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Nuke'em til they glow!
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Well everyone,

It may not actually be everything, but I figure that I should post information I've got on the SS Auto's here.

If anyone of you that own a 5th Gen have an SS Auto, then you may be aware that Honda has finally decided to warranty 2000-2001 Prelude Auto Transmissions up to 100,000 miles.

Of course, this means that the rest of us that have been *****ing about the numerous failures we've been experiencing with our 1997-1999 Preludes are out of luck...

Basically, SS Auto failures have historically fallen into two categories:

1) Never had a problem.

2) Transmission went very early on (under 20,000 miles), and possibly again afterwards.

I've been following this issue for a number of years and have a fair amount of information. I'm going to post that info here for everyone:

SS Auto Background:

Honda used the Prelude as it's test bed for much of it's new technology. This was the case for the SS Auto 5th Gen and the 4 speed version of the transmission.

Initially, Honda thought that the design would translate from paper to a decent product. Unfortunately, they ran into manufacturing problem - mostly quality control related due to the very tight tolerances in the transmission.

When the first problems started to be reported, Honda let the local dealers attempt to fix the problem. Generally, this entailed sending the trans out to a local trans shop to repair the unit with Honda OEM parts. Unfortunately, the trans' design was a little to new and a lot more difficult to work on. The failure rate was almost 100% attempting this form of repair.

So, Honda decided that they had to put a stop to dealers working on the transmissions. They immediately told the dealers that there was only one fix for an SS Auto: Let it completely fail and then replace it.

It turns out that Honda's own remanufacturing division started to have problems as well. They started to see a 40% failure rate on the SS Autos from the Prelude.

So, after a few years of horrible results, they turned to a company that was in the remanufacturing business. These guys were able to reliably rebuild the SS Autos and even offer a decent warranty.

That same company recommended a few improvements in the SS Auto parts, and in 2000 Honda silently updated some of parts and changed the part numbers.

The primary reason Honda has been so successful at ignoring Prelude owners and not dealing with the problem in a timely manner is that there are so few Honda Preludes with the SS Auto transmission. In a typical year Honda sold about 10,000 Preludes (5th Gen), and maybe 40 percent of those sales were SS Autos (4000 cars a year times 5 years of production = 20,000 car total!).

They would never be able to get away with this with a Honda Accord, which sells about 450,000 cars a year. So any problems would be reported by the masses to the NTSA and possibly risk a recall. (Hence the reason the SS Auto extended warranties began...Someone with a Acura TL was almost killed.)

Like many large companies: Honda's likes to screw the little guys. Unfortunately, it is more likely that someone will have to die in an accident related a sudden transmission failure before Honda will take care of all SS Auto vehicle owners. They simply don't want to pay for a recall.

Replacement Options:

As of this moment, there are two companies that appear to rebuild the SS Auto. The first company, Howard Engineering, has been doing so since the beginning of the problems. The second company has recently grown in name and is much less expensive and offers a less lengthy warranty: Phoenix Remaned Transmission.

Howard Engineering:

If your transmission fails out of warranty, you should consider having the dealer contact Howard and get a remanufactured unit from them.

They offer 5 year / 50,000 mile warranties.

Honda only offers a 12 month / 18,000 mile warranty on their replacement units.

With Howard, they will also pay for the removal and installation of the transmission if it should fail. In other words: Howard offers a dealer like warranty that costs you nothing out of pocket should the unit fail (and includes a rental car!).

http://www.hecreman.com/

Phoenix Remanufactured Transmissions:

These guys are a wholesale / retail distributor that sells bulk rebuilt transmissions. Interestingly, they seem to know a lot about Honda transmissions from late model vehicles. I've spoken with a guy from the company, Andre, and he indicated that there were initially a lot of problems with rebuilding the sequential sportshift type automatics. Around late 2000 Honda created a change in the parts for the Prelude SS Auto to deal with inherent problems. He further indicated the retrofitted (rebuilt) transmissions really should be quite reliable, and that they rebuild a large number of Honda SS type trannies (including Acura).

A quick search by one of the members of h-p.com showed that they also have an eBay outlet. They've sold hundreds of transmissions via EBay Motors and have 660+ positive feedbacks and 2 negative! That's some what impressive.

The other interesting thing about the guy on the phone was they he knew their exact failure rate and was willing to tell me: .13% of all of their transmissions fail. Their warranty is 6 months or 6000 miles. They figure that if the transmission works from the beginning, then it should continue to work until normal wear and tear causes it to fail.

Unlike the cost of the OEM or Howard Rebuilds (about $3700), you can get a rebuild from Phoenix for $1050.00. However, Prelude SS Auto transmissions are hard to find, so you may need to send them your SS Auto and T-Converter so that they can build it. (They may not have an SS Auto in stock.) This could take up to 10 days. (The same exact thing happens with the dealer as well: They take you tranny out and send it back to Honda for rebuild.)

Their address is:

Phoenix Remanufactured Transmissions
7310 W. Roosevelt Suite 26
Phoenix, AZ 85043
623-936-6200

http://www.phoenixhardparts.com

In General with Rebuilds:

Don't waste your time having a local shop rebuild your tranny, they'll just screw it up and you'll be without your car. (This has been the case in about 9 out of 10 stories that folks have reported to me using companies like AMMCO, Lee Myles, etc.)

You need to use either a company with a lot of experience rebuilding Honda SS Auto transmissions, otherwise you risk wasting your cash on an unproven quanity.

(This includes Level 10 IF you are not sending your COMPLETE transmission and t-converter to them! Period. No Exceptions.)

SS Auto Transmission Failure Symptoms:

These are the problems most people report when their trannies are failing:

1) Hard Shifts: A hard shift is when the transmission shifts from one gear to another, but BANGS itself into the next gear.

2) Soft Shifts: A soft shift is when the transmission takes a long slide into the next gear. So rather than crisply shifting into the next gear over 1 to 3 seconds, the transmission sides into the next gear over 3 to 15 seconds.

3) Slipping: Slipping is when the transmission either takes a long time to go into the next gear, or no longer goes into the next gear. When the unit attempts to shift to the next gear, the unit "slides" but doesn't quite get there. As a result the tachometer revs a few thousand RPM higher than it would normally, as there is no longer any load on the engine.

4) Grinding: Grinding is something the does happen, but it's really not typical. It's self explanatory.

Typical symptoms for a Honda SS Auto:

1) Pour shifting into reverse, especially during cold weather. Kind of clunks itself into the reverse from Park. (There is a noticeable shutter.)

2) Pour shifting into D4 from Reverse. Once again, Clunks itself into gear.

3) Hard shifts from one gear to another. Typically, 2nd to 3rd or 3rd to 4th. (Imagine a steel I-beam being hit by a sledge hammer, and that's what this failure feels / sounds like.)

4) Finally, failure: Slips and never engages the next gear.
 

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Nuke'em til they glow!
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part II

PART II OF THE MESSAGE:

What can be done to extend the life of your SS Auto?:

Well, there are quite a few simple things that will extend the life of your SS Auto.

The first thing is to install a transmission cooler in line with the existing cooler. This will keep the overall temperature of the transmission below 200 degrees. (Ideally, you want it to be about 175 degrees F.) Be careful not to install to large a cooler, as you need to keep the trans temp up into the normal operating temps during the winter. Purchase a medium sized cooler! Not a small one, and not the largest one that is made...

The second thing to you need to do religiously is change your ATF with Honda ATF every 15,000 miles. ESPECIALLY IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN AFTERMARKET TRANSMISSION COOLER INSTALLED.

Why 15,000 miles? Most Honda dealers will tell you it's a really good idea to change the ATF every 30,000 miles. (Even though the Service Manual says 90,000 and 60,000 miles depending on driving conditions. [what BS!]) However, you can only change 3 QTs at a time with a standard drain. As such, if you change the ATF every 15,000 miles you are removing particulates and refreshing the ATF's additive package (which prevent the acidic worn out ATF from effecting the transmission and keeps the seals in good condition).

Lastly, if you live in climates where you are going to face sub-zero temperatures, then you should consider using a synthetic ATF / Honda ATF mix. Generally, you can use 50%-60% Honda ATF and AMSOIL or Mobil 1 Dexron III ATFs. You can also use B&M "Synthetic Trick Shift" ATF, it flows well to -65 degrees F, but is better mixed with AMSOIL or Mobil 1 as well.

Interestingly, Honda ATF only thickens slights at 0 degrees F. B&M, AMSOIL, and Mobil 1 have virtually no change at 0 degrees F and that's why the mixture works so well. (Better cold shifting, slightly better thermal transfer properties, etc...) Keep in mind that if you use B&M "Synthetic' Trick Shift ATF that it's not actually a truely synthetic fluid and will need to be changed at the properly 15,000 mile interval. (Even with synthetic ATF in the tranny you should change it regularly anyway, but especially with Honda ATF or B&M STS.)

-Gerhard
 

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WHITE RUSSIAN !
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-Gerhard

This an AMAZING write up.

MODS - Can this be made into a sticky, i think this can help out a lot of people with SS trannies like myself.

Thanks
 

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Nuke'em til they glow!
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
azninside said:
very nice...this should be stickied/FAQ'ed....what tranny cooler do you recommend?
Thanks All. I appricate it. Someone at another site gave me a place to put everything I've been learning, but I forgot to come here are post it for this crowd!

Honestly, I don't think it matter to much as long as you stick to a known brand.

B&M is good (even though they lie about their "Synthetic ATF" being synthetic [it's a petrolium product])

Hayden is also good.

There are two types:

Stacked plate. Where the fluid runs through a series of interconnected stacked plates and gets cooled. There are possibly more efficent in some circumstances.

Curved pipe. This is the normal home A/C where you have aluminum fins attached to a pipe the is curved a specific intervals.

Honestly, you can use either type. Since you are going to mount the unit in front of the radiator, both should work fine.

I'd recommend that if you are going to mount the cooler in line with the stock cooler, that you mount it above the lower part of the radiator where the OEM cooler is. (That prevents the hot air coming off of it to warm the OEM ATF cooler...)

-Gerhard
 

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Nuke'em til they glow!
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
BTW:

I re-read the post and noticed a buch of grammar typos... Ingore them please!

-grin-
 

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very good write up..........but let me get this right.....i send howard my trans or i get a replacement? My other question is i get this rattle or spinning motion under my valve cover and i have an aftermarket extended warranty......but i had honda do a rebuild on my at 30,000 and at 40,000 it started again.....this was barely after the 12 months of honda's sad warranty of their work........they sent me to AAMCO, where they diagnosed the problem, but they said it isn't harming anything so my warranty company will not cover it, since it is 'just a noise'

what can i do?

o btw i have the hayden 677 tranny cooler and DYI01's directions help w/ the install
 

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Did any of you buy your SS used with the factory extended 100000 mile 'bumper-bumper' warranty? If so, did you have a tranny failure and have the entire thing covered when fixed?
 

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Nuke'em til they glow!
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
97blacklude said:
very good write up..........but let me get this right.....i send howard my trans or i get a replacement? My other question is i get this rattle or spinning motion under my valve cover and i have an aftermarket extended warranty......but i had honda do a rebuild on my at 30,000 and at 40,000 it started again.....this was barely after the 12 months of honda's sad warranty of their work........they sent me to AAMCO, where they diagnosed the problem, but they said it isn't harming anything so my warranty company will not cover it, since it is 'just a noise'

what can i do?

o btw i have the hayden 677 tranny cooler and DYI01's directions help w/ the install
You send your transmission to them if they don't have one in stock.

The biggest problem with the Prelude SS Auto is that there are very few extra cores to rebuild. Honda, Howard, Phenoix, etc. all have this problem.

Aftermarket plans typically do not want to pay for an OEM or Howard tranny... they want to attempt to replace only the bad part... this is not known to work well with the SS Autos.

if the unit totally fails, then you make them get you an OEM rebuild.

The Hayden 677 is fine.

Gerhard
 

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Nuke'em til they glow!
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
2Longfour said:
Did any of you buy your SS used with the factory extended 100000 mile 'bumper-bumper' warranty? If so, did you have a tranny failure and have the entire thing covered when fixed?
My first tranny went at 32000 miles after being flakey for 14,000 miles.

The replacement tranny has about 60,000 miles on it and seems to be just fine.

I did not purchase the extended warranty.

If you have the extended warranty or a 2000/2001 model, then you're covered for replacement.

The rest of us are screwed.

-Gerhard
 

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Nuke'em til they glow!
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
97blacklude said:
very good write up..........but let me get this right.....i send howard my trans or i get a replacement? My other question is i get this rattle or spinning motion under my valve cover and i have an aftermarket extended warranty......but i had honda do a rebuild on my at 30,000 and at 40,000 it started again.....this was barely after the 12 months of honda's sad warranty of their work........they sent me to AAMCO, where they diagnosed the problem, but they said it isn't harming anything so my warranty company will not cover it, since it is 'just a noise'

what can i do?

o btw i have the hayden 677 tranny cooler and DYI01's directions help w/ the install
Ok, just to be clear about the whole procedure:

There are VERY few Honda Prelude 5th Gen SS Automatic transmission cores that exist. The reason for this is because there are very few SS Auto 5th Gen Preludes.

What typically ends up happening is that your transmission will need to be sent out and rebuilt.

This happens with Howard, Pheonix, Honda, and so on.

Sometimes, you get lucky and they have enough cores in stock that a few trannies have been rebuilt and are waiting for the call to be shipped to your dealer or trans shop. Other times, you are fairly screwed.

It is not uncommon to have the SS tranny fail and it to take a few weeks for the dealer to get a replacement.

If we had Acura TL's... we'd be in fine shape.

-Gerhard
 

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wow, thank you much, this is a very informative write up
 
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