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Diagnosing a mysterious noise in a FWD transaxle

One day, it became abundantly apparent than not all was right with the HTSpec TSX.

After 133,643 miles (60,000 of which included two track days, three 1200 mile trips over aggressive mountain roads, and countless eighty mile stop-and-go, Socal commute days) the drivetrain in the weak and weary CL9 has cried out in protest. Enough engine braking. Enough wrestling with the finicky shifter. I'm done, it said. I'm speaking in reference to the transmission.

Ok technically it is called a transaxle, which basically means the differential is inside the transmission.

Here is the noise, which had been getting progressively worse over time. The video is a little sucky but basically you'll hear sort of a whirring chunkiness. It gets faster with road-speed. It goes away when I put the clutch in. It is quiet with the clutch out with the trans in neutral. Basically, it is dependent on load and varies with road speed (as opposed to engine speed, or RPM).

I, of course, went through many of the stages of grief before realizing that I needed to actually diagnose this situation before I could get depressed about it. Primarily, it seemed important to employ the concentrated and coherent consultation of my peers. Yes, I consider my sources proprietary. Sorry, can't share them with you. But, I can share the advice.

Based on the fact that the noise was road-speed and load dependent, it was likely an issue with the driveline (meaning the driveshafts or the halfshaft). The issues with the inner joints on the TSX are now infamous, but when I repaired mine, I only did the right one. Maybe the left could be the issue now, I hoped.

I got the car in the air and discovered my luck wasn't quite what I had hoped. In the absence of any obvious visual issues, I started the car and put it in gear to spin the gearbox and hopefully duplicate the noise.

So, with that, it only made sense to confirm suspicions and drain the fluid.


The fine material in the fluid is indicative of a progressive, but maybe not catastrophic problem. Just the same, the transmission is coming out, and we'll be doing an overhaul.


01-30-2014 10:57 AM at 10:57 AM
Time to install that LSD while you're in there!!
Steve M.
01-29-2014 12:26 AM at 12:26 AM
What fluid have you been running in it?
Genuine Honda MTF, but we found out that had nothing to do with it.

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