Scroll to the bottom of this post for updates!
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!
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.
September 30, 2018 update:
As I continue to receive comments from readers, many of them share with me either potential fixes or procedures that were performed on their Acura. These potential fixes and services are listed here, but they didn’t work for everyone. In fact, most people still seem to have the problem. It seems that for most people, some of the jerkiness and hesitation improved after service, but the main problem/shifting issue remained. Acura continues to skirt the real problem with the faulty transmission and only addresses the symptoms. Here are potential fixes:
- Transmission flush
- Software updates
- Replacement of gear pressure switches
- Changing the transmission valve body
- Disabling the VCM transmission (Variable Cylinder Management) See svcmcontroller.com