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Honda and Acura Automatic Transmission Care. There is a proper method for flushing your Automatic Transmission.

Warning. improper fluid flushing can be detrimental to Honda and Acura automatic transmissions.

In this blog article, Accurate Automotive gives instruction for the proper way to flush Honda and Acura automatic transmissions, with reference to maintenance & service documents produced by American Honda Motor Company as recently as January 2008.

A 2007 Acura RL, with 33,000 miles was used for the photos that are posted below.

Because Honda and Acura automatic transmissions do not have a serviceable filter,  Accurate Automotive recommends changing the automatic transmission fluid every 12 months or 15,000 miles (whichever occurs first) on all Honda and Acura vehicles. This will ensure fresh clean transmission fluid is flowing through the critical transmission components including the torque converter impellers, solenoids, valve body and bearings.

Changing the fluid in your Honda / Acura automatic transmission, with Genuine Honda fluid will also result in good shifting quality and a long service life for the transmission, under normal circumstances. Changing the automatic transmission fluid once a year to care for the transmission should be adequate transmission maintenance. However, if it has been a few years since the fluid has been changed, or if you have never changed the fluid in your Honda or Acura automatic transmission, you may want to flush the system….by the proper method that is outlined by the manufacturer  .

American Honda has never recommended the use of an aftermarket automatic transmission flushing procedure, like the ones that your local 10 minute oil change facility may be trying to sell you.In fact, American Honda still strongly recommends that you avoid the use of them on any Honda or Acura vehicle.

The reasons not to flush a transmission using an aftermarket flushing system is:

  • You will not find any Honda or Acura maintenance schedules that require, promote, or approve of the aftermarket automatic transmission flush system procedure.
  • Aftermarket automatic transmission flush systems have not demonstrated an improvement in vehicle performance or reliability.
  • Aftermarket automatic transmission flush systems using solvents may leave cleaning solvent in the system being flushed, which can dilute the automatic transmission fluid. This can reduce the lubricating quality of the fluid and degrade it’s performance
  • Aftermarket automatic transmission flushing systems use filters that can actually filter out the vital additives in the fluid.These additives give the fluid a wider range of heat resistance and provide better fluid flow in colder temperatures. Other vital additives that can be filtered out of the transmission fluid in an automatic flush procedure,  provide corrosion resistance to internal transmission parts, and can decrease the lubricating ability of the ATF (automatic transmission fluid).

  • Damage to any Honda or Acura automatic transmission that is caused from aftermarket flushing,  will not be covered by the American Honda’s Factory warranty.

To properly flush a Honda or Acura automatic transmission:

  1. Drain the automatic transmission.
  2. Clean off the drain plug magnet.
  3. Refill the transmission to the proper fluid level with Genuine Honda ATF-Z1. This is honda part number 08200-9001 or Acura part number 08200-9001A. Although each have their own part number, both fluids under the two part numbers above are the same.This means that you can use the Honda fluid in an Acura or the Acura fluid in a Honda car. Use only Genuine Honda fluid of one of the two part numbers above. Do not use any other fluid or additives.
  4. Drive the vehicle on streets or highways where it can will shift through all gears and into  final drive  (torque converter lock-up).
  5. Bring the vehicle to a stopped position and shift the transmission into reverse, then neutral.
  6. Then shift into drive and repeat steps 4 and 5 (6 more times).

After operating the vehicle as described in the above steps 4 and 5 and 6, then repeat steps 1 thru 6    (3 to 4 additional times). Be sure to clean the drain plug magnet every time you drain the fluid and do not be alarmed if you see small fragments of metal on the drain plug magnet. The design of  Honda / Acura transmissions naturally produces some small metal fragments while driving and that is why the drain plug has a magnet on it….To catch the metal that is suspended in the fluid. 

This is the only proper way to properly and safely fluid the transmission on Honda and Acura cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs.

At Accurate Automotive and Accurate Auto Sales, we are dedicated to being an oasis for Honda and Acura owners in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Whether you are looking for the best alternative to the franchised dealership service department or looking for a newer Honda or Acura used car; we are here to help.  Come in and see our facility and you will see why  www.accuratecars.comis the best place in Nashville and Middle TN., to purchase and service Honda and Acura automobiles. Always expect Certified Quality in our Honda and Acura used cars.


10 Responses to “Honda and Acura Automatic Transmission Care. There is a proper method for flushing your Automatic Transmission.”

  1. 1
    Oscar Thibidoux Says:

    My wife and I were just talking today about all the different makes of cars we’ve had over the years. American and Foreign. We’ve had two Hondas – both were pretty much repair free the whole time we had them PLUS they both retained their value so much better than any other car we ever had. I have a Lexus now, which I’ve enjoyed. But I am definitely going to look back at Acura when it’s time to trade.

  2. 2
    ebrian Says:

    I think that coming back to Honda / Acura is a good idea.

    Our shop does allow Toyota and Lexus vehicles in and one of our technicians does have previous experience as a former Toyota dealership technician as well. But he will admit that Honda is easier to work on and has less issues.

    Lexus / Toyota are really nice cars and they are also very reliable as well, but I do believe that American Honda builds a better product that is cheaper in maintenance / repair costs and seems to not show it’s age as quickly.

    I do wish Honda would get their leather interior from the same vendor as Toyota, because the leather seats do hold up better in the Lexus products.

    Thanks for the interest in the blog articles.

    I invite you to visit often.

  3. 3
    Chris Says:

    I know that Honda (and you guys) highly suggest using Honda transmission fluid as well as brake fluid. How about antifreeze/coolant? Does that matter as much? The reason I ask, is that I have a 92 Accord up here in St. Louis and it needs a flush and fill, the car doesn’t seem to get as warm as it should. It has probably been 5 years since the last radiator flush.

  4. 4
    ebrian Says:

    Hey Chris,

    Yes, I suggest using the Honda Type 2 coolant. It is premixed and does not require any water / measuring.

    If you drain the radiator and overflow jug, your car should only require 1 gallon. Don’t flush the system….Just drain and fill.

    If the engine is not warming up enough to get heat inside the car, most likely your thermostat is stuck partially open.

    Get a Genuine Honda thermostat and gasket and one gallon of Honda Type 2 coolant, and you should be in good shape. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND only using the Genuine Honda T-stat. Aftermarket theromostats are very unpredictable.


  5. 5
    LiveHonda Says:

    Great info but you guys are bought the Honda marketing of its oil the whole line and sinker. The fact is Honda does not make its ATF oil, AFTON CHEMICAL MAKES the “Z1 special sauce” for Honda.

    Afton Chem is the same OEM “special sauce” manufacturer who supplies oil additives package for Amsoil, Quakerstate, Pennzoil, Mobil, STP, Castrol, Shell etc… And supplies factory & service-fill ATF oil for GM, FORD, Daimler Chrysler. The famous Shell V_Power is also Afton’s product.

    Yes, motor oil and ATF have different specs and auto manufacturers for the sake of marketing says you should use theirs and nothing else; but they too have to turn to oil experts like Afton Chem (parent company NEWMARKET CORP) to create the right blend for its application.

    However, the actual oil components are not that different when you are compare apples to apples; say high end Amsoil to Mobile 1. Amsoil contains more lubricity additives and less base oil, hence so it claims higher temp range and longer change intervals, but does your car ever reach those range?

    Z-1 is very special but no more special than the new Dexron-6 that Afton co-developed with GM to run on its 6sp auto box.

    The point is, if an aftermarket says it meets Honda specs then the special sauce in that bottle exceeds the min requirements of Honda but that doesn’t mean that unless the bottle says Z1-exclusive for Honda that you can’t use it.

    Try the dex-6 oil in your honda 😉

  6. 6
    ebrian Says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize I was being suckered into a big marketing ploy by American Honda…..

    I know there are a lot of die-hard Amsoil followers out there and I know that many of you will likely respond negatively to this blog or mention my response in other forums, but here it goes:

    There are several reasons that we do not use AMSOIL products in our Service Department and many of them coincide with why we do not use AMWAY soaps and detergents. First of all, here in Middle Tennessee, Amsoil has never really taken off. It is marketed in a paramid type distribution system, sort of like Conklin lubricants. In the ’70s, my dad was buying Amsoil out of a distributor’s house about 15 miles away from where I grew up. Thirty years later, you still have to purchase it through a paramid type distribution system.

    While their lubricants may be the best in existence, 35 years is long enough to market a “super lubricant” and get it available in a retail-type, readily available establishment.

    I am not going to purchase a new Acura TL, or Honda Pilot and gamble on the guarantee that the alternative fluids are the same as or even superior to the fluids that I KNOW TO BE ACCEPTED by the manufacturer of the product.

    You said that Dextron 6 is suitable for Honda automatic transmissions. A well known Honda and Acura transmission rebuilder in California told me to use the Honda Z1 fluid exclusively in the Honda and Acura automatic transmissions. He went on to tell me that when they disassemble the core transmissions for rebuilding, that many times they can tell which transmissions have had alternative fluids in them by the condition of the internal hardware parts (oxidation included) and the wear to the rubber seals….And he should know because his company distributes over 200 rebuilt Honda and Acura transmissions per month.

    Afterall, what are you saving and what is your ultimate goal? Are you saving time in chasing down the Dextron 6? Are you saving any money, and how much money? An average annual transmission service on a Honda or Acura vehicle requires 3.5 quarts of fluid and the quarts are under $9.00 each. How much is the Dextron 6 and what are you gambling? If the transmission does go out because of an internal problem that is not associated with the fluid, a warranty company could still say the “wrong fluid used” as an excuse to void warranty coverage. I personally won’t take that risk for my own vehicles or the vehicles that our customers own.

    If the manufacturer says use a certain brand, such as American Honda specifying the use Honda Automatic Transmission fluid or the use of Mobile 1 motor oil in the Turbo-charged Acura RDX; then it is in the best interest of the vehicle owner to exclusively use that brand.

    When an engine goes out or a transmission quits pulling, there is a definate relief in knowing that the manufacturer’s specified fluids were being used at the time of product failure.

    At Accurate we use the Genuine Honda specified fluids to ensure compatability to oil seals and proper lubricating properties that have been accepted by the folks who designed, tested and built the Honda and Acura products.


  7. 7
    Dave Chase Says:

    Hi There!

    Thanks SO much for these postings. After reading through your instructions for servicing the tranny, are you saying the fluid needs between 3 and 4 changes in order to see the same results as a flush? Just double checking before I go and buy 12-16 quarts of fluid.

    Many Thanks, Dave

  8. 8
    ebrian Says:

    Hey Dave,
    Yes, you simply drain the fluid, clean the magnet on the end of the drain plug, & fill it back up with Genuine Honda ATF. Depending on the Honda vehicle, it will take between 2 3/4 quarts and 3 1/4 quarts every time that you drain the fluid. All of the Honda and Acura V6 units take a little over three quarts. With that said, if you want to flush it right; change the fluid and then drive it a few days. This allows the newer fluid to circulate around the torque converter impellers as well as into the shift solenoids and valve body, which will wash out more metal fragments that will end up on the drain plug magnet. You will see that the amount of metal that collects on the magnet will become less and less every time that you drain and fill. You will also notice that the fluid that you are draining out will become more clear and the oxidized fluid is removed with each fluid change. A flush is not really necessary though, unless it has been an extended amount of time since the automatic transmission fluid was changed. Drain and fill one time a year or every 15,000 miles for normal servicing of your Honda and Acura automatic transmissions….And for fluid use the Honda ATF (Honda Part #08200-9001).


  9. 10
    Use Genuine Honda Fluids for Best Results when Servicing your Honda and Acura Auto | Honda and Acura Used Car Blog | Accurate Cars of Nashville TN Says:

    […]  In an earlier blog post, we ademently expressed our recommendation of only using Genuine Honda ATF,  when servicing the automatic transmissions in all Honda and Acura vehicles. http://accuratecars.com/blog/2008/12/11/the-proper-method-for-flushing-honda-and-acura-automatic-tra…   […]

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