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Old 11-03-2003, 11:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Lightbulb How to change the VTM Fluid (VTM-4 or Rear Differential)

I've got an '03 and approaching 15k miles, so it's time to change the VTM fluid. I did a lot of searching and found several threads on the subject. I've compiled what I think is the best of all these threads to help others in the same situation. So the following is copied and pasted from other posts and not my own. I haven't actually done it yet myself, but I'll follow up with how it went when I do. Anyway... here goes.

The fill is super easy: use a $4 hand pump from the auto parts store, and just pump into the fill until it runs out. Remove the nozzle. When it stops, the level is *just* at the edge of the hole. Replace the bolt and tighten.

I concur... It's easy! Much easier than changing your oil.

The VTM change was a piece of cake thanks to all of the advice and instructions on this board!!! I dropped my spare for the first time in 6 months and was surprised it wasn't too dirty and had only lost 3lbs of air.

I dropped my spare today to get a better look at the differential in anticipation of changing my VTM Fluid. I already purchased my VTM Fluid, pump, and 18 mm and 20 mm crush washers from my dealer. Before I go beyond the point of no return, would someone please clarify which are the VTM Drain Bolt and Fill Bolt? Looking at the differential from the rear of the MDX, they appear to be two bolts with "square holes". These holes appear to accept a 3/8" socket driver (without any socket attached). Are these the VTM Drain Bolt and Fill Bolt?

Yep - you've got 'em both ID'd. Take the fill plug out first - want to make sure you can pour fluid in before you let it all out.

I will repeat a few tips which were particularly helpful:

1) I dropped the spare tire and getting to the VTM drain and fill bolts was easy. It required a little "muscle" to loosen the bolts...the only real tool needed for this job is a 3/8" socket driver. There are two bolts - actually you take a 3/8" socket drive extension and insert that directly into the square hole in the bolt head (without any socket attached). Torque back up to 35 ft-lbs for each when done.

2) BTW, for the VTM, the correct size Crush Washers are: fill bolt - 20 mm. and drain bolt - 18 mm. If you are changing oil, the correct size is 14 mm.

3) After filling less than 3 quarts of the VTM Fluid, I temporarily tightened the fill bolt. I drove my MDX back and forth a few times in my driveway. I topped off the VTM Fluid a little...it took 3 quarts total.

Someone else said: After I did this, the VTM took 7 more pumps from the VTM Fluid container. I checked the fill mark on the container from Acura and there was exactly 1qt left, which is right on the mark since the manual says the refill takes 3 quarts. Makes you think if they do this at the dealers... I doubt it and just another reason to do this yourself... it is a piece of cake!!!

4) SAFETY FIRST! I wore safety glasses. Latex gloves would have been good for extra protection. Dispose of all hazmat materials properly.

What youíll need:

Check out http://www.hondacuraworld.com/Mercha...tegory_Code=CC for a 15k service kit. For instructions on changing the oil or the caliper service, do a search. Iím just doing VTM fluid here.

One gallon of VTM-4 fluid. Get it at your Honda dealer, it should be cheaper than from Acura and the Pilot and MDX use exactly the same stuff. Probably runs around $18 or $19.

Two crush washers: Drain Plug: 18mm 90471-PX-000 $1.55 / Fill Plug: 20mm 94109-20000 $0.46

Pump: Honda uses a special pump that's connected to the bottle and pumps in the fluid. I was at the Honda dealer this afternoon buying VTM and tranny fluid. They had a pile of them sitting right next to the fluid! One comes in every case they get. If he won't give or sell you one for $5, then go to an auto parts store and buy one -- you DO need it as the fill hole for VTM is on the side of the rear diff. You don't need a super-special bottle-sealing pump -- any siphon-type will work.

A pump costs $3.98 at any discount auto supply place. Sometimes they are called differential fluid pumps.

I know that Valvoline's oil pump doesn't fit the VTM jug, even though its label says it fits all differential oil containers. The Sta-Lube pump works really well for me and I like the simple device to keep the hose in place, hands-free.

Might be easier to bring the jug of VTM to the auto parts store and ask them to figure it out, as they might not like you tearing up their packages to test fit their various pumps. This way, you walk out knowing you have something that works, without begging the dealer parts punk who wouldn't give it to you.

Great suggestion is to make sure you loosen the fill bolt before you drain the system. If you can't get the fill bolt out first, no reason to continue the job.

Q: Is there any trick to open the drain plug? I can open the fill plug but the drain plug is so hard. Do you have to use an impact wrench for that?

A: NO- I'm away from the service manual, but my recollection is that it is less than 50 ft-lbs. Are you sure you've got the correct plug? Both use a 3/8" drive extension to fit right into the plug. If it is indeed drastically over tightened, the dealer should fix it for free.

Before selling my MDX, I changed the VTM-4 oil myself and I noticed some fine metallic particles sticking to the plug, which is a magnet. I took that magnetic plug to Los Gatos Acura (in San Jose) to be in the safe side. The guy behind the counter confirmed that this was typical and that the reason behind replacing the oil at the 7500 miles is breaking in the VTM system. There seemed to be a lot of these fine metallic particles though.

I wish I took a picture of the drain pan full. There is so much of that metallic particle in it, it forms a brain like pattern in the VTM-4 fluid. The particles do settle to the bottom of the pan if you wait overnight. Then it just looks like VTM-4 fluid. All the sand/dust looking stuff in the picture is the metallic particles.

Doesn't sound like good news. I've done mine twice and even the first time my VTM fluid wasn't ANYWHERE as dirty as yours! Wow. I had a tiny bit of black crud on the magnetic drain plug but that's it. Be sure to save all your receipts (down to the drain plug washers) as it looks like you stand a good chance of making a future Warranty Claim. Sorry!

I have to concur --the 2 times I've changed my fluid I haven't noticed nearly so much sediment in the VTM fluid. Even the drain plug has had negligible build up on it... Hopefully there's just a wide variance in the amount of acceptable sediment in the fluid...

The used VTM Fluid, appeared to be pristine to me...the color of Vicks 44 Cough Syrup. This prompts me to wonder if it is really necessary to change the VTM Fluid at 7,500 miles. Oh well, better safe than sorry, and besides it is such an easy job.
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Old 11-03-2003, 11:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Here are the plugs to drain (bottom) and fill (top) the VTM fluid as seen under the rear of the vehicle.
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How to change the VTM Fluid (VTM-4 or Rear Differential)-vtm.jpg  
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Cool

Todd03MDX,

Good work. Your post looks like, "The Greatest Hits of VTM-Fluid Change."

XStatic,

Good pic of the VTM plugs. This should definitely help those first time DIY'ers.
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Old 11-03-2003, 02:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Great instructions! Thanks.
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Old 11-04-2003, 09:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Easy way to check VTM changed?

Just had my 15k maintenance done with VTM change, but a little worried. First, Acura service kept telling me it should have been done at 7500 so I showed them 03 owner's manual indicating 15. Regardless, if it should have been done at 7500 and wasn't it really needs it now-right? Although it shows I requested VTM change when it came down to the detailed report of what was done it doesn't mention VTM nor does it show VTM fluid or charge for fluid at bottom along with oil filter, washer fluid, etc. I called back again yesterday to try to verify and they gave me some long drawn out explanation about how their computer hadn't been updated to automatically print out the 15k description for 03 and newer. Since neither my husband or I are mechanically inclined is there a way to verify myself that it was done???
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Old 11-04-2003, 10:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Easy way to check VTM changed?

x
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Old 11-04-2003, 10:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Look at the photo I posted. You will notice, like almost everything on the MDX, the plugs are marked showing they were checked. It is unlikely that after reinstalling that they would line up perfectly. So check under the back of the car and see if it looks like the plugs have been removed and replaced.
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Old 11-04-2003, 10:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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rudy331, Did you pay for a 15k service as a package deal or what? If so, does their standard 15k service include the VTM fluid change, and if not, did your "package" cost more because you requested the VTM fluid change? If they're still stuck on the old schedule of changing the VTM fluid at 7.5k, then I would think they wouldn't be doing it again at the 15k service. And if you paid their standard 15k service rate which doesn't include a VTM fluid change, then I'd assume they didn't do it. If the did charge you extra for it, then by it not being anywhere on the invoice, I'd assert and stand firm that they didn't do it because how can you really be sure? Ask them what evidence can they provide that it in fact was done since it's not on the invoice. In situations like this I kind of like raising a little hell anyway. Good luck!
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Old 11-04-2003, 01:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The part number for the fluid is 08200-9003, Honda asked $17 for it Acura asked $19, when I told the Acura dealer they sold it to me for $16.50. Also I was also able to pick up a pump from the Acura dealer, while Honda dealer said they didn't have any and they were tough to get. The part number for the pump was 08200-9004 and it was $7.50. (I know auto parts store would be cheaper and probably better but I just don't have one nearby for some reason....)

So about $30 for the parts instead of a $70 service and next time it will only be about $20. I will report back, but it looks like this will be easier than changing the oil which I did last night. What a mess, the oil shot out very fast and caused it to overshoot my catch pan!

Finally I asked dealer about dealing with the drained fluid and they told me it just goes in with the recycled oil.
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Old 11-04-2003, 03:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone

I knew I could count on you!!! It was my initial instinct to argue, but thought--get all your facts together and then give it to them with both barrels!! I will try to check the line up of the plugs tonight (if I can get home before dark) and call again in the morning.

They did charge me additional for the service. Service manager told me that by them charging 1.5 hours of time instead of 1.00 that was the key to assuring me they had done it.
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Old 11-04-2003, 06:00 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by XStatic
The part number for the pump was 08200-9004 and it was $7.50. (I know auto parts store would be cheaper and probably better but I just don't have one nearby for some reason....)
I bought exact same pump (looks like) at the Advance Auto Part for $5.99. But you got the better deal on the fluid, which Honda and Acura in my area charges around $26.
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Old 11-04-2003, 07:27 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Re: Thanks everyone

Quote:
Originally posted by deltajetfixer
I don't understand his/her reluctance in doing this? Laziness perhaps? Sounds like you're getting "The 'Ol Runaround"...
Sounds to me like they don't want to admit they made a mistake and didn't realize that things changed for the'03 model.

Anyway, $17 seems to be pretty good price on the VTM-4 fluid. I went to the local Honda dealership and they wanted $20. I forgot to take my list with part numbers for the washers, so I just asked for the 18mm and 20mm crush washers. The guy comes back with one washer and I asked what size it was and that I need both the 18mm AND 20 mm. First, he seemed to think I'd only need one washer, and so I told him I'd need on for both the fill and drain plugs, and then he didn't know what size the washer was that he brought to the couter. He said, "Well this is what they're using for the Pilots." I decided I better get my part numbers to be sure and maybe go somewhere else that might know what they're talking about. I called the Acura dealership I bought the X from and they also want $20 for the fluid. I think I'll just go there. Maybe I'll have a better chance of getting a free pump. Yeah, it could happen.
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Old 11-17-2003, 05:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Finally did it

I did the 15k service on my '03 MDX last night. Got the spare out of the way and filed it with more air since it was low. Drained the VTM fluid with no problem (making sure the fill bolt was out first).



One thing I found helpful was putting the clear plastic tube on the bottom of the pump so it could suck up from the bottom of the jug. It pumped out a lot better once I did this.



After filling, I put the fill plug back in using the old washer and drove around the block then backed back into the garage and topped off. It started dripping out on my 9th pump. (Then I used a new crush washer.)

Maybe you can see that my jug ended up just below the 1 qt mark.



What do you with the left over fluid? I suppose just throw it out and clean out the pump.

Someone said the fluid looked like Vicks44, but it sure doesn't taste like it. No cherry flavor at all!!! But mix it with enough Vodka and it goes down pretty smooth.
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Old 11-17-2003, 05:09 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Finally did it

Quote:
Originally posted by Todd03MDX

Someone said the fluid looked like Vicks44, but it sure doesn't taste like it. No cherry flavor at all!!! But mix it with enough Vodka and it goes down pretty smooth.
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Old 11-17-2003, 05:32 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Finally did it

Quote:
Originally posted by Todd03MDX
One thing I found helpful was putting the clear plastic tube on the bottom of the pump so it could suck up from the bottom of the jug. It pumped out a lot better once I did this.
That is really funny!
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