSB's etc and let you know what I find.

posted by  vwhobo

thanks...
I checked Alldata.com and didn't find 01-014 listed but that's what's printed on my work order.

I just talked to a car buff who said the symptoms I describe sure sounded to him like a differential seal issue, which he confirmed as not-going-to-be-better with a new transmission.

I'm sort of blown away that Honda wants to just forego the $2300 customer charge for a transmission replacement and give it to me, when the local dealership really had no idea what a CVT was save for the one service manager....
Hell, when I put the car in reverse it makes a high-pitch whine noise that it's always done, it's just part of the CVT's design. A service tech heard that and on that alone thought something was very wrong with it, until the service manager put him in his place.

posted by  bad duck

Just checked all my sources and also found that TSB number to be meaningless. There is one #01-024 but that covers fluid leaks. Oddly enough it says to disassemble the tansaxle for repair. Then TSB #98-061 says do not disassemble under any circumstances, only to replace. The fact that they contradict themselves is not material to your situation but the second one will explain why you're getting it replaced intead of repaired.

I have looked at Civic's with the CVT and the front end from the axles out is the same as a garden variety Civic. Those don't have any outstanding problems so the transaxle seems like a good bet.

My opinion is let them replace the transaxle and hope for the best. Good luck.

posted by  vwhobo

my 1999 HX had the same shuddering problem 2 years ago, and they 'fixed' it by changing the transmission fluid 3 times. now the problem is back, and i'm wondering if it's not just a few individuals with this problem or it's a problem with the cvt.

thanks,

posted by  emorog

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