Should the dealer help pay for my CVT vehicle’s transmission replacement?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader who wonders if the dealer should take some responsibility for a major CVT issue.

The 2014 Honda Civic.
The 2014 Honda Civic. –Honda

Q. I was wondering if you were aware of issues with Honda Civic CVTs. I have a 2014 Civic LX with a CVT and 120,000 miles that I bought new. I noticed my transmission was hesitating and slipping at low speeds about a week ago. I brought it to a local shop and had them drain the fluid. That repair didn’t help. I then called Honda customer service and they told me I would have to bring it to the dealer for a diagnosis. The dealer told me the input and output shafts were bad and the transmission would have to be replaced at a cost of $6,000. I called Honda back and was informed due to age and mileage, they couldn’t help me. I’ve serviced the transmission at the dealer every 30,000 miles and would have expected to have the transmission last the life of the car. I looked online and found some owners complaining about their CVTs going bad. There are issues with software and drive pulley shafts. There is no recall on my particular car. Is there anything I can do?


A. As some manufactures have moved from conventional automatic transmission to continuously variable transmission (CVT) there seems to be an equal number of successes as failures. I did see the transmission recall that Honda issued and although your car wasn’t included in the recall, to me it seems similar enough to warrant investigation. The bulletin states that certain driving cycles can cause stress on the input shaft and pulley and cause a failure. In some cases, updating the software reduced the mechanical stress on that part. Due to the similarity of the failure of the transmission and the recall Honda issued I would call Honda customer service and ask to have them reevaluate your request. Although the car is well out of warranty, perhaps there is some “goodwill” money that can be applied to the repair. 

Q. My car locked itself as I was trying to get a client’s dog out of my car. Ultimately, I had to break the back-passenger window. What steps should I take to have it repaired efficiently and economically? 

A. You have two choices. You may be able to replace the window with a used window from a salvage yard (which may be the quickest method). The second option is calling an auto glass shop. Depending on the vehicle, they probably won’t have the glass in stock and will need to order it.  I have seen some glass shops temporarily replace the broken glass with a piece of plastic to keep out the elements until the repair can be completed.  Breaking the car window may seem extreme, but in my opinion, you did the right thing. A car can get up to well over 150 degrees on a hot day in very little time. Depending on the breed, a dog can perish in a hot car in as little as six to 15 minutes. 


Q. My car was in for an oil change, and like always, there were some additional service recommendations. One of the recommendations was a cabin air filter and the other was cleaning the headlights. I replaced the cabin air filter and passed on the $60 headlight cleaning/polishing. The car will be due for its annual vehicle inspection soon. Should I have the work performed? 

A. The headlights lenses will cloud over and get hazy due to ultraviolet light. This is the automotive equivalent of a person getting cataracts. Testing has shown that depending on the degradation of the lenses, light output can be reduced by 70 percent. Polishing the lenses can restore 95 percent of the light output. Based on that it would certainly make sense to have the work performed. 

Q. I had my car in for an oil change recently. The car is two years old and has 30,000 miles on it. I had to argue with the shop foreman that I wanted synthetic oil and he tried to talk me out of it. I did get them to use synthetic oil. Did I make a mistake? 

A. I had exactly the same experience with my own car. The reason was that the computer told them. I use synthetic oil in my own vehicles and have for 20 years. I find there are benefits, such as better cold weather and start up lubrication, and those benefits outweigh the extra costs. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected]


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The Car Doctor
Am I being a car snob?
November 12, 2020 | 4:25 PM