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I took my wife's 2001 MDX into Pikes Peak Acura (not the original dealer) in Colorado Springs yesterday for it's 15,000 mile service. Upon dropping it off, they had me sign the work order, which had an estimated total of $187. I asked why so much for an oil change. The owner's manual suggests changing the oil/oil filter, rotating the tires and various visual inspections at 15,000 miles. They were adding in a change of VTM differential fluids, something I had done at 7,500 miles, and something not suggested again until 30,000 miles. I declined the VTM service. When I picked the vehicle up, the receipt clearly stated "Owner Declined VTM Differential Service". I asked to have the line omitted from the receipt because the owner's manual does not require it until 30,000 miles. They said, "because you live in Colorado, you are automatically on the Severe Driving Maintenance Schedule which requires VTM service at 15,000 miles".

This vehicle does not have a trailer hitch, my wife drives it 20 miles a day round trip to work, some weekend interstate trips to the ski resorts, Southern Colorado weather is neither extreme cold, nor extreme hot.

Finally, here are my questions: Can Acura or an Acura Dealership slap this label on my vehicle or me? Would their claim stand up in a warranty dispute? Does the rear differential VTM do anything 99% of the time on this mostly front wheel drive vehicle? Would I have purchased this vehicle had I known of this limitation on its Colorado stamina? (Probably not).

Thanks for your help!

DRP
 

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dougiefour said:
I took my wife's 2001 MDX into Pikes Peak Acura (not the original dealer) in Colorado Springs yesterday for it's 15,000 mile service. Upon dropping it off, they had my sign the work order, which had an estimated total of $187. I asked why so much for an oil change. The owner's manual suggests changing the oil/oil filter, rotating the tires and various visual inspections at 15,000 miles. They were adding in a change of VTM differential fluids, something I had done at 7,500 miles, and something not suggested again until 30,000 miles. I declined the VTM service. When I picked the vehicle up, the receipt clearly stated "Owner Declined VTM Differential Service". I asked to have the line omitted from the receipt because the owner's manual does not require it until 30,000 miles. They said, "because you live in Colorado, you are automatically on the Severe Driving Maintenance Schedule which requires VTM service at 15,000 miles".

This vehicle does not have a trailer hitch, my wife drives it 20 miles a day round trip to work, some weekend interstate trips to the ski resorts, Southern Colorado weather is neither extreme cold, nor extreme hot.

Finally, here are my questions: Can Acura or an Acura Dealership slap this label on my vehicle or me? Would their claim stand up in a warranty dispute? Does the rear differential VTM do anything 99% of the time on this mostly front wheel drive vehicle? Would I have purchased this vehicle had I known of this limitation on its Colorado stamina? (Probably not).

Thanks for your help!

DRP
Doug-

All your questions are EXCELLENT! However...when the folks at Honda/Acura did R&D on the driving in HARSH conditions to test the limitations of this vehicle and to also build the vehicle around these harsh conditions...A lot it was for ICE, Snow and cold seasons...Hence that is why the VTM systems proven to be such an outstanding 4WD system in the MDX.

Your Owners manual CLEARLY states that the VTM fluid be changed at 7500 and every 30K. Acura tested the Acura in Japan winter climate...and let me tell you...IT IS MUCH MUCH worse than Colorado's, they also tested in New York, Canada and Alaska. So for the dealer to tell you that ....I think I smell..."Lets make a few extra bucks from this guy..."

Why fix somethin that ain't broken???

Well you got my drift..
 

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I know in my area they consider it severe(cold winters, hot summers and tons of stop and go traffic) in the owners manual it says if it is severe then to change it at 7500 then at 15000. I also read that if the vtm fluid is not changed at the specified intervals it will void your warranty on the differential. Guys personally i dont believe in if it aint broke dont fix it, we are driving around in $40,000 autos and for the extra $50-$75 for the vtm to be changed i think its really foolish to jeopardize your warranty.
 

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Dougiefour, yes, the VTM-4 diff does something: every time you start off from a standstill, it engages to help you get "off the mark." I agree with pv22clif -- don't jeopardize your warranty for a few bucks. My X is almost never going to see severe service, but I treat it to the severe schedule anyway, just because I KNOW what good maintenance does for a car. 'Course, I tend to keep a car for 8-10 years, which puts more importance on maintenance than would trading every 3 or 4 years.
 

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dougiefour,

I would call Acura HQ to get a clarification if the dealer and the manual recommendations differs. In this way, you know for sure which maintenance schedule to follow.

Good lucks,:)
 

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Do ONLY what must be done.

Dealerships will always try to get you to the point of "oh, what the heck it's only a few bucks" They just thrive on that mentality. Pretty soon, you're spending twice what you should.

However, YOU might be screwed:

the manual states that operation MAINLY in freezing temperatures

and

MAINLY on muddy, dusty or de-iced roads

In CO you may meet the "mainly" (51% of the time) criteria.

Oh, it will not AUTOMATICALLY void the warranty, but it will make it so that you'd need to sue Acura and wind up having to make them prove the failure to change the fluid was the cause of the failure.

Why not do it yourself? Takes 20 minutes and $20 worth of stuff. Don't even need to jack the car up...Keep records and receipts.

Ard

PS Since they put it in the computer, I'd have then do the next change. Then do your own (or find a mechanic who will do it for the 10 minutes it will take them.
 

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CORRECTION

Hey, I just reread the severe service definition.

It only states that freezing conditions modify the 'short driving distance'

"...if you drive your vehicle Mainly under one or more of the following conditions: Driving less than 5 miels per trip, or, in freezing temperatures, driving less than 10 miles per trip."

it also claims "mountainous conditions" are severe service.... Is Denver "mountainous"? No, unless you drive ouside of denver...


FINALLY, there is a "*3" under the VTM4 fluid service. This footnote further defines the severe service for the VTM4 fluid. It appears to ONLY apply a severe schedule if "you use your vehicle for off-highway driving, trailer towing, or mainly in stop and go driving. Otherwise, use the fluid replacement schedule in the Maintenance Scehdule for Normal Conditions"

So, endpoint is EVEN IF the severe service applys to your car, the VTM4 Service has a different criteria for severe service...

I'd ask the dealership to explain why they ask for something other than what Acura requires.


BTW, every time I've drained the VTM4 the fluid is pristine, no discoloring... heck, it is indistinguishable from the stuff I put back in...

Ard
 

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how to change diff fluid

Can someone describe the process of changing this fluid?

Specifically, how do you get the new fluid in? Is there a special funnel to fill it?

Any help in this area would be very much appreciated.
 

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We bought our MDX from Acura of Newport (Rhode Island) since they had a much shorter waiting list than the Boston dealers. They are about 90 miles from our house. The sales person told me it was mandatory to bring the MDX in for oil changes every 2500 miles because we live in "severe conditions". I asked for his definition of "severe conditions" and he said "hot in the summer and cold in the winter". Hopefully nobody believes this nonsense. They are the same people charging $220 for rear mudflaps that I can buy from Tim for $50. IMO, you can go to 30,000 miles for the VTM fluid change based on the driving conditions you described. As for oil, I change it myself every 5K with Mobil1, which is often enough regardless of conditions.
 

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runner-

Look in 'maintenance'. It's been covered pretty well.

You need a little hand pumpt to fill it- fits into the top of the VTM4 bottle (just screws in place of the cap, standard size, nothing special- pick it up at any autoparts store)

Take out the two plugs using JUST a 3/8 inch drive extension (no socket nor special driver needed). After it drains, put a new washer on the drain plug, torque it back in.
Fill, replace the fill plug, done.

Paul-

That attitude will void your warranty, period. Actually, any claim you make Acura will deny claiming it was not properly maintained. You;ll need to 'prove' the failure to follow the manufacturers recommendation did NOT cause the problem. Your attorney fees will exceed the repair costs. Acura will have won.

Although I agree it would 'probably' be OK, you should be prepared to foot your own repair bills.

Ard
 
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