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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!

Shopping for an SUV, and all factors aside, I really want a 1st Gen MDX, most likely an '05 or '06, since that falls into my price range.

I've currently got my eyes on this Red '05 right now with about 155k miles on it.
Man red MDXs are hard to find...

My question is, is there anything specific I should be looking out for when shopping for these?
And specifically check/ask about for the car I'm going to look at?

From what I've seen so far, transmission seems to be a common issue, something about the torque converter, and from personal experience with my moms MDX, the rear AC and the cigar lighter inside the glove box seem to be an issue too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
get the 06 if you can, the tranny is best in an 06 compared to the other models (each previous year was slightly better than the year before)
Sounds good, I really want a red one, but I guess if it comes to that I'll just get whats best.
I just really dislike the black and grey interior options on the MDX, the Red with Tan just looks good IMO.
The heart wants what the heart wants... *Conflicted*

Acura MDX With A Jaw Dropping 946,252 Miles The Drive's Daily Mileage Champion - The Drive
Oh crap that's insane, also gives me a lot more confidence, obviously the internet is always plastered with the problems and negative comments, but this plus my personal experience with the MDX give me a lot more confidence in buying one.
 

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He does mention in the article that he has a tranny guy on call.

Any good fleet manager does...that said, I have to think the 10k tranny flush would do wonders....3 out, 3 in...fresh fluid...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
These are the ones I'm currently looking at:

Black/Black '06 with 190,851, $6k,
At an Acura Dealership, Has a Pioneer head unit that has a backup camera and stuff, pretty nifty, but I could do that myself later. small section of the driver seat is torn tho, always gonna bother me...
Has a Carfax report on their website, everything seems okay except for this:
09/08/2017 Washington Damage Report
Accident reported
with another motor vehicle
Airbags did not deploy

So seems it was traded into this acura dealer right after this, but looks like they fixed it up really well in the pictures

Blue/Grey '06 with 183,819, $5.4k,
Says 4 owners so don't know what that says about it, but has the entertainment package, and a backup camera apparently, also the cheapest of the 3, seems like the best deal on paper,

Red/Tan '05 with 155,000, $6k,
Has the trailer hitch, which I would prefer having, also the color I was looking for. theres a bit of damage on the rear bumper and a hole in the driver side tail light, which I was going to replace with the Early 1st gen tail lights anyway, hate the ones on the later 1st gens

They all have more or less the same features, but tbh I don't really care about the tech, I really want a red one but I can live with another one if that's what it comes to.
I checked their history on CarFax, they all seem to check out, other than the accident report on the Black one.
 

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The best thing you can do is to buy one from a dry climate (my '04 has no rust anywhere), though they can have paint issues because of the sun.

I'd look closely at the transmission dipstick (the one on the driver's side). Don't worry about the level (you need to sacrifice a chicken to get a proper reading) but if the fluid is dark and smelly - you'll be taking a big chance. FWIW, the '01-02 trannies were pretty problematic, but they did a major upgrade for '03-04, and another upgrade in the last two years of production. It's common for the torque converters to whine at 60-65mph in 5th gear - normally this is just slightly annoying, and doesn't indicate any kind of future problem. Listen closely for bad (jerky, delayed) shifts. Oh, it's normal if 1st gear holds until 3-4,000 rpm, BTW.

Get under the car if you can, and look for signs of leaks around the axles, the steering rack, or anywhere else. Check the service records (or engine bay tags) for evidence that the timing belt has been changed (every 100,000 miles or so) and the valves adjusted (ditto). If there is no evidence either of these have been done, figure that you're going to spend $200 and 8 hours (DIY) or $1000-1200 (independent garage). Don't take it to a stealership - they'll charge you $2000 and tell you they need to do another $5000 in repairs. ;-)

DO make sure the heat and A/C work correctly front and back, and that you can redirect the air where the controller says it's going (the controllers are common failures - not a big problem to fix, but they'll set you back $100-200).

Ask for a discount if it's missing vent knobs (they're horribly brittle, but you can replace them with much better aftermarket knobs for cheap - don't go to Acura for these!).

And of course, "all the normal stuff"... look at all the corners and the door sills for any signs of having been straightened after a wreck. Try to lift a corner of some of the carpeting (you can pull up one of the entry kick panels easily enough) and see if there's any sign of water damage (yep, folks... those cars from Houston are going to start showing up elsewhere). Oil level and color... same with antifreeze. Cycle all the windows and the sunroof open / closed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The best thing you can do is to buy one from a dry climate (my '04 has no rust anywhere), though they can have paint issues because of the sun.

I'd look closely at the transmission dipstick (the one on the driver's side). Don't worry about the level (you need to sacrifice a chicken to get a proper reading) but if the fluid is dark and smelly - you'll be taking a big chance. FWIW, the '01-02 trannies were pretty problematic, but they did a major upgrade for '03-04, and another upgrade in the last two years of production. It's common for the torque converters to whine at 60-65mph in 5th gear - normally this is just slightly annoying, and doesn't indicate any kind of future problem. Listen closely for bad (jerky, delayed) shifts. Oh, it's normal if 1st gear holds until 3-4,000 rpm, BTW.

Get under the car if you can, and look for signs of leaks around the axles, the steering rack, or anywhere else. Check the service records (or engine bay tags) for evidence that the timing belt has been changed (every 100,000 miles or so) and the valves adjusted (ditto). If there is no evidence either of these have been done, figure that you're going to spend $200 and 8 hours (DIY) or $1000-1200 (independent garage). Don't take it to a stealership - they'll charge you $2000 and tell you they need to do another $5000 in repairs. ;-)

DO make sure the heat and A/C work correctly front and back, and that you can redirect the air where the controller says it's going (the controllers are common failures - not a big problem to fix, but they'll set you back $100-200).

Ask for a discount if it's missing vent knobs (they're horribly brittle, but you can replace them with much better aftermarket knobs for cheap - don't go to Acura for these!).

And of course, "all the normal stuff"... look at all the corners and the door sills for any signs of having been straightened after a wreck. Try to lift a corner of some of the carpeting (you can pull up one of the entry kick panels easily enough) and see if there's any sign of water damage (yep, folks... those cars from Houston are going to start showing up elsewhere). Oil level and color... same with antifreeze. Cycle all the windows and the sunroof open / closed.
Thanks! That's a lot of good info to go off of, I'll make sure to check that stuff when I go look at them.

See if you talk down the 6k '06. With that accident on there they really can't sell it .
Yeah good point, I figured I'd have a decent amount of room to negotiate on these, especially that accident one.
 

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I would add to check the large compliance bushings in the lower control arms.

If you search this forum for lower control arms, there are pictures posted of cracked ones. You tube may show them too.

You'll have to turn the wheels out and look between the wheel and cabin.

If you find them cracked, negotiate the price and/or repair. Aftermarket parts are $80-$125 each plus labor. The threads on this forum have discussions and DIY info for the arms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I would add to check the large compliance bushings in the lower control arms.

If you search this forum for lower control arms, there are pictures posted of cracked ones. You tube may show them too.

You'll have to turn the wheels out and look between the wheel and cabin.

If you find them cracked, negotiate the price and/or repair. Aftermarket parts are $80-$125 each plus labor. The threads on this forum have discussions and DIY info for the arms.
Thanks for the info, hadn't seen anyone mention that yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm pretty technically inclined, just getting into car stuff now though, so don't exactly know how to ask some of these questions.
and the valves adjusted (ditto).
What valves? no clue what to ask

3) At that age/mileage, yes, you'll need a timing belt/water pump service if it hasn't been done (though that would be a red flag since it would be overdue by age if not miles). The service is pretty straight forward (at least, I haven't heard of any oddities concerning it). The engine is even mounted sideways so you don't need to take off the bumper/radiator to do it, just the passenger tire

It will probably benefit from a valve adjustment if one had never been done; this service seems to be often ignored but is important as the exhaust valves on these engines seem prone to tightening after 100k miles. And might as well do the plugs while you're there (you're going to take them out anyway).

Last thing that comes to mind is swapping out the radiator. It's a not uncommon point of failure in these vehicles (and often seemingly around the 150k mark), specifically the connectors for the transmission oil lines at the bottom: the connectors get corroded and eventually crack, letting coolant leak into the transmission oil and thrashing the tranny. Easy and cheap to install a new one that should be good for another 100k+ miles. Plus, if you're going to do any towing, think about installing an aftermarket transmission cooler at the same time (either with a heavy duty one and bypassing the radiator all together--in which case replacing the radiator is unnecessary--or a regular duty one in series with the new radiator).
Also like the quote above from a different thread, I've read some stuff about radiator issues,
Also is the exhaust valves from this quote what you're talking about habbyguy?


Here's the list of things I have so far to look at/ask about:


MDX Specific
Flaky HFL Module, hands free link
Vent Knobs
Timing Belt change, look for service records/engine bay tags
Radiator?
Listen closely for bad (jerky, delayed) shifts
large compliance bushings in the lower control arms, turn out wheels and look between wheels and cabin
Ask to get car raised so i can look for signs of leaks around the axles, the steering rack, or anywhere else

General Car stuff
Heat and AC
Rust
transmission dipstick, color and smell (Driver side)
Antifreeze Too^
Misc Body/Interior damage


I'm pretty out of my element on this one, but if I could get some help making a proper list of things to look at on MDX's and how to ask specific things, then I hopefully I'll be good to go when I check the cars out.
Also having a list compiled like this would be good for the next person who inevitably goes to buy one of these.
I'll be the type to be doing a lot of the work on the car myself once I get my bearings, luckily my roommate is a car guy so i can learn the ropes from him.
 

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The valves are the intake and exhaust valves in the engine. Most engines have hydraulic lifters that don't require adjustment, but our Honda/Acura V6 engines have solid lifters that do need to be adjusted every 100,000 miles. If it's not done, the valves get "tight" and you end up with misfire codes showing up on the computer (along with the Check Engine Light aka "CEL"). Left to go too long, it can actually damage the valves, and the car will run better after it's done, too. It's not a difficult DIY job, though it does take a certain amount of touch and feel - if you're not comfortable with fine adjustments, it's best left to a pro.

There's little chance you'd get a discount for the vehicle not having had a preemptive radiator replacement. Most won't, and it's not really called out in the maintenance manual as regular service (though arguably it should be, since the cost of a malfunction can be severe).

One thing I didn't think about is to look at the bumpers for the early signs of clear coat failure - the paint on the bumpers is different from that on the rest of the car, and it will bubble up first (here in Arizona, it's worse, so my '04 is going to get a bumper respray in the not too distant future).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great! Thank you for the insight, now I'll know what I'm talking about *sort of* when I ask about it.

And good point on the bumper thing, I probably would have only looked for dents and stuff, is that for something that is easy to spot?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Does anyone know what these cars actually go for, like sale price, not what the dealers list it for? Listing seems around 6k for these, but the seem sell for around $4-5k~ from what I'm reading online.

Any insight?
 

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Bought mine privately for 4500. Needed tires and lower control arms but it's super clean inside and out. Has usual scratches but nothing crazy. 133k miles in Utah clean title.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

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You can get a high-mileage '01 or '02 pretty cheap, while a low-mileage, clean '06 is going to go for twice as much (or more). It really depends on the condition, and the location. They're worth less in the rust belt, and more in the sun belt. But in the end, the 1st generation MDX is one of the best buys going for a luxury SUV. They're a little more than "lesser vehicles", but will probably be more reliable and less expensive to operate.
 
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