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Old 11-12-2012, 03:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Please Help-- '05 MDX Engine Problem?

I'm desperate for some insight or answers. I have an '05 MDX, 125K miles, purchased 14 months ago. My husband was driving it yesterday morning when suddenly it started making really horrible clacking sounds. Thankfully this happened a few hundred yards away from an auto care center. He cruised in and after they listened/looked at it said it sounded like the timing belt had jumped and we should get it towed to the dealer. We just had the timing belt replaced 6 months ago so we thought maybe the install had been performed improperly. After the dealer's service department looked at it this morning they said the belt is fine and that as far as they can tell it's the engine. All they said was that "there's an internal rattle and it could be a bearing problem" and recommended a local engine re-builder that would replace the engine for $5,000. They won't even LOOK at the engine because "we don't do that sort of thing here."

I don't even know what to do. I started calling BBB accredited engine repair and re-build shops and relaying the meager information that the dealer gave me. I found one that will do a diagnostic for a reasonable price, I guess that should be the first step? I cannot afford to replace the engine. I'm about to lose my mind here. What could cause something like this to happen? Has anyone had a similar experience? Or have any advice to offer? I really appreciate any help at all. Thanks.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Does the "clacking" follow the RPM's while in Park or Neutral? Just thinking you need to eliminate, or at least take the transmission out of the equation. More info is needed to really help. How about your valves? Have you had them adjusted lately?
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Old 11-12-2012, 04:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If the engine is running then it's making the sound. I haven't actually experienced it firsthand I'm just going off of what my husband described to me. To my knowledge the valves are fine, they haven't been adjusted since we've owned it. The last time the dealer did a checklist (6 months ago when we replaced the belt) they didn't recommend anything about the valves. I did read a thread in this forum about someone having their timing belt replaced and then experiencing engine problems afterwards -- something about the possibility of the valves hitting the pistons causing damage due to a poor install of the belt. Could that be what happened to mine?
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Old 11-12-2012, 04:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Do you have another dealer (even a Honda dealer) or a good independent close to get a second opinion?
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We're taking it to an engine shop on Thursday that specializes in Honda/Acura. The technicians at the dealership still haven't given us any real information, just their best guesses. Today they are telling me that it sounds like a spun bearing. I'm so beyond frustrated.
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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An automotive stethoscope could help in locating the source location of the noise.

My MDX makes a noise that sounds like rod knock at idle speeds but once I increase the revs to 1500 or higher, the noise is gone.
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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It's very difficult to diagnose noises over the Internet.

Clacking suggests camshaft wear but that's extremely unlikely in this car to come on quickly. How the oil level? What's the color of the valve train under the filler cap?

Can you take a video of it and post a link to you tube?
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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They won't even LOOK at the engine because "we don't do that sort of thing here."
That's pretty sad that an Acura dealer can't service thier own vehicle.
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Many dealers outsource various types of service, because they don't have the expertise to do it in-house. Depending on the dealership, this may include alignments, engine and/or transmission rebuilding, body work, etc. It's common in big cities where there are nearby independent businesses that provide such services, and it's also common in smaller markets where the dealer service department is smaller and has limited experience with things that aren't common and routine.

Some dealerships will circumvent their lack of specific expertise by recommending replacement of large systems in the car, such as an engine replacement. Kudos to this dealership for at least letting you know that there may be a less expensive alternative. As well as for not attempting a rebuild that they don't have the appropriate experience for handling.
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank y'all for your responses. Just received the diagnosis from the engine shop.

Bad rod bearings.

Which doesn't add up at all. From their explanation and after my own research the cause is usually low oil or oil starvation, which doesn't seem possible because I check the oil regularly. Never once was it low and never once was there a leak. Besides checking it manually a sensor would have alerted me if that had ever happened. I follow a strict schedule for getting the oil/filters changed also. So to my mind that means something prevented the oil from getting to where it's supposed to. Does that sound logical? I just want to understand why this happened, it doesn't seem possible that a 7 year old vehicle's engine could just go kaput with zero warning signs and no good reason. Not to mention that if I were to eventually replace the engine who's to say it wouldn't happen all over again, since the problem is still unknown.

I called Client Relations and they checked to see if any recalls or defects had been reported for those components and no dice. So basically I'm screwed and get to keep making payments on a car that's inoperable.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Which doesn't add up at all. From their explanation and after my own research the cause is usually low oil or oil starvation, which doesn't seem possible because I check the oil regularly. Never once was it low and never once was there a leak. Besides checking it manually a sensor would have alerted me if that had ever happened. I follow a strict schedule for getting the oil/filters changed also. So to my mind that means something prevented the oil from getting to where it's supposed to. Does that sound logical? I just want to understand why this happened, it doesn't seem possible that a 7 year old vehicle's engine could just go kaput with zero warning signs and no good reason. Not to mention that if I were to eventually replace the engine who's to say it wouldn't happen all over again, since the problem is still unknown.
Those are good questions. You might want to ask them of the folks at the engine shop, and see what they say.

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I called Client Relations and they checked to see if any recalls or defects had been reported for those components and no dice. So basically I'm screwed and get to keep making payments on a car that's inoperable.
It's a fact of life that when you buy (or own) a higher-mileage car whose warranty has expired, you are responsible for any repairs that are needed, and you're taking a chance that they might cost you a lot of money and hoping that they won't. If you encounter the need for a major repair, you're stuck between a rock and a hard place - you can pay several thousand dollars for the repair, or you can sell the car but you're probably going to have to discount it by at least as much as the repair would cost.

In exchange for this risk, you paid a whole lot less for your used high-mileage car. I'm guessing you paid somewhere around $12-14K for your 2005 MDX - maybe a little more than that, maybe a little less, but somewhere in that range. I assume the engine shop gave you an estimate for rebuilding the engine, and you can also shop around for used MDX engines on sites such as eBay and car-parts.com Even if you have to pay $5K (just guessing here) for the repair, you're still way ahead of the game, compared with paying $40K for a brand new MDX.

If you don't like to accept the possibility of paying for an expensive repair, you may be better off with the alternative - buying a car that is new or certified used and comes with a warranty. It will cost you a whole lot more, too; that's the trade-off. (You can also buy an aftermarket warranty for your car; they can be expensive and are often not worth the money, but they can reduce or eliminate the chances of an expensive repair.)

My SO and I have owned a lot of cars over the years. We've had four different cars which we maintained meticulously but which, after 10+ years and 100K+ miles, reached a point where the engine needed rebuilding/replacing. I had two engines replaced with used engines, had one rebuilt, and donated one car to charity. When a car reaches the point when an expensive repair is needed - sometimes with warning, sometimes without - it immediately drops in value by the cost of the repair. Would I buy another used car without a warranty? ABSOLUTELY!!! I got a bargain by buying a 7-year-old MDX for a third the price of a brand new one, and even if I have to put another few thousand dollars into it, I'm still WAY ahead compared to buying a new one. So far, I've driven mine over 20K miles, and it hasn't needed much other than routine maintenance and a few parts that commonly wear out (shocks and brake pads). If at some point it needs an expensive repair, I'll pay to get it done and I'll still be smiling.
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:23 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Did someone forget to refill the oil after draining it out?


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Old 11-17-2012, 10:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I assume the engine shop gave you an estimate for rebuilding the engine, and you can also shop around for used MDX engines on sites such as eBay and car-parts.com Even if you have to pay $5K (just guessing here) for the repair, you're still way ahead of the game, compared with paying $40K for a brand new MDX.
Right now there are 13 used engines for a 2005 MDX listed on eBay. 10 of those are under $2K and the other three prices are "OBO" (or best offer). On top of the cost of an engine you may need to pay shipping (some include free shipping, otherwise freight shipping may be $300-500ish) and installation labor. You're probably looking at a total of $4K give or take; you can get accurate estimates from your dealer, your engine shop, and any other mechanics you know. You can then compare that with the cost of having your engine shop rebuild your current engine.

It's not pleasant to suddenly face a $4K repair bill, but again, that's only a small fraction of the $25-30K you saved by buying an older, higher-mileage car instead of a new car.
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