By on April 12, 2010

Anthony writes:

I currently own a 2006 Acura TSX, 6-speed manual, with 32,000 miles. I’m also leasing a 2008 Mazda Miata for 2-years. I’m giving the Miata back in September of this year and it’s way under milage. I have two questions about my TSX:

1) Because of the mileage, I want to drive the leased Miata as much as possible. How little can I drive the Acura without it becoming detrimental to the car’s health? Is there anything I should be doing when I am driving it? Currently I drive it about 1 day every 2 weeks and make sure the A/C compressor is on.

2) How similar is the 6-speed transmission in the TSX to the 6-speed unit in the Civic Si. I’ve heard that’s a problematic transmission and that you should not skip-shift it. I’ve had no problems with the TSX’s transmission thus far. Your thoughts?

Sajeev Answers:

Combining the two questions into one (completely illogical) inference, I believe you need to rev and shift the living daylights out of your Miata to it all out of your system before the fragile transaxle in your TSX is your only mode of transport. That said, let’s answer your questions. Seriously this time.

Question 1: so the lease on the Miata runs out in about six months. You could easily put the TSX under a cover, let it sleep the entire period and have no problems after your final goodbye at the Mazda dealer. While I would continue your current TSX exercise regiment, extend the intervals to every 2 months. It’s nice to have the luxury of time to listen for trouble spots that might creep up after the Miata’s gone. Then again, I expect nothing will go wrong, especially if you garage it.

Question 2: Google is most inconclusive; hopefully the Best and Brightest can help. The trouble prone unit is used in the Accord and Civic, so it’s probably used in the TSX. If you haven’t joined a TSX owner’s forum yet, you really, really should. One universal truth: everyone treats manual transmissions differently, and most wrong-wheel drive transaxles start losing their integrity when people get stupid.

But I think you are fine. If you are a gear jammer at heart, find a car with a beefier driveline…something with a T-56 transmission for your right hand fits the bill nicely. And don’t lease it, either.

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26 Comments on “Piston Slap: Drive It Like You Lease It. Then Don’t....”

  • avatar

    …current TSX exercise regiment…

    Unless he has a battalion of soldiers driving his Acura, I believe the word you’re looking for is ‘regimen’.

  • avatar

    We used to own a 2004 TSX 6 speed. Was not aware of any transmission problems in this 6 speed manual. Have several friends who routinely track their Civic Si 6 speeds too. Most Honda manuals I’ve owned never had a transmission problem if I maintained them properly and treated them with respect (though I do track the cars). I do a tranny fluid change every year on cars I do drive hard.

  • avatar

    doesn’t gasoline start to foul after about 6 months?

    • 0 avatar

      Stabil is your friend. An 8 oz bottle treats 20 gallons. I’m in an airport right now after putting my Florida car to sleep for a while. Add air to the tires, dump Stabil into a full tank, plug in a CTek3300 battery tender and you’re are good to go. Last year, I went 8 months almost to the day – had to crank a little until some gas got to the injectors, then things were fine. No rough running, no stumbles and same mileage as before.

  • avatar

    I owned a 2004 TSX 6sp from 2003-2007, and I recently purchased a CPO 2006 TSX, 6sp manual.

    No problems to report with the transmissions, other than unadulterated joy everytime you shift.

    I could, in a pinch, a tiny pinch, say that my ’04’s tranny was getting every so slightly loose towards its fourth year, but then a drive in any other *new* car would remind me how tight it still is.

    In my second-time purchase of this gen TSX, the joy of shifting that transmission accounted for 40% of the selection decision.

  • avatar

    I owned an 8th Gen, 2006 Civic Si.

    Anthony is probably referring to the 3 gear synchro TSB, which had a whole lot of gear jamming folks in an uproar when it was finally released. Honda acknowledged that there was a possible problem with the 3rd gear synchro and would replace it under warranty; outside of warranty, it was up to the dealer to decide on coverage. I had no need for the recall, as my car shifted great, especially with some synthetic MTF. Others reported the recall service made an improvement, while still others complained that it didn’t fix the problem. Oddly enough, some of the loudest complainers were the same d-bags that would powershift their way to street racing glory and shell any MT.
    Pull up the pdfs at the bottom of the article for a look at the TSBs.

    All that aside, Autoblog says your Acura doesn’t have one of the affected transmissions. Still, it’s free to stop by an Acura dealer to have your VIN run for any recalls. You’ve got a very nice car, and it sounds like you aim to keep it that way.

  • avatar

    AFAIK the TSX m/t, while similar in design to the Civic/Accord 6-speeds, uses different components (including a magnesium case) and is very reliable. My ’04 TSX m/t has had no issues.

    …and Honda recommends you don’t “skip-shift” any of their manual transmissions.

  • avatar

    Sajeev and everyone,

    Thanks for the input. I’ve since stopped skip shifting the TSX, and will continue to do so. Besides I get to enjoy a couple of more shifts in the process ;)

    I do plan to keep the Acura for a few more years before I get my next (paid for in cash and used) car. I’m thinking something with RWD. The Miata has converted me to the temple of RWD.


  • avatar

    Pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean by “skip shifting”?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Skipping gears. Shifting from, say, 2nd straight to 5th. It’s usually not a problem if you hold the clutch in an extra second or two to give the engine a chance to wind down to where it would normally be for a given gear. Double clutching while you’re waiting is also a good idea, but not really necessary these days.

    • 0 avatar

      @ TR4:

      I don’t have it handy, but I read the Honda Tech News article advising against skip shifting. Skipping on downshifts is where the real problems occur. I encourage my local racR rabble to do this, since 5-2 downshifts can trash both the transmission and engine simultaneously.

      I don’t see skip shifting on an upshift at sane rpms as being harmful. Performing a 4-6 upshift at relatively low rpms in my Civic actually saved a little fuel and subjected the 6th synchro to lower rpms than a more spirited 5-6 upshift. Unless there’s a good reason to downshift, I don’t bother with downshifting when taking off-ramps, as it’s better to leave an MT in top gear and use your brakes to decelerate. Brake pads and rotors are cheap compared to gearboxes.

  • avatar

    Learn something new everyday, I thought it was just the J-series 6MTs that had the third gear synchro problems. And that can usually be solved by switching to a different trans oil (people on Acurazine seem swayed to GM Synchromesh).

    Anyways, go drive the heck out of that Miata, maintain the TSX and it will treat you well.

  • avatar

    You’re doing it wrong. Buy the Miata, return the TSX. There. All better.

  • avatar

    My Wrangler hibernates generally from late November through April. All I do is give it a good loking over before parking it in the garage and put a battery tender on it and it starts right up in spring like nothing ever happened. Still has the 8-year old OEM battery too. People get way too worried about vehicle storage…

  • avatar


    As little as you drive the TSX, considering the miles on it now, I say keep it for the long haul (8 to 12 more years). As for the RWD mania you’ve contracted, I bet you could get a 3-4yo lightly used (under 40K miles) S2000 for 18 to 20K, which might fall into the range of your current lease in terms of monthly payments.

    As well, the S2000 is like the MX-5 on steroids. They both are verts with small-displacement high-power engines, but the S2000 kicks it up a notch in both power output and the level of handling. I think it would be the perfect linear upgrade. Good luck!

  • avatar

    On storing your car: Put some marine Stabil in the gas tank. No sense using the standard stuff when marine stuff is so much better.

    Don’t know where you’re based, but in the Northeast, the wild temperature swings we get in the spring can contribute to condensation issues in the fuel tank-especially if it’s not kept full and it’s ethanol blend.

    You may also want to consider a battery minder, as depending on your battery’s condition, it may not handle an extended time without being fed some juice from the alternator.

    Honda has a dirty secret in their ‘performance oriented’ 6-speed trannys. In the S2000 and the SI, their use of carbon syncros have become an issue. Not because of a bad design, but because of Honda’s marketing department selling the sizzle and not the steak.

    When you ‘skip shift’ you are asking the upper gear syncros-which by design are not that beefy- to slow down the output shaft from a much higher RPM than it’s designed intention. Say the 6th syncro is used to a 500 rpm differece going from 5th to 6th. When you go from 4th to 6th you are asking the 6th syncro to slow the OS down maybe 1800 rpms. Eventually this wears the syncro’s teeth and you get the reluctance to shift into that gear-or in extreme cases-popping out of gear.

    Couple this to the fact that knuckleheads want to play boy (or girl) racer and speed shift at 8000 every opportunity they get because the factory says they are in a “performance” car, you get repeated stress where it doesn’t belong. Folks you’re not Schumacher, and it’s NOT a race car.

    I don’t think Honda puts those carbon syncros in everything. But I know for a fact they are in both the S2000’a and Si’s 6 speed.


  • avatar

    It is very important to winterize your cars. I use to work up at a Oxford used cars dealership up north that did not see a lot of traffic through the winter, so a lot of vehicle would sit all through the winter and sometimes not move an inch. It was a pain but we tried to check all the belts, and tire pressures, and test the batteries before every test drive. We never really came up with an efficient system. The best thing we did was open up Kia Store Anniston AL dealership. The winter is much less harsh in Alabama than it was up north. Now we don’t have to winterize any of our vehicle at out our used cars Anniston dealership. Check us out here

  • avatar

    As per Toyondai92, GM Synchromesh is the answer to everything.

    Most of the horror stories I’ve heard regarding the six speed are due to idiots accidentally skip-shifting while down-shifting and and breaking something. Honda’s six speeds have very narrow and tight gates (or it might just be me…) and it’s easy to miss a gear if you’re pushing too fast. Drive it gently and it should last forever.

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