Honda Ridgeline ZF 9 Speed

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Long story short, I've been looking for a new truck lately and finally settled on the honda ridgeline after looking at several of them. You really can't beat the ride quality of the unibody construction and since I don't work in heavy construction anymore I have no need to tow or haul anything big. I was at the dealership yesterday for some recall work on my accord and while speaking with the salesman he mentioned one of the changes for 2020 on the ridgeline was the change to the ZF 9HP transmission. Yeah.. the thought in my head was great just what I wanted to hear. I'm wondering what the consensus is on this transmission? Should it be a deal breaker? I really do like the truck, nothing else concerns me at all it's a solid vehicle but I was really hoping to get a honda transmission. I'm guessing they didn't go with the 10AT because of design issues. As far as heavy use I don't plan on towing anything heavy nor hauling anything close to max payload. Through my searching I did also read that fluid changes are not a DIY process anymore which irritates me. I do like that they did away with the shift lever and it's a push button system now but I really need some convincing that this will last me a long time if I'm spending close to $40k on it.
 
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IMO the ZF 8 speed is the best of the bunch, the 9 speed I'd read up on it. From what I heard it isn't that great.
 
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Originally Posted by dakota99
Long story short, I've been looking for a new truck lately and finally settled on the honda ridgeline after looking at several of them. You really can't beat the ride quality of the unibody construction and since I don't work in heavy construction anymore I have no need to tow or haul anything big. I was at the dealership yesterday for some recall work on my accord and while speaking with the salesman he mentioned one of the changes for 2020 on the ridgeline was the change to the ZF 9HP transmission. Yeah.. the thought in my head was great just what I wanted to hear. I'm wondering what the consensus is on this transmission? Should it be a deal breaker? I really do like the truck, nothing else concerns me at all it's a solid vehicle but I was really hoping to get a honda transmission. I'm guessing they didn't go with the 10AT because of design issues. As far as heavy use I don't plan on towing anything heavy nor hauling anything close to max payload. Through my searching I did also read that fluid changes are not a DIY process anymore which irritates me. I do like that they did away with the shift lever and it's a push button system now but I really need some convincing that this will last me a long time if I'm spending close to $40k on it.
I LOOOVE my 6 speed ridge, and will be watching this one close. Its quick now - a 9 speed would make it absolutely fly - it doesnt make a ton of torque but it does make great HP and with a belt soaking up all the vibes it can sing along at higher RPM with no penalty to to the cabin , but splitting it a bit wider would be great. That said - Honda trans dont have a great rep themselves with the Odyssey getting a case diet that caused early failures. That ZF gets a decent amount of play in the chrysler products that are rated to tow a bunch - I think up to 7500. It had enough tune cycles so as to be pretty known now. Between a Honda and a ZF Id say its a draw. Not DIY meaning what exactly? That its really hard to get at or its sealed and needs a split? Not sure I like the push button shift - A parking brake cable is a lot simpler and I can actually fix it. Either way to will be a honda warranty item. UD
 
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Originally Posted by UncleDave
Not DIY meaning what exactly? That its really hard to get at or its sealed and needs a split?
I've been reading through forums and some folks said you needed to simply have the fluid at a certain temperature during filling which required a scan tool to read the fluid temp. That's not a huge deal to me but then as far as the filter goes it's internal to the transmission and can't be changed without opening it up. I guess I'm basing my concern on all of the issues chrysler has had with this 9 speed. If it's based on software though I do feel Honda can work things out.
 
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Originally Posted by skyactiv
Shift levers in modern automatics vehicles are usually fake; no cable going to the transmission.
But the parking is - and subject to regular stretching and wear. This isnt honda thing - everything going that way...
 
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That fluid for ZF9 is super expensive. And there's no dipstick to check the level and condition. Supposedly Honda has updted ZF9 but still hasn't figured it out. I'd imagine they would if it was possible at all. Anyhow, if I was you, i'd get one right now before the 6 speed is gone.
 
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Honda replaced a bad transmission with a bad transmission shrug The V6 Honda automatic was no good anyway, and I heard bad things about the ZF9. The only difference is that the ZF9 fluid costs much more. But you can use Maxlife with no problem smile
 
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My understanding about the ZF 9 speed tranny is that it ISN'T an unreliable tranny(any tranny can have issues), just a quirky shifting tranny(in certain gears & RPMs) and normal shifting in the other gears. As much reprogramming as Honda and other manufactures using this tranny have done to reduce the dislike for the way the dog clutches shift up & down(hesitant), it hasn't helped enough for customer's to like it better. Honda uses the ZF 9 speed strictly in the Acura MDX, Honda Passport and now for 2020, the Ridgeline and only in certain trim levels in other models. It seems that Honda is trying to meet the contract requirements with ZF by putting the tranny in more offerings and get this disappointment over with.
 
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https://www.transmissionrepaircostguide.com/zf-9hp48/
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Because the ZF 9HP48 9 speed transmission is sold to automakers as a ‘kit' or manufactured under license, it's the responsibility of each car company to create the software for the 9HP48 transmission control unit that will govern how it behaves. ZF works with the car companies to help them develop the appropriate programming, however not everybody got it right. Particularly Fiat-Chrysler / FCA and Honda. Since its introduction in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, it has been known to be plagued with a number of problems that have prompted several recalls, along with a number of TSB software updates and warranty replacements. Some of the known symptoms include: Lunging forward after an expected downshift Failure to downshift when accelerating 9HP48 transmission unexpectedly shifts into neutral Erratic upshifts/downshifts Failure to shift into 8th or 9th gear Unintentional rollaway due to the driver possibly selecting neutral instead of park Some of the vehicles known to suffer from the above ZF9HP48 transmission problems include: 2014> Jeep Cherokee 2015> Jeep Renegade Ram ProMaster City 2015> Chrysler 200 2016> Fiat 500X Acura TLX 2015> Honda Pilot 2014> Land Rover Evoque 2015> Land Rover Discovery Sport
 
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ZF makes best transmissions today. ZF8 is arguably most reliable and fastest classic automatic one can get. ZF9 is bit different. It is designed for transverse applications, and many of them. Problem with ZF9 is not reliability, it is Honda programing. Same like Aisin, or any other manufacturer, programing is unique to vehicle manufacturer. My Aisin in VW Tiguan is programmed in certain aspects worse than same one in my Sienna. Same transmission, in VW is much more aggressive and faster, however keeps rpm's too long in redline etc. Same is for Honda. ZF9 was from beginning plagued with software issues and it is unique to Honda and for some time Chrysler. I would try it, or rent one for several days and see how it works now.
 
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https://www.sae.org/news/2018/08/2019-honda-pilot-refresh
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Honda worked with ZF on updates to the 9HP 9-speed automatic to address drivability concerns that have dogged several automakers applying the gearbox. Available on the top two 2019 Pilot trims (standard is a 6-speed automatic), the transmission's sometimes wonky shift behavior appears to have been mostly exorcised. It apparently wasn't affecting U.S. sales of the Pilot however (up 38% YTD in the SUV-mad market), thanks to a recent production increase designed to ease capacity constraints. Mods to the dog-clutch-equipped transmission include "both hardware and software improvements," said Justin Chiodo, senior product planner on the Pilot. "The clutch packs and hydraulic system have been modified a little bit for smoother, more refined shifts, and we've done a lot with the tuning of the transmission." Though we only spent a day in a pre-production 2019 Pilot, the mods appear affective, as the 9-speed drew the ideal zero attention to itself along the varied drive route. Under light-to-moderate throttle, Pilots equipped with the 9-speed now start in second gear, and the software tuning updates seem to have created a far more invisible setup. Also updated to positive effect is the Pilot's stop-start system, which operates more smoothly via new programming, a reconfigured air conditioning system and a new brake-pressure trigger for quicker restarts. Also, when in idle stop, the engine now remains off after shifting to Park.
 
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Originally Posted by SubLGT
https://www.sae.org/news/2018/08/2019-honda-pilot-refresh
Quote
Honda worked with ZF on updates to the 9HP 9-speed automatic to address drivability concerns that have dogged several automakers applying the gearbox. Available on the top two 2019 Pilot trims (standard is a 6-speed automatic), the transmission's sometimes wonky shift behavior appears to have been mostly exorcised. It apparently wasn't affecting U.S. sales of the Pilot however (up 38% YTD in the SUV-mad market), thanks to a recent production increase designed to ease capacity constraints. Mods to the dog-clutch-equipped transmission include "both hardware and software improvements," said Justin Chiodo, senior product planner on the Pilot. "The clutch packs and hydraulic system have been modified a little bit for smoother, more refined shifts, and we've done a lot with the tuning of the transmission." Though we only spent a day in a pre-production 2019 Pilot, the mods appear affective, as the 9-speed drew the ideal zero attention to itself along the varied drive route. Under light-to-moderate throttle, Pilots equipped with the 9-speed now start in second gear, and the software tuning updates seem to have created a far more invisible setup. Also updated to positive effect is the Pilot's stop-start system, which operates more smoothly via new programming, a reconfigured air conditioning system and a new brake-pressure trigger for quicker restarts. Also, when in idle stop, the engine now remains off after shifting to Park.
If it's the first or second year in the application, and knowing what I learned about it, I'd pass and let the early adopters have at it. I wouldn't take Honda's word, or anyone else's for that matter that the updates addressed drivability concerns.
 
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I have a 2018 Pilot with the 9-speed. For comparison during it's ownership I've also had a Mazda3 with the 6-speed Skyactiv AT and a 2019 Lexus RX350 with the 8-speed. The ZF 9-Speed does many things very well but has some really annoying quirks. The 1-2 shift is harsh 90% of the time under light to moderate throttle. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn't but it's there 90% of the time. The 10% of the time it's not there is under heavy acceleration. This transmission LOVES a heavy throttle. All other shifts are butter smooth - both upshifts and downshifts - regardless of throttle inputs. 4th gear is a dog clutch so if you're attempting to engine brake the shift from 5 to 4 is accompanied by a surge in RPM AND SPEED as the ECU revs the engine to get the dog clutch speed synced. This can be alarming at first. The ZF 9-speed is also well programmed with minimal gear hunting. Lastly, there is a "kick down" point on the accelerator pedal that allows you to dig deep into the throttle without a spastic downshift - if you need a downshift just pop past the kick down point and you get it - I really like this feature. Compared to my RX350 8-speed other that the 1-2 shift the ZF 9-speed is SUPERIOR especially under heavy throttle inputs where the 8-speed both upshifts and downshifts WAY too much, with harsh downshifts, it's a mess. The best AT I've driven in the past 5-years was the 6-speed Skyactiv - perfect all around in every way. Now to be clear I don't like the 9-speed ZF...that 1-2 shift is less annoying because my wife drives the car and if I had to drive it full time I'd want to take a baseball bat to it after a few days. I only comment on the Lexus and Mazda3 to show it can be much worse and much better. The ZF should be much better but there are worse ATs out there. I've read the latest ZF 9-speed has been modified from mine to address the 1-2 shift but I don't know how well that has worked.
 
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Quote: The best AT I've driven in the past 5-years was the 6-speed Skyactiv - perfect all around in every way. I agree, an amazing automatic transmission.
 
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From my limited knowledge, it seems to me that the greater the number of gears, the greater the potential for problems. CAFE standards may be forcing auto makers into using more gears.
 
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Originally Posted by Gebo
From my limited knowledge, it seems to me that the greater the number of gears, the greater the potential for problems. CAFE standards may be forcing auto makers into using more gears.
The problem is 3 more gears = maybe 1mpg city and in the 2020 Ridgeline I think I read highway mpg went DOWN 1mpg moving from the 6-speed to the 9-speed. Expensive, complicated, drivability issues and minimal increase in mpg but marketing can say it has more gears! Mazda has not jumped on this bandwagon yet and they are all about the mpg/performance ratio. I still think 6 gears is the sweet spot!
 
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Originally Posted by Gebo
From my limited knowledge, it seems to me that the greater the number of gears, the greater the potential for problems. CAFE standards may be forcing auto makers into using more gears.
Maybe this is why the automakers shifted away from the two speed automatics?
 
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