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AC died and transmission shifts roughly


Topic starter


We bought a manual 2009 Honda Fit sport with ~140k miles on it 2 years ago (for $4,000, from a private party). It now has ~148k miles on it.
We're really happy with the car so far, it's exactly what we needed (a hatchback, small but with plenty of space, easy to drive and park, etc).

Since we bought it we only changed the tires a year ago (for some amazing Yokohama) and did an oil/filter change + general check-up from a good mechanics who said he "would buy the car" to let us know it is in great condition and can do many more miles.

There's just two things that are annoying us:
Our "big" concern:
- 1. 6 months or so after we bought it, the A/C died. We tried to recharge it with a $25 can that you can buy from a store, the issue was not due to that (the pressure was already slightly too high/in the red, so we could not recharge it). We also tried to replace the relay as I found online that sometimes it's the relay that's faulty, but no luck on that either. To me it looks like the A/C clutch engages and de-engages, but I'm no expert on that. I have no idea what the issue is, if there's a leak on it, etc.

Our smallest concern:
- 2. Shifting in 1rst gear is sometimes a little bit difficult. The previous owner (who bought it new in 2009) never changed the transmission fluid. (We're used to driving manuals, in fact we've only driven manuals, so it's not that). It's not all the time, and it's not too hard to shift (so far), but it's still slightly annoying from times to times. I do not expect a perfect shifting in 1rst gear for a car of this age, but that could still be better. Note that the reverse does it sometimes too, but all the others gears (2-5) switch perfectly. The issue only happens with the 1rst and reserve, from times to times.

My questions are:

- 1. Would you get a mechanics to fix the A/C? I don't know how to do it myself, and unfortunately I don't have the time/energy to learn that (already overworked by work and too little time for us). And we don't have the tools and space necessary either. I asked our local mechanic, and he does not do work on A/C. In fact, very few mechanical shops seem to be dealing with A/C where we live (Midwest). The ones who do it are asking for a ~200$ of diagnostic/quote, and then we might be looking at an additional $800-$900 if they need to replace compressor, clutch, etc. So a total of approximately $1000-$1100. These were the prices a year ago, they might have increase them since then...

It's not strictly impossible to live without the A/C, but it's still quite hot and humid here from June to the end of September. We have to drive with the windows open, so the noise of the road is terrible (the roads are not in great conditions around here), and you arrive at your destination still sweating and much more tired. We like doing (small) roadtrips, but that is preventing to go further that 3-4h away in one go, because it's simply too uncomfortable after that.
Our concern here is trying to be efficient with our money. Would you pay the ~$1100 for fixing the A/C on a $4000 car? (and hoping that it won't cost much more than that once you've paid for the ~200 flat fee for the quote)

- 2. Would you try to do something with the rough shifting into 1rst gear (and reverse)? From listening to Scotty and others, it seems that changing the transmission fluid when it has never been done in 13-14 years is not a great idea has it might just ruin the shifting completely. Would you try to add some "transmission fixing fluid" thing that he sometimes mentions in his videos? Can it make it worse? Should I ask our mechanics to do that?

Basically, I'm trying to see what I can reasonably do with these two small issues, without doing something not rational from a financial point of view. We'd still like to keep the car for 4-5 additional years (we like to live cheaply, especially for cars, just like Scotty!).

Thank you very much in advance for your point of views, ideas or tips!

please limit it to one question per post .Thanks.

4 Answers

For the AC, take the car to a AC shop and have them fix it.

For the transmission, since it is a manual, you can change the fluid now. There is no harm in that. It is completely different than an automatic transmission and Scotty's suggestions are all about the automatic ones. Make sure you use correct Honda per your car owner's manual. 

Posted by: @fitlover

We tried to recharge it with a $25 can that you can buy from a store, the issue was not due to that (the pressure was already slightly too high/in the red, so we could not recharge it).

Big mistake, but fortunately it sounds like you didn't get far enough to make things worse. Those "recharge cans" are totally useless for any kind of meaningful diagnostics. You need to see what your system pressures are using a manifold gauge set. You are actually fortunate you did not "recharge" your AC with that thing since most of those contain sealer that can plug up and destroy your air conditioning system.

If you are not familiar with working on air conditioning and don't have someone who can show you how, it would be best to find a good AC technician to diagnose the problem. Otherwise you can easily make the situation worse or even injure yourself. (Do not go to a dealer or chain shop like Pep Boys, Firestone, etc.)


The manual trans uses heavy (75w90) gear oil and should be changed.  Makes sure your clutch pedal push rod is properly adjusted (owner's manual) so as to fully disengage the clutch for 1st and Reverse gear shifts.  Check the fluid in the clutch master cylinder reservoir too.  The owner's manual will tell you the proper weight gear oil to use.

Honda calls it Honda MTF.

I wonder if at some point Honda would have changed the recommendation to Honda MTL. I know the stuff does wonders for my '86 Saab 900's 5-speed transmission and those things have one of the most notchy and fragile manual transmissions on the planet.

@doc, you snuck in and beat me to it!


Topic starter

Thank you very much for your answers! (apologies for the delay in my answer, got an internet issue these last few days)

It's great to know that the transmission fluid can be safely changed on an older car, even if it has never been replaced by the previous owner. It's actually called gear oil for a manual car, right?

I'll ask the repair shop to do it (assuming they also validate this idea) when we do the oil change this fall.
I'll also ask them to check the fluid in the clutch master cylinder reservoir too. Thanks for the tips!

As for the A/C, would you do personally do it for a car of this age (2009) that still runs well?
I assume the estimated cost ($200 for the diagnostic/quote and a total of around $1000-$1100 if they need to replace compressor, clutch, etc.) is pretty normal these days?
A/Cs really are so expensive to diagnose and to fix 🙁

Many thanks again for your help, that was very helpful!


Sounds about right, materials and labor. I would get the AC done even for an older car, but only at and automotive AC specialty shop, not from an average mechanic dude.