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Discussion Starter #61
I called the dealer where we purchased our MDX (their Acura office and service is in their Honda dealership). Going to see what they recommend because I have a huge feeling the local Acura dealer didn't do the job correctly.

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There's one other thing you might want to consider.... this engine uses Honda's flawed Variable Cylinder Management system (VCM for short). It is aggressive and this transmission was never designed to work with it. I firmly believe that a lot of the eccentricities of this drivetrain are due to differences in torque at light throttle and/or late disengagement of the VCM system. I bought a VCM Tuner 2, which basically tricks the ECU into leaving VCM off entirely. This results in about a 1MPG drop in fuel economy, primarily on the highway. It also prevents oil burning, which has been a problem in this engine for a long time now (Honda's even been sued over it).

When I first installed the VCM Tuner, it largely mitigated the harshness, particularly at light throttle and made driving the car much more bearable. I uninstalled it when I went to have the dealer do the TSB. I can still feel some of the shuddering on occasion and certainly late shifts or delayed throttle response that are indicative of the VCM being enabled, but the shifting issues definitely seem to be completely mitigated, at least on my '19.

If you're not concerned with fuel economy and you like better throttle response, this might be the answer you've been seeking. I've heard more than one person on here say that it's resolved shifting issues in older models with the ZF9. It will likely prolong the life of the entire drivetrain as well. Just something to think about.

It's a helluva lot cheaper than having the dealer do a drain and fill too.... VCMTUNER II - Advanced - 2007+ for Honda Acura 3.5L I-VTEC Disable VCM / ECO mode
 

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There's one other thing you might want to consider.... this engine uses Honda's flawed Variable Cylinder Management system (VCM for short). It is aggressive and this transmission was never designed to work with it. I firmly believe that a lot of the eccentricities of this drivetrain are due to differences in torque at light throttle and/or late disengagement of the VCM system. I bought a VCM Tuner 2, which basically tricks the ECU into leaving VCM off entirely. This results in about a 1MPG drop in fuel economy, primarily on the highway. It also prevents oil burning, which has been a problem in this engine for a long time now (Honda's even been sued over it).

When I first installed the VCM Tuner, it largely mitigated the harshness, particularly at light throttle and made driving the car much more bearable. I uninstalled it when I went to have the dealer do the TSB. I can still feel some of the shuddering on occasion and certainly late shifts or delayed throttle response that are indicative of the VCM being enabled, but the shifting issues definitely seem to be completely mitigated, at least on my '19.

If you're not concerned with fuel economy and you like better throttle response, this might be the answer you've been seeking. I've heard more than one person on here say that it's resolved shifting issues in older models with the ZF9. It will likely prolong the life of the entire drivetrain as well. Just something to think about.

It's a helluva lot cheaper than having the dealer do a drain and fill too.... VCMTUNER II - Advanced - 2007+ for Honda Acura 3.5L I-VTEC Disable VCM / ECO mode
I will look into that. Is there any step-by-step instructions on how to install it?

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Discussion Starter #63
I will look into that. Is there any step-by-step instructions on how to install it?

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Yep. Included with the package or you can watch a YouTube video. I think it’s linked on the site. Works with all Pilot/Odyssey/MDX models with this powertrain.
 

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I took the MDX SHAWD yesterday and they updated the software (TSB 20-015), I could tell the difference how it shifts. It feels the car does not lurch forward or hesitate on lower rpm. My question is, what software version is the old and new, is there a way we can look on the nav screen what new version they installed?
 

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Looks like I may need the VCM delete eventually, but the 2nd Acura dealership told me that everything is fine. So far now, I neared the 500 mile mark on the this update and it seems to have worked. No harsh upshifting and no jerkiness.
 

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Looks like I may need the VCM delete eventually, but the 2nd Acura dealership told me that everything is fine. So far now, I neared the 500 mile mark on the this update and it seems to have worked. No harsh upshifting and no jerkiness.
Hi datechboss, how does your MDX 17 drives now after the software update? I’m thinking to buy a 2017 too
 

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Looks like I may need the VCM delete eventually, but the 2nd Acura dealership told me that everything is fine. So far now, I neared the 500 mile mark on the this update and it seems to have worked. No harsh upshifting and no jerkiness.
Hi and was the updates free of charge?
 

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Hi datechboss, how does your MDX 17 drives now after the software update? I’m thinking to buy a 2017 too
Actually it does after the update. You will definitely feel some harsh upshifts hear and there, but it shouldn't be a major issue.

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So did they also replaced the transmission warmer that is leaking fluid. And how many miles you have driven since the tsb update?
Never knew my 2017 MDX ever leaked transmission fluid! (My MDX is parked in garage and I never seen transmission fluid leaking from it at all). So far I have put 1000 miles since the TSB up-date (it would have been anywhere between 2k-3k miles if this was a normal year). It was giving harsh up-shift symptoms at around the 400 mile mark. The other Acura dealer inspected it and it was clear, which means this is the behaviour of the transmission.
 

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Never knew my 2017 MDX ever leaked transmission fluid! (My MDX is parked in garage and I never seen transmission fluid leaking from it at all). So far I have put 1000 miles since the TSB up-date (it would have been anywhere between 2k-3k miles if this was a normal year). It was giving harsh up-shift symptoms at around the 400 mile mark. The other Acura dealer inspected it and it was clear, which means this is the behaviour of the transmission.
Thank you so much for your replies. I appreciate it👍
 

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Had high hopes for this TSB finally making the MDX feel like a 50K vehicle.. but read the latest few recent comments and feedback.

Is this a fail, or is it worth getting this done?
 

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Had high hopes for this TSB finally making the MDX feel like a 50K vehicle.. but read the latest few recent comments and feedback.

Is this a fail, or is it worth getting this done?
Its worth getting it done. You will feel the hiccups here and there once in a while. So far after my complaint and the 2nd dealer checking, I have not experienced any of the harsh upshifts.
 

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It works best in sport mode, nearly all issues including cold starts are gone. Normal works much better than before but there can still be some gear hunting in freeway slowdowns for example and the first two shifts from cold start (left overnight) are more noticeable.Comfort makes the steering too loose for me so I have not tried that.
 

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Test drove the 18 last week without software update. Transmission was horrible. But after told them to do the update and test drove the same car again 2 days later I purchased it. It’s smooth and really fun to drive now.
 

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Discussion Starter #78
Test drove the 18 last week without software update. Transmission was horrible. But after told them to do the update and test drove the same car again 2 days later I purchased it. It’s smooth and really fun to drive now.
Keep in mind that the first 500 miles after a transmission re-learn procedure (part of the TSB update) will generally be pretty good. This is a common theme for the ZF9 and is usually the go-to action for most dealers in order to placate customers. They may not even have done the full TSB as the re-learn is easy enough to do at-will and requires no special equipment or even pulling the car into a service bay (thereby eating into valuable shop time).

I'd be wary of any used MDX with this transmission, but especially so if it has exhibited obvious problems. In my opinion, the excess wear/damage has already occurred and this will likely affect long-term reliability. It may drive fine right now, but given the track record of the ZF9, I'd say it will return at some point.
 

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From what I've read the ZF9 is not a mechanically unreliable transmission. I have not heard of these transmissions failing outside of the coolant contamination issue with some 2016 models, for which Acura has extended the warranty for those affected vehicles.
My understanding is that the ZF9 just shifts poorly for some owners, and this thread so far has indicated that the TSB 20-015 software update has resolved almost all issues for those who previously complained about the transmission performance.
 

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Discussion Starter #80
From what I've read the ZF9 is not a mechanically unreliable transmission. I have not heard of these transmissions failing outside of the coolant contamination issue with some 2016 models, for which Acura has extended the warranty for those affected vehicles.
My understanding is that the ZF9 just shifts poorly for some owners, and this thread so far has indicated that the TSB 20-015 software update has resolved almost all issues for those who previously complained about the transmission performance.
Failures in the ZF9 are pretty widespread. Just Google "ZF9 transmission failure" or "ZF9 class action". FCA has already had to replace thousands of them. They didn't do that out of good will.
 
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