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The car:
Last year, I bought a 2002 Accord 2.3L Automatic at auction.

I had to do a boat-load of work on the car to get the engine to start. The car had apparently been both crashed and vandalized (looks like attempted theft). Steering column was detached from the dashboard, ignition lock cylinder destroyed, center stack (HVAC/Radio/Vent/clock) was destroyed, radio missing. You get the picture. I had to go to a junkyard and get a replacement ignition lock cylinder/switch assembly with a matching key. I then had to get a locksmith to do the immobilizer programming (and cut me 2 more keys).

The Issue:
The MAXA automatic transmission pulls like a freight train in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear. It will not go into 4th and it slips while shifting between gears on all of the up-shifts. I.e.: the engine redlines for about 3 seconds while up-shifting. Downshifting, it slows the car down almost immediately if I am not careful with the car's speed and the engine RPMs. I basically drive this automatic like a 3-speed manual and I was able to get the MIL (check engine light) to stay off long enough to get it inspected, registered, and road-legal. I cannot see the [D4] indicator light. I suspect the bulb is burned out and I also suspect it blinks at me.

I'm driving the car like this now, shifting it like a 3-speed manual and letting off the accelerator pedal for a couple seconds when I up-shift, and avoiding 4th gear. The MIL comes on within seconds if I shift into D4 while at highway speeds and it sometimes goes into "limp-home" mode - stuck in 2nd gear and all that. IIRC, P0780 usually.

Before getting the car inspected and all that, I had pulled all the solenoids off the transmission and cleaned them and their little screens (where applicable). They were fairly clogged up. I also drained the transmission fluid (once) and re-filled it with some Valvoline transmission fluid I had read can work in these cars. The transmission, at that point, started working better than it was when I first got the car started. But it is still working as described above (it was worse before).

Since it pulls like a freight train in ¾ of the gears and only slips during up-shifts and in 4th, I'm hoping and praying that it is a solenoid problem and not the whole transmission needing to be rebuilt.

I am driving the car as-is right now because I'm self-employed and I need to get to clients' homes and offices with all my tools (actually shopping for a manual transmission SUV too, but can't buy one until I fix this Honda and sell it) and this Accord is the only car I have.

Car drives fine with me shifting manually like I described, but doing 70 mph on the freeway, the engine RPMs are at 4,000. There are freeways and toll roads I travel on daily with speed limits of up to 75 mph. I want to fix the transmission before I crater the engine.

Thank you
 
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