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The new design is wayyyyyy better... Instead or relying on the bevel spring to keep the tension between the ATF Warmer and the ATF Inlet/Outlet threads the new design drops the Bevel Spring altogether, The new design incorporates a second flange that is only job is to secure the ATF Warmer firmly in place, The 2nd nut is to align the ATF Inlet/Outlet. The OEM Design is inferior in every single way and it has that fatal flaw (Bevel Spring rusts), The Denso Aftermarket unit is updated in this regard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
The new design is wayyyyyy better... Instead or relying on the bevel spring to keep the tension between the ATF Warmer and the ATF Inlet/Outlet threads the new design drops the Bevel Spring altogether, The new design incorporates a second flange that is only job is to secure the ATF Warmer firmly in place, The 2nd nut is to align the ATF Inlet/Outlet. The OEM Design is inferior in every single way and it has that fatal flaw (Bevel Spring rusts), The Denso Aftermarket unit is updated in this regard.
Is there any chance that the new OEM radiator we can buy now has been updated to this design as well? I am always wondering why Acura did not make that bevel spring stainless steel? Then it is a lot safer. We should have a 2nd gen MDX radiator fail compilation so that everyone knows about this potential risk.
 

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I dunno if Acura updated the SKU on the OG Rad and to find out you have to shell out 400 bucks for a new OEM radiator so... Who is going to be the guinea pig?
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
It was not easy to put this bolt on the corner of the headlight back on. So I used a hand saving tool for oil change to do it from a side hole.


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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
I finally put everything back together, drove a couple of miles, nothing strange going on. In total, I took me about 2 days to do it, including studying schirmich's note and writing online. No helper and no jacking up or ramps. I did not work during night.

But I didn't work smart enough. I spent about 8 hours just to take off and install back on the two hose clamps and the 4 bolts at the bottom. As I mentioned earlier, the two hose clamps can be dealt with a lot more intelligently. For the four bolts, it's A LOT more difficult to install than to take off, especially the two in the corners. If anyone plan to do this later, do yourself a favor and at least try to remove the fans together with the radiator. If not, be willing to not install the two corner bolts. It is not worth it. The radiator will stay put with the other three bolts. If you are dumb and persistent like me, you definitely need a flexible magnetic tool like I used in the previous post. It took me more than one hour to manage to thread the driver's side corner bolt on and finished it off with a shallow 10mm 1/4 socket on a 3 inch extension. It really is that hard.

If I have to do it next time and be willing to skip the two corner bottom bolts, I think I can finish in less than 8 hours, or even faster. Mechanics can do this even quicker. As alluded by bluepill, they'll simply cut any hose in the way and get fan and rad out ASAP. I highly suspect that AcuraAddicted's mechanic replaced the hoses not because they were bad. But because it saves time. For a guy who knows what he is doing, 3 or 4 hours is possible. Best luck to the rest of you guys in the future, adios!

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·

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8 hours is not bad.. But I think a lot of that time was added due to the extra steps (Removing the bumper and headlights, etc).. I did 4 hour straight back to back (My MDX sits outside my home and I had it jacked up so I could not let it sit overnight) but I did some research and planned my route before tackling it.

I do hope my DIY helped you somehow to do it better/faster… But I digress, This is not a DIY I recommend.. Better to pay someone to do it :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Finishing it without taking bumper off is a pro job. Some DIYer might not be able to finish. By taking it off, the difficulty level of the hardest part of the job is lowered. So basically using time to trade off skills. Each person can evaluate his skillset and choose what's best for him.

I was thinking what is a fair price for such a job? Dealer will charge $1200+. How much for a reputable indy shop? $300? That's $500 to $600 before tax. If a family man has nothing urgent to do in a weekend, I would say go for it. $300 can buy you a nice set of DeWalt or Milwaukee tools, with enough left for a case of IPA and a nice piece of ribeye

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Any reputable shop will ask 4 hours minimum probably because they can do it in 3..
According to Honda this is a 6 hour job so they probably can do it in 3-4.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Any reputable shop will ask 4 hours minimum probably because they can do it in 3..
According to Honda this is a 6 hour job so they probably can do it in 3-4.
Oh, just realized that the $1200 quote includes a $500 radiator. So $700 for 6 hour is about $120/hr. This is roughly right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
When replacing radiators, it is almost inevitable that many plastic clips and push pins will be broken. Here are the part numbers. Using part numbers to buy from eBay is the most economic way to go here.

1 A small clip. The clip to hang headlight. Fender (Inner) - Acura (91512-SX0-003). This is also used to attach front splash shield to bumper/frame.
2 A big clip. The clip to hang front bumper from below Bumper Face - Acura (91503-SZ5-003). This is the same clip that attach front splash shield to bumper and frame.
3 A big and long clip. The clip to attach grille to bumper Clip B, Bumper - Acura (91506-S9A-003)
4 Another small clip. The clip to attach front bulkhead cover Clip A, Bumper - Acura (91503-SZ3-003). This is the same clip that attach lower engine cover to frame.

2 & 4 are relatively strong. The others are weak. But you don't really need to touch the 3rd type.

Also when replenishing ATF, use this harbor freight funnel set. The smallest one is just narrow enough to be inserted into the super narrow ATF dipstick tube. This can save quite a bit of hassle after a long fight.
https://www.harborfreight.com/4-piece-funnel-set-744.html

The other useful tools would be a 4 inch long nose vise grip pliers and a small flash light with a magnet on the back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Finally found some time today to open up the old radiator. There are three levels of protection to separate coolant from ATF. Level 1 is the small oring at the tip of the outlet. I doubt it is very useful because its diameter seems smaller than the inside channels. The 2nd level is some pipe dope or pipe sealant. The 3rd one is the key. The big nut is fixed on the outlet tube. The tube and nut have to turn together. The male end will thread into the female end on the ATF heat exchanger inside coolant bottom tank. Once tightened, the big nut and the washer and the rusty bevel spring will securely attach the heat exchanger to the inside of the bottom tank to provide structural rigidity.


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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
I can spin the washer and bevel spring off the outlet. So we can have a better shot. I also flipped the bevel spring over so that you can see that it really is not a normal washer.

Next we can have a good look at the spring after I cleaned it up a bit. I can see the side toward tank is still looking good. Trouble is the side away from tank and the area that is not covered by the big nut. Once those edges get destroyed by rust, the whole thing will start to flex and strawberry milk shake will start to brew. Looking at my spring, I might have jumped the gun a little, but whatever. It's all done.


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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
Looking at the new Denso design, I am really interested in how it works. If someone has the chance to open it up, please send us some pictures! I hope the heat exchanger's female end will extend outside of the coolant bottom tank and the bottom big nut will fix it to the tank. Then the top big nut will attach the male end to the female end. So unless the exchanger is broken, ATF cannot mix with coolant!
 

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The new designe has a single hollow and threaded (Male + Female) nut that secures the ATF Warmer by itself (You can undo the ATF Tube without releasing the ATF Warmer). Then the ATF Tube has a flange and a nut threads into that securing nut so it can rotate freely and be pointed where you need it to.

The fatal flaw of the original design is that the ATF Tube worked as the securing nut as well.. Problem is? that tube had to point to the exact location it needed to be for the ATF Lines. This meant that the ATF Warmer had to have the exact threads so it will max out at the angle the tube was needed to be pointed.. THIS WASNT THE CASE. The threaded portion would actually end with the tube aiming at the road or a wrong angle for the tube so Denso or Honda or a very Stupid Engineer added that Bevel Spring so that the Tube could be pointed where it needed to and the bevel spring made the sufficient tension for the tube to remain in place and the threads tight enough to avoid any leaks....

Once that bevel spring fails? yup there wasn´t enough tension to keep the ATF and Coolant away form each other as it would leak from the threads = Bye bye transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
For the new design, there is also a dark washer under the 2nd big nut. Is that a washer or another bevel spring? If that is another bevel spring, I don't know what to say.
 

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Its a simple nut + washer holding the ATF warmer into the radiator with the new design.. Simple and effective.
 
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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
Roughly a month after I replaced the radiator, I got a check engine light for 'Check Emission System'. Using an ELM327 adapter and Torque Pro, I retrieved a P2185.



It means Engine coolant temperature sensor 2 circuit high voltage. Searching online shows that it is the sensor on the bottom of the radiator.



So I knew I must have messed up something. From reading online discussion, the most likely source is a bad connection. So I found a picture taken by Skirmich.



Here we can see the sensor is connected to the wire loom at only two points. One is right near the bottom of radiator. It is called ECT sensor 2 connector. One is on the side of the driver's side fan. It is called engine coolant temperature (ECT) sensor 2 subharness connector. It was really hard to reach for the first connector, but I tried to push it and it was there pretty solid. So I turned to the one on the side of the fan and squeezed it together. Here the connectors connected with a click. It was a great feeling to hear that click. So I guess the mystery was solved. Hopefully.

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