Nine Speeds and Another Problem for Honda's Gear-iest Transmission

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nine speeds and another problem for honda s gear iest transmission

Acura has a tough job ahead of it. As the brand tries to grow volume and retain some of the clout it lost in past years, it finds itself with too many cars and two few SUVs in a market that demands more of the latter, not the former. Meanwhile, the impressive reborn NSX, now a hybrid, hasn’t captured the imagination of sports car fans in the same way as its long-lived predecessor.

Keeping up with — and in some cases, getting in front of — technological trends is part of Acura’s comeback plan. Naturally, in the interest of technological advancement and environmental appeasement, it was necessary to bring a multi-cog automatic transmission on board. However, a series of manufacturer service bulletin point to two potential weak points in the company’s nine-speed.

Late last month, Acura issued two service bulletins to dealers — one covering the 2015-2016 TLX sedan, the other dealing with the 2016 MDX. In it, Acura warns that some transmission warmers were “improperly manufactured,” allowing engine coolant and automatic transmission fluid to mix.

Should this occur, “the engine and transmission may be permanently damaged and require replacement.” In the case of the TLX, the vehicles’ transmissions were already replaced once before to remedy a leaking transmission warmer.

“In rare cases, these vehicles may have also overheated but because the issue was under investigation, a standard repair procedure hadn’t been developed,” the bulletin reads. “Further action is needed before the vehicle is completely repaired.”

The same issue afflicts 2016 Honda Pilots. Owners will be notified by the manufacturer to take their vehicles back for a checkup. If the component falls outside the affected manufacturing date, there’s no problem. However, if it does prove suspect, the vehicle will receive a bevy of new parts — among them, a transmission, transmission warmer, radiator, thermostat, coolant hoses, coolant reserve tank, and ECT sensor O-rings.

It’s possible owners will also find themselves driving away with a new short block and cylinder head, plus the transmission and coolant trappings.

This isn’t the only issue to strike nine-speed Honda and Acura models. In a series of service bulletins issued in September, the automaker warns of transmission end cover leaks on the 2015-2017 TLX, 2016-2017 MDX, 2016-2017 Pilot, and 2018 Honda Odyssey.

“During assembly, the transmission end cover sealing gasket gets torn,” the automaker states in its bulletin. To remedy the issue, the manufacturer will replace the dodgy gasket.

After reaching a U.S. post-recession sales high in 2015, Acura’s annual sales tally has dropped considerably. October 2017 sales dropped 1.3 percent, year-over-year. Until the brand fields more utility vehicles, it’s difficult to see the MDX and RDX offsetting losses in the declining passenger car segment.

[Image: Acura]

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2 of 38 comments
  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Nov 10, 2017

    Glad to see nothing has changed. My 08 MDX had the torque converter replaced at 68k miles, warranty, when the rpms would go up and down when climbing hills. Acura changed over the tranny fluid formula during that time, supposedly to fix the driveablity problems... My radiator split at 80k miles in commuter traffic, squirting the ATF all over the road, so at 166k I'm on my third set of ATF.. I still have a rough shift 2-3 occasionally. The rest of the engine is flawless, the car burns no oil between changes. I'm a manual enthusiast, but the last BMW I drove with the 8 speed was was always in the right gear, not like my GM that occasionally convenes a committee meeting to select a gear. Honda ... a great company who can't make an auto box....

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Nov 12, 2017

    Acura's problem is getting a car design lannguage that look sharp and stylish without looking to extreme and ugly looking like that of the current Lexus models. Acura continues on with their crazy looking new pentagonal front grill and dual low resolution screen infotainment system and bland styling in general. LOL!

  • Jeff S The question is how long will Ford offer the Mustang as a pony car? Dodge is sun setting the Challenger at the end of this year and it is doubtful if the Challenger will come back as an EV. Rumors are the Camaro name will be used on an EV and that will mostly likely be a crossover. There is not enough market for a Detroit muscle or pony car. It is sad to see not only the last of the cars like the Camaro and Challenger go but to see most cars go. Soon this site will have to change its name to The Truth About Trucks (TTAT).
  • Oberkanone Does GM build anything to compete with this? Does GM build any competent hybrids?
  • Dukeisduke So, it'll be invisible, just like all other Gen 6 Camaros?
  • Alterboy21 The gov't has already mandated control of your vehicle. 10 years ago they required cars to have ABS and traction control.I am not sure I agree that automatic breaking is ready for primetime, but taking control of a cars driving behavior is not new ground for the NHTSA. 
  • Parkave231 Collector's Edition hood ornament or GTFO.