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There's been a lot of discussion on what constitutes 'severe service' and what 'maintenance schedule' must be followed, especially as it applies to the VTM-4 fluid changes.

(All this applies to the 2001 model- I don't know what is in the 2002 manual)

In reading the manual, it defines "severe Conditions" as:

"..if you drive your vehicle MAINLY under one or more of the following conditions:
Driving less than 5 miles (or 10 miles in freezing temperatures) per trip
Driving in extremely hot [over 90oF] conditions
Extensive idling or long periods of stop and go driving
Trailer towing, driving with a roof top carrier, or driving in mountainous conditions."

(Now by MAINLY I take it to be 50% of the TIME (not mileage))...

OK, but then the maual goes on to state that SPECIFICALLY, FOR THE VTM4 FLUID CHANGE, you should follow the "severe service" only if: "you use the vehicle for off-highway driving, trailer towing, or mainly in stop and go driving. OTHERWISE, USE THE FLUID REPLACEMENT SCHEDULE IN THE MAINTENANCE SCEDHULE FOR NORMAL CONDITIONS."

It is important to note that the usual conditions for 'severe service' do not ALL apply to the VTM4: hot temperatures and mountainous conditions DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY trigger more frequent VTM4 service.

Here is how I read it: If you meet the conditions for severe service, you then need to ask yourself: Do you-

Tow?
Drive Off Highway?
Drive mainly in stop-and-go?

if the answer is Yes to any one, then follow the severe service schedule.

I was looking at Acura's TSM on this, and saw that the TSB didn't make this distinction (or at least I missed it) I spoke to Acura customer service, who stated that the TSB only defined the schedules, and the manual was correct: the VTM4 does have a bit of a different criteria than the other items for when it needs severe conditons maintenance schedules.

However, there is NO confusion over the need to change the break-in fluid at 7500 (figure between 6500-7500).

So, the point of splitting these hairs so finely?

You may not want to waste money changing perfectly good fluid. If you don't, you should not be intimidated by the $ervice writer$ that make you feel as if you are neglecting the vehicle.

You will also have a legal leg to stand on should they claim you didn't follow maintenace schedules- many dealerships are misreading this particular fact (their software doesn't allow different schedules for different parts, plus they have a vested interest in more frequent maintenance.)

For what it is worth, I find it easier to change the vtm4 fluid than to do an oil and filter change. Much easier.

Ard

PS THis means that when Sacramento area Acura dealers claim that the severe schedule applies because the summer is over 90 degrees most days, or when the Denver area dealer claims it is 'mountainous' so severe service applies, and the VTM4 must be changed, they are not always correct.
 
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