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I have a 2005 Acura MDX and over the years the door lock actuators have failed one by one. First I had the driver's side rear actuator replaced then the passenger rear replaced. Now my driver's side front started going bad. As my car has aged, I stopped taking it to the dealer. Basically, I wised up and stopped paying dealer prices for all these repairs. An actuator replacement costs about $50 for OEM but I was paying something like $300 for the dealer to replace it. I decided to do it myself. I greatly benefitted from other posts here and in other forums in figuring out things that went wrong along the way. So I decided to post my experience in case it helps others.

First Step - order the correct part

The door lock actuators are not interchangeable. The front left and right have different part numbers. As an aside, I hate that they label parts as "left and right" since that depends on which way you're looking at the car. FYI, the driver's side is left. A simple search for "actuator" on any Acura OEM parts site will usually come up with diagrams for the doors and lists two actuators.

Actuator Assembly, Door Lock - Acura (72115-S84-A11)
Actuator Assembly, L Front Door Lock - Acura (72155-S84-A11)

The parts diagrams are located under Front or Rear Door Locks - Outer Handle. For example, I looked for my part under "Front Door Locks - Outer Handle for 2005 Acura MDX 5-DOOR." The part needed for the driver's side is "Actuator Assembly, L Front Door Lock - Acura (72155-S84-A11)." Fortunately, that one is clearly labeled for the front left. It's unclear to me whether the other three door lock actuators use the 72115 part. However, looking at Rock Auto I found that they show the Front Left and Rear Left to be the same part and the Front right and Rear Right to be the same part.

You can buy OEM as of the date of this posts for about $47 plus shipping. I searched all the OEM sites online and all of them had similar prices depending on discount coupons. You can also find generic or alternative branded actuators from other sources such A1Auto, RockAuto, and eBay. RockAuto had the best selection and listed "economy" parts and "daily driver" parts. The lowest price I found was about $10.99 up to the OEM price. Replacing the actuator is a little tricky because it resides inside the door where you cannot see the screws so personally, I wouldn't mess around with "economy" parts on this one. I don't want to do this again to save $40.

STEP 2 - watch the video
I want to give credit where it's due. I used a YouTube Video from How to Automotive you can access here. If you follow this video, you should be able to do this job without too many problems. But I will identify some helpful tips since the video had the right door which is a little different than how it will go on the left door (not much but a little).

PROBLEMS

#1
- I had trouble seeing inside the door. I could sorta see inside at an angle and I tried using my phone but it was no ideal. I suggest you get a wireless endoscope to see inside the door. It's another $30 - $40 but helpful. I did manage to do it without one but if I have to do the other side (which I presume will be one day), I'm buying one.

#2 - I had difficulty getting some of the screws out. Specifically, it was the Screw (3X10) - Acura (90141-S84-003). That's #43 in the parts diagram described earlier. These are brass screws and the heads are super soft. I stripped the head on the first one and couldn't get it out. It just wouldn't turn with a screwdriver which I thought was odd since they came out no problem in the video. You can barely see them much less get to them to deal with any leverage. Fortunately, I found this tool called Vampliers from Vampire Tools. I was able to get one same day from Amazon. SAME DAY. It works as advertised and got both screws out. The second one I was able to start with the pliers then get it out the rest of the way with a Phillips head screwdriver. I highly recommend this tool for your toolbox.

However, I needed to put new ones in. The 2nd one I probably could have used again. I assumed since it was just a screw that my local Honda dealer would have one in stock. I drove all the way down there to find out it is a special order piece. Acura dealers (farther away) didn't have them either. I didn't want to wait another week to get an 80 cent screw. I hoped that the description (3x8) actually referred to its measurement. I went to Lowe's got an M3 x 8 screw of the appropriate length. I forgot to get a washer but in my opinion the washers weren't necessary and I didn't use any. The M3 screws worked fine.

#3 - WATCH YOUR CONNECTIONS.

My experience was a little unusual. I put the entire door back together. I have my kid turn the key to ON and start testing everything. Everything is fine then suddenly nothing is working. driver's side window is stuck in the halfway down position and none of the switches operate. What??!!. Ok, so after frustratingly trying to figure out what went wrong. I went to start the car and the whole car lost power for a second causing my nav and radio to ask for codes. Uh-oh. Battery is a problem. I have all LED interior lights so I figured that wasn't the problem. I get my multimeter out and batter is 12.40 volts. Should turnover with that voltage. But it wouldn't. Ok...now I need to get that fixed. So I decided just to take the battery out and take to to the store where I bought it. It's less than a mile down the road so seems easier than putting door back together. They hook up a tester and see that it has 120 AMPS out of a 700 capacity battery. Ok, good choice to pull it out and bring it down as they give me a new battery under warranty.

So I put in the new battery and hooked everything up without putting the door back on. All the power windows went up and down except for the driver's side. When I moved the switch up or down I could hear a distinct clicking sound. Ok, so now what? First I tested all the fuses. Even had my 11 year old daughter double check. All fine. I'm super frustrated by this point and started researching this forum. The common answer was the window regulator and the window motor. Ugh. It was working fine before I started this projected and even worked in the middle. I looked up many times "clicking" or "driver's side window wont roll up or down" and many variations. All of the answers on every forum including this one seem to point to the window regulator and motor. So I'm thinking I need to replace it.

Fortunately, I didn't really want that to be true so I kept researching. I did some more diagnosing and I finally narrowed the clicking sound to a small black box on the driver's side door. That box contains an electronics board that apparently controls the auto window feature for the driver's side. It is the Control Unit, Power Window - Acura (72216-S3V-A01). I do more research on that. I found one post where somebody diagnosed that as a problem. That didn't make me feel good or confident that is the problem.

So I had to stop working on the car at that point and spend the day with my kids someplace. I made my wife drive there and back later so I could research more in the car. So I finally find this thread on a Honda Pilot forum with the same problem and they say the courtesy light in the door must be plugged in and working otherwise the driver's window wont work. That person described exactly the same problem I had. I had been testing without the courtesy light plugged in. That's why everything else worked but not the driver's window. So I get home and plug everything in and everything works including the driver's window. Eureka! So at that point I'm thinking I lucked out and found the answer online. I got to bed since it's late. Next day I go ahead and put the door back together thinking everything should work. I don't test anything, I just put the door back together. Ready to go and Driver's side window doesn't work. OK, how is this happening???

At this point, I suspect there is a wiring issue. Question is where? So I take the door apart again. I then decide to unscrew the power window control unit from its mount just like I had it the previous day when everything worked. I plug it all back in and everything works again. Ok, now I'm positive it's a wiring issue. Something is crimped or pulled just enough out of the socket to lose contact when I put the door together. And I'm thinking its the control unit. the wiring to that is almost dead on 90 degree angle. Sure enough, its the connector to the power control unit. When I screw it into its mounted location, the window stops working. If I relieve just a little bit of tension on the wire at the connector, it works. Problem confirmed. So I use a probe to push all the wires into the connector and then try to install the unit so there is a little less tension on it. It works. Each step as I install the door I check everything with the door opened and closed (requires wife to help at this point). Everything works. Finally got it back together. My wife then says "good job honey, you got the car fixed. It only took you three days."

#4) There is a security feature on the driver's side door that plugs into courtesy light wiring harness (red blinking dot on top of the door lock plunger). It's hidden behind the white paper. Make sure it's connected as you can't see it and may not notice it. I had disconnected it and found that out as I was diagnosing previously mentioned issue.

#5) Acura has a safety mechanism that wont allow you to lock door with door open and key in ignition. So when testing door lock actuator after install, make sure you test it with door closed or with key not in ignition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
P.S. Some people wonder why I don't buy a new car. It's a 2005 Acura with 131K miles on it. It's in fantastic shape and people are shocked when I tell them its a 2005 because it's in such great shape. And when you can work on it yourself here and there, you save a TON of money.
 
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