The Acura MDX is a reliable and capable luxury midsize SUV that’s known for its luxurious interiors and large cargo space. On the downside, this particular model’s value depreciates 53% after the first five years. That’s why CarEdge.com recommends getting a similar model from Lexus or Mercedes instead to avoid the significant initial depreciation.
Is the Acura MDX Reliable?
Overall, the Acura MDX is a reliable midsize SUV. J.D. Power has given the 2020 year model an above-average rating of 78 out of 100. In fact, the last 10 model years (2010-2019) of the MDX have an average reliability score of 76 out of 100. Repairpal also gives the MDX above-average marks for reliability, with a rating of 4.0 out of 5.0. The MDX ranks 2nd in Repairpal’s lineup of 14 luxury midsize SUVs.
Maintaining the MDX is fairly easy on the wallet since its average annual cost of repairs ($571) is less than the average cost of maintaining other luxury midsize SUVs ($807) and other vehicle models ($652). As for the frequency and severity of unscheduled repairs, on average, MDX owners bring their vehicles to the shop around 0.4 times per year, with an 8% chance of the issue being severe.
Vehicles require proper care to last long. The same goes for the Acura MDX. This model should be able to last more than 200,000 miles, with regular care and maintenance.
Top Acura MDX Problems
Even with its great reliability ratings, the Acura MDX still has its share of problems, and some model years are more problematic than others. Below are some of the most common Acura MDX problems:
Early on, owners of 2016 and 2017 Acura MDXs had troubles with their transmission and had issues with poor/jerky acceleration. According to them, this issue would gradually get worse until they couldn’t get their vehicle to move. The affected owners would notice this issue at around 9,600 miles for the 2016 year models and 16,500 miles for the 2017 year models. According to some owners, they were advised by their dealerships to have their transmission control module (TCM) software updated.
In October 2020, Honda/Acura released a technical service bulletin (TSB) that contained repair information for this issue. Affected models included the 2016-2019 MDXs, as well as the AWD and 2WD variants of the 2020 MDX. According to the document, a TCM software update is needed to fix the intermittent harsh/jerky upshifts that come with steady acceleration.
Stalling/Lurching on Light Acceleration
According to some owners of the 2014 Acura MDX, their vehicle would hesitate when accelerating and then lurch forward, as if trying to catch up for hesitating. Affected owners say that this problem is even more noticeable when they’re trying to maintain a speed between 35 and 45 mph. This issue is said to first occur at around 28,000 miles. So far, there are no TSBs or recalls that address this specific issue.
However, Acura did release a Service News Article in June 2016 regarding the intermittent rattling in some Acura MDX models. This article says that some drivers may experience rattling or their vehicle running rough when driving at 30-65 mph. This is said to be caused by sticking VCM rocker arms. Acura advises dealerships to replace the faulty VCM rocker arms to fix the issue.
Excessive Oil Consumption
For many 2010 and 2011 Acura MDX owners, excessive oil consumption is a very frustrating issue. According to them, not only is it a hassle to diagnose, but this problem is also particularly expensive to fix. On average, 2010 Acura MDX owners spent $6,800 to have this issue fixed. Affected owners said that their vehicles would consume more oil than usual. In fact, one owner reported that after an oil consumption test, he found out that he had burned 3.5 quarts of oil in just 5,000 miles.
Acura/Honda addressed the problem by issuing service bulletins that contain repair information. The most recent TSB is TSB #19-006 (“Warranty Extension: Engine Oil Consumption Exceeds Client Expectations), which was released on May 18, 2019. Affected models include the 2010-2013 Acura MDX, 2011-2012 Acura RL, 2009-2014 Acura TL (SH-AWD), and 2010-2013 Acura ZDX. Owners have already been notified and may check their VIN status for eligibility.
According to this TSB, the oil control rings on affected vehicles may have become clogged with carbon deposits that restrict the ring’s ability to scrape and return oil from the cylinder wall to the crankcase. This issue may result in excessive engine oil consumption, more than what the affected owners expected. The proposed corrective action for this issue, as stated in this document, is conducting an oil consumption test. After verification, the document recommends replacing the engine’s pistons, piston pins, and rings.
Parasitic Draw and Dead Battery
A faulty Bluetooth system that drains the vehicle’s battery is the most widely reported 2009 and 2007 Acura MDX problem. Owners would report that their vehicle refused to start because of a dead battery. Even after replacing the dead battery, this issue would crop up again and again. An affected owner then brought their vehicle to a shop and found out that the root cause of the issue was a parasitic draw with the Bluetooth device. This issue was allegedly observed when the vehicle reached approximately 100,000 miles. Repair costs for this issue ranged from $120 to $480.
So far, Honda has not issued a TSB or recall regarding the faulty Bluetooth devices on Acura vehicles. However, they did issue a few TSBs regarding battery issues with the 2007 and 2009 Acura models. TSB #SB-11-031 was released in October 2011 to address an issue where the batteries on the affected vehicles died out as the A/C blew warm air. TSB #SB-12-001 was issued in January 2012 and provided repair information on starter assemblies and batteries.
Some affected owners took matters into their own hands and filed a class-action lawsuit against Acura in August 2016. This lawsuit alleges that Acura vehicles are equipped with defective “HandsFreeLink” Bluetooth pairing devices that drained the vehicle’s battery. The California judge allowed the claims of two California plaintiffs to proceed but dismissed one Florida plaintiff on grounds that this plaintiff did not purchase the Acura vehicle from a Honda dealership.
A malfunctioning A/C unit is the most reported 2008 Acura MDX problem, with a total of two reports on the CarComplaints website. While this issue may not be as severe as others on this list, a faulty A/C can make driving very uncomfortable, especially on particularly warm summer days.
According to the affected drivers, the A/C issue seemed to be caused by an A/C leak, which stemmed from a compressor hose rubbing against a grounding point on the vehicle. The affected drivers noticed this problem at around 130,000 miles and took them an average of $460 to repair. Honda released TSB #SB-11-031 to address this issue, but the document is not available online.
Rumble Strip Noise
At approximately 119,000 miles, some 2004 Acura MDX owners would notice that their transmissions would make an unusual grinding sound when driving at 34-45 mph. Some owners brought their vehicles to the shop to have the issue fixed, but the mechanics did not find anything wrong with their vehicles. Honda/Acura did release a TSB (#06003) regarding a torque converter shudder/vibration issue back in June 2007, but this document hasn’t been released online as of writing.
One of the worst Acura MDX problems is transmission failure, as several year models were affected (2001,2003, and 2004) and repairs cost at least $4,000. For the 2004 Acura MDX, transmission problems seemed to crop up at around 80,000 miles. In contrast, 2001 and 2003 year models exhibit transmission-related issues at around 120,000 miles.
Affected owners reported that the transmissions on their vehicles slipped or disengaged entirely without any warning. This left some owners stranded on the side of the road. Some owners brought their vehicles to the service center and thought that their vehicle just needed a transmission fluid change. But they were taken aback at how expensive the repairs actually were because it involved replacing their entire transmission.
Honda/Acura had released a recall regarding the transmission issue in 2001 Acura MDX units. Acura recall #P30/P31 was issued on April 15, 2004, and covered other Honda models. In total, more than 1,000,000 vehicles were affected.
As long as you familiarize yourself with the Acura MDX’s potential problems and avoid model years with significant/expensive issues, purchasing one should come with little risk. But of course, you should still research more about the vehicle you plan on buying and make sure that the seller has cleared everything up about the vehicle before you seal the deal.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.
What are the major problems for the Acura MDX 2005 model ?