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Acura MDX Transmission Problems

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  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited November 2011
    "...Lexus does not have an SUV that compares in size and power..."

    Really...??

    The GX4xx and the LX4xx don't exist....?

    But it would be nice if at least the GX were equipped with the GS's SFI/DFI , more FE conscious, V6. I might even get in line for one.

    And neither of these have to pretend they have "AWD", a much more safe "AWD" vs the SH-AWD system.

    Given a few beefed up, more robust drive train components, the MDX SH-AWD system could easily be a "true" AWD. With a few firmware revisions the MDX could be primarily RWD for cruising, 50/50 split for straight ahead acceleration, 30/70 otherwise.
  • Your post is a little misleading. The Lexus have AWD just as the MDX does. The difference lies in the side-to-side vectoring that the Acura is capable of.

    Note that 4WD is different as it is typically manually adjustable and in some cases can be turned on and off (AWD shifts back and forth based on need and is automatic).

    In ideal conditions, all AWD systems should be rear biased during acceleration as weight is transferred to the rear of the vehicle during launch (physics). Therefore by adding power to the rear wheels, you are able to make the most of the resulting downforce.

    All of this is really has no bearing on this thread however as we are discussing the problems with the MDX and it's weak torque converter and the company's failure to properly address the problem.
  • mav15mav15 Posts: 1
    I am a new owner of pre-owned Acura MDX 2009. Lately I have felt slight jolt or jerk while slowly starting from red light and while slowing down in a stop n go traffic. Its like feeling when gears are shifting. It happens occasionally. Sometimes in slow traffic, if I take foot off the gas and let vehicle slow on its own, i feel this sudden jerk. Coming from sedan usage for years, not sure what I am feeling should be investigated further. Are you suppose to feel (this slight sudden shock or push) while auto gear change in MDX?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 28,743
    Not sure how old the car is that you are coming from, but newer transmissions seem to be programmed more aggressively.

    They have more speeds, and seem to be programmed to mimic a manual transmission... It's especially noticeable during coasting to a stop, without braking..... aggressive downshifting seems to be the norm...

    Older cars tend to coast freely, only downshifting to keep the engine from stalling.. It's disconcerting, until you get used to it..

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  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You're describing the full fuel cut technique now being used to conserve fuel. During coastdowns the engine is completely starved of fuel but the transmission is sequentially downshift to keeping the engine turning over.
  • jerrcjerrc Posts: 1
    1st one replaced at 76,000 miles under extended warranty and 2nd one just replaced by third party transmission shop at 146,000 miles. In both cases I had little to no warning prior to complete failure. Third party shop replaced the transmission for $3200 and gave me a 3 year, 100k mile warranty. Acura offered to do it for ~$5200 and give me a 3-year, 24k mile warranty.
  • dc1225dc1225 Posts: 53
    Bless your 3rd party shop's little heart. What is the name of the 3rd party shop? that seems like a good deal
  • If you purchased extended warranty and have low mileage why would you have to pay anything more than the deductible?
  • Sorry this is a bit off-topic for the transmission category -- I have a Lexus and an MDX. When shopping the MDX vs RX350, the Lexus was much more refined (especially the serenity of the cabin). I bought the MDX because it was just right for my needs -- seated more than 5, great for pulling my camping trailer, decent fuel economy, fun to drive. The dealership experience is worth nothing to me -- I maintain and fix my own vehicles -- but if I have to get the transmission replaced before 150,000 miles I wouldn't get another Acura (I'm currently at 58,000 miles with no significant problems ... fingers crossed ... having just done 3 x 3quart synthetic transmission fluid flush and transfer case fluid change).
  • I'm still curious amongst all those with MDX transmission problems ... does anybody have statistics on what percentage of trannys or torque converters fail (either for the pre-2007, the newer generation 2008-2009, or the 6-speed 20010+)? There is a big difference between 5% (1 out of 20 seems very high to me) and 0.5% (1 out of 200 probably isn't bad). Of course that doesn't help you if you're one of the unlucky 200 :(
  • Keep in mind the issue is with the TORQUE CONVERTER, not the entire transmission. Nonetheless, I understand a replacement of the TC would run about $3200. My 2010 TC had to be replaced at 38,000- covered of course under warantty. The dealer told me they had one other '10 needing a replacement.
    It bothers me that the replacement was not a redesign. And where Acura has had problems with these in the past, I would think they would want to nip this in the bud.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited December 2011
    If that Lexus happens to be of the RX variety of 99-00 vintage then you should expect a transaxle failure within 70-100,000 miles. Less probability for the later years of RX300 but higher likelihood than reasonable.

    With the RX330 the VC, Viscous Clutch, F/awd functionality was abandoned and DBW was adopted "to protect the drive train", delayed engine rising torque in response to gas pedal depression in certain downshift requirement instances.

    In the case of the MDX I suspect the failure rate might have a lot to do with just how often a high, but reasonable, acceleration rate is used on a highly tractive roadbed surface. "Driving" both front and rear diff'ls when operating on a highly tractive surface is ALWAYS extra stressful on the drive train components.

    The TC may be the weakest link since nowadays they are generally made less robust now that they are bypassed so much of the time.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..replacement was not a redesign.."

    I doubt if you can be really certain of that. The SH-AWD firmware could have been revised to provide less rear drive functionality and that would be hardly noticeable for most driving conditions.
  • If Acura offered a redesign, it could be taken as an admission of a significant design flaw... on the other hand if there is a design flaw they will gain an image of unreliability. I had a Ford Taurus with a head gasket failure at less than 70,000 miles (not covered under their extended warranty because I had exceeded the allowable time) ... I think it was FelPro that developed a better head gasket to solve the problem, not Ford. I wonder if an independent company can improve Acura's torque converter, which would be worth it if it is a common problem?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Why couldn't a reflash be done along without the owner knowledge with a major repair such as this...
  • I have a 2003 Acura MDX with 147,000 miles on it and I performed the scheduled maintenance like clockwork. The car ran in excellent condition up until last night when the transmission went out on the freeway! with no advanced notice or warning signs at all? Seems there are several other people who have had similar issues. Looks like a new transmission is around 4K or I take a loss with my car that is worth at least 11,000
    does anyone else have any similar stories? it just doesn't seem fair that there was no advance warning engine light or nothing just gone... on the freeway and the car hesitated while the gas was pressed and 5 minutes later no power absolutely done so frustrated
  • We have a strange problem with our 20011 MDX with 18,000 miles on it. Here's how we can get it to occur, sometimes:

    After driving the car for a few minutes, shut it off for a few minutes. Then start and drive it away. Sometimes at this point when we accelerate, we can hear this clunky noise from front or under the car that almost sounds like an old diesel bus. The noise goes away a few seconds later.

    We took the car to the dealership but they said they couldn't reproduce it. Any ideas? Does it sound like a transmission issue? If not, what can this be?

    Thanks.
  • kinvakinva Posts: 1
    I don't have any statistics for you, but my 09 Acura MDX has been sitting at the Acura dealership since Monday the 12th. It needs a torque converter and I was told at 12:00 today, they can't get their hands on one, but mine is starred in the computer as priority. I guess that is b/c I am driving their 2012 TSX that had 600 miles on it when I drove it off the lot and they want it back. They also ordered me new bushings b/c of the popping noise when I turn the steering wheel. As of today, the bushings have not come in either!!
  • I have 2002 MDX touring w/Navi. My transmission just went out at 150,000 miles. Replaced transmission. Engine light still on with Vtm light. Took back to mechanic 3 times. Each time, replaced or cleaned spark plugs, valves, coil packs, still light on. Drives great. Any one with some ideas please? I am going back to mechanic tomorrow.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited December 2011
    At 150,000 miles the VTM-4 clutches may be worn out. No noticeable driving effect unless you NEED AWD functionality. Unless you have times of/for than need then just drive on.......

    CEL is a different story, what code..?

    On the other hand the CEL may derive from the VTM-4 fault.

    Your mechanic seems to be stumbling around taking your money without knowing the systems.
  • Thank you for the reply. I will ask the mechanic. Luckily, he hasn't charged me anything after I payed $2700 for the new transmission.
  • This happened to me shortly after I brought my Acura MDX 2002 Touring Edition. I brought it in 2006 and after having it for 3 months the transmission went out on me on the interstate without any kind of warning or anything. Lucky for me I purchased the extended warranty so it was covered. I was told by my mechanic that the MDX and TL have known transmission problems. Which upset me because I thought Acura was suppose to be the high end of Honda. I can say that since then I havent had any other issues and I have owned it now for 5 years just wish that it was better on gas. Maybe you should look into rebuilding it, it will save you some money since you are already at almost 150k miles.
  • I have a 2002 MDX Touring edition. I changed my timing belt and water pump at 90K miles. I am now at 160k, when should I change them again?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Converting a FWD base vehicle to F/awd has proven to be tad more problematic than the design engineers expected, look at the early RX failure rate as an example.
  • Its your ABS brake self test nothing to worry about.
  • Thanks for the info. But this only happens when I accelerate and the noise gets louder when I press the gas pedal harder. Hard to imagine it's related to the brakes. How can I be sure it's not a problem?
  • For any of you who have replaced a transmission, how long does the new one last or how long have continued to own the car. I just replaced my transmission at 150K.
  • Mine quit at about 30,000 miles the first time, and now it's happening again in the low 60's. Took about 5 years each time. It's a 2002, and I only put on 6000 - 6500 miles per year.
  • Unfortunately we are seeing many MDX vehicles built in the early 2000s with this major issue. But now Acura has the same problem with vehciles after the re-do in 2010. What is of great concern is that the replacement (which I have after 30,000 miles) has not been redesigned. That, after all the replacements, is unpardonable.
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