The Honda Odyssey minivan made its debut in 1995, and while it has remains a popular make and model alongside Acura, Toyota, and Ford minivan models, the Odyssey has been known for its transmission issues. To avoid a serious problem, some mechanics have suggested it may be advisable to change the transmission fluid in a Honda Odyssey or Honda Odyssey Touring more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. Performing regular maintenance should keep a car owner from experiencing a transmission problem.
Regular transmission maintenance, and maintenance in general, is the key to avoiding expensive repairs. Brake fluid levels and engine oil should all be checked and monitored on a regular basis. A very modest investment in transmission fluid and regular filter changes can potentially save car owners a large sum later on. Transmission repairs and replacements in a Honda Odyssey are often as expensive as engine repairs and replacements. Some vehicles may be more vulnerable to a faulty transmission if the owner fails to keep up with scheduled transmission fluid changes.
Transmission fluid is formulated to last for a very long time, even under demanding conditions. However, the additives in the fluid can oxidize, break down, or plate onto the interior parts of the transmission. These additives in the transmission fluid offer wear protection, stick or slip protection, and corrosion protection.
Official Honda Recommendations
Honda recommends that only its own transmission fluid and filters be used. This is called OEM and stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Genuine Honda transmission filters are specifically designed by Honda, so the likeliness of compatibility in terms of spec requirements is greater. Non-OEM brands that manufacture transmission fluid include AMSOIL, Super Tech, and Valvoline.
Honda recommends a transmission fluid change every 30,000 miles in the Odyssey. More information on specific Odyssey models is available in the Honda Odyssey owner's manual. For the 2011 Honda Odyssey and later models, only the newer fluids should be used, such as the ATF DW1 fluid. ATF stands for Automatic Transmission Fluid and all transmission fluids begins with the letters ATF. On 2010 and earlier models, it is acceptable to intermix the ATF DW1 with the previous formulation, ATF Z1.
The manufacturer advises against using services that use flush and fill machines. Part of the concern is that forcing fluid under pressure through the transmission can dislodge sludge that is innocuously deposited in various crevasses. If this material is suddenly dislodged, it can potentially clog the filter and interfere with the operation of the internal parts.
Honda considers a fluid change to consist of draining and refilling the fluid four times. Given that about one third of the fluid drains with each drain and refill cycle, this process results in about 93 percent of the transmission fluid being replaced with new fluid.
Changing Honda Odyssey Transmission Fluid
Mechanics often recommend changing anywhere from one third to one half of the fluid at fairly frequent intervals. This is a 3-quart transmission fluid change. However, opinions vary. Some experts suggest changing one third of the fluid in a Honda Odyssey transmission every 15,000 miles. The one-third figure is used because this is approximately the amount of transmission fluid that drains away at any one time if the transmission oil plug is removed in order to drain the oil. This replenishes the additives before they are significantly depleted. Replenishing the additives helps to preserve the corrosion and wear protection that these substances offer. It also helps the additives minimize slipping and sticking in the gears. Always use the Honda transmission fluid recommended in the Odyssey owner's manual.
To do a basic transmission fluid change in a Honda Odyssey, follow these instructions:
Jack up the vehicle on the driver's side of the car, behind the front wheel.
Place a drain pan beneath the drain plug so that it is ready to catch oil drippings.
Unplug the transmission oil plug using a 1 cm ratchet. Turn the plug counterclockwise and once it is loose, remove it completely with your fingers. As soon as it is unplugged, oil comes out quickly.
Wait for several minutes as the fluid drains from the transmission. All of the fluid should drain completely.
Measure the amount of fluid that has drained from the transmission. It should be about 3 quarts.
Clean the magnet on the drain plug, replacing the aluminum crush washer if necessary. (A crush washer can be purchased from the Honda dealership.)
Tighten the drain plug back and lower the car back down to the ground.
Open the hood of the car and locate the transmission. Remove the filler plug that sits on top of the transmission.
Using a long funnel, pour in 3 quarts of ATF Z1 or ATF DW1 fluid, depending on the tech specs outlined by the dealership where you purchased the car. The goal here is to replace the used fluid with the same amount of fresh transmission fluid.
9. Replace the fuel plug and turn on the engine. Once the car has warmed up, drive the vehicle for 10 miles or more to successfully mix the new fluid with the old.
The 3x Drain Method
Some people use the "3x drain method" to change the bulk of the transmission fluid in a Honda. If regular maintenance is performed, the 3x drain and fill method is likely not necessary. However, if regular maintenance is not performed, performing this extensive refill will replace almost all of the transmission fluid in the vehicle. This is also sometimes called a "3x drain and fill." While this seems like a complicated process, the steps are quite simple.
Complete the steps outlined above, draining and refilling the transmission three times. Like before, the oil that drains out of the transmission is replaced with new transmission fluid. The minivan is then driven for 10 miles or more again. Finally, the process is repeated for a third time. Care must be taken to properly return the transmission oil plug to the proper position each time. Mathematically, this 3x drain process will replace about 89 percent of the transmission fluid.
Changing transmission fluid more frequently than Honda recommends has resulted in smoother shifting, according to some users. If a transmission was possibly neglected by a previous owner, a Honda transmission rebuild kit may be the answer.
How to Find Transmission Fluid on eBay
Whether you are driving a 2002 Honda Odyssey or a 2016 Honda Odyssey, or any model year in between, the easiest way to find transmission fluid for your car on eBay is to enter "Honda Odyssey transmission fluid" in the search box on the eBay homepage.
When shopping, note that if the owner's manual calls for ATF Z1 transmission fluid, it is acceptable to use the new formulation, ATF DW1, instead. The new formulation can be intermixed with the previous ATF Z1 transmission fluid in 2010 and earlier models. In 2011 and later Odysseys, only the ATF DW1 transmission fluid can be used.
When shopping, keep frequent oil changes in mind. Depending on how often you do a transmission fluid refill, it might be worth purchasing a pack of six bottles of fluid.