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Acura MDX Transmission Problems



  • gbredagbreda Posts: 11
    edited November 2010
    Unfortunately, a transmission issue at 202K is not uncommon. But a dealer that states torque converters are not replaced cannot be totally trusted either. Ask them if they only replace as a set and if so, why. Ask, Is this their policy or Acura's. Ask if this is only on the MDX that they dont replace converters. Get all of their responses in writing and take it to Acura if you are not satisfied.

    I hope that you have hard copies of the prior service complaints.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    At 200k miles you have no reason or cause to "stay" with an Acura dealer. Go to a thrid party and have JUST the torque converter replaced.

    On the otehr hand, were it me, at 200K I would probably go ahead and put in a complete rebuilt transaxle.

    And then I would remove the rear drive fuses throughout the summer months.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..shudder at low speeds.."

    Remove the fuses for the rear drive coupling and see if the shudder is still there.

    If it isn't then it is likely you can extend the life of the transaxle components by having someone install a switch so you can manually disable the rear drive coupling except at times of need.
  • I think I am having the same issue. Has anyone found anything out or had any simular issues? My car makes a single popping noise when I shift from Drive to Reverse and then start moving.

  • This is a very helpful read... at-accurate-automotive-auto-repair/. Btw, my new transcooler is a Hayden. Ill try to upload the pictures of the old & new coolers as well.
  • Another educational read... Here is the transmission recall that Honda / Acura issued. It explains that overheating is the condition that causes transmission damage in the early MDX units. This agrees with my experience... long trips = very hot transmissions = slipping / damage. However, their proposed fix was a joke and was a way to save them $. (visual inspection & installing a bigger / better trans cooler line if needed instead of an entire bigger / better trans cooling system).
  • I'm considering looking at a 2006 Touring MDX (non-certified) at a used car dealer. The car only has 42,000 on the OD. After reading about the 2001 to 03 transmission issues, does anyone know if the 2006's suffer from the same affliction? Consumer Reports gave that year much better than average reliability for major and minor transmission categories. Definitely would like to know if it's worthwhile or not bothering. Thanks.
  • As the owner of an 06 I can say yes the problems are still there. Before 60K, two torque convertors and a transmission. We are now at 74K and the symptoms are coming back. I have no idea where CR gets their data.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    These drive line failures are purely the result of "center differential"(***) lockup on perfectly dry and highly tractive surfaces. That "lockup" results in undue stress, driveline "windup", tire scrubbing, and therefore heating of the driveline components. Under those conditions premature failure of the weakest link is a given.

    What Acura needs to do is disable the rear driveline coupling capability unless the driver manually enables it, in which case it should automatically switch off after 10-15 minutes of no F/R wheel slippage.

    In the meantime you can dramatically improve you chances of avoiding these failure by removing the fuse(s) except at times of need.

    *** Engagement of L/R rear drive coupling clutches.
  • I was recently told by my Acura dealer (because of the intermittent "shudder" at 30-40 mph) that my 2003 MDX needs a SECOND transmission replacement in just over 3 years. Estimated cost for new transmission is $4-5K which I don't really have right now so I'll have to continue driving it as's been making the sound for over 2 years so I'm used to the noise.

    When I found this website, I realized I am not alone...I thought my car was annoying and noisy to drive but now I believe it's dangerous. I've read where others have had their car die in traffic or they need to pull over because the car will not accelerate. I sincerely hope no one is injured or killed as a result of one of these bad transmissions.

    SO MANY MDX owners have the SAME problem...why has there not been a recall? I"m scared to drive my car,,,I don't know when annoying will change to dangerous. I am going to to complete a "Report a Vehicle Defect ~ Complaint Form" (even though I have not had an "accident", I do feel the car is unsafe). If you also feel your car is dangerous, will you PLEASE do the same? Maybe that will get someone's attention. Thanks!
  • I am with you also I dont understand why acura wont own up to this transmission issue . I filed a complaint on nhtsa . we will see what happens . something needs to be done .I guess it gonna take for alot of people to result in a death in order for acura to own up to the issue . what a shame !!!!
  • Our vehicle just turned 100k had same shudder problem for at least a year. We had the tranny serviced and put in an additive to stop the shudder and after a few hundred miles it has stopped...for now. They told me the tranny was fine, converter was going out and cost for converter replacement about $1,500 (dealer is $2600). Someone discussed class action case? sign me up for sure!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The problem you have with contacting NHTSA is that a failing transaxle, "prematurely failing", cannot really be considered a safety matter.

    Transaxles FAIL every day for one reason or another and it is generally pure happenstance, situational, as to weither the failure is/becomes a matter of safety.

    On the other hand if the design defect were to exhibit itself in a way that directly threatened your safety, sudden drive wheel lockup, say, that would be another matter.

    Design defect, yes, ABSOLUTELY..!!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    My guess would be that it is the lockup clutch function of the torque converter that is failing. The torque converter itself is always a "soft", rubber-bandish, coupling and therefore probably not really subject to the additional stress of simultaneous front and rear drive engagement. Whereas the lockup clutch is used for exactly that, a HARD coupling to bypass the "lossy" torque converter and thereby improve FE.

    I suspect that if you could find a way to permanently and fully disable the lockup clutch function you might be able to drive the MDX for the normal period, slight loss of FE. But on the other hand the torque converter may not be robust enough for full time use.
  • I just received a letter from Acura to bring my 2005 MDX to an Acura dealer to have a software update performed that will fix the shuddering problem. It was a mass letter. I have had shuddering problems for a while and my mechanic didn't see anything wrong. I have 102,000 miles on my car. I'm bringing my car in this week. Hope it helps.
  • codog3codog3 Posts: 12
    I've been driving my 04 mdx (107k) only in D4. This eliminates the shudder, of course at the expense of gas mileage.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    That's funny, I just ran across a Toyota TSB that eliminates transaxle shudder via a reflash update. Same subcontractor source..?
  • Was ready to go today to buy a 2006 and then saw this nightmare, cannot afford 2010, but I am not seeing where the problem is fixed anywhere; and why does CONSUMER REPORTS rate them all as great years!!!! dogdoc
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    When did they switch to the SH-AWD system..? If the '06 still has the VTM-4 system then I agree, stay away. My daughter's new 2011 MDX has a temperature sensor in the rear "diff'l" I assume to provide a warning if it begins to overheat.
  • codog3codog3 Posts: 12
    I'd say no - you can't trust a honda transmission. They started having transmission problems in the late 90's and the 2001-2002 MDX's have a terrible reliability rate. This was supposedly fixed for the 2003+ years, yet different transmission problems are starting to surface for those vehicles. Who knows in a couple years what will start happening with the current generation.
  • dogdoc1997dogdoc1997 Posts: 32
    edited December 2010
    This is disheartening, my buddy that is a hi line dealer says for me to stop reading these forums and reseraching; he says you can pull up problem threads for ALL HI-LINE cars, AUDI,BMW,LEXUS,etc... this I KNOW, I have been told I have analysis paralysis,lol he says I will never buy anything if I stay on thses boards, dogdoc
  • jensadjensad Posts: 388
    I think it is important to remember that when one purchases a new/used car that there will be some defect or design issues that will cost you $$$$.

    I won an 2006 Acura RL and my wife owns a 2006 Honda Pilot. I have had initial issues with the software, which was remedied ala warranty. My wife's Pilot has had nothing go wrong except factory recalls sent to us from Honda.

    Neither my wife or myself have had tranny issues and I hope we do not in the future.

    Having owned since 1995 Honda exls and/or acuras I have had few problems. I am sorry to see so many issues being presented and I hope all of you readers/posters have few issues and get 200 k miles on your vehicle.

    Oh, I have not connection/work for any entity/party in the auto industry. Good luck to all of you and I hope all of us have a peaceful and excellent Xmas season.

  • It is unfortunate, but this particular problem (shudder, vibration) is very pervasive and has generated significantly more forum discussions than other makes and models. This problem spans several years and has just been acknowledged by Acura by a recent mailing to owners regarding a software update. We will have to see if this provides any relief. In my case, my torque converter had to be replaced (like so many others) at 35,000 miles.
  • I have a very similar issue on my 03 MDX [120k miles] that just started today. Car slips out of D3, D4, or D5 whenever I am at a full stop. I must start up in 1 or 2 and then shift into D3 - D5. Car stays in gear D3- D5 at speed.

    I was unaware of all of these MDX tranny issues until now. Any comments? Thanks, Steve
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Sounds SOP....

    Maybe you haven't noticed until now...?

    Brake application at any speed REQUIRES that the lockup clutch be released, as does a FULL stop.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    At 200,000 even I would not suggest replacing "just" the torque converter.
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    I started this forum discussion of the transmissions over 3 years ago. I wanted to know the prevalence of transmission issues on the MDX. I own a 2004 MDX, that has now 90k miles, with no problems yet.

    I see lots of transmission issues, but compared against the number of total MDX's on the road today, I don't see much of a high percentage of affected users? From the end of the year 2000 to the year 2006, a total of 322,760 MDX's have been sold. There are 476 messages in this forum, approximating to maybe 450 incidents.

    This represents .13 % of the total cars sold. This percentage is not high enough to be able to state that the MDX's transmission has a design flaw.

    Rather, I'd still say that this percentage represents those MDX's that are affected by the recalls for the transmissions, and torque converters.

    I don't know what you guys would say, but this is my conclusion? Because many people are saying their MDX's are needing tranny replacements multiple times, and premature torque converter replacements.

    But many of my friends and I own MDX's from varying model years, and none of us have any problems of the sort? One of my friends actually owns a 2001 MDX with 183k miles, and he has not stated any problems!

    So I think this issue is something that affects some MDX owners, but it is definitely not some issue that is inevitable in ALL MDX's because of a design flaw.

    For this, I think the affected people should boldy present the recall information. If the dealers don't accept, I think class action would be decent option, because there are nearly 450 different unique cases, which should be enough.

    I hope this helps.


  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Edmunds posts did not represent enough samples, or even the entire internet, to logically come to your conclusion. The evidence seems to indicate that the MDX with the VTM-4 system was having too many failures so/until the switch to SH-AWD was made.
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