In the HomeProductReviews

So Long, My Jerking Acura RDX

posted by Julie April 23, 2018 6 Comments

As most of you know, I wrote a detailed post a few years ago about my struggles with my brand new 2016 Acura RDX SUV. You can read the full post about it here. This was my first luxury car purchase, our new family car, and a “so-long” to my minivan years. I did a ton of research on cars, had loved all of our previous Hondas, and wanted to upgrade; thus our Acura RDX purchase. I was ecstatic!

Acura RDX jerk hesitation gear shift

Fast forward a few months and I started noticing hesitations in the transmission, specifically shifting from first to second gear. I took it to the dealership and I was told the car is working fine. Since I couldn’t replicate the problem while at the dealership, there was nothing they could do. I think I took the car in a total of 4-5 times and always mentioned the jerky gear change, even if I was there for a different issue. Only once did I get any clue from an employee that the lurchy transmission was “normal,” and that the transmission was “shifting as designed.”

These are all of the various explanations that I have been given or heard from dealers (and others) about the jerking transmission:

  • Every Acura drives like this, there is nothing wrong
  • This is characteristic of the Acura engine
  • Acura is working on a software fix
  • These cars’ transmissions get to know the driver and the driving style changes based on who is driving.
  • The gear shifting hesitations are the result of Acura’s improvements in the fuel efficiency. The car wants to get up into the higher gears faster and sometimes the car/engine isn’t ready to switch gears yet

In the 32 months that we’ve owned the car, the front brake pads and rotors were replaced twice. Initially, we were experiencing an embarrassing, loud squeak when pressing the brake pedal. Acura claimed there was rust build up on the brake pads and replaced them.  During this time, we also experienced a bad, high-pitched squeak upon turning as well. The replacement of the brake pads was supposed to fix this. It didn’t, but it did fix our ‘squeaking when braking’ issue. Eventually our brake pads were replaced again seven months later, but the squeaky turns continued.

Our entertainment system had to be replaced once because it was booting up with gibberish and random characters instead of radio presets. Acura acknowledged the defect and replaced our interface. I also had a fluttering noise within a dash air vent that was eventually replaced.

Most recently, I’ve been experiencing occasional loud ticking noises coming from the engine. This ticking noise occurred usually on cold mornings when the car was idle but still in the drive gear. It was so loud I could hear it from the driver’s seat while inside the car with the windows rolled up! The ticking would come and go, as there was no pattern to when it was present, but it was unusually loud and definitely not normal for the RDX.

I took the car to the dealership again and even showed them the video with the ticking (shown below). After several technicians and a manager listened to my engine, they told me that some amount of ticking noise in the Acura engine is normal. Of course, my car wasn’t making the loud and obnoxious ticking the day I took it to be looked at so, once again, there was nothing they could do for me.

From the transmission issues, squeaking turns, and abnormal engine noises, and ALWAYS being told, “sorry there is nothing we can do for you,” or “your car runs perfectly fine,” and “nothing abnormal shows up on diagnostics,” I had reached a boiling point. Who better than the primary driver to notice when something is “off” with his/her own car?? And let me mention here that I only have 25,000 miles on the car! (As I am a stay-at-home mom, the car only takes short daily trips and the occasional family road trip.) It was then and there I decided I was done with Acura. The lies, the employees constantly giving me the run around, the false smiles, and all of the apologies made me nauseous. I walked out of the dealership knowing I would never be back.

So I decided to buy a new 2018 Honda Accord, going back to the original brand I fell in love with. (I do realize that Honda is owned by the same company as Acura, so no need to remind me! 😊)  I also did check with the salespeople and verified that the engine in this car is totally brand new and is not related to the 2016 Acura engine at all. As I was signing the purchasing paperwork, I learned that the Honda finance employee helping us hated his 2016 MDX Acura. I asked him if he ever had any jerky or hesitating transmission issues and he said, “Oh yes.” He complained of lackluster performance on highways and jerking gear shifts. He had purchased his SIXTH Acura MDX, a 2016, and that was his last. Everyone told him they thought it was a software issue at first, but that didn’t fix his problem. After all of his problems with the car, he sold it and bought a used 2011 Acura MDX and said he hasn’t looked back. Of course, I asked him WHY the car has these problems (after all, he does work for Honda), and he just said, “That’s just the characteristic of the new Acura engine.”

I am SO glad to be finally turning the page to this chapter in my life. However, as the Acura RDX is still in the family (my husband will be driving it), I will continue to provide updates and information as I receive them.

In a perfect world, I just wish that Acura would come out and admit that they make a faulty engine/transmission and offer some kind of fix. Obviously, they’re not going to do that as it would cost them millions of dollars. Acura has lost thousands (if not more) of repeat customers as they have failed to admit they have a problem and failed to fix it. I sincerely hope no one is ever seriously injured or killed as a result; unfortunately, only a serious lawsuit would force them into a corner.

Until then, my Acura friends, feel free to post comments, questions, or information to share. I will definitely be back with updates.

Happy Travels!


Pin It!

Acura RDX gear shift jerk hesitation


You may also like


R May 9, 2018 at 9:11 pm

Omgosh I’m experiencing the same thing up north with the 2016 Acura RDX elite. It jitters like it’s not shifting properly gettting up to 30 to 60km/hr. I thought it was just me and the technician also did a software update a few months ago and a transmission flush but to no avail the problem is back. So disappointed and like you, I was very excited to purchase this vehicle as well. Based on your story I am pessimistic whether it can be fixed at all. The problem occurs periodically and it was hard to bring it in to the dealer while the problem was happening. I don’t know if they can do anything but I want to thank you for your posts. My previous vehicle was a civic and it was great so I thought the Acura brand would have the same quality but I feel like I bought a lemon 🙁

Julie May 9, 2018 at 9:52 pm

Glad you could find some solace in knowing the rest of us are suffering with you. Unfortunately, we gave up on getting our Acura problems fixed. We’ll be selling the car next spring. Thanks for sharing your story. Let us know if you ever get any answers! 🙂

Joe Average May 10, 2018 at 2:47 pm

2014 MDX owner here. I think Acura is having trouble matching the transmission behavior to people’s expectations. Some people want cushy buttery smooth shifting, some people want snappy sporty shifts. I don’t know if your RDX has this but our MDX does – there is a button next to the shifter labeled IDS. Just search Google for “MDX IDS” for more info.

It makes two things happen that I can detect: It changes the steering feel and the transmission shift style. I’ve read it also changes the active noise reduction inside the cabin but I’m not sure about that.

There are three modes – comfort, normal and sport. The steering is very easy in comfort and the shifts are more soft. In sport the steering is heavy and the shifts are harder.

Around town I use normal or comfort. On highway trips I prefer the heavier steering of sport. It think it helps the MDX deal with cross winds and buffeting from big trucks better. Feels better planted and solid.

You can make the changes default to whatever you want in the car’s settings (in the little display menus between the tach and speedometer).

Your dealer doesn’t know their product very well if they haven’t been coaching you to try out the different modes to see if you like the way the car drives better.

Julie May 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Thanks for sharing your information on the IDS (integrated dynamics system) of Acuras. My RDX does not have this feature. Here’s hoping this info will help others with their shifting issues! Unfortunately, it doesn’t help with mine.

Meghan July 17, 2018 at 10:11 pm

I test drove a ’14 RDX today and happened upon your blog as I immediately noticed and didn’t like the overall jerky shifting between gears; and this car shifted far too early out of first gear for my taste. I’m glad to read this as the salesperson just explained it was the 8 speed transmission, but something just felt amiss to me. I was looking at another Acura for something that would hopefully more reliable long-term, but just goes to show no brand is 100% reliable.

Julie July 18, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Very true. Stay away from the RDX for sure. So many of us are more than disappointed in our “luxury car” purchase. Good luck with your car search!


Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: