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Poor shifts between 1-2 while cold

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Old 10-03-2013, 10:26 AM
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Poor shifts between 1-2 while cold

Hey all,

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide on this issue.

Car: 1997 Prelude base model (Canada), Auto, Stock except for CAI, 230,000kms. Car is in need of timing belt change, thought I'd mention in case this is any way related (can't see how).

Disclaimer: I realize I should have bought a 5spd now. Please save any "Sell it and buy a 5spd" or "Swap a 5spd" comments. I am unable to do this right now. It's my daily commuter, and I can't afford any huge work like that.

Symptoms: Car shifts very poorly on 1-2 upshift, and on downshift back to 1 (possibly 2 also?). On upshift, it will lag as auto goes to shift into 2, revs shoot up, then SLAM into 2nd. Of course, I try to take my foot off the gas when it goes to shift, and give it a second. When slowing back down to a stop, car doesn't seem to downshift until I put even the slightest touch of gas back on it, then it seems to quickly shift down to 2 then 1 with a decent amount of a clunk as well.

The shift between 2-3, 3-4 is seamless, and seems absolutely fine. Also, once I've driven the car for 10 mins, no more lag in the 1-2 shift. And another 10 mins later, the car shifts through all gears like a dream! Car shifts perfect even in vtec, no slipping, nor when I'm going uphill in 3rd at low RPM's and slam the gas, no slipping.

Additional information: At one point I read my codes. Got a P0700 (transmission general code) and a P1738 (2nd clutch pressure switch) error. Cleared the code, and haven't seen it come back since (Several months ago).

I replaced trans fluid with Mobile 1 synthetic after reading these forums. I only drained and filled once, instead of 3 times, as that stuff is expensive! But I fear I should've done it twice more. Old fluid from previous owner was pretty gnarly. When I drained, there was metal flakes on the plug, but I couldn't tell if it was an "excessive amount".

I took two solenoids off to clean them. I believe it was the Lock up control solenoid, and the AT pressure clutch valve a/b solenoid. One was right on top of the trans, and the other was under the battery holder. I cleaned both out very nicely, but saw no improvement. I realize now that I should've checked them for functional operation with a jumper wire while they're out.

Question: With the description of the symptoms, am I on the right track that it's a solenoid issue and not a failing trans? Just doesn't make sense to me that it's such a specific failure, and no issues anywhere else. Can anyone let me know which specific solenoid is the issue here? Or should I be looking at the 2nd clutch pressure switch as the code noted? I have a multimeter and can check them out, and also try to test with a jumper wire, but can I do that with the solenoids still on the car or should I take them out.

Any help is greatly appreciated, winter is coming, and the hard shifts seem to get worse with the cold weather (or maybe just the car in general has a harder time).

Sorry for the long post, but I like to be detailed so you don't have to ask as many questions

Thanks in advance,

Last edited by PreludeFetish; 10-03-2013 at 10:27 AM. Reason: Bolded headings for easier reading
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:12 PM
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Re: Poor shifts between 1-2 while cold

Great post, wish I could help..
Had same issues already twice and got it fixed at the garage, but here in the Philippines it is cheap, wasn't costly with about $500 only,by swap the whole trans.
3rd time is coming soon, than finally I do the 5 speed..
My thoughts Chris
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:33 PM
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Re: Poor shifts between 1-2 while cold

Thanks for the reply! Can anyone else point me towards the correct solenoid or tell me if I'm on the right track?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-04-2013, 05:08 PM
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Re: Poor shifts between 1-2 while cold

does it feel like it bangs into gear from 1st to 2nd?
if thats the case it could be a bad shift solenoids
also if u beat on the trip tronic that causes internal damage to the tranny ive been told.

You should mount an AT tranny cooler ive had one on my car since i bought it an i dont really have any major issues

btw you should try to use honda ATF if possible

metal grinds in the fluid are very bad and the auto tranny could be too far gone..

also dont feel tempted to do any kind of tranny flush ok
that will mess up more than it helps


What'd you expect you didnt just played wid matches, u soaked them in gasoline..........

99lude autO
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Old 10-04-2013, 06:51 PM
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Re: Poor shifts between 1-2 while cold

It's possible you'd get better results if you finished the fluid change. Any fluid is a bit more sluggish when it's cold; dirty fluid tends to amplify that. There's a reason they have you drain it twice and fill it three times -- you're not getting all the old stuff out on one drain. That might be OK if the car was better looked after, but you said the previous owner didn't. The old saying about oil (four quarts of clean oil added mixed with a dirty filter equals four quarts of dirty oil) applies to ATF just as well.
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:47 AM
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Re: Poor shifts between 1-2 while cold

Thanks Jamie!

I'm sure you're right, that I should finish the fluid change too, i just assumed that because it's so specific to the one gear (2nd) that it would point to a solenoid.

As an update, I checked the following solenoids yesterday:
Lock-Up Control Solenoid, Shift Control Solenoid Valve B & C, A/T Clutch Pressure Control Solenoid Valve A/B.

All were within proper resistance spec. Lock-Up and Pressure control solenoids both clicked when hot wire ran to them (So it seems like it's working ok). I couldn't test the Shift Control Solenoids with a hot wire due to their location.

The one that threw the code at one point (Stored code, engine light never came on, I only saw it from a fluke check), 2nd clutch pressure switch, is not testable according to manual, and too expensive to just replace on a whim.

Essentially, the car is shifting fine at times, and terrible first thing :) I don't wanna throw $90 of fluid at it if I don't have to, but also don't wanna throw solenoids in hoping it works. Hahah story of every DIY's life. I'll definitely do the fluid soon and hope that's my issue, but I suspect sluggish shifts would be felt through all gears if that's the case.

And yes, 99preludeQZ, it does SLAM when going into 2nd from 1st. Basically, the revs shoot up as 1st disengages and I'm waiting 2 or 3 seconds for 2nd to engage. If I play my cards right, I let off the gas at the correct shift point and just wait for 2nd gear to come. This way it's more of just a sluggish shift than the hard SLAM that's damaging my tranny.

Thanks again all, keep the advice coming!
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hard shift, late shift, transmission

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