Welcome to Fatal Flaw, where I choose a cool car that is made significantly less desirable by one major, glaring fault — and show you how to fix it. Today's feature is on the 6th generation Honda Accord V6 and how to fix the ticking time bomb known as its automatic transmission.
The '98 - '02 Honda Accord V6 is a pretty spectacular platform. Its naturally aspirated J30 V6 engine produces a bicentennial horsepower figure and, unlike its late model 4-cylinder brethren, has a particularly dramatic and audible VTEC powerband crossover. It's luxuriously appointed and a ridiculously good value for money (read: stupid cheap).
And, if you're the fake-it-til-you-make-it type, the Accord Coupe's styling is the closest "normal" car you can get to the holy grail that is the NSX:
Its Achilles' heel is the 4-speed automatic transmission, that, for one reason or another, simply stops selecting gears over time and requires a rebuild or a used unit. Neither option eliminates the issue, as over time the gearshifts become more jerky and the problem rears its ugly head once again. It's well documented on Honda Accord forums with no easy solution. The only way to rid the otherwise good car from this nasty blemish is to change the entire system completely.
A 6-speed manual transmission is installed from an Acura CL Type S or an Acura TL, since the engine mounting points on the J32 engines are the same as the Accord's J30.
Here's a list of everything you'll need to do it, and what to do if you're doing it yourself (also handy to give to your mechanic along with your stacks of hundreds):
The Full 6-Speed Parts list, by storms on 6thgenaccord.com. Although the prices are listed, I'd recommend finding major components, like the transmission, mounts and axles on eBay or Amazon, with the transmission being the only thing you should really buy used. Realistically the parts should cost around $1500 - $2500 all in, with shop labor costing about the same to perform the procedure.
If you're unfamiliar with doing a manual transmission swap, follow the procedure here. (it's for a 4-cylinder version of the chassis, but the basic procedure still applies)
In addition to the mechanical components, a wiring harness is necessary to make sure the car's ECU doesn't throw diagnostic trouble codes because of the loss of the automatic transmission. Thankfully Richie_V6 on V6performance.net has made a working harness , along with pictures of his own 6-speed swap:
Here's what the entire process looks like, by redhondapwns:
And here's a video of a quick run through the gears after installation:
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you turn a dreary and unreliable Honda Accord into a machine that's practically designed to put a smile on your face every time you turn the key.
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org, Flickr.com, 6thgenaccord.com)
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.