Honda Civic Transmission Problems [8 Common Issues]

Are you experiencing some issues with your Honda Civic that look like the transmission is failing?

Honda Civic

If so, keep reading as I’ll explain common signs that show your Honda Civic transmission is bad and what you can do to fix it.

Honda Civic Transmission Problems

If your Honda Civic transmission is bad, here are some issues you may experience:

1. Clunking and Whining Noise

Clunking and whining, or buzzing and humming noises from your Honda Civic are unnatural, especially when you hear these unusual noises when shifting gears. This indicates a problem with your vehicle’s transmission.

If you’re faced with this, stop driving your car, as more damage may occur to your transmission if you keep driving it.

Get a professional to inspect and recommend fixes.

2. Strange Smells

It is not a good sign when you smell something burning in your Honda Civic. Burning smells could happen due to numerous factors.

But in some cases, when you perceive a strange smell, it is a sign that your transmission fluid is burning or overheating.

Transmission fluid is typically bright red and translucent, with a sweet smell. But if you check your Honda Civic transmission and discover that it has a burnt smell or is now dark, you may need to flush the fluid immediately.

You can do this by draining the transmission fluid or getting a mechanic to handle it. A transmission fluid flush may also be performed in order to get your transmission in good condition.

3. Transmission Fluid Leaking

One of the easiest ways of pinpointing a transmission problem is when the fluid is leaking. This is because transmission fluids are not burned up during use—like motor oil. Therefore, if you discover that the level of your transmission fluid is low, chances are there is a leak.

You can confirm this by placing a piece of cardboard under your parked vehicle, positioned where your transmission should be. If you see fluid on the cardboard when you slide it out from beneath your Honda Civic, it proves your transmission is leaking.

A loose transmission pan, an out-of-balance drive shaft, or worn-out gaskets are common causes of transmission fluid leakages. Get your mechanic to check these transmission components and determine their condition.

The transmission pan may require tightening and the worn gasket replaced with a new one. The best way to stay on top of this situation is to regularly check your Honda Civic transmission fluid.

4. Shift Solenoid Issues

Shift solenoids convert electrical signals into hydraulic pressure and then direct the specific pressure to a closed or open clutch. When this operation no longer takes place, it implies that the solenoids have failed.

Low transmission fluids can cause a significant loss in pressure, which affects internal components and shifting issues.

The fluid may also contain debris, such as metal shavings and grasses. Debris in the transmission fluid can cause problems with shifting, especially when caught between gaskets/underseals or components.

A professional mechanic may need to inspect the shift solenoid to find out what requires fixing or replacement.

5. Delayed Transmission

When your Honda Civic transmission is working properly, there should be no issue when you shift from Park to Drive. Your vehicle should naturally go into the appropriate gear.

However, if your Honda Civic refuses or hesitates to go into gear, something is definitely wrong with your transmission.

If the gears and clutch jams are sluggish, your Honda Civic will start shaking, raising the engine’s temperature. All these points to transmission problems.

Get your mechanic to check out your Honda Civic as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your transmission.

6. Noises While in Neutral

Another symptom of a Honda Civic transmission problem is your vehicle’s sound while in neutral. Again, the bumping sound does not necessarily imply that your Honda Civic has transmission trouble, but you may need a professional to check it out.

You may have to change your transmission fluid. But if this condition persists, your Honda Civic needs to undergo diagnostic tests to discover the transmission problem.

7. Grinding Gears

Gears are not supposed to grind when you shift them; everything ought to work seamlessly to get your Honda Civic in motion or when you bring it to a stop.

However, when your Honda Civic gears start grinding, it is a sign that you have a transmission problem to deal with. Grinding gears is a problem that occurs in different ways for automatic and manual transmissions.

If your Honda Civic uses an automatic transmission, it will shift roughly. But if you use a manual transmission, you will feel the grinding sensation whenever you change your gear.

Irrespective of the type of transmission that comes with your Honda Civic, if you experience this problem, get your vehicle to the nearest mechanic immediately.

If you keep using your car in this condition, you will severely damage other vital components in the transmission, and fixing them will cost you a lot more money than fixing only the initial problem.

8. ‘Check Engine’ Light ON

Sensors are positioned around your Honda Civic engine and pick up on numerous issues with your transmission.

So, when the ‘check engine’ light or ‘service engine soon’ light illuminates on your dashboard, something might be wrong with your Honda Civic transmission.

Get your vehicle to your mechanic for proper diagnosis to determine what triggered those dashboard lights.

Can You Drive a Honda Civic with a Bad Transmission?

You should never drive your Honda Civic with a bad transmission. The risk of driving with a defective transmission is not worth the damage that could be done to your Honda Civic and yourself.

Therefore, refrain from driving your Honda Civic with a bad transmission. As soon as you sense any issue that may originate from your vehicle’s transmission, visit an auto repair shop immediately for a check-up.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Honda Civic Transmission?

The average cost of replacing a bad Honda Civic transmission with a new one ranges from $1,800 to $3,500, depending on your location, the model year, manual or automatic, etc. This doesn’t include the cost of labor, related repairs, and taxes.

Services such as transmission fluid flush and fluid changes can cost up to $150, though far less in many cases.

Which Honda Civic Model Year Has the Highest Transmission Issue?

According to, the Honda Civic model years with the highest transmission issues are the 2001 and 2003 Honda Civic.

The 2001 Honda Civic

The major transmission problems with this Honda Civic model are transmission slipping and failing. Unfortunately, this vehicle’s transmission usually fails at 104,000 miles, and the only solution is to replace the entire transmission. The average cost of replacing the 2001 Honda Civic transmission is $2,330. In addition, average labor costs range from $514 to $765.

Fixing the slipping transmission of a 2001 Honda Civic costs up to $2,290. This situation usually occurs at over 110,000 miles. Replacing the torque converter or the transmission is usually the solution.

The 2003 Honda Civic

The 2003 Honda Civic also has serious transmission problems. The 2003 Honda Civic’s transmission was also known to slip out of gear, shift violently at low speeds, be unable to shift into 3rd gear, and have unintended downshifting.

The transmission failure of the 2003 Honda Civic usually occurs at 97,750 miles and costs up to $2,720 to repair. Therefore, replacing and rebuilding the transmission are the only recommended solutions.

Also, gear slipping is another core problem with the 2003 Honda Civic. When it occurs, stopping the car becomes a challenge, and the vehicle refuses to go into the drive gear.

The average cost of fixing this transmission problem is $2,640, and the issue usually occurs at 95,000 on average. Replacing or rebuilding the transmission is the only solution.

Tips to Prevent Honda Civic Transmission Problems

The best way to maintain your Honda Civic transmission is to check and maintain the transmission fluid regularly, at least once a month. This prevents contaminated or low transmission fluid, negatively impacting a Honda Civic transmission.

Here are other maintenance tips to adhere to that will prolong the life of your Honda Civic Transmission:

  • Ensure you only use the recommended transmission fluid according to the Honda Civic owner’s manual
  • Replace the transmission filter from time to time
  • Avoid changing gears while your Honda Civic is in motion (that’s if your vehicle uses an automatic transmission).
  • Allow your Honda Civic to warm up before driving off.
  • Get a professional mechanic to inspect your transmission at least once a year.

Related Posts:

Wrapping Up

The Honda Civic is a reliable vehicle. However, it might develop issues sometimes, such as transmission problems.

Some transmission problems plaguing the Honda Civic have been highlighted in this article, as well as the recommended solutions. If you suspect any sign of a failing transmission, do not hesitate to get your car checked.