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Cold Start Engine Surging

12041 Views 35 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  DaleB
Fellow MDX Owners,

Has anybody experienced engine surging (balking, hestitant to accelerate) problems with their MDX? This only occurs for the first 200 feet or so of driving (after the vehicle has sat overnight) then the problem disappears completly. I suspect if it is an issue now, during mild summer weather, it will be even more of an issue this winter. I plan to get the problem checked out during my next service, but was curious to know if anybody else had experienced this problem first hand. Thanks for your input.


GG w/touring/nav/running boards/factory chrome wheels.
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I noticed this the other day. Backed out of my driveway...put my foot on the accelerator and it moved forward then chugged. Didn't stall...just hesitated. I pulled over to make sure my floor mat wasn't hung up under the pedal...Nothing wrong. Put it back in drive and it was fine. ????
I have the exact same experience as LewisS for most of morning starts. Goes away very quickly. Does not happen when I leave work in the evening. I intend to have it addressed at my next servicing.
I too have a hesitation. Mine occurs after I put it into drive. There is about a one to two second delay for the MDX to actually "get into gear." Once it is in drive there is no problem at all.
Yep. Been doing it for around 9 months. First 3-400 feet or so, just out the driveway. Not really a hesitation, but more like a low surge/slow- around a one second 'cycle'.

If there is a fix, I might mention it, but it didn't seem very noxious. More of a curiosity.

I'd be interested to see if there is an actual problem (by Acura's standards..)


ours too... when the engine is started at beginning of the day, it hesitates the first 1/4 mile, then gets better. but still is just noticeable even after the engine gets hot.

I have the same problem..... hesitates out of the driveway, once, and that's it.
Got the same problem. Seems to occur when I park on our (steep) driveway. If parked on flat ground it doesn't seem to happen.

Anybody find the same?

Mentioned it to my Service Manager. Says that the only way he can do anything about it is if it happens there, Which it won't. Don't really care as it does not do anything else. Not that I can notice anyway.

Engine Surging & Stalling

I have had the same problems first thing in the morning with the engine hesitating for the first block or so. The service department told me that it was because I was not letting the engine warm up long enough. It does seem a little better after that advice. But yesterday, I did not have time to sit there, so I pulled out. It hesitated a little and was fine. As I turned the corner only one block from my house, it stalled! Completely dead! My oil, battery, and brake light came on. I only have 4000 miles on it and had just had the oil changed. I turned the key off and sat there. After a few minutes it started fine and ran well the rest of the day. Well, it's at the dealership right now, and they know nothing! No engine service light came on, so they have nothing to tell them anything is wrong. They started it cold this morning and it did not hesitate. Of course! Has anyone else had it completely stall out? Help! I love my MDX and need it to be reliable.

Clearly caused by the failure to follow the recommended service interval on oil changes: 7500 for the first. That special break in oil would have prevented the stall- I just know it.

Seriously though- I hope sometime they ID a fix, but it seems pretty 'back burner' right now.


PS. I am really kidding on the oil change- 4k is fine for extreme service.
RE: motor

I have the hesitation too. It sounds to me like you flooded it and it crapped out on you. Kinda like when you start your weed eater when its cold, you have to choke it, but it still spits and sputters and stalls until its warmed up.
Feels Like....

I have the surging occasionally (once or twice monthly), as you say, for the first several hundred feet in once second intervals after the MDX has sat overnight (garaged). The surging is so slight that it almost feels like road irregularities or tires being out of round, although neither was the case. Also, I have watched the tachometer during the surging to see if the needle surges in sync with the sensation- and so far I have not witnessed any movement, though the surge is so slight it may be hard to see.
Slightly different sympton

Slightly different symptom but same category. Happened twice tonight after sitting for 1 hour first time and after 2.5 hours second time. The engine starts right away but starts to stumble, spit, and hesitate. It cleans up within a couple seconds (without touching the gas). It ran fine pulling away from the parking spot. My wife (primary driver) says it has been doing it for a couple weeks, mostly when she starts it up to go to lunch. We are at 4500 miles.

Interesting that this isn’t getting much attention on the boards. I haven't had a car do this since they got rid of carburetors.
ardvarkus said:
First 3-400 feet or so, just out the driveway. Not really a hesitation, but more like a low surge/slow- around a one second 'cycle'.
The above describes what happens to my MDX. It's more of a "thick" or sluggish feeling from the engine. But it goes away very quickly (like Ard says, 300-400 feet). I had assumed the engine just needed to warm up.

It seems to me that two, very destinct descriptions have been posted in this thread. One, like mine (and Ard's) above, and TWO, actual hesitation of the eingine ("stumbling", "spitting", "stalling"--- the 3 "s" hesssitation?)

Is this a fair description of the two issues, or are there some I'm not describing? If these are correct, we should add them to the knowledge database.
All the behavior discussed smacks of "ULEV".

They probably cut the cold-start enrichment to a bare minimum.

Put up with it and think about all the good things you are doing for the environment :p .

The old timers used to warm up the car for a few minutes before driving away...
I agree.. Good things *ULEV* come with price! ;)
I have had a similar problem as stated in this thread as well. After the engine starts up and I back out of the driveway, as I am driving down the length of the block I notice a sort of hesitation at around 20 mph. It almost gives me the sense of a back and forth motion. I thought until I read these posts that It may have even been the Tires that were causing it. But I think its the engine and that Its not putting out a consistent amount of power creating this mildly perceived hesitation. Once I get to the end of the block and increase my speed everything is fine and it "all goes away". I have had some curious other problems in the last few days with the car not starting initially. I had to restart it and give it some gas to get the thing going! Not very confidence inspiring on a car with only 1000 miles. But that is another story.
Crem de la SUV said:
All the behavior discussed smacks of "ULEV".
That could be. Wife's last car was a Honda Accord. I remember test driving the EX 4-cylinder ULEV. It hesitated off the line until warm -- salesguy said it was characteristic of ULEV. We ended up w/the 6 cylinder (non-ULEV) since the 4's hesitation reminded me too much of my '70 Malibu that requird me to carry a screwdriver to constantly adjust the idle and carb (the dealer finally fixed the Chevy's hestitation, but the car went 30mph at idle -- well, that's one way to fix it I s'pose, and get lotsa $ for a brake job every month, too).

FWIW, however, our MDX doesn't exhibit this behavior.
Don't know if it helps. I always warm up the car for 15 to 20 seconds (actually put on the seat belt, check a couple of things in/around the car like unfold my rear mirrors) so I never experience any hesitation. After I pulled out of the garage, the driveway is slightly sloped down and my first 600 feet is strictly down hill to a stop light for at least a minute idling. However, during my two long trips lasting about a week, the MDX is parked outside and on flat surface in regular tract house block. I did not experience any hesitation. Maybe it is due to my nature of starting the MDX, then do a few minor things before actually rolling the car.

My 2 cents...
Don't know if it helps. I always warm up the car for 15 to 20 seconds (actually put on the seat belt, check a couple of things in/around the car like unfold my rear mirrors) so I never experience any hesitation.

It does help. I occasionally had the hesitation/uneven acceleration when I first drove away in the morning, but after letting the engine warm up for only about 30 seconds before driving off it doesn't happen anymore. That's just fine with me and better for a 4-stroke engine anyway.

For perspective:

In my owner's manual, Toyota (in regards to my 4-Runner) wants me to wait for the engine to run smoothly before driving off. When I first start my MDX in the morning, the rpm doesn't stabilize until the engine has run for about 20 seconds anyway. This lets the engine computer get its bearings and lets the oil pressure build up.

In the owner's manual for my 50-hp 4-stroke Yamaha outboard motors (twins), Yamaha insists that I wait 3 minutes for the engine(s) to warm up before putting it into gear and driving off. Otherwise, engine damage may occur!

The instructions with my 4-kilo watt Onan generator (4-stroke gasoline engine) was well as my 2800 watt Yamaha generator (4-stroke gasoline engine) states to wait about 3 minutes for the engines to warm up before putting on any load.

I don't think we should have a problem waiting 30 seconds (or even a little longer) for a cold MDX engine to start to warm before we drive.
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