This article describes a solution for a Honda Accord that hesitates while driving. The solution is pretty straightforward. If your Honda stutters, hesitates, or can’t decide which gear to shift into, it is very likely this will solve your problem.
Honda Accord Hesitation – Problem Description
First let me describe the problem that I was having in detail. My 2004 Honda Accord developed a hesitation while driving at relatively slow speeds. It was particularly noticeable when driving at 30 mph in the city.
When you tried to maintain 30 mph or so, the vehicle would hesitate, or sputter. The hesitation was not violent, not like a jerk, more of a small slight tugging. For a full-on bucking and jerking, you may have this problem.
For this current issue, it was more annoying than anything else.
The problem wasn’t so much when you accelerated quickly. It was more of an issue when you were trying to maintain a relatively low speed. It was just a noticeable shudder.
The vehicle had about 170k miles on it at the time.
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What I Tried
I tried several things first, such as cleaning the mass airflow sensor, changing the air filter, and changing spark plugs, but the problem persisted. There were no error codes associated with this problem.
What Solved the Problem
Then someone suggested to me that I should flush the transmission fluid with fresh transmission fluid (must be Honda DW-1). I thought I’d give it a shot, and it worked! No more hesitation!
I figured it couldn’t hurt, and even if it doesn’t fix this problem, it should probably be done anyway. Honda recommends doing this every 120k miles, and I was quite sure the previous owner did not do this.
This is an automatic transmission vehicle. The way it is designed, it is not possible to drain all the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) out at once. You can drain out about 3 quarts at a time, and the total capacity is around 9 quarts. For this reason, I did the following.
Steps to Flush the ATF
I followed these steps:
- Ran the vehicle to warm up the ATF
- Drain 3 qts
- Add 3 qts
- Drive the vehicle for 50-100 miles
- Repeat Steps 2 through 4 for a total of 3 times.
This procedure will never completely remove all of the old ATF, it more dilutes it with clean ATF (if that makes sense).
This procedure took several weeks to complete, mostly I wanted to be sure that the fluid was well mixed, hence the driving between drains-fills.
After performing this operation, the hesitation while maintaining speed was gone. I’ve now driven the vehicle another 30k miles or so, and the problem has not returned.
I want to stress that this particular problem was not so much an acceleration problem. There are other problems where the vehicle hesitates upon acceleration that may have nothing to do with the ATF, but if you are having problems similar to those described here, this may be your solution. I detail the procedure below.
I read a lot about which fluid to use, typically the genuine Honda fluid is about $8/quart, so I looked into the possibility of using something else a little cheaper. After much research, the consensus is to bite the bullet and use the Honda fluid. I decided not to risk it, so that is what I went with, and also what I would recommend to you.
In the old days, the Honda ATF used to be called “ATF-Z1,” but now they are calling it “DW-1.”
Since I knew I would need at least 9 qts of ATF, I just went ahead and bought a 12-pack case.
Step-By-Step ATF Drain and Fill Procedure
Okay, in the following section, I provide the details of how to perform the ATF flush.
What you’ll need:
The first step is to crawl under the vehicle and locate the transmission fluid drain plug.
The drain plug is slightly unusual as it takes a 3/8″ socket wrench connection with no socket attached.
Here is a good view of the transmission fluid drain plug in relation to the rest of the vehicle, with the socket wrench attached to the drain plug.
Loosen the drain plug with the socket wrench, then position a drain pan underneath it and take it the last way with your fingers. Beware, the transmission fluid shoots out pretty far!
If the vehicle is level, almost exactly 3 quarts of old transmission fluid will drain out.
While it is draining, inspect the drain plug. Clean off any debris that has collected on the magnet, with a clean rag.
And put on a new crush washer.
Once the fluid draining slows to a trickle…
Put the drain plug back in. Use a torque wrench to tighten the plug. The torque specification is 36 ft-lbs.
You are now ready to crawl out from under the car, pop the hood, and add in the fresh ATF. Locate the ATF dipstick, next to the battery. Often these have a yellow bit on the end, like in the next photo.
Remove the dipstick and use the long funnel, or use the poor-man’s long funnel by adding a length of old tubing onto the end of a regular funnel.
Put the end of the tubing right into the dipstick hole. This is where you will add the fresh ATF.
Position the funnel so that it will be easy to fill.
Pour in 3 quarts of the DW-1 ATF fluid.
Warning – Pour Slowly! It takes a little while to ‘gulp’, and if you pour too fast, it will overflow at the opening.
After the 3 quarts are added, take out the funnel, put the dip stick back in, close the hood, and you are ready to go.
For a ‘complete flush’, this process should be repeated 3 times, with about 100 miles or so of driving between flushes. This will flush through a total of 9 quarts.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this can help someone else. This procedure really helped me a lot, and made the Accord purr like a kitten, with no more stuttering.
Here’s a summary of the links to supplies and tools that were referenced in this article.
For more information on Honda Accord maintenance, check out these articles:
Maintenance Articles on Honda Accords