Honda Ridgeline ZF 9 Speed

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We have the 9 speed in our 2015 Chrysler, supposedly the worst year model for problems, and shortly after we bought the car, they performed the software change and it has been fine. It had 7 miles on it when we bought it and it has a little over 102,000 now. It's just a different feeling transmission, nothing more. I saw a link on the 9 speed transmission that explained the reasons behind the feeling somewhere, it may have been here on bitog, but it basically stated that it is normal for what it is.
 
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I think you have a two pronged question. The driveability aspect can be evaluated pretty quickly with some test drive miles. The durability is a much different issue. I don't think many of these have accumulated high miles yet. In general German stuff is complex, not reliable at high miles, and very expensive to repair/replace. IMHO Honda would be better served with an in-house trans or Aisin.
 
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Originally Posted by nascarnation
I think you have a two pronged question. The driveability aspect can be evaluated pretty quickly with some test drive miles. The durability is a much different issue. I don't think many of these have accumulated high miles yet. In general German stuff is complex, not reliable at high miles, and very expensive to repair/replace. IMHO Honda would be better served with an in-house trans or Aisin.
My Aisin 8-speed in the RX350 is a disaster! Easily the worse AT I've ever owned from a drivability POV. If you only drive it like a grandma it's pretty good but any time you actually press the accelerator be prepared for a harsh shifting spastic AT that is simultaneously trying to shift into 8th gear and 2nd gear as fast as possible. I hope it remains reliable. The ZF 9-speed has been out since at least 2014 in Jeep/FCA products and in Honda products since 2016...that's long enough for high mileage. I've read about some 9-speeds being replaced early due to failure of the transmission cooler but on the whole I think they're reliable. For me it's really just that 1-2 shift.
 
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Originally Posted by HemiBenny
We have the 9 speed in our 2015 Chrysler, supposedly the worst year model for problems, and shortly after we bought the car, they performed the software change and it has been fine. It had 7 miles on it when we bought it and it has a little over 102,000 now. It's just a different feeling transmission, nothing more. I saw a link on the 9 speed transmission that explained the reasons behind the feeling somewhere, it may have been here on bitog, but it basically stated that it is normal for what it is.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7EMGnjEhmE Most likely that video. Explains why the ZF9 is so 'odd'. Short explanation is....dog clutches. The software has to perform pretty precise speed matching to engage certain gears. Hence the oddball shifting feeling in the trans.
 

dakota99

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Wow all I have to say is thanks to everyone for all of the information. This is far more than I expected. My main concern is with reliability, I can tolerate slightly different shifting behavior. (After all, I am upgrading from an 18 year old truck with it's own issues). I get the feeling that Honda seems to be more on top of it, trying to make it the best they can. I really love the ridgeline. I definitely don't need a full size truck and there's a lot of unique features that I like. When they get some 2020's in i'll have to take one out for a test and see how the shifts are. If frequent "severe duty" fluid changes would help extend the life of it even more I have no problem doing that.
 
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There should still be some new, un-sold ‘19s available if you're concerned about it. My ‘13 has the 5-speed Honda A/T, which is nearly bulletproof in Ridgeline configuration. I personally probably wouldn't seek out one with the ZF tranny, but that's based perhaps more on my significant dislike of the messy and uncertain shift performance of pretty well all 8+ speed A/Ts I've driven rather than on anything specific to Honda's version of this ZF tranny. Posts on the Ridgeline Owners Club forum suggest you're more likely to have fuel injector trouble than any one other thing (it seems? I pay less attention to the gen2 sub forums there).
 
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Originally Posted by bulwnkl
...Posts on the Ridgeline Owners Club forum suggest you're more likely to have fuel injector trouble than any one other thing (it seems? I pay less attention to the gen2 sub forums there).
Transmission over heating with the 6AT seems to be a frequent complaint, when towing less than the rated 5000lb. Perhaps the 9AT will be less prone to this.
 
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Do any of the manufacturers program the ZF 9-Speed to skip gears during light throttle upshifts? The Aisin 8-speed does this in many/most applications and some people claim that this is the root cause of the shift quality complaints. If the manufacturers are going to do this, IMO there is little if anything to be gained by producing the more complex transmissions with more than 5 or 6 speeds, other than bragging rights.
 
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Originally Posted by wag123
Do any of the manufacturers program the ZF 9-Speed to skip gears during light throttle upshifts? The Aisin 8-speed does this in many/most applications and some people claim that this is the root cause of the shift quality complaints. If the manufacturers are going to do this, IMO there is little if anything to be gained by producing the more complex transmissions with more than 5 or 6 speeds, other than bragging rights.
My Aisin 8-speed shifts fine under light throttle and/or driving like a grandma. My biggest issue is when cruising even moderate throttle applications cause it to spastically and abruptly downshift 3 gears, almost always with the thump, and as soon as you let off the gas it immediately upshifts 3 gears. Said another way, giving linear but slowly increasing throttle you get nothing, nothing, nothing, BAM a 3 gear downshift, let off the throttle just a little and BAM 3 gear upshift, give moderate throttle 3-gear down shift. I compare this to the ZF 9-speed that actually does this well. Depressing the pedal gives a one gear downshift immediately but the it allows you to depress the pedal quickly to just before the kick down and use engine torque to accelerate. If you need a 3-gear down shift you just pop past the kick down point and you get it. The 9-speed ZF handles spirited downshifts and upshifts very well but does doesn't do light throttle upshifts as well. Essentially, the 8-speed and 9-speed are opposites in their behavior during light and heavy throttle applications.
 
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Originally Posted by SubLGT
Transmission over heating with the 6AT seems to be a frequent complaint, when towing less than the rated 5000lb. Perhaps the 9AT will be less prone to this.
I've only seen those complaints from people who tow a noticeable load, or run extended time at very low speed off-road or on hills. If the switch to the ZF tranny makes it better, it will be due to Honda actually engineering the cooling circuit or selecting an appropriate torque converter. The 5AT (which the 6AT is closely related to, as I understand it) has no such issues. The Gen 1 Ridgeline had significant engineering go into it for the purpose of being a half-ton (~1,000 lb cargo load) pickup. It is not clear that the same effort went into the Gen 2.
 
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Originally Posted by PWMDMD
My Aisin 8-speed shifts fine under light throttle and/or driving like a grandma. My biggest issue is when cruising even moderate throttle applications cause it to spastically and abruptly downshift 3 gears, almost always with the thump, and as soon as you let off the gas it immediately upshifts 3 gears. Said another way, giving linear but slowly increasing throttle you get nothing, nothing, nothing, BAM a 3 gear downshift, let off the throttle just a little and BAM 3 gear upshift, give moderate throttle 3-gear down shift.
The Austin 8-speed we have doesn't quite do all that, but it's very similar insofar as the nothing, nothing, nothing then WHOA! WAY TOO MUCH ACCELERATION situation. More gears yield higher fuel economy, particularly when paired with aggressive anti-kickdown programming. It's irritating!
 
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Originally Posted by Char Baby
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.
The new Odyssey makes the ZF 9HP standard in all but the Touring levels - where the in-house 10-speed is used instead. I think Honda needed a stop-gap until their new 10-speed was cleared for production since they probably come to a realization their non-planetary geared automatics weren't cutting the mustard. ZF isn't exactly a transverse FWD specialist - if they were, VW would be using them instead of Aisin for their automatics - I can see the Atlas and the US/Chinese Passat using the 9HP. ZF can make a good gearbox as the 6/8HP proves in high-powered Range Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, BMW and Mopar applications.
 

dakota99

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Researching the 9 speed for several hours I came across many articles and forum posts that referenced a "gen 2 ZF9HP". From what I gather there are two versions of this 9 speed. The first run and a newer second generation. It also seems to me like Honda did a lot of work both software wise and hardware wise on this transmission when they introduced it in the pilot. As much as I don't like the questionable history of the ZF I also don't care for the colorado, ranger nor the tacoma. I've looked at all and you just can't replicate the ride quality and build quality feel of the honda. I think at this point i'll hold off a couple months and let the 2020's get out on the road to see if any issues arise. I can more than deal with different shifting behavior as long as it doesn't contribute to damage or excessive wear over time. Anything is an upgrade from the truck I have now.. haha.
 

dakota99

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Okay I looked up the process for changing the fluid and it seems that in order to check the level afterwards you have to have the vehicle off the ground, running and in drive so the wheels move. All while following a process with VSA mode off. (This has to be done with a computer hooked up to the vehicle.) Wouldn't measuring the fluid amount that drained out save you all this frustration? As long as the level is correct from the get go and the transmission doesn't leak you're only putting in what came out. Obviously you would want to shift through the gear selector modes before driving like all automatics but am I missing something? Seems simple enough. The fluid is $25 a quart.
 
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Originally Posted by dakota99
Okay I looked up the process for changing the fluid and it seems that in order to check the level afterwards you have to have the vehicle off the ground, running and in drive so the wheels move. All while following a process with VSA mode off. (This has to be done with a computer hooked up to the vehicle.) Wouldn't measuring the fluid amount that drained out save you all this frustration? As long as the level is correct from the get go and the transmission doesn't leak you're only putting in what came out. Obviously you would want to shift through the gear selector modes before driving like all automatics but am I missing something? Seems simple enough. The fluid is $25 a quart.
Here is a video of how to change the ZF 9 transmission fluid at home if you want to. There is also a replacement transmission fluid for the Honda 3.1 if you are brave enough to try it. There is at least one other brand which was mentioned here on the forum when I asked but I can't find it right now [/url]MaxLife Fluid Change Honda ZF 9 Fluid at Home How to put your ZF 9 into VSA/VSM mode Enter VSA w/o Scan Tool
 
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Originally Posted by dakota99
As much as I don't like the questionable history of the ZF I also don't care for the colorado, ranger nor the tacoma. I've looked at all and you just can't replicate the ride quality and build quality feel of the honda.
This is correct nothing delivers the hondas mix of dynamics - In the mountains where you have every combo of nature from twisty canyon roads to washboard dirt, sand, mud, snow, rain and rocks all in the days journey the ridgeline is the supreme middle ground tool, being surprisingly competent off road, hauling and towing while absolutely shredding everything else in driving dynamics and long trip dynamics and economy with sedan like comfort and handling. UD [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
 
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Originally Posted by UncleDave
Originally Posted by dakota99
As much as I don't like the questionable history of the ZF I also don't care for the colorado, ranger nor the tacoma. I've looked at all and you just can't replicate the ride quality and build quality feel of the honda.
This is correct nothing delivers the hondas mix of dynamics - In the mountains where you have every combo of nature from twisty canyon roads to washboard dirt, sand, mud, snow, rain and rocks all in the days journey the ridgeline is the supreme middle ground tool, being surprisingly competent off road, hauling and towing while absolutely shredding everything else in driving dynamics and long trip dynamics and economy with sedan like comfort and handling. UD
Wow, a refreshingly logical argument for the Honda. Usually every time you see someone post anything about a Ridgeline you can bet that you'll hear... #1 'Its not a truck' / 'Its a minivan with a bed' #2 'It doesn't have a real frame' #3 'You can't tow [X/Y/Z] with it' (X/Y/Z) being some form of load that is indeed too big to tow with it. #4-100000 Too many others to list. What no one will admit is that it is a perfectly reasonable tool for its intended purpose. It's not meant to be a work truck or tow truck, but it is really good at doing light work for a homeowner, and it drives like an Accord to boot. When I finally give up my 2003 Accord, I'll probably pick up a used Ridgeline. I don't drive far to work, so the gas penalty isn't terrible for me, and I sure would like to haul stuff around for the house without having to borrow a truck or trailer.
 
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Originally Posted by Ram02
Honda should of used GM's 9 speed auto it's buttery smooth in the Chevy Transverse
What?
 
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