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It was from the start of the ZF 9-spd in the MDX, which was model year 2016. IIUC the 2015 TLX had the 9-spd first, and it has the same problem.
 

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Concerning the ATF warmers, why would there be what appears to be a mid-production year range of defective warmers? It seems the problem would have been introduced at the start.
I assume you’ve never worked with any sort of production, then?

Typically there are detailed specs that limit size, weight, size/position of fittings, etc... basically what we’d call in the software world the “contract”. This is i,portmanteaus, as the part must interface with other parts. However, typically the vendor contracted for the part has a large degree of freedom to design/build/tweak the internal implementation of a part, so long as they satisfy the contract. In software we call this a “black box”. Basically, if I use someone else’s component the. I have to know their contract, but I shouldn’t need to know their implementation. A n example would be AMD and Intel CPUs... both run the same software, but they have different physical implementations. They’re compatible because they both implement the x86 (and other) instruction sets — which are the “contracts”.

We don’t know the root cause of the failure... it may have been a change in materials. It may be a change in process/workflow. It may be a new QA person who missed something. It could even be an automated machine that fell out of calibration. I assume ZF and Acura know... but they’ll never share with us. The points are:

  1. It happens.
  2. ZF/Acura investigated and narrowed it down to a range of VINs
 

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add me to the list. 2016 advance awd w/ 5k tow package chirps at 20 and clunks at 4-5 shift. anyone know a sf bay area service dept that knows about this issue?
 

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I'm a newbie to the group but am actively looking at a used 2014 or newer MDX. However, after seeing all of the issues with the 9 speed in the 2016 MY I think I'm going to limit my searches to the 2014 or 2015 models (unfortunately budget can't swing a 2017 model most likely).

I'd consider a 2016 MY but would need to confirm (somehow) that the issue was resolved or that I had the extended warranty.

Just replaced the transmission on our old Jeep Liberty at a cost of $3000 out of pocket so can't imagine having to do it on the Acura!
 

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Discussion Starter #145
So the saga continues....

The chirps still come here and there. Mainly when I'm not actively trying to record it. Even though I have two or three videos of it happening, it's still not enough for Acura to approve repairs. I'm currently at a smidge over 29k miles and approaching the expiration of my 5 year bumper to bumper at the end of this month, so I wanted to chase it down in case it wasn't the transmission (it is, it's tied to speed related upshift). So here I go to the my old dealer (I moved away from the one I liked going to for the last year, so now it's too far to get there on a normal basis) and the only other one within a 15 mile radius closed down.

I go through the usual... I'm here for the recalls (more on this at the end), but I want you guys to look into the transmission chirp again and try to reproduce it on your own, along with other problems that sprouted up like my top screen blacking out and the bottom screen becoming unresponsive at the same time.
They try but I look at the ticket summary and they've done the following for my transmission:
-They reapplied TSB 15-054 which is the software fix to make the 16 tranny a lot smoother, which I already did ages ago. And they did this because they noticed that the tranny does lag and surge a bit right around where that chirp occurs (but they can't seem to hear the chirp themselves). Fine. It doesn't solve the chirp, but it maybe got me a newer TCM software version. BAH. Guess it's not getting resolved today either.

On top of that, for the screen blacking out, they reapply another old safety TSB that THEY did about 2 years ago and lo and behold, the software versions are identical! Oh yeah so for the recalls, I had the tailgate lights done and they didn't even put the plastic trims back properly. Plus I find two broken tabs on my trunk area. They send a guy out to fix it all and he tells me it's all good now, and I go push the plastic trim pieces and they finally snap in. (-__-) I mean, that's just wasting labor time now. But hey, I guess they tried something. I'm just never sure when I'll find a truly competent dealer these days.

So guys, this is 2 years later and the problem is there, but infrequent and hard to reproduce. No Acura dealer will take videos as proof so I'm just going to have to keep on waiting. Probably going to consider Acuracare before 50k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #146
Today is 2 years and 10 days since I started this thread and started hearing the chirping noise.

I went to DCH Tustin again because we've been noticing the chirping coming more frequently now. Don't know if it's because of the hotter weather (90F-ish) now or if it's just due to mileage. The MDX is now around 33k miles after 4.5 years.

Drove with a tech this morning and reproduced the sound during 3 turns out of 6 (there was a 4th but it was really really quiet so I decided not to count it) and he still says it's too intermittent and too quiet for him (he said he only heard one of them). Either I've got super human ears or he wasn't paying attention (my wife says I'm deaf, so let's just say the tech wasn't paying attention). The sound seemed to put him in a state of confusion, so maybe this is totally something else, but the fact that it still only does this noise at around 19-20 mph on the 3-4 shift is telling that it's the transmission. He tried saying it could be tires chirping because I was "turning so fast" but really, anyone who does a no stop turn is going around 20 mph when your roads are 40-50 mph speed limits. Well, guess what Mr. Tech? It happens when going straight too, especially during rush hour traffic that hovers around 20 mph.

Still, the tech said they really can't do anything until it happens 100% of the time. Pretty bullshit scenario for an owner, if you ask me. He's the same tech that left my tranny fill bolt loose so it fell off on the freeway and spilled ATF all over the place, so I don't know if I'm just hitting roadblocks with getting this problem resolved because of the fact that I'm dealing with the same techs from the same dealers over and over again. It could just be representative of the brand in general, but I've seen other owners get the transmissions replaced with intermittent symptoms as well.

I'll probably go to Cerritos Acura next time I'm around that area. DCH Tustin is the only dealer close to me now in South OC, but they're pretty shoddy in service quality (e.g. they always leave something more broken than when I left it, like the trunk trim not even being attached all the way after the tail light recall, that ATF spill incident, left some interior pieces disconnected after trying to diagnose a broken floor weld causing creaks, and a few other things).

When I spoke to ACR last time, I asked the case manager what if this problem doesn't get bad enough to diagnose until after the warranty is over? His response was simply, well, you can ask for goodwill, but there's no guarantee. So much for 2+ years of trying to diagnose it as it's happening for us. He also mentioned that DCH Tustin oddly doesn't keep the vehicle for very long each time I bring it in to try and diagnose it, which is true. They just give it one attempt and then tell me it's "operating as normal." I'm sure you've all heard that some time in your Acura ownership. Cerritos Acura actually kept it multiple days to try and produce the sound, but it was difficult for them too. But A+ for effort.

Here's videos of the chirps I recorded last year: https://photos.app.goo.gl/f2kU26PRRTq98EZa9

Maybe one day Acura/Honda will get their service quality to a level worth raving about, but I probably won't buy another Honda/Acura to find out. Such a shame, as I really wanted to consider the CRV and RDX for our next vehicle, since Honda family stuff drives much better than their competitors like Toyota (have also had Toyotas in parallel most of my life and they've been great, just boring). Heck, might even go back to Hyundai/Genesis (not so much Kia because their service quality is also pretty abysmal still).

Just another boring update since Acura won't do anything again. What's new, right?
 

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I feel for you. The dealer service department can make or break a car ownership experience. I’m fortunate that my local dealership is excellent, and it’s honestly what brought me back to Acura. Having lived through crappy service departments with problematic vehicles it is now one of my key search criteria for a new vehicle. I overlooked the XC90 because we have one local Volvo dealership and they have a terrible reputation. Have you had any luck working with the service manager instead of the tech? My service manager implied they have a lot of sway with Acura on warranty repairs. I posted about this in another thread somewhere, but my 2016 had the same issue as yours, PLUS some really clunky shifts as though the car was dropped into gear from neutral. I bought it used with ~12k miles and I knew about the problems with that year and wagered I had coin flip odds it would be a problem. During the test drive I was surprised at how flawless it was. Somewhere around 25k-30k miles I started experiencing the dreaded chirp. I eventually noticed it happened at the same place each day during my commute and that helped me to reproduce it. You may have gleaned this yourself already but what I eventually figured out is that the car needs to be going at least 40mph, and in at least 5th gear (past the first dog clutch). If I slowed down to anywhere from about 22-25mph and then accelerated as you did in your first video the car would downshift from 5 to 3 or 6 to 3. That move always resulted in the chirp. By 33,000 miles it got pretty loud and the other symptoms were worse. I actually was nervous about the clunky shifts that it would just one day fail. I brought it in to my Acura dealership with a full description of the symptoms. They reproduced some and flushed the transmission fluid under warranty. They also did a few other repairs. They followed up to check on how things worked and I explained it was still chirping. I told them my fear is that I don’t believe that’s noise reflected operation as designed and I was weary about driving my two year old and (at the time) pregnant wife in the car. I explained I was fearful of a failure in the middle of the intersection. I asked if they would consider a ride along and the service manager agreed to come with me. I was able to reproduce the noise readily whether traveling in a straight line or turning. He was surprised by the noise and they took it from there. They ran lots of tests on my vehicle and eventually replaced the transmission. I think all told they had my car for a little over a week. I have roughly 5k miles on the new transmission and it seems like a different car. I did a little digging but I’ve honestly never been able to find out what causes that cheap. I was happy with the fix and didn’t really press it. But I read enough other stories to know that if it warrants replacement for other customers I needed to play the game to get it fixed. I am fortunate that I’ve have an excellent dealership to work through. My only suggestion would be to focus your energy on the dealership that is further away but helpful. Good luck and stay persistent. My experience says once it starts, it gets worse, so eventually you will end up in the same spot.
 

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Discussion Starter #148
I feel for you. The dealer service department can make or break a car ownership experience. I’m fortunate that my local dealership is excellent, and it’s honestly what brought me back to Acura. Having lived through crappy service departments with problematic vehicles it is now one of my key search criteria for a new vehicle. I overlooked the XC90 because we have one local Volvo dealership and they have a terrible reputation. Have you had any luck working with the service manager instead of the tech? My service manager implied they have a lot of sway with Acura on warranty repairs. I posted about this in another thread somewhere, but my 2016 had the same issue as yours, PLUS some really clunky shifts as though the car was dropped into gear from neutral. I bought it used with ~12k miles and I knew about the problems with that year and wagered I had coin flip odds it would be a problem. During the test drive I was surprised at how flawless it was. Somewhere around 25k-30k miles I started experiencing the dreaded chirp. I eventually noticed it happened at the same place each day during my commute and that helped me to reproduce it. You may have gleaned this yourself already but what I eventually figured out is that the car needs to be going at least 40mph, and in at least 5th gear (past the first dog clutch). If I slowed down to anywhere from about 22-25mph and then accelerated as you did in your first video the car would downshift from 5 to 3 or 6 to 3. That move always resulted in the chirp. By 33,000 miles it got pretty loud and the other symptoms were worse. I actually was nervous about the clunky shifts that it would just one day fail. I brought it in to my Acura dealership with a full description of the symptoms. They reproduced some and flushed the transmission fluid under warranty. They also did a few other repairs. They followed up to check on how things worked and I explained it was still chirping. I told them my fear is that I don’t believe that’s noise reflected operation as designed and I was weary about driving my two year old and (at the time) pregnant wife in the car. I explained I was fearful of a failure in the middle of the intersection. I asked if they would consider a ride along and the service manager agreed to come with me. I was able to reproduce the noise readily whether traveling in a straight line or turning. He was surprised by the noise and they took it from there. They ran lots of tests on my vehicle and eventually replaced the transmission. I think all told they had my car for a little over a week. I have roughly 5k miles on the new transmission and it seems like a different car. I did a little digging but I’ve honestly never been able to find out what causes that cheap. I was happy with the fix and didn’t really press it. But I read enough other stories to know that if it warrants replacement for other customers I needed to play the game to get it fixed. I am fortunate that I’ve have an excellent dealership to work through. My only suggestion would be to focus your energy on the dealership that is further away but helpful. Good luck and stay persistent. My experience says once it starts, it gets worse, so eventually you will end up in the same spot.
Thanks. I do appreciate the sentiment. I'm hoping that Cerritos Acura (or I'll even try a Honda dealer) will be the key.

On a related note, I setup my gopro watching my dash and it recorded the chirp on FIVE more occasions on a 20 minute drive through traffic. The speedometer actually registered these on straight line slow downs and acceleration at approximately 25-30 mph instead of closer to 19-20 mph. Maybe doing it at a higher speed is the key. Going to try and purposely reproduce it more over the next few weeks and then go in again.
 

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I think you’re on to something with the slightly higher speeds. For me 22mph was the magic number. You should be able to reproduce it every time. My theory is that when the dog clutch has to act and the car is changing two gears at once, the chirp is friction as the dog clutch tries to quickly engage. Just a theory and I could be wrong. But if you slow down too much, the car has time to do all of this and even goes from 5-4-3 before you accelerate which isn’t a problematic pattern. It seems to be only when it’s jumping two gears, and my dealer confirmed that at some point during an update call. I’d love to know what the actual malfunction is, but my belief is they don’t generally replace transmissions for weird noises. When I saw others had the issue and they were replacing them on Pilots and MDX’s, I assumed whatever is wrong must be a pose a pretty big risk. When mine started doing it I vowed to either have it fixed quickly or trade the car. It sounds like your alternative dealer may get you there. I’m blown away by dealers that don’t help customers like you. They get paid by Acura for the repairs when they already have a cost for their technician, and it creates goodwill/loyalty. It would be hard for me to give up my dealer service experience by switching brands. That type of customer care is what Acura should strive for across the country, and honestly is not that difficult to achieve.
 

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Hey, just found this post! I'm in the same boat as you guys, with the squeak sound at 22 mph. Easily reproductible when ATF temp is above 100 F. I have a appointement next week for the dealer to look at it. Wil let you know!
 

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Discussion Starter #151
Hey, just found this post! I'm in the same boat as you guys, with the squeak sound at 22 mph. Easily reproductible when ATF temp is above 100 F. I have a appointement next week for the dealer to look at it. Wil let you know!
Cool keep us updated. I've noticed it is more prominent in the summer as well, so I'll pursue this again come June.

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Been to the dealer yesterday and they will replace the tranny. I didn't received any letter from Acura (10 years warranty extension) and the tranny warmer was manufactured 2016-03-16. Coolant was dark blue, and to my knowledge the engine never overheated (I own the car since January 2020). Car has 85000 km (+/- 53 k miles).

I didn't see the mechanics and the service guy didn't know if he pressure tested the warmer. I don't know if they found coolant mixed with AT fluid either. I will hopefully know more by next week…
 

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Tranny replaced as well as warmer. No more squeak sound and the new tranny is really smooth!

The tranny model number is the same (1094 040023), but serial number is different (now 0085956, was 0145946). I found this date on the nameplate (01/08/20), so I guess i was manufactured January 8th 2020.
114891


The warmer is same model but manufacture date 2019-10-10 instead of 2016-03-16.

According to the tech sheet, the condition and level of the ATF was checked during diagnostic and everything was ok. They ended up with the following diagnostic : "internal defect, automatic transmission to replace". Funny because they also replaced the warmer….

I purchased the OEM transmission cooler a couple months back and was planning to install it before summer. I asked them to install it while replacing the tranny and they did if for 1 extra hour (the only thing I paid for).

Hope this help!
 

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Discussion Starter #154
Tranny replaced as well as warmer. No more squeak sound and the new tranny is really smooth!

The tranny model number is the same (1094 040023), but serial number is different (now 0085956, was 0145946). I found this date on the nameplate (01/08/20), so I guess i was manufactured January 8th 2020.
View attachment 114891

The warmer is same model but manufacture date 2019-10-10 instead of 2016-03-16.

According to the tech sheet, the condition and level of the ATF was checked during diagnostic and everything was ok. They ended up with the following diagnostic : "internal defect, automatic transmission to replace". Funny because they also replaced the warmer….

I purchased the OEM transmission cooler a couple months back and was planning to install it before summer. I asked them to install it while replacing the tranny and they did if for 1 extra hour (the only thing I paid for).

Hope this help!
Thank you for the follow up! Very glad you got it worked out and it looks like you even got a NEW transmission instead of a remanufactured one! I'm about to start a year long campaign to get my transmission fixed. I'll be sure to drive it to a good temp before meeting the dealership techs for a test drive to demonstrate per your 100F ATF info.
 

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Discussion Starter #155
Today, history was made. After nearly three years of chasing down the sound, a dealership tech has been able to reliably reproduce the noise on his own. For years, I've been treated like I'm just one of those customers who didn't know what the hell i was talking about or that we have to drive the car to extremes to make it happen (ahem DCH Tustin). What a damn relief.

The noise now always appears between 20-24 mph accelerating after slowing to that speed range. First, you accelerate through 30 mph to get it through third gear and brake it down to about 26 mph, then let the car glide into the 20-24 mph range and then give it gas.

The only worry i have is that the tech may not be familiar with the noise himself, but there's techline to assist (if anyone is reading from techline, hopefully someone can remind Mike from Cerritos Acura about my ride with him about 2 years ago and get this approved lol).

Hopefully will hear back next week if we get to move forward or not.

If you experience this noise, try to chase it down during the bumper to bumper warranty. After that ends, without Acuracare, you have a potential dealer diagnostic fee if they can't reliably reproduce it on their own even if you have video proof or can do it yourself.


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Discussion Starter #156
Well, I may have been too hopeful about today.

The dealer responded just a few minutes ago that the problem is indeed caused by ATF contamination (confirmed by Honda Techline) and they want me to try a 50k ATF service for ~$450 on my own dime to see if the problem goes away. I still have powertrain warranty active. The only time this transmission has ever been opened was by DCH Tustin in an effort to diagnose the noise to see if it was caused by the tranmission cooler defect (which, by the way, CAUSES ATF CONTAMINATION). NOTE: On that visit, they did not put back the ATF fill plug correctly, causing the car to spill ATF on the road.

I'm simply appalled by their response at the moment. From the last week of August 2017 until now I've been bringing this car in on practically a quarterly basis to chase this noise down. Now, they confirm my original suspicions that the ATF is contaminated, and they want ME to pay for services that may or may not solve the issue? WTF!

Also, I am part of the affected VINs for the cooler defect, received the warranty extension letter, and all that jazz.
 

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Discussion Starter #157
I spoke to the dealer again yesterday and told them that if Techline recommended an ATF flush to resolve this problem, it needs to be covered as part of the resolution of this POWERTRAIN issue. SA explained that the warranty just doesn't cover fluid changes, which is why they're asking me to pay for it. So I asked them to keep moving forward without the flush then because it hasn't been approved as a covered diagnostic method for this chirp. As a result, they submitted my vehicle's logs to Honda today for request for a replacement transmission. There seems to be some fear that Honda will reject this request though and I'm not sure why... 1) there's a reproducible chirp with history from 2017 at the 3-4 shift around 20-25 mph range, 2) the noise is well known to be a result of ATF contamination (have both a screenshot from Techline and there are numerous videos on here that match my issues shown in my video posted earlier in the thread), 3) the transmission has only been serviced by Acura dealers in an effort to resolve the chirp [unsuccessfully], 4) my vehicle is part of the transmission warmer defect group, and 5) my powertrain warranty is still active.
 

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I don't know your mileage but the 50k service is on it's way for sure. You'll have to do it one day anyway. I would say to go ahead with the fluid change, but ask to be refund if they decide replace the transmission afterward. My ATF was replaced at 50k (by previous owner) and this didn't change anything about the root cause. Evenmore, they could find coolant in your ATF while doing it, and go ahead with the tranny replacement. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #159
I'm almost at 42k.

I was planning to do it anyway when the time came, but if they're using the ATF flush as a diagnostic tool for this, it should really be a covered item. In all my history with various brands, none have ever asked me to be on the hook for a procedure they're using to diagnose an issue for a warranty covered item. Usually, they ask the corporate technical department for assistance, get a procedure along with an approval to do it, and then they go about doing it when the warranty for that component is still active.

Moreover, the noise is a known symptom of a failing transmission, where actual physical damage has been done. Changing the ATF, if it even resolves the noise, is really just a temporary measure until the source of the contamination is found and fixed, as it would just become contaminated again. And even if it did resolve the noise temporarily, it would just return later, probably much after my powertrain warranty has expired, shifting the risk back to me when I've been trying to get it repaired for the last 3 years.

This is what I suspect happened in your vehicle, albeit perhaps without the noise occurring yet or being noticed by the prior owner. I'm not sure what mileage you're at now, but my powertrain is out next year, so time is of the essence. I suspect they know this too. The only saving grace I would have is if an ATF flush doesn't temporarily stop the noise and we proceed onto the replacement, but I don't want to take that risk if I don't have to. Posts from other owners about this problem and their reimbursement experiences hasn't given me the warm and fuzzy.
 

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Discussion Starter #160
Replacement transmission inbound. Going to have to see if they also replace the warmer. They should but didn't sound like they checked it.

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