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Acura MDX Transmission Problems



  • It just seems to me that I shouldn't be able to feel the downshift, no matter what the RPM. The tach doesn't bump either. I am so frustrated with this whole thing - I have a new transmission!!! :mad:
  • We haven't heard yet if Acura will step up and cover us. The first transmission on our 02 MDX went out at 35000 miles in 2004. Acura handled that with alacrity. Now, the replacement transmission is bad at 88000 miles. So, with less than 90000 miles, we are to have transmission #3.

    Consumer Reports still speaks glowingly about the MDX, I don't see how.

    CR trashes the Dodge Grand Caravan, but I just sold my hoopti 1996 Grand Caravan with 206000 miles and it never needed transmission work. What are they smoking at Consumer Reports?

    I sure hope Acura does step forward since this is obviously a chronic and ubiquitous problem.

    I also cannot recommend the MDX to anyone who keeps a car more than 3 years. I guess we'll look at Jeep next time since they have a lifetime powertrain warranty.

  • jkotlar,

    My downshift on my '05 is very suttle at 35MPH when the engine speed is below 1000 RPM. The tach jumps up maybe 300 rpm..This is the only time I feel a downshift. If my engine speed is above 1000 RPM I feel nothing and the tach does not move while decelerating through 35MPH.
    When is your "rough' downshift happening? What speed and what engine RPM?
  • That is exactly what I feel and exactly the same RPM and speed (30-35mph). I don't know if I'd consider it "subtle," though.. the car jerks a little. I can definitely feel it. Have you taken yours to the dealership?
  • A 300 RPM downshift increase under those conditions is not a transmission problem.The transmission is downshifting. Its completely normal for this vehicle. It's not a CVT. I can't speak for your MDX but my downshift is subtle. A harsh downshift would cause your RPM increase to be much higher. If another owner has one that doesn't have this downshift characteristic please chime in. I'd be surprised.
  • My only issue with that is that the dealership apparently is unaware that this is a normal thing with the MDX. They said that the tech was able to duplicate the problem - and the first time I had it in the shop, they replaced the transmission! The car has less than 50k miles on it!
  • If the 300 RPM "bump" happened on your original transmission and it happens on your rebuilt it sure seems more than coincidental.Perhaps other MDX owners will chime in with what their vehicle does in the same situation. If I were you and had spent all this time on this issue I think I would ask your dealership to drive another '05 MDX on their lot and see for sure. Keep us posted as it sure is a tough decision to keep this nice vehicle past it's warranty if we have to shell out $4500.00 for transmission work.
  • Well, the nice thing is that I do have the new transmission, so the transmission itself has another 3 years, 36k mile warranty. This has been my only issue with this car. I'm not giving up on it yet! ;)
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    Well, maybe I am the lucky one for now, because the only problem I suppose I had with the tranny was that 1 jolt I had for 5 sec. Besides that, this car is as good as new. So maybe this was just a momentary slip I had that day. So hopefully, this car will run properly in the years to come.
  • '05 MDX Touring
    53,000 miles (just out of warranty)
    Ocasional growl noticed when above 30 mph and you let off the gas to let RPMs drop below 1.5.

    '02 TL-S with 103,000 miles - Tranny replaced under warrenty at 35k miles, and replaced AGAIN at 99k miles (also covered under warranty). Then had the 105mile maintenance done: plugs, water pump, & timing belt =$1200 (Oh, by the way, my old timing belt looked brand new-probably could've gone another 50k without the maintenance)
    All performed at an Acura dealership (1st tranny was at a diff't dealer)

    Problem arose with the MDX and the guy at Acura dealership said sounds like a Torque Converter problem, Acura might cover some of the repair since I'm close to warranty and have had most of my work done there. I was a little insistent that Acura should take full responsibility for a problem like this, and he said he'd talk to the rep and plead my case.
    Torque converter replaced, transmission flushed, Acura covered all repairs.
    I'm just a bit regretful that I didn't have the tranny replaced too.
    Any thoughts or results from people who've only had the TC replaced?
    These vehicles and service at Acura dealerships are great, I just wish the engineers could get their transmissions right, the first or second time.
  • kar2kar2 Posts: 1
    I'm having the exact same issue on my 05 mdx: downshifting at about 35mph is a bit rough and jerks a little. Only happens when I've been driving over 45mph. I don't notice any changes in the rpm when this happens. It's something I've just started noticing (car is about 62,000 miles) and isn't really bad but enough for me to notice, especially since I'm concerned about it.

    I'm wondering if jkotlar's dealer figured out anything yet. I haven't taken the car into the dealer, but I'd be very hesitant to have to consider replacing the transmission if they say that's the problem... especially if replacing it won't solve the problem anyway! I'd rather just live with this problem if its not fixable rather than pay $$$ for something that won't help!
  • kar2: The tranny still jerked after it was replaced. 2 dealers told me it was a normal downshift. I would take it in and have them check for software updates for the computer. Tell them to look at the transmission and make sure everything is ok. I don't know if I'm 100% convinced that its normal, but a friend of mine (who is a service manager for Acura) said his wife's 03 MDX does the same thing.

    I'll let you know if I hear anything else! Keep us posted, too!
  • Your friend is an Acura Service manager and you don't believe him?
    Next time you talk to your friend, the Acura service manager, ask him why these transmissions and/or torque converters fail so early. Or have you already had that conversation?
  • I didn't have my service done there - Unfortunately i couldn't get my car to his dealership. The dealership where I had the work done couldn't offer any explanation of the problem - that's why I wasn't 100% convinced.
  • Understand. I must say you have an great opportunity to find out some useful info if you ever speak to him about these Transmissions.I'm still amazed that Acura has so many trans problems. For crying out loud it's not a Daewoo!
    The sad part is, it doesn't seem to matter if vehicle is driven hard or babied. Others on another MDX forum have used their vehicle mainly for highway use and have changed out trans fluid every 30,000 miles and still have had the transmission fail prior to reaching 100,000 miles.Some have had numerous replacements! When it's time for this trans to fail, preventative maintenance or light use has no effect.
    Looks like I'll dump mine before the warranty expires. I can't image spending $4500.00 on a transmission once this vehicle is out of warranty.
    Let us know if you ever find out anything.
  • lislis Posts: 2
    My MDX has 95,000 miles on it and has the extended warranty to 100,000 miles. Three times in the last two weeks I've started the car in the morning and when it shifts to 2nd gear (going up a slight grade) it's like I put the car in neutral - no pwer but the rpms go way up. Twice it's caught and been fine, yesterday it didn't catch and I shifted down from drive to lowest gear before it would engage.

    When I took it in, they say they can't replicate the problem so can't turn it in as a transmission problem as they don't think there is one. They will charge me $120 every time I bring it in but they can't find anything wrong with it - so I guess I won't be bringing it in every week like I'm tempted to. Any suggestions on how to get this to replicate so I can get it fixed?
  • Drive the vehicle until YOU can duplicate it each time. Then bring back to dealership and have tech come with you on test drive.If you can't duplicate it it's going to be tough but don't give up. You've got 5000 miles to make it happen.
  • mjfloyd1mjfloyd1 Posts: 378
    We had an 05 MDX and it had the rumble strip sound at around 40 mph when the torque converter kicked in. It would only do it, at first, when it was cold, so the dealer kept it over night (and gave us an 07 mdx to drive overnight) and they were able to duplicate the problem the next morning. They only changed the torque converter on mine, but we were allowed to keep the 07 for like 2 weeks while they fixed it. They also changed out some bushings in the front end b/c my wife heard a clunking noise.

    I recently traded it in on an 08 mdx (smart move giving us a new body style car to drive while you fix the current one) and the salesman immediately said "these have problems with torque converters" (they're the second largest cpo dealer in the nation) and I told him it was just replaced at 49K miles.

    Honestly though, I had done no fluid changes on the tranny. I had done rear differential fluid changes though.

  • I think I have the same issue on my 08 MDX as someone mentioned here, jerky gear shift. At speed blow 35-40mph, when I take the foot off the accelerator the car shifts down brusquely, and it feels as if someone steps on the brake. It's most obvious in the rush hour traffic. When the speed is above 35mph, it's very good.

    I took it to the dealer today, they said they didn't notice what I described. Basically it's normal to them. But I feel jerky everyday in the rush hour traffic. They asked me to come again so that they can test it in the traffic.

    Anyone 08 owner seen the same?
  • How did you get Acura to pay for the transmission replacement? I have the same problem on my 01 MDX now and want Acura to pay for it. Please advise. thanks
  • How did you present your case to Acura to have them pay for transmission replacement? I have the same problem on my 2001 MDX at 108K mile. I like to have Acura to pay for the replacement as well. thanks.
  • yeah88yeah88 Posts: 1
    eforster, were you able to contact the Acura Client Service about your MDX transmission issue? Their # is 1-800-382-2238, give them your VIN#...and tell them the problem, most likely you will need to bring to car to the Acura Dealership for diagnostic..but should ask to open a good will case for you. Let us know how it goes.
  • EandOHEandOH Posts: 24
    Just had my torque converter replaced. Under slow acceleration, car was making a low pitched whining noise right at 35 MPH. MDX is an '05 with only 34,200 miles. I'm very surprised that it needed to be replaced with such low mileage. It was covered under warranty. Just wanted to make others aware of this potential problem.
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    Yeah, I am seeing a lot of people having these problems. But it seems to be happening not to everyone. I have a 2004 MDX, with 70k miles, and it doesn't seem to have any of the tranny problems.....

    For all the people out there, who have these tranny problems, don't think that Honda/Acura is irreliable. I know that these problems might seem disturbing, but this is merely a small bruise into Honda's excellent reputation. They have recalled this problem, so it is not unknown. It is just like toyota, when it had the engine oil sludge problem, it affected all cars with that same engine layout. But it is still considered to be reliable.


    I am glad they replaced your transmission, like they are supposed to. Don't think of this problem as anything really bad against the Honda Company. I know the transmission problems might be discouraging, but every company has its faults.
  • Ok here goes... we have a 2002 MDX that has had a rebuilt tranny installed March 2008 with 110,000 miles (or so). The reason why we took it in was bec the diff was leaking. We had ALL the ATF fld chgs done at dealer. I remember one other time we took it in the fld was down about 1 qt. But, being the faithful Honda owners that we are we chose to just take a "wait and see" approach. We bought the car at 60,000 and I had another Honda/Acura specialist (my sister runs the shop!) do the 60k service. I thought that maybe the tech who did the svc didn't fill the atf up all the way.

    I used to manage a Honda/Acura shop with the same co that my sis still works with for 10 yrs. So I am NO dummy when it comes to cars! Suffice it to say that I know more than my husband does about cars. When I worked as a manager/svc mgr I gained a whole new respect for the industry and KNOW that you can't just be a dumb redneck and work on today's complicated cars!

    No problems with the tranny until the weather got REALLY cold here in NC right before Christmas 2008 - 16 degrees. My husband noticed that car felt like it was in N after pulling away from a stopsign and barely going 30-40 ft. Took it into the dealer and they found that it was 1 qt low. They put dye in the system and we brought it back a week later to have it rechecked. They could not find a problem. (Are you surprised???)

    Since then, he has had a few times where it did the same thing, with the hesitation - only in cold weather (under 30 degrees).

    So last Sat 1/31/09, at 26,000 mi I told hubby that I felt we needed to get the ATF chgd (bec I am a FREAK about keeping the flds clean). I do the ATF every 15k on my 2002 Honda Accord.

    He said that on the way to the dealer on 1/31 the tranny hesitated again. Of course, they didn't find anything.

    I had to FIGHT to get the warranty on paper and even called Acura HQ and have a case#.

    The dealer tried to act clueless.

    At first, the dealer tried to tell me that we did NOT have a warranty. He read the notes and said that it stated R&R tranny to repl the rear main seal. I told him that I REQUESTED the rear main seal be repl while they had the tranny out bec you HAVE to take the tranny out to repl the seal anyway!

    Acura mgr said "OH!! I think we can make that fly. That way you WILL be cov under the warranty."

    I tell you... if I had been some dummy walking in off the street they would have just ripped me a new one!! I MADE the mgr create a dummy work order stating that we would be cov under the 36,000mi/3 yr warranty.

    I also stated that there are only 3 reasons WHY the ATF would be low:
    1. There was a leak (dye showed none)
    2. Their tech did not fill it up all the way when the tranny was replaced
    3. It is burning it.

    Well, this week (on Wed 2/4/09) hubby said that the hestitation happened again in the same manner but this time he told me that the D5 light was blinking. I just about FREAKED! I told him THAT was important to note.

    I talked with sis and she said that in order to ck the light it MUST be ckd before the car is turned off. Well, I didn't know that until it was too late.

    Instead, I decided to go to my local AutoZone in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, there would be a code stored. NOPE!

    Note: It was 35 degrees this morning.

    On my way up to AuoZone I drove the car and tried to duplicate the hesitation problem. Nothing. However, when I got on the highway I noticed that the rpms were ONLY 1700 at 65 mph. Then at 55mph the rpms were 1500.

    I know that is WAY too low!! I drove my son's 95 Accord today to compare and at 65mph the rpms were about 2600. My 02 Accord is the same.

    Any suggestions here?

    I read some of the other posts and think that it MAY be the ATF temp sensor or possibly the torque converter (that was supposedly replaced in March 2008).

    Hubby has a friend who used to work at the Acura dealership as a tech (he now works at Lexus) so if that is something that is simple to try, maybe we should try that first. Anybody know the cost of the sensor? I read in a post here that it's a 15-30 min job (for someone who knows what they are doing).

    Needless to say, the MDX is at the dealer right now awaiting a Monday morning diagnosis.

    I am anxious to hear what they have to say.... we still have about $10,000 on the warranty. (hubby drives a lot)

    Any comments? Suggestions?
  • Dusty1959:

    I have an 05 MDX and drive the highway at 65mph (yes, I go the speed limit) almost every day. 1700 rpms is normal, at least for my MDX. In fact, I don't think my rpms are ever much higher than 2000 unless I am accelerating. Is your Accord a 4 cylinder? My 4 cylinder rice burner is at about 3000 (maybe a tad less) at 65 mph.

    Hope this helps! ;)
  • I just found out today that I was dead WRONG about the rpms and boy am I embarrassed! I'm glad that part is dead on. Now we just have to wait for cold weather to get the hesitation from 2nd to 3rd gear (going 30-40mph) to reproduce.
    Thanks for the comment.
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    Yes....your rpm's match similarly to what my 2004 MDX around 1,700 to 1,800(traveling at 60 mph).....and 2,000-4,000 max during acceleration.....
  • I did just speak with a former Honda/Acura service advisor and he said that the hesitation when it's super cold outside (under 30 degrees) is most likely that the transmission may be failing.

    We took it back 23,000 miles after the reman replacement and were told at that time that the fluid was about 1 qt low. My svc advisor friend said that since the transmission is a closed system, there is NO way for the fluid to burn. And since the dealer did not detect any leaks with the dye, the only conclusion we can come up with is that the ATF was not filled all the way. My friend said that if the MDX had the updated trans cooler line installed then the system would actually take MORE than normal ATF to completely fill the system. That makes sense.

    We have about 10,000 left on the warranty of the reman. I pray that we don't have any more problems. But my svc advisor friend told me that more than likely bec the car was run when it was low on ATF we would most likely need another trans.
    He said that the MDX trans tends to "act up" in extreme temps - either really hot or really cold.

    I guess we will see... thanks for the input.
  • joneyejoneye Posts: 1
    Well, here's another story. 2002 MDX base with tranny problem at 44,000 miles a few years ago. Acura dealer first had "no idea" of the problem then offered through Acura home office to repair at no cost to us as good will. Now at 98,000, a slightly different issue has arisen: drive gear selector light flasshing, engine light is on, and when warm, VTM-4 lock-in light goes on. Would you believe the hard down-shift is probably the car attempting to shift back into VTM-4 lock at 30 +/- mph. Dealer calls Acura and they offer to pay HALF, or $2,000 even though they have not been able to diagnose the problem. Amazing, I drop down $2 grand because I trust that the unit cannot be repaired, or that the issue might involve a $100 sensor problem.
    I have no clue yet what my choices are, if any.
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