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Discussion Starter · #541 ·
2019 Resto 1.7: Tensioner Pulley

While replacing the thermostat, my mechanic found out the tensioner pulley did not spin smoothly. By luck, one of the mysteries was solved. This is the root cause of the increased engine vibration I have been experiencing since December.

Symptoms

- Idle vibration with a distinctively repetitive pattern.
- Noisy engine.
- A little lag in engine response when blipping throttle.

The idle vibration is now as smooth as when the engine mounts were replaced. The engine also revs more easily since obviously there is less friction.

I changed the rear passenger hub as well, and together with the new tensioner pulley the car glides noticeable longer when off-throttle in D. The rear end also feels more stable, so I assume the rear hub did need changing.

The car certainly runs better, I felt like it gained 10hp. But not all is well. I *STILL* hear bearing noise, so there might still be something. But I am happy to be back on the right track, fixing real issues and keeping the car in good shape.

One thing is for sure, the restoration/repair is certainly not done yet. There is another episode brewing about the whistle noise from the brake booster area……

EDIT: Actually the wheel noise seems louder after the Timken rear hub replacement lol
I will just enjoy the new-found smoothness for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #544 ·
2019 Resto 1.8: New Brake Booster + Check Valve Workaround



Symptoms


  • Intermittent whistle noise from brake booster at idle after pressing the brake pedal about 80%+ deep.
  • Noise goes away, or change its tune, with any throttle or brake pedal input.
  • Booster does not keep vaccum overnight.
  • Rpm drops by about 50-100rpm when pressing the brake pedal all the way in at idle.
  • Brake sometimes feels spongy and less powerful in the 80-100% brake pedal travel.


The issue was pretty obvious in the booster-check valve. The old check valve passed the simple blow test, but because oem booster is pricey my mechanic tried replacing the check valve first. The oem vaccum tube/check valve assembly was on backorder with no ETA, so he used his 300ZX check valve to connect as a replacement. The inlet/outlet diameter happened to match TSX's vaccum tube.



Brake felt better after the new check valve and the whistle noise was harder to re-produce, but the noise still occurred a few times. So a new booster was installed.

The brake feels much more progressive after the new booster - the pedal travel required to achieve the same brake power seems to increase by 2x. I am not sure I like it, but at least I no longer need to worry about the brake not working when I need it most.
 
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Discussion Starter · #545 ·
What’s wrong with Acura logistics lately?

TSX brake booster hose on backorder, fine, since the part does not fail often.

Current-gen MDX windshield on backorder with no ETA? Unbelievable...
 

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Discussion Starter · #546 ·
2019 Resto 1.9: Front-Left Shock Absorber Went Bad

Symptoms

- Weak low speed damping. The driver-side rocks, as if the car only rides on spring.
- Noticeable difference in damping response when pushing the car down by hand.
- Area below the top cap/seal is a little wet.

Most likely something went wrong with the MSV (micro-speed valve), because otherwise the shock still responds well to damping force adjustment, and the damping feels OK for larger/sharper bumps.

You might ask why not buy a new set of coilovers? I thought about switching to ST, but the kit is not readily available, and need to be shipped from Europe. The kit also needs top mounts, and I don’t know wether to go Type-S bushing or not. All considered, rebuilding CST makes sense to me - it costs less, takes about the same time, and with a known outcome.

My CST shocks were re-valved in 2015, so seem earlier to go bad. But then I drove the car very hard in 1st half of 2018, and put crazy load on the front left corner. So actually this episode is not a surprise to me. Besides, the constant small vibrations may also wear out the shock one way or another.
 

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Discussion Starter · #548 ·
Around $150 I think. Rebuild is just $120.
 

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Discussion Starter · #549 ·
RDX A-Spec SH-AWD

This one has to be a longer read....

With CST front shocks sent back to Tein for inspection/overhaul, the oem front coilovers were called into duty after many years of sleeping. I was curious how the wheel noise would respond to the change, and unfortunately the noise and vibration got significantly worse with the soft oem suspension. I am now inclined to believe the issue is either in the bushings or axle. Not able to identify the root cause quickly, I feel like the car is destroying itself if I continue running it as a daily.

I have to find out the source of the problem, but in a less time-pressured way. That means taking TSX out of daily duty.

The car is too close to my heart to say goodbye now, so the question I asked was, which car compliments TSX the best?

Long story short, after Model 3 was vetoed, M340 feels too excessive/purposeful, and 330 feels good but not great, I stayed in the Acura family and got myself a RDX A-Spec.

For those of you in the market for RDX, my deal was 4.8k off MSRP, including the $1k loyalty credit. Maybe there is more room, because apparently A-Spec models with red seats do not sell well in Bay Area. All A-Spec on the lot were made in 11/2018, and mostly blue color. In comparison, RDX average day-to-sell is 40-50.

My car has high mileage for a new one, but somehow, the powertrain feels smoother than the almost-new RDX I tried before. Maybe just the nature of break-in. The power flows with NA engine response, the AT mostly works behind the scene. Now I understand why the powertrain, especially the engine, is praised.

A few standout items that nudged me towards RDX instead of 330:
- Audio system is killer, punches way way above its class. BMW's "Hi-Fi" system might as well be branded Lo-Fi.
- Excellent storage.
- The car has traditional Honda/Acura virtues, but now feels like BMW- instead of just Honda+.
- Feels like I get more car for similar or slightly less money.

Things I like about RDX so far:
- Audio, yes I know have praised it, but on RDX this really is studio-level sound stage and precision.
- It seems like my FlashPro can be re-used on RDX!
- Ventilated seats!
- Pano roof! But apparently it does not have safety film…
- K20C seems to be as powerful as J35, when the 10AT is in the right gear and when in turbo.
- The car feels balanced, and good enough for everything. Other than brakes, I do not feel like I need to have Type-S for commuting and shuttling kids.
- The tail is responsive, and follows the front surprising well. The front grip feels not great, though I haven’t pushed the car hard enough yet to see if it is suspension tuning or just tires.
- I like the TrueTouch interface more than I thought I would, and the infotainment manages to hide it’s slower speed well with smooth UI transition.
- This is a happy car, but I do not know how to explain it other than say it is easygoing.

Things I do not like:
- Tire noise with the 20” A-Spec tire is loud for a new generation car…
- The LCD screen in the instrument panel is not good. Small texts are pixelated, and the info is placed too low. Acura decided the upper area is reserved for ACC, LKAS, and boost/g meters, and I do not understand why.
- The computer for Infotainment already feels under-powered. Infotainment also has a few bugs.
- Voice recognition is clearly based on Alexa, but is quite slow, like the connection is on 56kbps, and with mixed result. Address is fine, but saying place names rarely work, even though I can find those places using search on the infotainment.
- The A-spec seats are not as comfortable as they should be.
- Even though steering and handling feel good, the chassis feedback feel more synthetic and computerized than 3G MDX.
- Brake is useable, but a bit vague and non-linear. This is probably where Type-S is going to see a significant improvement by using fixed calipers. In fact, I believe the reason A-aspec uses 20” 255 tires is because those will be used by Type-S. So I am hopeful that Type-S caliper/rotor can be dropped into A-spec.
- Other than audio and interior, the car is still not at tier-1 level. For example, chassis stiffness feels less than 330, ride quality is missing the well-damped feeling in the initial response, and in-car tech is at least one generation behind BMW. But then I am getting BMW- for the price of Honda+, so not much to complain really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #551 ·
Congrats on your new RDX!
There is no perfect car... That is why we build them ourselves ?

Thanks. That is so true isn’t it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #552 ·
3G RDX vs 1G TSX

Having been rotating between the two cars, I feel they are an interesting combo to have. They are like two flavors of the same everyday meal.

Powertrain

No doubt the RDX is a lot more powerful low-mid range when boosted. The short gearing further spices up the power level. However, there are a few issues.

First is consistency. Mixing in the turbo and 10AT, I am never sure how much power I will get at WOT. When everything works together, there is more than enough torque for daily driving. But other times, power either is not as strong as expected, or comes with a varying level of delay.

Some of it comes from turbo lag, and ironically, some from the short gearing. I find I need to downshift at least two gears to get enough power when cruising at highway speed. There are really too many gears to handle manually, and I wish Acura copy BMW in that the AT will automatically downshift enough gears with one pull of the paddle shifter.

One thing obvious to me is Honda tried to smooth out power delivery of this powertrain, and I feel part of the delayed response is a result of that.

Second issue is the top-end is quite a bit weaker than the mid-range. To me, the strongest power band is between 2.5-5k. Beyond 5k, I would say RDX does not feel as powerful as my TSX. This is understandable, as the torque of RDX drops after 4k, while TSX holds its torque from 4k all the way to 7k.

The RDX powertrain does not shy away from using the whole rev range when being asked, so not having the same urgency up top is a pity.

Lastly, the throttle response. It is a bit sticky in comfort mode, better in Sport mode, and close to my TSX in Sports+. For whatever reason, the throttle response is crispier with the CMBS (auto-brake) system disabled. If I had known about this, I might hesitate buying RDX, because I really like the response without CMBS, but disabling a safety feature to get that is like going backwards.

Handling

Maybe I am asking too much, but RDX by default has too little turn-in grip in the front. Any kind of quick turn-in, and front end just does not keep up. The tires give up just when the fun is about to begin, and produce huge understeer. Switching dynamic mode to Sport+ helps mitigate the understeer significantly (I believe through brake-torquing the front), but the handling is still far from natural.

However, once in a turn, the tires then provide a lot of lateral grip. So I would say the tires are to be blamed, as they need babying to gradually build up grip. But I do see a lot of room for a more aggressive suspension setup, maybe more camber up front and stiffer rear springs/swaybar, to improve turn-in and speed up rotation. Maybe Type-S will bring those and more.

In comparison, my TSX feels lightening quick in turn-in response. It would be Sport 2.5+ on the RDX. The best thing of all is, the response is linear and predictable all the way through a corner.

SH-AWD

Compared to the 2nd-gen SH-AWD in MDX, I find the response time of torque vectoring much improved on the 4th-gen unit. There is significantly less lag between throttle input and dynamic change. The increased rear torque bias is also obvious, as RDX drives more RWD-ish.

SH-AWD really helps RDX match, if not excel, my TSX in terms of powering through a corner. However, my biggest issue with SH-AWD is still the same - I find it hard to navigate the grip limit of a car with SH-AWD.

Unless pushing to the absolute edge of grip limit on both ends, SH-AWD is always able to balance the car. So the limit seems to be changing all the time. I sometimes feel like I am a passenger of SH-AWD....

In comparison, TSX is straightforward and welcoming. It invites me to explore the limit, and guides me with consistent feedback. So once I get there, I know where the limit and thus I learn to control how much grip to use.

The interactions are what makes TSX special, and why driving it is rewarding.

Brakes

I complained about the brakes, and later learned about a TSB available for my RDX that re-programs the electric brake booster to improve brake feel. But over time, I feel the brake is decent, and actually has good stopping power. Maybe due to the wide 255 tires, I find the ABS does not kick in easily, which is a good thing.

My RDX does tend to have brake squeals when the brake is cold. This seems to be a known issue, but does not bother me considering how much squealing the RB kit did on my TSX...

Fuel Economy

This is where RDX falls below its promise. My TSX was about 19-21 MPG. RDX so far is about 18-20 MPG, and that is with lean driving unless otherwise necessary. For reference, the EPA estimation is 21 MPG city.

Funnily, the MPG I get improves with clearer throttle response. That means my MPG is better in Sport mode, and better with CMBS disabled.

Sport+ keeps rev above 2k to spool up turbo, and maybe uses other anti-lag tricks, and does impact MPG slightly.

Build quality

The build quality of my RDX could be better.

From the factory, the difference was probably <2mm, but once I noticed it I could not un-see it. The right-rear door also is not flush with the top portion of the rear quarter panel. These are not as obvious as some Tesla panel mis-alignments, but still noticeable.


My TSX has zero mis-alignments, and the panel gap is consistent throughout, except for the trunk lid which seems to be raised slightly towards the rear.


Overall


I like the simplicity and directness of my TSX, everything just works in harmony.


RDX is a good car, but I do not love it because I feel I need to constantly adjust the car's settings (dynamic mode/idle auto stop/CMBS) to suit different scenarios. I wish RDX has a customized mode, where I can have the VSA always in Sport+, steering in Sport+, throttle mid-way between Sport and Sport+, transmission to Sport, and an option to disable idle stop by default. Adding in some rough edges in the infotainment, sometimes I feel like RDX is a little bit un-finished.


But I have seen the driving dynamic of MDX changing drastically with a SW update of the various control modules. So hopefully, Acura can do the magic again and have a better calibration in the future...
 

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Discussion Starter · #553 · (Edited)
Moog LCA, and More Repairs On The Way

After retiring from daily commuting duty, I relegated the car to short trips because I lost my confidence and anticipated problems to occur. My confidence only grew back many months later, after I replaced the driver-side LCA with Moog replacement part.

There were a few symptoms that brought my attention to the compliance bushing:

1. Unsettled secondary vibration after the car rode over medium-size bumps.
2. During very hard right turns, I felt a pull on the steering wheel from the left wheel at the end of the compression stroke.

The new bushing did solve the two issues. It is stiffer than OE part, so the side benefit is I feel the suspension even more clearly. Ride quality is still good, but I do think the car becomes a little more jumpy during long patch of uneven surfaces.

It is maybe worth mentioning that the old OE compliqaance bushing is only 2.5-year old, and still look useable. As mentioned before, I suspect the rigid collars made my car picky about any imperfection in the suspension.


There is one more repair that I have been thinking about for a few years, but have not done yet. It is to replace the driver-seat leather cover. I had researched a few options, but they are either too costly (1k per front seat), or a deadend because the manufacturer insisted the leather cover for Accord was not compatible with TSX. Thanks to forum member's effort with lseat.com, I found the price for replacing both front seats is only around 1k. Therefore, I will likely go this route eventually because the hole in the driver seat keeps growing....

Having said all of the above, I am a bit unsure how much effort I should continue to pour into this 15-year-old car. RDX reminds me how worry-free driving a new car is - little maintenance and under warranty. At least I have given up on sticking to OE parts, and instead just want to keep the car in driveable state for as little cost as I can. This is not a bad thing, though, because I take every opportunity to drive the car these days, not only because it still brings me joy, but also because I want to achieve the magical 200k mileage with this car.

Really, besides the wheel noise issue that I still haven't found the source, all other issues of the car are more or less well understood and I feel confident can be resolved in a few hundred dollars
 

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You should be able to find a clean/not ripped pair of seats for a $200-$250 all day. I'd say that makes more sense than $1k to re-do the fronts.

Also did I see you took the Stoptech kit off?
 

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Discussion Starter · #555 ·
Ok thanks for the info, but I guess either way won't happen soon - non-essential in these days..

Yeah, I sold the kit because even though sometimes I miss its solid feedback, I like lighter response of the stock setup better. The rotor itself is about ~5lbs heavier than 300mm rotor, basically offset any weight-saving from the wheels. I feel my front coilovers don't handle the extra weights that well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #556 ·
One bright side of the pandemic was that I got to drive TSX weekly where it was set up for - mountain roads. The gold example of social distancing, no?

It was during one of those getaways, that I realized how weight distribution can critically affect the car's response. I had maybe 20-30lbs of books in the trunk in one run, and totally forgot about the payloads on my way there. On the uphill route, the car already felt off - somewhere there was a delay in the tail response. On the downhill run, I ended up being chased by a s2000, so I tried upping the pace, and the disconnection between front and rear got more obvious. If not for the chasing car, I would probably just attributed the delay to my sleepy self. So after I figured out the extra weight, I did another run the next day and confirmed my theory.

The car has been running better with these exercises. The brake became sharper, the engine pulled smoother, and the LCA bushings softened up a little. It teams up nicely with my Hondata-enhanced RDX, and seems to have stabilized in reliability.

 
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Discussion Starter · #557 · (Edited)
Alutec 2-point subframe brace turned into a trunk brace



The brace is deigned to connect the two LCA/subframe mounting points. I never install it as intended because my TSX already scraps the ground occasionally, and adding the bar would only make the matter worse. The brace then sat on the shelf for a long time.

Eventually, I started looking into an alternative application for the bar. Taking cues from the Carbing trunk brace and the box-shape brace on the RealTime TSX, I found the Alutec bar fits perfectly to two existing holes on the trunk floor. Connecting the two points is not as good as the triangular Carbing brace, nor the full-blown RealTime brace, but it should still improve local stiffness. But what does that mean for the car's dynamcis?

Some differences I noticed:
  • I used to feel the front is stiffer than the rear, now they are about equal.
  • The feedback from the rear is more pronounced, transmitted in higher-frequency than before.
  • Initial vibration on the rear feels sharper, but once the dampers are moving, the vibration settles down quicker. In other words, the suspension feels cleaner and crsipier.
  • When turning, I used to feel the front was pulling the rear. Now I feel the car leans on the rear subframe while the front does its job.
  • Rear body lean feels less and more controlled. Somehow, the rear feels like it has slightly more grip then before.
  • The most noticeable difference is probably in the middle of a S-turn. During the transition to the opposite direction, the car used to have a springy, sling-shot effect. There was a slight delay during the S transition, but once the force ramped up the rearend rotated quickly. Now the response is quicker during the S-transition, and the sling-shot effect is greatly reduced. TBH, I kind of miss that.
I checked the tire pressure before/after the installation, so can eliminate it from the equation. I think it is safe to say that the rear rigidity did increase.

Overall, I would say the car feels more stable and closer to a modern car like my RDX, but also becomes less exciting to drive. I would not label this as a definite improvement, also because depending on what you prefer, the ride quality may be better or worse.

Regardless, I am glad I did this experiment and now understand what other people said about the ride quality went worse after adding a lot of bracings. The extra stiffness will shift vibrations to higher-frequency, which is not for everyone.
 
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Discussion Starter · #558 ·
Timing chain replaced

My car crossed the 200k mark smoothly, and that made the struggles around 160k felt worthwhile.

Soon after the 200k milestone, I got strange vibrations and slower throttle tip-in response. Something was definitely wrong, and I could see that the engine now developed more oil leaks around the timing chain cover, in addition to the chronic small leak around the valve cover. In fact, part of the timing chain cover was covered with fresh oil so the issue needed to be addressed.

My mechanic suggested changing all gaskets/sealants - valve cover, timing cover, oil pan, and VTEC solenoid. Since the timing chain cover would be taken off, he also suggested replacing the timing chain, tensioner and guides. This sounded like a good plan, except for the $1.5k+ price tag. I thought able giving up TSX again, but I could not think of a good, well-priced candidate to replace TSX+RDX. So I thought - why spend more money and risk breaking something that work well? So I went ahead with the repair. If there were a RDX Type-S, I might have given up.

So after the dusts settled, how does the car drive? Well, to everyone's surprise, the engine is now super smooth and is either more responsive or a little more powerful. I feel as if the mileage has been rolled back to 50k. Maybe a placebo effect, but the transmission also shifts a bit crispier. This latest repair again reminds me about why I like the car so much, because it responds to changes clearly.

I am still tired of fixing the car, but when I am driving in the mountains, being able to focus on the driving, as well as seeing some nice cars (Porsche 918 spyder being the recent highlight), I just feel happy to have my TSX around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #559 ·
I have read the story about this car before but always good to see a car in action
 

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Always loved Chen's autofocus series, and seeing the ultimate unicorn CL7 on there was quite the treat. Curious what all spoon did with the OEM axles. What all would be worth polishing? The inner joints maybe?

you ever find some seats Sony? My local yard specializes in fun honda/acura and got me a set of good condition black seats for $150 both. He's in newport news VA so might be worth a trip if you're close enough get there and back in a day. He doesn't like dealing with people online so there's lots of TSX, TL-S, and FG2 parts available that are usually hard/expensive to find.
 
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