Every car has a transmission in it that allows it to switch between gears. Whether that's a manual transmission, an automatic transmission, or a CVT transmission, they all require transmission fluid to operate. Transmission fluid is a dual-purpose substance. It works a bit like motor oil in that it helps lubricate and cool your transmission but it's also used as a hydraulic liquid as well to keep the transmission running smoothly. As you can imagine, with a dual purpose like that if your transmission fluid has gone bad, then your transmission is going to suffer greatly. If your transmission goes out, then your Honda Accord is not really going to go anywhere. That means you will need to go into a shop to get your transmission fluid changed and it's going to cost you probably between $100 and $140 to get it done.
How Often Should You Change the Transmission Fluid in Your Honda Accord?
Just like the motor oil or the coolant in your vehicle, the transmission fluid only has a limited lifespan. Over many miles of use it will begin to wear down and accumulate dirt or other contaminants, or just get worn out from extensive use. That means you're going to need to get it replaced in order to keep it working properly.
When it comes to a Honda Accord, Honda has a recommended schedule of maintenance that you need to adhere to. Based on their recommendations you should change your oil and filter around every 5,000 miles. That includes a tire rotation and a brake inspection, as well as topping off the fluid levels if necessary.
At 30,000 miles Honda recommends you replace your spark plugs and your air filter, as well as giving your drive belts a visual inspection just to make sure that everything is working properly.
At 45,000 miles you're supposed to replace the coolant and brake fluid in your Honda Accord. That leaves just the transmission fluid which is arguably the most long-lived fluid in your Honda Accord. For that, Honda recommends a change at 90,000 miles.
Keep in mind that these are recommendations only and sometimes you'll need to do things sooner, and it's also possible that everything could last a bit longer as well. The only thing is you don't want to push it for too much time and distance because the longer you wait the worse it could potentially get if something goes wrong.
Do You Really Need to Change the Transmission Fluid in your Honda Accord?
This is one of those questions that a lot of drivers will end up asking at some point. Transmission fluid seems to last for a very long time, so you may be tempted to wonder if it needs to be changed at all. In a closed system, it seems like maybe that transmission fluid isn't going to be exposed to the elements or any outside dirt or grease so there's no reason to change it.
Even though you may not be exposing your transmission fluid to outside contaminants, over time hard use can cause the transmission fluid to deteriorate. Every time you stop and start while you're driving, if you put pressure on your vehicle by hauling heavy loads or towing a trailer you're putting more stress on the transmission which in turn degrades the transmission fluid. Intense heat and constant use causes the excess stress and, even when you only do some gentle city driving, after that many thousands of miles it is going to take its toll.
In fact, if you put a lot of stress on your vehicle, maybe you have a long commute in your Honda or you like to take a lot of vacations out of state medicine you put a lot of miles on the vehicle, you may want to check it even earlier than is recommended just in case.
You can do a visual inspection of your transmission fluid to find out if it's looking good or not. Most transmission fluid is red, although it does occasionally come in other colours. You should check out what kind your car takes so you're familiar with him ahead of time. When you inspect it if it needs to be changed it's going to have a much muddier appearance. The fluid will be dark and kind of thick looking, and it may also have a burnt smell to it as well.
You can't actually check the transmission fluid in every vehicle, but a Honda Accord does have a transmission level dipstick that you can pull out and see how your fluid is doing. If you're not sure where it is there are some videos online that can guide you through the process and your owner's manual should also be able to indicate where it is when you want to take a look and see how things are.
What Kind of Transmission Fluid Does a Honda Accord Take?
There are several different kinds of transmission fluid on the market and not every kind is suitable for a Honda Accord, so you need to make sure you're getting the right stuff. The transmission fluid often called ATF which is short for automatic transmission fluid, for a Honda Accord used to be called ATF Z1. These days the name of the transmission fluid has changed, and it's referred to as DW – 1. Some later models of the Honda Accord will also use a transmission fluid called ATF type 2.
The best thing to do is to look up your specific year of Honda Accord to find out exactly what type of transmission fluid you should be using. You can head to Amazon.com or autozone.com and specify the year of Honda Accord you're driving and it should be able to recommend the right kind of fluid for you and also give you an idea of what it cost. For instance, a four pack of 1-quart bottles of Honda transmission fluid from Amazon starts at about $25.
Signs You Need to Change the Transmission Fluid in Your Honda Accord
There are some signs you could be on the lookout for to let you know it’s time to change the transmission fluid in your Honda Accord. This is in addition to just the mileage that you should keep an eye on to know when it's about time to change it. If you're experiencing any of these you'll want to check the transmission fluid dipstick to see how it's looking and, if necessary, head to a mechanic to get your transmission fluid flushed out and switched with some new stuff.
The sounds your car makes are a great indicator that something may be wrong and in need of repairs. You should be aware of how your engine sounds normally, and any sounds your transmission makes as you’re shifting gears. If you're noticing that a grinding noise is coming from your transmission, it's possible that you've got some contamination in your transmission fluids.
If it's a thing that happens frequently when you're driving, and in particular as you're shifting through gears you hear grinding or other sounds, what you want to do is pull over whenever it's safe to do so and check the transmission fluid. Check both the color and the levels to make sure that they are okay. If the colour looks good and the level is all right, then it's very likely a different problem. If not, then the transmission may be the source of your issues.
When your transmission fluid isn't as clean as it should be that can affect the hydraulic power in your transmission. Hydraulic pressure is necessary for maintaining gears while you're driving. If the pressure fails because the fluid has become too contaminated, you may end up slipping gears unintentionally.
Difficulty Shifting Gears
This is one of the more clear-cut signs that there's a problem with your transmission fluid. This applies to either automatic or manual transmission. As you're driving, if you're finding that shifting gears is extremely difficult or it happens extremely quickly in a way that affects the performance of your vehicle, it's a good chance that there's some contamination in your fluid.
When your car surges it seems to jerk forward or backwards with no discernible reason like it's struggling to move sometimes. This can happen as an interruption to the normal pace of your driving almost like the vehicle was hit suddenly by a strong gust of wind from one end or the other. This is a result of contamination in the transmission that is preventing the smooth flow of the gears in other parts of the transmission in the bellhousing. Remember, there are actually several hundred parts working together in your transmission to make it operate so if the fluid has broken down too badly or become contaminated any one of those parts can struggle slightly affecting the entire system.
It's possible when you shift from one year to another that you'll notice a momentary pause in your vehicle's performance as though it's taking a second to think about what it wants to do. When your car goes into gear it should work automatically, but if the transmission fluid is contaminated enough it may take a second to actually lock in the gear and start on the way it's supposed to. That's definitely a sign that the transmission fluid requires a flush and new fluid put in place.
Any one of these symptoms on their own could indicate several problems in your vehicle, not necessarily a problem with the transmission fluid. However, if you're noticing more than one of these on a at least semi-regular basis then there's definitely a chance that the transmission fluid is the problem you're dealing with.
Can I Change the Transmission Fluid in My Honda Accord Myself?
Even though changing the transmission fluid in your vehicle is in the most expensive maintenance job that you can get done for your Honda Accord, it's clearly a lot cheaper just to buy the transmission fluid and do it yourself then pay a mechanic to do it. But is it a job that you can do on your own?
It's definitely not that hard to flush the transmission fluid in your vehicle on your own as long as you have a jack of some kind to get under your car to access the plug to drain the system. If you've done any DIY car repairs on your own and you have the tools necessary to get it done, then this should be the kind of process you can handle on your own. Just remember to make sure you've got a large enough container to collect all the transmission fluid because you don't want it spilling out all over the place.
If you're not 100% sure what to do there are some handy and clear videos that you can follow along with that show you the process of draining the transmission fluid from a Honda Accord and adding the new stuff. This one here covers a 2019 Honda Accord. This video here can show you how to do it for models that were made between 2003 and 2007. So really, you can get very specific and search for your exact model year to know what to do if you want to get very explicit with the instructions. Naturally the difference between one model year and another isn't that extreme, but it can help boost your confidence in knowing how to handle the job if you see explicitly the same car that you drive having the fluid change.
The Bottom Line
Transmission fluid is one of the substances in your car that can last a very long time before it needs to be changed, but it won't last forever. If you want to maintain the overall function ability of your Honda Accords and you definitely want to make sure you're keeping an eye on the transmission fluid for the scheduled maintenance, or if it simply needs to be changed.
Your Accord will perform better and get you where you need to go more safely and efficiently if you make sure you're keeping up on transmission fluid changes when necessary.