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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,
I am looking to purchase a 2006 MDX with 105k miles. It is the Touring Sport model with navigation. The car has 2 owners. The timing belt was changed at 78,000 miles. Given the interval is 7 years or 105k miles, whichever comes first, do I need to worry about changing the belt again? Also what about other components such as alternator and compressor?

Given this will be my first SUV, and first luxury SUV at that, are there any other concerns I should be worried about? I’ve read transmissions could be a problem with 1st generation MDXs. The first owner was a old lady who sold it to the second owner at 90k. The second owner works very close to his office and only drove it for 15k miles. He is currently offering to sell it to me for $5500.

Any help would most be appreciative.

Thank you!
 

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2004 Acura MDX Touring w/ RES & NAV
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Sounds like a nice deal, transmission is a question (I’ve replaced mine), I would invest in taking her to a very experienced brake shop and have them do a full line flush. I’d also replace the front radiator if it looks original. Look into transmission and radiator failures here on the site and you’ll understand why it’s SO important it doesn’t happen to you.
Simple maintenance is important because she’s a Honda car...aka, spark plugs, and radiator flushes on time. I would worry about the timing chain unless you have a friendly mechanic (giving you a break on labor), doing the work. When keeping her clean pay good attention around window seals and sunroof crevices watching for plant matter. A lot of the leaks that are reported by so many is from forgetting to clean small areas like areas where the windows meet the body...plant matter rots and a hole creates and then your chasing the cause of a wet floor (my sunroof and front windshield both on the passenger side did this, also the back glass holding the window to the hatch developed rot and the paint peeled and peeled and peeled...).
It’s a good car and likes to run for her size but she could stop better in my opinion but every car has its things.
Good luck
 

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If you aren't confident in checking a car out mechanically you are considering buying, it is always better to take it to a mechanic.

You shouldn't worry about any particular components dying except the tires if the car sat more than it drove, and the battery. If the alternator is original then it could go on you. I'm personally not the type to replace it before failure, but I might on my wife's car.

One exception, If the radiator hasn't been replaced, I'd do that or at least plumb the transmission out of it and put on an external ATF cooler. That failure can kill your transmission.

The transmissions after 2004.5 were better. Pay attention for any funny sounds or strange shifting patterns besides just a fairly high rev before shifts. If it sounds and feels good it will probably last a long time.

I would follow the 100k interval recommendation on the timing belt on a car I didn't want to loose, but would be comfortable letting it go 10 years if low mileage. That means next due at 180k miles. No reason to get too picky on exact mileage.

Try to find out the last change of oil, ATF, VTM, and diff case fluid and if no receipts then I'd plan to replace all of them.

Also get the last time the exhaust valve clearance was checked and if never done, plan to do that.

It's a 14 year old +100k mile car. Depending on how well it was pampered and items proactively repaired, you might have some things go out on you, but Acura and Honda are really reliable, with not unreasonable repair bills at independent shops.

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the prompt replies! Oh boy you have me worried now. Are the 1st generation MDX transmissions that bad? Is it luck of the draw for those that did not have transmission issues? I know transmissions cost a lot of money so I don’t want that fear that the transmission may go out sooner or later. The current owner said during his time of ownership he did not have any transmission problems.

The tires are all brand new and the battery was recently replaced. I will surely ask when the oil and ATF was changed. With these transmissions is it best to drain and fill or complete flush?
 

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I wouldn't worry about the transmission on an 05 or 06 unless it is acting funny. Don't do ATF flushes. Do drain and fills with Honda or Valvoline MaxLife or other high quality synthetic. I would also suggest using LubeGard Platinum additive.

Dont forget to specifically ask about the last VTM-4 and differential case oil changes too. The VTM-4 specifically is just as important to change ontime.

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Discussion Starter #6
So here are a list of things to ask the owner if and when these were changed:
Oil
ATF
VTM-4
Differential case oil

Anything else to add to the list? Am I correct to say that the 2006 transmissions are much reliable than previous years?

I asked if the MDX takes regular or premium fuel and he said the 1st generations are ok with regular fuel, 87 octane. For oil I’m guessing synthetic is the way to go.
 

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Ask about exhaust valve lash adjustment. It is due.

If you don't want to tow or add an external transmission cooler, ask if the radiator has ever been replaced. If it hasn't, plan to replace radiator immediately to protect your transmission.

The transmissions are more reliable. It's hard to quantify much.

I can't really tell a difference in mine on 87 vs 93. Maybe less than 1 mpg better. Not worth the premium.

I use synthetic everything. But if you change the engine oil on time, you don't really have to do synthetic engine oil.

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Thank you for the prompt replies! Oh boy you have me worried now. Are the 1st generation MDX transmissions that bad? Is it luck of the draw for those that did not have transmission issues? I know transmissions cost a lot of money so I don’t want that fear that the transmission may go out sooner or later. The current owner said during his time of ownership he did not have any transmission problems.

The tires are all brand new and the battery was recently replaced. I will surely ask when the oil and ATF was changed. With these transmissions is it best to drain and fill or complete flush?
This is solid advice you are getting here, but you absolutely should not be worried any more than the purchase of a 15 year old car with over 100K miles on it. Do your due diligence, including a mechanical inspection if you are not good at that yourself. All of these suggestions would apply to any 15 year old car except that the radiator for example is a known weak spot. The transmission for '05+ isn't any more concerning than any other car in that age and mile range. Pricing is enough of a regional thing that the seller may be right where he should be or might be a bit high. Around me that car can be bought for $4,000 -4,500.
 

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Sounds like it should be a solid car - that's really not many miles at all. I also wouldn't be too worried about the transmission in an '06, at least as long as it was acting right when you test drive it. I bought my '04 with 160,000 miles, and put 90,000 almost trouble-free miles on it before selling it off (for just a few thousand less than I paid, BTW). The 1G MDX is one of the best values going in luxury SUVs, and is generally a very reliable vehicle. Yes, check the condition of the radiator, and find out if the fluids in the transfer case and differentials have been changed (not that big a deal to do it now, though). On an ongoing basis, I'd say that your best value in maintenance would be to do a transmission drain-and-fill every other oil change. That will just help ensure that you keep the transmission happy. The engine should last forever...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you everyone for your insightful advice. This afternoon I met the seller at a Acura dealership and got a pre-owned inspection performed. Figure it’s best for my peace of mind. The dealership noted oil is leaking from the rear main seal and the front passenger inner cv boot is leaking grease and will need to be replaced. Everything else is good including the fluid.

The dealership quoted me $2500 for the rear main seal job and I was shocked. I then called my mechanic who use to work for Honda/Acura and now has his own garage and he quoted me $1500. I’ve done my research on this forum and online and this seems like a common issue. Some owners deal with the leak depending on how large it is.

This has put me into a dilemma now because I will have to worry about replacing the seal eventually if even a small leak. I don’t think the seller will knock off $2500 or $1500 off his original price of $5500.

What do you all think? If it were you would you pass on the car or deal with the leak?
 

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It could be as much an opportunity as a problem. First, let the seller know about the diagnosis and the costs. It doesn't sound at all out of line since you have to pull the transmission to get to the RMS. Big job (glad I never had to do it to my MDX).

Now the "opportunity" bit... with a couple provisos. Crawl far enough under the car (which you have probably already done) and see just how bad that RMS leak is. It's really not at all uncommon for them to drip the occasional drip, but obviously if it's got a fresh, wet path of oil leaving the safe confines of the oil pan (indicating that it's going to be losing quarts of oil between changes), you really ARE going to have to fix it. OTOH, if the drip really isn't too bad, why not just stuff a microfiber rag into the gap (IIRC that works on an MDX) or perhaps just secure one on the splash pan under the offending drip zone. Then swap it out ever year or two if it gets loaded. Rinse and repeat, as they say. The temperatures will never get nearly high enough to cause a problem (if they do, you HAVE a real problem that will be obvious because of the smoke rolling out of your hood and the loud knocking noise). ;-)

Yeah, it's a Rube Goldberg fix, but for the price of a shop towel, the end result will be nearly the same (no oil dripping onto your driveway, and the car will be just fine with that "fix").
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The seller was with me at the dealership and was known of the problems after the inspection. He checked with his mechanic if and he said his mechanic could not see any oil on the seals. He said his mechanic did see oil on the pan but that could have been residual oil from when timing belt was changed. Don’t know how true that would be but I would think the oil would eventually dry out by then.

The thing is when I purchase a used car I like to know that I can drive it for at least a year or so without having to deal with any problems. Yes I know that is the risk when one buys used but that’s why I took it for inspection. If I purchase it I already know in my head I have a leak, whether large or small, that I have to pay attention to all the time and worry how much oil is leaking or will my engine or car be damaged if oil is leaking on a long road trip.
 

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Take it to your mechanic to inspect the RMS leak. Acura blows those inspections up. They quoted me $6500 in unnecessary work when I bought mine, and had it in for the airbag recall.

I drove my Nissan Pathfinder for 3 years with a RMS leak until something else got it. It never got bad enough to have more than a few drops each time I parked it. But of course that can depend.

As far as the price, I didn't say anything before, but I felt that price was probably a bit high for most of the USA especially with the recession. If you are comfortable with your mechanic saying it should be OK for a while, this is an opportunity to demand a discount, you could split the $1,500 with him, pointing out you are taking a gamble on his problem.

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Yeah, if it's not leaving a puddle after being parked for a few hours, the "leak" is going to be an annoyance at worse - it's never, ever going to cause a "real problem" (unless you're really anal about your driveway, but I covered that with my rag-fix). ;-)

And as Colin said, the dealers will make ANY issue a "must-fix thing". It's how they build those big buildings and hire all those minions. I helped a next door neighbor with his 200,000 mile, 15 year old Lexus go through the dealer's $10,000 quote. Cost us $400 to DIY, and a lot of it was stuff that was "not perfect, but fine for a 200,000 mile car" (especially one being driven by sedate senior citizens - no track days in that car's future). If you're looking at cars in the vintage and price range of a 1G MDX, I'd say finding one with ZERO annoyances is kind of like hunting a unicorn... you might find one, but you'll probably pay dearly for it. I wouldn't let a minor RMS drip deter me at all if I liked the car... YMMV.
 

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2001 MDX Touring with 164k miles and Original transmission. I had the same concerns with trans issues being a know thing. No issues here and yes the every other oil change is your best option to change the ATF fluid.

Acura dealer wanted me to spend $8500 on my $3500 MDX.... “haha” I just laughed. One of the items was the RMS. I purchased a product ATP AT-205 Re-Seal, that worked. I had a noticeable leak of oil on my oil pan and passenger side by the oil filter. (Know oil pump seal leaking). Now there is a very miner amount and I really need to do a good cleaning to see if it is just some of what was there before. Pan looks dry. $10 on Amazon.
2D0A366B-A9D9-48A2-876D-C3CA5CC9321B.jpeg

As for the timing belt, since it was replaced at 78k miles, it should be good for another 60k miles, so at 165k to 175k.

If (when) you buy it, then just replace all the fluids, that way YOU know when they where last replaced. Piece of mind and cheap insurance. Then from that point, follow the maintenance intervals to change them when they are needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The seller said he was going to keep the car and observe if oil leaks within the week. I just don’t want to purchase the car knowing there is a oil leak and I’ll have to deal with it sooner or later. My wife feels that if purchasing a used car, best to purchase without having to perform any work. Yes I’d something comes up within 6 months to a year we can deal with that later but given this annoyance even if small leak, I know it would be in the back of my mind that it’s going to be a fairly large expense to take care of.
 
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