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Acura MDX Care and Maintenance



  • See other posts. You will not damage your engine if you use regular (as long as the engine electronics are working properly). However you will probably not save significant (or possibly any) money by using regular. You will lose some performance using regular, but you probably will not notice without a stop watch.

    Tests on my MDX show premium (vs. regular) gives about 8% better mpg and tests using a stop watch show the car accelerates significantly faster with premium too. Around here the difference in cost is just over 8 percent. If gas prices continue to increase the cost difference will become less than 8%.

    My tests were done over 1500 miles for each grade of fuel. The road and driving conditions were similar throughout and involved local and freeway driving (including some long drives). Actual fuel used was used for mpg calculations, not the inaccurate trip computer.

    The car drove fine on regular and did not feel different than when premium is used.
  • sdao16sdao16 Posts: 2
    I have 2003 MDX with about 16000 miles, mostly driven during the weekend. My MDX tend to have some steering wheel vibration between 75-80 mph that comes and go. I have contact the dealership service and they are blaming on flat spot on the tires from not driving it often enought. Have anyone experience the same problem with their MDX?

    The service dept also tell me that I will need a 15K service that going to cost me around $300. Is this worth it or should I do this myself?

  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    Flat spot...rotate tires and drive it a little more or don't let it sit for weeks at a time...i.e. roll it back 2 feet without starting the engine.

    $300 isn't bad, check a honda dealer for maybe better pricing. Also itemize, some things you don't need? Check wiper blades, tire pressure, etc. Maybe give them a list and get a price? You probably should follow the extreme schedule since you don't drive it a lot, so you will need a vtm change at could wait until 22K, but I wouldn't wait until 30k since you don't drive it so much.
  • otis123otis123 Posts: 438
    Is the vtm fluid the first fluid that needs to be changed - besides engine oil.... My dealer says it is at 7500 for the 2004 MDX. Bull or truth?


  • If you do the 15K service the tires should be rotated. That should tell you if it is a wheel/tire problem. The problem will most like remain as is if it isn't. If tires flat spot from sitting too long they round out in a few miles. This has not been a problem on cars in decades.

    The 15K service is an oil and filter along with a tire rotation. The rest are 'inspect' items that can easily be a DIY look-see. I agree that one should check Honda dealers' prices for the service.

    Because the MDX is high off the ground it is very easy to change oil and VTM-4 fluid without a lift or jack (about 30 minutes or so to do both if you have a small hand pump for the VTM-4 fluid (about $10 at the dealer))
  • Acura has wanted the first VTM-4 fluid change done at 7500 miles since the first MDX was sold. The next change is at 30K. It is a 15 minute job, depending on how long one lets the unit drain. Fluid cost is about $17 per gallon retail and the unit takes about 3 quarts.
  • jellymanjellyman Posts: 3
    My ACURA dealer informed me that two, I say again 2 cabin air filters need replacement. I located one behind the glove box, a pullout, but the other I cannot find. They want $198 to replace the filters
  • jellymanjellyman Posts: 3
    Are there 2 cabin air filters on a 2003 ACURA MDX and if so, where are they located?
  • otis123otis123 Posts: 438
    Thanks! 7500 it will be...but probably the only reg. main. service Acura does. I have an excellent "award-winning" Honda dealer/service 2 miles away - Curry Honda. $198. for cabin air filters at Acura? Crazy!
  • Your owner's manual should tell you if your MDX has more than one dust and pollen filter (cabin air filter). The one for my 02 says filter, not filters, and my 20 has only one - behind the glove box. Unless the design has been changed, the first time the pollen filter is changed there is a part blocking the filter from sliding out that must be cut away (and thrown away). This adds a few minutes to the labor. The pollen filters are expensive and it does takes a little while to change, but $198? Even $98 seems like a lot.
  • jellymanjellyman Posts: 3
    The filter is located behind the glove box as you say. They have replaced the plastic brace with a metal brace which is more formidable to remove. Removing the brace does not appear to affect the integrity of the glovebox. There are two units side by side behind the glove box one contains the filter we are familiar with. The other made by the same company has something which appears to be foam visible through some vents. It looks like it may be difficult to get to. I am wondering if this is the second filter they are talking about?
  • I have a service manual for the '03 and will check for sure. I did my own pollen filter and it is fairly straight forward. I did see a post on another board about a filter for the rear unit, but have not confirmed in the service manual.
  • cmigscmigs Posts: 5
    I tried searching edmunds for this, but with no luck...

    I want to be sure the dealership changed my filter the last time I had the MDX in. Do you have to un-screw the glove box retainer to gain access to the back where the filter is located? If so, how easy is it to put the glovebox back together? I tried to check behind the glove box near the floor and saw nothing...any help would be apprectiated...
  • bvillabvilla Posts: 3
    i live in canada, and i don't think there is an owners' website that services this market. i've signed up for the honda america owners' site, which has some great features, but it doesn't help me here (with service, etc.).

    i'm just curious if the site is as good as it looks. are people using it? what works, what doesn't?

    jealous in toronto
  • hnikdelhnikdel Posts: 6
    My Acura dealer is telling me that the hand pump is no longer available from Honda. Are they telling me the truth? Is there another place I can buy the hand pump from?


  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    A pump is a pump. If you got it changed at local mechanic's they wouldn't use an "acura pump". I think your dealer is not being forthright. It might be possible that Honda isn't selling one anymore, however I am sure there are transmission fluid change pumps on the could probably even use a hand pump one for transfering liquids between buckets or syphoning?

    You should shop online...There must be a honda accessories place that sells such items. I don't think hondaacuraworld carries such an item...but you could call/email and ask them?
  • hnikdelhnikdel Posts: 6
    Thanks. I called hondaacuraworld and ordered one. Seems like my local Acura dealer is not too keen on helping DIY.
  • dramosdramos Posts: 1
    Have the tires rotated and balanced. I will have this done a trustworthy gas station or tire service center that offers balancing services. Balancing the tires will most definitely take care of this problem. What you are experiencing is a common problem that happens to all cars. The cost of this server should be under $50.
  • dean7dean7 Posts: 32
    What has been found to be the smoothest riding tire pressure for the touring Michelin tires? It recommends 32psi cold...any suggestions?
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    35/36 all around is what I run. The tires seem to be wearing normally.

    However all gauges are different. The best pressure is where you have the most tread hitting the road...too high the center tread wears too fast, too low and the outsides wear way is to check between 30-40 PSI and see how the tires look...once you determine how your gauge reads, just keep it the same.
  • qrtlowqrtlow Posts: 13
    I would definitly avoid dishwashing detergent. It will over time oxidize and discolor the finish and it's tough on rubber and plastic. Sure it will do a good job of getting it squeeky clean, but it will strip off the wax. I would rather use Mequires or Mothers car wash liquid. They actually have "paint nutrients" added to suppliment the finish and they are PH balanced.

    A glaze is used every few months between waxes. Meguires New Car Glaze is good, Mother's California Gold Sealer\Glaze is good. They both have oil based "nutrients" that get into the finish and deepen the color and shine. It resists finger prints and inhances shine with synthetic polymers, it covers small scratches and "spider webbing" too. :shades:
  • (I also posted on problems board, seems like both sides can contribute)

    I am considering a purchase of a 2003 MDX (navi +ras) with 59K miles on it. Is that a smart thing to do? Anything that I should pay special attention to when inspecting the car? Does Acura provide pre-purchase evaluation or something along those lines that I can rely on? Also, my 96 TL required 60K miles service, that cost about $1200. Should I be prepared for something comparable for MDX?

    According to Acura records the car I am considering had breaks and the battery replaced at this point...

    Any tips would be highly appreciated.
  • Hi, has anyone's dash light for the temp control (little red and blue buttons above the NAV) gone out? Mine just did and was wondering how to replace it.
  • Okay, I've sorted through most comments on this topic, but in case anyone is reading this has the authoritative opinion...just bought a new 2006 MDX, want to protect the interior. Did not opt for the dealer "ResistAll" treatment on interiors and exterior - cost about $500, but guaranteed (!) for 4 now, seems like Scotchguard is the best and cheapest solution for the floormats, etc, but what about the leather seats? Any product recommendations? And has anyone tried those car seat protectors to protect the leather from indentations from toddler carseats?

  • I have used the Armor all leather wipes for 4 years on my 02...leather still looks great.
  • go_mdx1go_mdx1 Posts: 135
    I took ownership of my 2001 MDX on the first day of delivery back in October 2000. Based on the VIN, it was one of the first MDXs off the assembly line. Overall, I've been very pleased with my MDX. Here's how the car has faired over the past 5.5 years and 75,000 miles.

    - New tires (Goodyear's) were required at 45,000. I probably could have gone an extra 5,000.
    - Transmission recall at 62,000. Thankfully, I've not had any issues thus far with the transmission.
    - 66,000 miles the check engine light appeared. Turned out to be a bad EGR valve. After I paid the $300 in repair expenses, Acura issued a recall and refunded me the money.
    - 68,000 miles (car was 4 years old). Battery needed replacing.
    - 72,000 miles the check engine light and VTM-4 light appeared. The car oscillated between high and low RPMs at idle and the car started driving very rough (I actually thought the transmission was about to go). Turns out to be a bad IAC valve. Repair cost was $300.
    - 74,000 miles, I put on 4 new brake pads. I probably could have gone another 5,000 on the originals.

    Overall, the interior leather has held up real well. It's now my #3 car so it sits outside in the winter and summer. If you keep conditioning the leather, the seats will hold up well! The exterior clear coat is starting to show some initial signs of wear.

    Long term, I fear the expenses associated with the 105,000 mile maintenance work. Timing belt replacement is in the $800-$900 neighborhood (at current prices from a non-dealer repair shop). Hopefully, before I hit this mileage interval, a newly designed MDX will be available!!!
  • We have the Two Stage Car Seat Protector made by Prince Lionheart (they sell it at Babies R Us). We have found that it does a great job protecting the leather seat in our Ody. Since it curves up a little on the sides (hard to explain, but you'll know what I mean when you install it), it is also a good spot to put little things that you don't want rolling around the floor (pacifiers, extra toys, etc). We will definitely continue to use it in our new vehicle, which will be an 06 MDX or 06 Ody (still deciding!).

  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    Got my VTM fluid and oil changed, tires rotated, state inspection...$375...then they said my front brake pads won't pass inspection...$225 for pads and disk turn...I opted for pad replacement only for $169 since my rotors were warped and replaced under warranty a year ago. This was the quoted price. They just called as I was posting, funny enough and they said it came in total at $396??? I didn't argue, so I will see when I get there to pick it up.

    I probably could have done better if I had gone to honda I am sure, but I was trying a new dealer. Brake pads I could have gotten for probably $80 at an independent...but the time to take another day off work to get there didn't seem worth it.
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    Well, I got my bill. They charged me $1.30 for labor on the vtm fluid change? I assume that is the error. I told the service manager that it seemed much cheaper than quoted, he said he did the bill himself and he knew it was right.

    So even better, I go out to my truck and the bumper is all scratched up. I brought it to their attention and they said they will take care of it. I cannot imagine they can do much for scratches in the plastic bumper? So this means at least another trip back.
  • ohiojoeohiojoe Posts: 1
    At 89K my check engne light came on. Dealer wants about $300 to fix EGR. I could not find info on Acura about recall, so any help you can provide is welcome. Also, any opinons about whether it is really necessary to fix EGR? Thanks.
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