I have a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid with continuously variable transmission (CVT). At the 90k tuneup, the mechanic added 3.5 quarts of the regular automatic transmission fluid. At 110,000 miles, the transmission died,

General consensus online holds that using the wrong fluid is certain to destroy the transmission very quickly. However, this did not happen. Now, the mechanic who put in the wrong transmission fluid claims that CVT's often last only 100k, and therefore does not want to take full responsibility for replacing the transmission.

He suggests that since the transmission lasted another 20k, he is not fully responsible for replacing the transmission, e.g., because it might have died anyway.

  • Are there any statistics for the life expectancy of this device (the CVT)? Online forums are generally skewed toward examples of either long lived transmissions or those that failed.
  • Is there any standard way to assess who is liable for repairs in such a case?
  • 4
    By added do you mean the transmission was low on fluid and it took 3.5 quarts to fill it up or did he drain and refill the transmission as part of the service? Also what fluid did he put in it exactly? Jul 2, 2012 at 20:21
  • @Larry he drained and refilled. He put in the automatic transmission fluid for the non-CVT 2006 Honda Civic.
    – Abe
    Jul 2, 2012 at 21:17
  • Unfortunately I have no first-hand experience, but from what I hear the lifespan depends very much on driving style. Trying to put a lot of power down through it supposedly dramatically decreases the life. Probably why the forums have a wide spread in results. Some people baby their cars, others beat them, with few in the middle. :-) Jul 6, 2012 at 11:47
  • 2
    This is a suggestion rather than an answer: I called Honda USA Corporate about a similar issue years ago and said "I will not buy Honda products in the future." I was able to negotiate the dealer paying for parts and me paying for labor. Note: I wasn't happy in the end and now I buy Subarus....
    – Bob Cross
    Jul 6, 2012 at 12:09
  • Did he specified which oil he as used on your bill? If not, it will be hard to prove his mistake. Otherwise you may have a case, but how far are you ready do go for this? Jul 6, 2012 at 12:48

5 Answers 5


What follows is not a mechanical fix. That said, I think you are going to have to solve this as a people problem first.

Based on the answers in the comments, I would recommend the following:

  1. Collect your maintenance records.
  2. Collect your warranty documentation, especially the 100K mile warranty.
  3. Write a short script for yourself: "I baby my car. The mechanic put in the wrong oil. As a result, the car broke immediately after the warranty expired."
  4. Contact Honda USA Corporate and discuss your situation with them.

If the mechanic is a Honda dealer, authorized service center or affiliate, it is likely that corporate will increase the pressure on them to compromise with you.


I have a 03 civic hybrid and my transmission died at 186,000 miles!

  • 3
    Welcome to the site. Your experience could potentially be of use to the original poster if you provided some more information. For example, did you transmission fail due to the same sort of reason (service personnel error) or was there another cause? You could also provide more information on the second point: how did you approach the repair of the transmission?
    – Bob Cross
    Oct 19, 2012 at 23:38

Honda Civic Hybrid and other CVT transmissions require CVT transmission fluid from Honda. ATF fluid is not for CVT. Also the change interval for the Honda Civic Hybrid CVT fluid is about 30-40 thousand miles (Maintenance Code: B13). My 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid has 144000 miles...


I only used CVT fluid. I did a change at 150k then did another change at 180k. I read a lot about once you change the fluid the detergent can break down the build up and then it destroys your transmission. So the second chance it to allow for the break down slug to be drained out. At that time I also swapped out all the plugs. Now I have 330k and I am doing a plug change, coil change and will do a transmission change followed by a second 30k later. I have done almost nothing to my car. Its a 2006 civic hybrid. Still get 40mpg going 80 mph on the freeway. Also only use Mobil full synthetic changed based on the cars CPu.


A reply from service mechanics.com said the CVT is warrented by Honda for only 100K miles. The 2004 CIVIC I have has 196K on it and the transmission is just starting to show signs of wear. The Honda dealer says best thing if you want to keep the car is to FLUSH transmission radiator and replace with genuine Honda fluid 2X per year. The transmission radiator holds about 1/2 quart of dirty fluid so flushing it is important. Videos on youtube show flushing/filling process can be done at home.

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