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Acura MDX Transmission Problems



  • Acura will not provide details regarding what improvements they made in the replacement transmission. I believe you can get an independent rebuild for 1/2 price but it woul;d have the same reoccuring trouble. My best guess is that there is a software issue within the original transmission controls that Acura repairs or upgrades with a certified Acura rebuilt transmission.
  • hey, everyone. just took my '02 mdx in today and guess what? i need yet another transmission. now the battle begins with acura. has anyone had the trannie replaced more than once? if so, how long did the replacement last? i got about 20k miles out of it before the shifting problem started again. i don't see an end to this except to get another car. if acura replaces with reconditioned, you just keep getting the same crappy trannie over and over again. does anyone know if the flaw has been corrected and if so what year did that happen? has anyone heard of getting a new replacement trannie instead of reconditioned? please advise. :sick:
  • i would agree with the advice given to take it back. i don't think the reconditioned trannies solve anything, they just prolong the life for a few more years. one of my girlfriend's has a honda odyssey and she is on her 4th trannie now. if honda/acura foots the bill each time, it's not that bad. but it seems that a lot of people on here have had to share the cost with acura for replacement trannie, which, in my opinion, is total bs. if i could afford to get something else, i would.
  • So there is no "new tranmission" on those cars as I understand it. The tranny is the same old one but they but new parts in it (I am not a techy but that is how I understood it from Acura). Some tranny shops including Acura have a 3 year warranty but you have to pay for it up front. Since your car is 8-9 years old, other things will break on it in addition to this and if you can, ditch the car. You might get consideration at the Acura dealership. For us, we traded it while it was still drivable (and very pretty on the outside) and they gave us very fair trade but we didn't mention the transmission or the new noises. Good luck and I hate that you have to deal with this. And I hope the one I traded will burn up before any nice hard working family gets stuck with it!
  • jmceneany & JBaumgart,

    I am very sorry for the delay. I wanted to wait until I had the car back for a bit. After picking up my car and test driving another 2010 MDX it essentially is the design of this model. My only option is to hear back from other 2010 owners and/or decided if this shifting really bothers me and will trade it in at some point.

    On another note, I had a pebble/rock land on my window and front bumper of the car while driving on the freeway at 65-70 mph. I'm disappointed to say that it chipped my window and paint. You'd think there would be a better design for this type of basic freeway travel. I had a VW Jetta for 17 years and nothing like this every happened.

    Overall, I'm not as ecstatic about this car especially for the price paid. The interior panels get scratched fairly easy by basic wear and tear. The leather seats are easily stained by the slightest drip of water (drinking from a water bottle) and I have to ensure when I get home I wipe it down ASAP. By no means am I a slob but seriously, I don't want to be stressed out over using the car and having to be careful every day over basic behaviors of drinking in the car. It is actually annoying and I'm driving my husband insane by saying, "be careful" every two minutes.

    I also had a survey come to me directly from Acura. I made sure everything (with the exception of the window chip and paint chip - it didn't happen yet) I stated above was in my review. They need to be aware of the shifting not being very smooth and the interior panels being so cheaply made and not scratch resistant. For the price of this car, this shouldn't be happening.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.


  • Lost the Mdx (2003 91k miles) this week driving down the highway to the airport to pick up my husband...luckily it happened on the airport property and was able to get help quickly. No trans light, not much of a shudder and then just 40 Mph, 30 mph and in 1/8 mile just nothing. Thinking of the possibility that I could have had the 6 kids in my car pool in this car on a highway in the middle lane with NO exit options combined with the lack of ownership from Acura is concerning at the least. Knowing the history of the transmission that I am seeing here and that the new trans in the 2007+ may not have fixed the issues led me to another brand after 30 + years of Honda/Acura's. Maybe it will take customers leaving as a result of quality issues to get their attention, Good luck to all on the message board.
  • "We are working on a facebook page to bring together owner's with these problems and prepare for a class action suit. The page link is: - 9321

    It's already getting Acura's attention. "

    Although we never had any problems in 70k miles on our '04, this is obviously a problem Acura is aware of and they are trying to get out of it as cheaply as possible. The other automakers would do the same thing.

    If facebook doesn't work out you could always sick 4chan on them, I've heard that they're ruthless. :P
  • hi madmommy3, thank you for the response. i am sick about this, the car was supposed to last 200k miles(maybe i am a little delusional but i didn't think it was an unrealistic thought at the time i bought the car). the dealer called me today and the district manager wants to split the cost for the replacement trannie with me($4300 so i'd pay $2150). i am NOT happy with this proposal. i feel that acura should eat the entire cost. i contacted a lemon law firm and am waiting to see if i have a leg to stand on.

    i just don't feel confident that the replacement transmission will last. my mechanic's wife has an '03 mdx and he thinks this one will work, but i don't really know what he is basing that on. i wish i could get rid of it but i can't do anything unless the transmission is replaced so i am f*&%$#! -am i going to get blacklisted for that????

  • you might could get more and at the very least, demand a 3 year 36K mile warranty on the tranny. It is what any other good (certified) tranny would give you. I wouldn't count on it lasting 200K miles though...not from reading what I have read and from the noises mine was making. you might print all of this stuff out and tell them you know alot and are prepared to take it to whomever (they don't seem to care about lawsuits). Good luck, that stinks. We are trying to do the right thing buying what we think is quality and they should be taking these things out of service.
  • funny you should mention the warranty. if you have to PAY all or part of the cost for the replacement trannie, acura DOES give you a 3yr/36k mile warranty. if they eat the entire cost of the trannie, they only give you a 1yr/18k mile warranty. at least that is what the service rep told me yesterday. that is f-ed up if you ask me. they should give the best warranty available regardless of who pays, period. i never thought that something like this would happen with acura/honda.
  • push for the warranty. if they believe in the fix, they should stand behind it.
    they suck. and they have us! fight it or ditch the car and move on. you may be lucky with the car (doubtful) but you will have the bad taste and worry like we did. we licked our wounds and moved on...unfortuantely to a Honda! so they didn't have to be punished tha badly get the picture. And tell everyone you know about it. file a complaint with the NSHA government (whatever their auto thing is), call Acura corporate and file a compliant and see what other options you may have. at the end of the day, the little guy loses. yuck!
  • We also are faced with a $4k+ bill for the vehicles 4th transmission. :mad: That's right on average every 45k miles a transmission has been installed. We would be satisfied if we could get Acura to cover half the bill and provide a 50k mile warranty. We are in Wi, What region of the country are you in?
  • We also are faced with a $4k+ bill for the vehicles 4th transmission. That's right on average every 45k miles a transmission has been installed. We would be satisfied if we could get Acura to cover half the bill and provide a 50k mile warranty. We are in Wi, It sounds like the district manager for "madmommy3", has some customer empathy and concern for the Acura/ Honda reputation.
  • refer to my earlier comment #193 about automatic transmissions lasting well over 100K miles.

    Well, after 112K miles the transmission in my 05 MDX was replaced.

    I brought it in for an oil/filter change and mentioned hearing odd noises from the transmission area, although there seemed to be no performance issues. Normally, I would have ignored the noises, however this forum caused me to be cautious. The tech and I went for a test drive and (Murphy's law notwithstanding) he heard the same noises. The shop looked at it, studied error codes, took it out for another test drive and proclaimed it a terminal problem, the transmission needed replacing.

    The service writer told me the cost was $4800. I mused that an automatic transmission should last a bit longer than 112K miles. The service writer agreed and said that I fit the "profile" for someone whom Honda would consider eating a portion of the cost. He said he would fill out the paperwork and talk with the Honda rep. The "profile" he was talking about was that I had purchased the vehicle new from them and had it serviced to the schedule in the manual at Acura.

    Later that day I got a call back saying that the new (rebuilt) transmission, with a 3 mos/36K miles warranty would only cost me ~$400 parts and labor. I dropped it off Monday am, free loaner (as usual), picked it up Tuesday pm. I don't know how much of the cost the dealer ate and how much Honda ate; in the end all I care is that I only paid $350 (note, less than quoted) for the new transmission.

    This is the ONLY thing that has broken in 112K miles and it was way over the length of the warranty. I have never had a manufacturer or dealer offer to share the cost of an out of warranty repair and you can see from my previous entry that I have had experience with many manufacturers.

    From my perspective, I walk away with a very positive experience from Acura/Honda in general and particularly from Sunnyside Acura in Nashua, NH.

    Your mileage may vary.

  • I agree you were handled well but most of the rest of us weren't. Honda has turned their backs to us. They have insured that we will not consider them in the future and have backed us into a corner which, it appears by their lack of action, leaves us with no choice but to create a class action suit the same way the owners of earlier MDX, CL and TL had to. As if the situation wasn't bad enough, Honda didnt learn the first time around. Shame on them :mad:
  • I understand the frustration with owners who have not been treated as well as I have.

    However, having some experience with Class Action Lawsuits, I offer a few observations.....

    What is the basis for the suit? Where is the harm?

    If the transmissions fail after the warranty period, Honda has no contractual obligation. If they fail during the warranty period, Honda has the contractual obligation (warranty) to replace or repair. If they fix it, same question - where is the harm? If the transmissions fail during warranty, or even close after warranty, and Honda does not replace or repair, then there MAY BE an actionable harm.

    Without a track record of Honda refusing to honor its warranty, it will be very difficult to even get the class certified (get the court's permission to file a class action suit).

    If it is somehow certified, it will be a very long time before it actually gets to a jury - if ever. Many class action suits are long, drawn out nuisance suits where the law firm just wants the defendant to negotiate out of court and make it go away.

    If a settlement is negotiated, and/or if you get lucky and a jury actually awards something, the law firm gets approximately 1/3 and the rest is to be split amongst the members of the class. That is to suggest, all you will get out of it is little more than a moral victory. But the lawyers will thank you.

    Not throwing cold water, just commenting on the process.

    As always, for what it's worth

  • hi 5mdxers i am in de near phila, pa. the service manager at the dealership forwarded an email i wrote about how i was disappointed with my acura experience and the district manager upped the offer to 75% from the original 50% offer with the 3yr/36K warranty so i accepted. of course i hoped for 100% being covered but could live with 75% and didn't want to risk prolonging the ordeal as i had to get the car repaired and up and running.

    did acura cover the cost of the previous 3 replacements? i would appeal to the district manager and if you can hold out, write to acura corporate and see if they will help you. don't settle for the first offer or for a flat out no. it's frustrating that acura won't simply accept total responsibility for the transmission issues and replace every transmission that fails, regardless of the number of times a transmission has to be replaced. honestly, if i could afford it, i would trade my mdx for a used toyota, lexus or subaru.
  • hi dave, you are lucky that you had such a strong advocate in your service rep. i think your experience is the exception, not the norm. and that is where the frustration lies with most of us. this is an ongoing issue, acura made some defective transmissions, vehicles were recalled and people have gotten the proverbial short end of the stick and are not happy campers.

    if the first replacement transmission had lasted more than 20K miles without having the EXACT same problem as the first one in my mdx, and i didn't have to plead my case with the service and district manager to get them to replace the 2nd defective transmission, i might have a better opinion of acura in general. and this is what really sucks-i have zero confidence that this transmission will last more than 30k miles. it will probably fail at 36,001 miles.

    the decision-making process with acura shouldn't be so arbitrary-100K miles gets 90%+ covered on a replacement trannie and someone with less than 50K miles on a trannie gets 75% covered-that doesn't make any sense. maybe this is how crap like this is handled by all manufacturers, i don't know. i never had to replace a trannie before-the only car that i owned that had a crap transmission was a '69 ford fairlane, my first car, that didn't go into reverse. that was 1984-86. since then, i have owned a mitsubishi tredia to 45k miles, a mitsubishi eclipse to 115K miles and a nissan pathfinder to 135K miles. i was hoping to drive the mdx to 200k miles but i don't think that's gonna happen.

    it is good to hear that acura did right by you. hopefully there will be others who check out this forum and use it get acura to do right by them as well. :)
  • vronivroni Posts: 1
    My 2006 MDX is doing the same thing--high pitch whine from the engine department at about 2000rpm. Dealership said that was normal. Did any of your check engine lights or error messages come on?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited October 2010
    MDX transmissions may not be defective nor poorly designed...

    The problem may relate to the use, PRE-EMPTIVE use, of the rear drive system even when the pavement is PERFECTLY dry and highly tractive.

    FWD and/or F/awd systems have always had very high propensity for loss of directional when too much engine torque is used for road conditions. That's why the TC, Traction Control, system on most modern day FWD and/or F/awd vehicles is so aggressive at activation. The threat to life and limb upon even the slightest level of front wheelspin/slip is just too great to be ignored.

    One would think that the first action of a F/awd system upon detection of wheelspin/spin would be to engage the rear drive in order to more evenly distribute engine torque over the entire available tire contact surface. But no, the THREAT is so potentially QUICK the first action will almost always be DETHROTTLING of the engine and moderate braking of the (front) wheels.

    That's why we find that many of these same vehicles now have a TC disable capability so the driver can knowingly disable TC in order to get unstuck or started out up a slippery incline.

    The real problem is that for the moment there is no known method for determining, in advance, the tractive conditions of the driving surface prior to the application of engine torque.

    The (MDX, etc,) answer....

    ALWAYS presume a slippery surface....

    That violates, of course, all the tenants of the use of a traditional 4WD system..

    1. NEVER engage the system unless the driving surface has enough "slip" to prevent driveline windup or tire scrubbing.

    2. With the system engaged be fully aware of the feedback, KICK-back, you might expereince on the stearing wheel when turning, especially TIGHTLY turning.

    Many of these new FWD and/or F/awd systems, VTM-4 and SH-AWD system included, are putting so much extra stress on the drive line by engaging rear drive without the need that either the transmission, PTO, or rear drive coupling are failing prematurely.
  • jslivonjslivon Posts: 57
    I hate to shoot down your theory but the MDX only can be engaged manually and it won't stay engaged above 17 mph. I used mine less then 200 ft. for the life of the vehicle and the transmission failed at 107k miles. It even has a transmission cooler and I use Mobile 1 ATF synthetic, changed every 30k miles.

    Acura paid 90% for the repairs, but based on this forum, I'll buy a Ford next time around
  • I must respectfully disagree with you. The "harm" is in the fact that Honda is well aware of the transmission problem and has issued service bulletins to address the problem. Why Acura has not done the same given the significant number of transmission problem reports is beyond comprehension. There has been many reported cases (including my own) whereby the dealerships have told the owners that they can find no problem when in fact they are well aware that a problem exists. In my case I took my vehicle in at 30k and then again at 45k and reported the vibration/shudder problem and in both cases the the service department said they could not reproduce the problem. I then came across this blog after my Acura MDX was out of warranty. When I presented literally hundreds of cases of the exact same problem, and threatened the dealership with a law suit, my transmission was replaced out of warranty, with very little discussion and at no charge. Believe me, if Acura was not aware of this significant problem, they would have fought my request for a no charge repair until the bitter end. The harm is twofold: Honda/Acura Pilots/MDXs have a reputation of transmission problems that makes it difficult to trade in or resell given all the bad press; and second, their are hundreds if not thousands of owners who are out of warranty with premature transmission failures that must spend $3k to $5k for transmission repairs when if fact Honda/Acura could have issued a recall and replaced the faulty torque converters which are almost certainly guaranteed to fail prematurely.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "...MDX only can be engaged manually..."

    If you have the newer MDX with the SH-AWD system then the system is "enabled'' FULL-TIME. Whether or not the rear drive is actually engaged, AUTOMATICALLY engaged, is a function of driving dynamics, acceleration, turning, etc.

    Otherwise your MDX would just be yet another patently unsafe, DANGEROUS to life and limb, FWD all the time you drive on an adverse roadbed surface and have not manually engaged the system.

    Actually most of these new F/awd systems now have a TC disable system, effectively disabling the braking method of re-apportioning engine torque, to allow unthrottled, wheelspin, drive capability.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..Honda is well aware.."

    Yes, there is a PROBLEM, but not due to a poorly designed transmission. Having all four wheels, or even three, engaged to DRIVE on a highly tractive surface is most definitely a problem.

    But if you begin the design from a base FWD vehicle you really have very little choice.
  • My torque converter problems started before the warranty expirxed but never did it show when the service manager test drove the car. Did Honda/Acura provide any help with the cost? I heard that there is legfal action in tghe works. Do you know anything about this? thanks
  • The torque converter on my '04 Touring failed at 110,000 miles (10,000 out of warranty). I presented the information I knew about the problem, from this and other forums, to my service manager. He just got back to me and Acura is going to cover 90%. I'm glad about that. Now I wonder should I trade it in or sell it. This still kinda sucks. I have maintained this car and was expecting to get at least 200,000 miles out of it. I have no way of knowing how long this one is going to last. Does anyone know if the replacement is the same defective unit or are they installing an improved version?? :confuse:
  • jslivonjslivon Posts: 57
    You may want to suggest they replace the whole transmission. Others in this forum have had to replace multiple torque converters. An new rebuilt transmission is warranteed for 3yrs/36 months. I'm going run our MDX until this warranty expires on our replacement transmission and trade it in on a Ford. I don't trust it to last.

  • gbredagbreda Posts: 11
    edited October 2010
    Acura is losing alot of customers over this issue. Myslef included.

    Already traded out of the MDX after 2 replacements and the third one beginning to fail. All with only 78K miles on the vehicle.
  • The NHSTA (National Highway Safety & Transportation Administration) tracks reported issues by category. It is recognized that only a very small fraction of vehicle owners take the time to file an online complaint. You can imagine that the "real" numbers are significantly higher. That being said, here are the statistics by year for complaints mentioning "shudder/vibration/torque converter for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006. There was only one transmission problem reported for 2007, 2008 and 2009 (looks like Acura fixed the problem):

    Year.......Total Complaints.......All Tranny Complaints.........Shudder/Vibration
    2004................42............................17 (41%)........................13 (77%)
    2005................51............................30 (59%)........................27 (90%)
    2006................23............................14 (61%)..........................8 (57%)
    Totals............116.............................61 (53%)........................48 (77%)

    Transmission complaints by far out numbered all other complaints for Acura MDX. The Shudder/Vibration/Torque Converter issue comprised 77% of all transmission complaints. It is obvious that there was a "defect" for several years that was ignored by Acura. To speculate a little, if 48 vehicle owners reported the shudder/vibration/torque converter problem to NHSTA, and only 2% of owners with with problem actually took the time to file a complaint, that would extrapolate out to over 2,000 (2,400) vehicles that could potentially have the problem. I am sure Acura has done these numbers and has decided to address this problem one on one as owners complain (and I am sure Acura is hopefully that their vehicles are out of warranty). Also, think of all the owners that had this problem and their vehicles "were" within warranty and we would not hear from those owners in a forum such as this!

    PS - Honda Pilot owners (same transmission at Acura MDX) have similar statistics in the NHSTA database.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    If you can find a way to safely disable the two rear drive coupling clutches the new tranny would undoubtedly last for over 100,000 miles, probably even 200,000 miles. Having the rear drive engaged automatically during acceleration and/or truning on highly tractive surfaces simply adds to much undue stress, HEAT, on the entire drive train. The automatic transmission just happens to be the weakest link for the MDX.

    With some of the new F/awd systems a single fuse can be removed, or an on/off switch added in series, during the summer period to disable the rear drive functionality with no adverse efffects.
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