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Acura fans saddened by 2015 TLX transmission recall

When world renowned transmission manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen was tapped on its collective shoulder to supply Acura’s TLX SH-AWD V6, 9 speed automated transmission, a tear was dropped by more than one Acura aficionado.

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On the news of Acura’s latest recall, some will question Acura’s decision to utilize an outside designed and engineered transmission in what most in the industry, including this writer believes to be Acura’s return to midsize sports sedan prominence if not dominance.

Acura rarely goes outside of the halls of Honda, Acura engineering for major mechanical components; this is not the case with 2015 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD; by all measures a stellar class setting engineering exercise in affordable, premium, sports driving safety and performance.

In fact, we believe that TLX is Acura’s finest sedan offering to date. That’s what’s so perplexing here, many thought TLX to be near perfect including its engineering team. Well, hopefully this initial recall will not tarnish “Acura’s next big thing.”

While test driving TLX SH-AWD we did discover a mild learning curve as to the placement of TLX transmission touch-activated controls, at one time dropping TLX into reverse(in the dark) at 50 mph or so. Much to our delight,TLX did not respond to our misplaced directive.

In the news: 50%+ of all 2015 Acura TLX delivered to date will be recalled for(possible) transmission replacement, free of charge to the consumer; that’s a big deal…

In reading Friday’s Acura statement regarding earlier reported problems with the ZF 9 speed, although no accident or reported death has been reported in relationship to the glitch, problems with setting the transmission in the “Park” position may occur resulting in possible roll-away and a subsequent collision.

According to Acura: notifications to owners of affected Acura’s will be notified and instructed of recall participation in early January. In the meantime Acura is encouraging all TLX owners to set the parking brake prior to exiting the car.

For recall information you may call 1-800-382-2238. Or, go to: If you or anyone you know has experienced this glitch in a TLX or any other Acura model, we invite your thought provoking(civil) comment here.

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JeffS (not verified)    December 22, 2014 - 8:24AM

Hey Parks, I know this article was hard for you to pen. Not the first time Acura has had, "Transmission" issues. My '01 CL Type S, (not just mine) had problems with its 5 speed automatic. I guess no manufacturer is immune to problems which require recalls. Not really surprising considering the complexity of cars these days, I'm surprised there aren't more. My experience was Acura did all they could do to make it right, they extended the warrantee on the transmission to 10 years 1000,000 miles and I had mine replaced at 50,000 miles with no problems after, (was, "slipping" on its 2-3 upshift under certain conditions). Still, to be honest, I wasn't exactly thrilled that I had to bring it to the dealer for a transmission replacement. It was more about the anxiety of turning it over for the dealer to do major work, than the problem itself. Thankfully the dealer did an OK, (not great) job. I did have to put some of the lines back in their brackets and got it back with a few scratches that were not there when bringing it in. Sorta minor stuff, but aggravating none the less. Unlike experiences I have had with other manufacturers, I must say Acura's attitude was excellent with regards to their sincerity in addressing my concerns at the time. They not only fixed it, they, "wanted" to fix it. That is not always the case, many times the customer has to kick and scream before the manufacturer or dealer offers up some help. I understand that doesn't provide a whole lotta comfort to those who have a new vehicle that has a recall that requires major work. That brings me to a question that I have had across the board, how many freakin' gears does a car need. I understand the concept, but is it really worth the tradeoff of the complexity involved with the design. The more complex, the more chances for problems. A CVT makes more sense to me in this regard. These multigear transmissions that are more than 6 speeds are essentially trying to mimic the advantages that a CVT offers, but the CVT is much more simplistic in design. I have read all kinds of reviews that Honda's CVT units are, "State of the art", so my question would be, why did they not go that route in the TLX? I'm sure Honda will do everything they can to make it right, unfortunately, to many consumers, the damage is already done to Honda's reputation, and that is a lose, lose situation, both to Honda and the consumer. That's the real, "Shame" of it. For me, I look at it as a hiccup along the way, I'm still a Honda fan, "sh-t happens".

Parks McCants    December 22, 2014 - 5:13PM

In reply to by JeffS (not verified)

When it comes to Honda and Acura we're brother by different mothers. I'm with you JeffS, hopefully just a bump on the road for a trend setting performance sedan. as to CVT? Good question. Many consumers that I've spoken with have experienced CVT technology that ' over searches for that sweet spot. This appears to be a non issue for the Honda unit. Take care and Happy holidays to ya.'

JeffS (not verified)    December 22, 2014 - 5:42PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

I think these days the biggest problem with CVTs is that they take some getting used to. I've driven a few and I do not particularly like them, just because the nature of the beast. I have not driven Honda's. It seems the CVT is the wave of the future, sometimes the market has to come around to design as opposed to vice-versa. My guess is with a little engineering ingenuity, a CVT can be made to be just as, "entertaining" as a standard automatic, or, "manumatic". I'm sure somewhere in the Honda Acura hierarchy heads will roll. In a way, for all manufacturers, none of which are immune from this type of thing, maybe it will act as a wake up call and result in better, "quality control" and in the long run make the industry better as a whole.

John Goreham    December 22, 2014 - 10:31AM

I suffered a failure as a result of the prior transmission defect problem at Honda Acura. My 2003 Accord V6 trans went at about 50K as did many owners of TLs and Accords. . Went meaning the car would not move forward anymore. This new recall makes me mad. I did not get the benefit of a recall. I paid for the replacement. Honda discounted it. Later the repairs were covered and an extended warranty offered. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice...

JeffS (not verified)    December 22, 2014 - 10:50AM

In reply to by John Goreham

Hi John, can appreciate your feelings about the matter. If I had to pay for my tranny replacement, I'd be of a whole different mindset. I know you will have a hard time believing this, but my parents had a Accord, I think a mite newer than yours, had about 130,000 miles when my Mom got stranded because the tranny gave out, Honda replaced the tranny free of charge. No doubt it is a blemish, or as in your case, scar against Honda's reputation.

Parks McCants    December 22, 2014 - 6:42PM

In reply to by John Goreham

How ya doing John? Bummer! Yeah.... life can be challenging. My favorite faulty transmission story sits in my driveway. 2001 Volvo S80 Turbo + G.M. designed select shift transmission with limited slip differential. Gone at 100,000 miles = $6500. Please explain: " later the repairs were covered and an extended warranty was offered." Were you compensated, did you take advantage of the extended warranty?


John Goreham    December 22, 2014 - 6:46PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

Eventually a class action suit or similar resulted in transmissions being covered by Honda. Mine was before that. Honda also later offered an extended warranty to cover the trans issues. These were the first wave of 5 speed autos used on the Accord V6, TL and some other Acuras. Sorry to hear your Volvo is ill. Good luck.

JeffS (not verified)    December 22, 2014 - 7:25PM

In reply to by John Goreham

Hey John, mine was a 2001 Acura. I think I started to get notices from Acura about the problem about '04 or '05. They first offered some kind of modification to the tranny, (had something to do with the 3 gear clutch plate being under lubed or some such thing), so they tapped into the tranny, ran an exterior tube and then tapped in right above the 3rd gear clutch assembly. I forwent that, wasn't having problems yet, (apparently the, "fix" didn't work anyway). Included in the notice was the extension of warrantee and I was in no hurry to bring it back to the dealer. By the time mine started acting up, Acura was replacing the transmissions. Strange yours wasn't covered, maybe it was treated differently by Acura than Honda. One wouldn't think so.

Matt (not verified)    April 28, 2015 - 2:11PM

In reply to by John Goreham

My '04 Accord V6 auto transmission failed as well. It was just outside the warranty. The dealer hassled me but eventually Honda of America agreed to pay 60% of the repair, and I paid the rest. I cannot believe that Honda has not learned its lesson.

Parks McCants    April 28, 2015 - 4:45PM

In reply to by Matt (not verified)

Welcome Matt. i'm happty to read that HMC stepped up and covered a percentage of the cost on your transmission replacement. It appears from reading the comment thread that things are segttling down a bit on the transmission recal.

Parks McCants    December 22, 2014 - 7:16PM

Two years ago on the Volvo John.You know how it is,"while you're there:" Flywheel, starter,timing belt,tension adjuster,water-pump,radiator core, plugs, brake rotors and pads. Oh yeah, AND a factory warranted re-manufactured transmission from Volvo. What can I tell say, I like driving the damn thing.

Hector Hocsman (not verified)    February 20, 2015 - 10:03PM

I have a NEW 2015 TLX , with under 400 Miles, I got the car HICK UP...on me, with a frighting noise, I was sure someone hit my car as I was parking and shifting gears to reverse, Parking, reverse, front drive, etc.

I immediately call the dealer and brought it in for check.
In the door the Mechanic told me, they are aware of this problem! and Acura try to solve it.
They did a computer check and a test drive with chief mechanic, and nothing , the car drive OK thereafter.

In any case I wanted to get a paper they acknowledge the problem
With such noise, I was sure something broke...and maybe my driving experience is not same....

I just got the CAR !! 400 Miles !!!

Parks McCants    February 21, 2015 - 11:20AM

In reply to by Hector Hocsman (not verified)

Welcome Hector. It's not unusual to encounter a glitch or two in a first-year-run model car. That's what warranties and product recalls are for; to iron out the bugs encountered in a new vehicle. Please let us know if you here this noise again. Wishing you many years of safe and happy driving.

Angel (not verified)    February 22, 2015 - 7:23AM

I am currently shopping for Acura TLX 2015 V6 luxury/basic but with this recall I'm concerned being that I live in Puerto Rico they will honor any repair on the transmission or engine what ever that may be.
In Puerto Rico everything is very expensive even this vehicle the mark up is about an additional $18-$20K more than in the USA. My Very concern know is if I should invest with Acura or go to a different manufacturer/ dealer to buy. I love the car after seeing other dealers but with this recall it does change things and in buying an Acura its only going to be a problem waiting to happened.
Their prices are very high and with this research I come to this and it just make me only wonder if I should buy know.

Parks McCants    February 23, 2015 - 2:09PM

In reply to by Angel (not verified)

Good day Angle. Actually, the recall is several weeks old and effects a defined production period and Vin #s. Have your dealership confirm that your car of interest is not on the list. Then, go to the Acura recall site and double check the Vin# against the recall list. This is a fantastic car. We love driving it, so will you.

Best of luck and thanks for reading us.

Angel (not verified)    February 23, 2015 - 8:50PM

I am currently shopping for Acura TLX 2015 V6 luxury/basic but with this recall I'm concerned being that I live in Puerto Rico they will honor any repair on the transmission or engine what ever that may be.
In Puerto Rico everything is very expensive even this vehicle the mark up is about an additional $18-$20K more than in the USA. My Very concern know is if I should invest with Acura or go to a different manufacturer/ dealer to buy. I love the car after seeing other dealers but with this recall it does change things and in buying an Acura its only going to be a problem waiting to happened.
Their prices are very high and with this research I come to this and it just make me only wonder if I should buy know.

Bob (not verified)    March 5, 2015 - 12:29PM

In reply to by Angel (not verified)

Purchased a V-6 Tech Package in September. I am having the same jerky shifting problems that others have reported. Shifts from 2-3 are the worst; 1-2 is not much better. I received the car back from the dealer yesterday where they said that they had done a "software update" for the shifting issue. I cannot tell much difference.

William S. (not verified)    April 7, 2015 - 11:13AM

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

Wow Bob. I've just had the exact same experience as you did, with apparently a lot of 2015 TLX V6 owners. This ZF 9 speed automatic transmission is the worst car component I have come across in years. It is clunky at best, and how slow! The lack of kick down is so atrocious it is unbelievable. My experience with Acura over the years (I've had 5 so far before the TLX) has been flawless, but right now with this vehicle, it's like I had bought an expensive car with a frustrating piece of junkyard dog clutch that make the available engine power feels like a 3 cylinder mill, 1.0 litre turbocharged with an immense lag. You WAIT! That's all you do with this rubbish transmission! And you feel the gear changes in your neck! I seriously don't know what happened at Acura, who made the deal with ZF/Chrysler, but that completely destroyed the love and respect for the brand I had. Even though the local dealer experience is beyond my dreams, I still have a flawed, crippled expensive car in my hands and I have to wait a couple of years to trade it otherwise I will loose a ton of money. I am such a sad owner of an Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD. Please someone find me a place in a psychiatric hospital before I become crazy from the use of this catastrophic nightmare which is the ZF 9 speed automatic transmission. Or maybe I should ask Acura to replace this junk with a good old 6 speed manual transmission? my dreams, of course.

Tracy Armstrong (not verified)    August 24, 2015 - 12:10AM

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

I am having the same issue. I have taken my 2015 SH-AWD TLX in twice already and there is no change. I a, so frustrated after paying for a high end sedan to have these issues. I am taking it in one time and then they will be taking it back and reimbursing me. Wait til it acts like it is in neutral when you go to step on the gas at 50 mph and revs up to 6 rpms.

Joe McIntosh (not verified)    March 15, 2015 - 8:50PM


DV (not verified)    March 20, 2015 - 2:21PM

I have an 2015 Acura TLX with the Technology pack. This is my third Acura. My first was a TSX, then a TL. I do miss my TL.
I've had transmission problems with the TLX. I noticed subtle hesitations when accelerating from a stop, then the hesitations became less subtle. I also noticed the same thing when switching from R to D as well as when shifting manually, particularly downshifting. Then I noticed something leaking. It wasn't black or red or clear, it was more yellow. I took the car to the dealer and was told the "inspection plate" on the side of the transmission was defective and needs replacing. They said that because of the technology, the part has to be ordered by the plant in Torrance and I won't have my car back until early mid week (I took it early Thursday AM). Everyone at this dealership is wonderful, the service department, and the GM provide exceptional customer service. I have a rental from them, a 2015 TLX Tech and Advanced pack. And guess what? It nearly stalled this morning when accelerating from a stop. I'm bringing it back to the dealer today for something else.
I'm trying to reserve any contempt prior to investigation. But like I said, I do miss my TL.
I'm hopeful that once the part has been replaced, I will have zero transmission issues.
I must admit that I am relieved to have leased this Acura and did not purchase it like I always had in the past.
We shall see.

DV (not verified)    April 5, 2015 - 6:34AM

In reply to by Parks McCants

I did return the first rental/loaner and they gave me another brand new TLX with the Technology Package but one without the Advance Package and that horrid Idle Stop. Yes, I know I could disable it, which of course I did. But it was almost as if the car would default back to that mode. I know quite a few vehicles come with that now but I don't like it at all. If I wanted a Prius I'd buy one.
As for my car, the gasket on the transmission case was leaking. There was a very small separation in the seal. They identified the problem quickly. But they had my car for nine (9) days. Apparently the delay was caused because of Tech Line. The dealership's service department cannot order these parts directly. They must place the order through Tech Line and Tech Line then orders the part. Apparently Tech Line are not highly responsive. That was almost more aggravating to me than the fact that my car had an issue. Once they got the part replaced they wanted to drive the car for a couple of days to ensure that in fact was the problem and it was now solved.
Since having my car back, it drives great again and nothing is leaking. I definitely missed it when it was gone and now I appreciate more. I'm hoping this was a one off thing. As I said previously, we shall see.

Bob Lewis (not verified)    April 2, 2015 - 7:50AM

I am still having the lurching problem, in the 1-2 and 2-3 shifts. Really scary when this happens in the middle of a turn! If the car didn't have this issue I would be very happy with it. The dealer has changed the tranny fluid (?) for whatever reason, on my car with less than 3000 miles. They also supposedly made an "upgraded" change to the computer. No change that I can see. The MPG indicator took two weeks to start reporting reasonable MPG readings. Are there class action law suits in progress that I should get in to? ZF Has stated in one of their posts that these problems are all related to the software and not the tranny itself. I would really enjoy the car if this could be fixed. I don't want Acura stalling until the warranty runs out. Would phone calls to Acura customer help? Thanks guys for any suggestions/help.
2015 TLX V-6 Tech Package

AKJ (not verified)    April 4, 2015 - 1:39AM

Just bought a 2016 ACURA MDX and am already seeing the exact same problem from get-go of lurching forward when slowing it down in Sports mode. problem is subdued in drive mode but can still feel it. when accelerating from complete STOP, can also feel the hesitation in gears shifting up. really disappointed in buying a premium model at $50K with such issue. thought company would have learned from previous year TLX model problems and addressed it but unfortunately not...

Parks McCants    April 4, 2015 - 3:32PM

In reply to by AKJ (not verified)

Hello AKJ. Respectfully, You know what.... "Bull ...." we just spent 8 days and 900 miles driving a 2016 MDX AWD TECH with Nav. and found the 9 speed transmission IDS to work flawlessly. Take the damn thing out of sport-mode when driving around town. Note: "Sport Mode" is for aggressive, close ratio, quick-shifting and heightened steering feel. Also, as you already know, you can deactivate the auto stop/start feature with the push of a button. Use it! MDX is not going to push you or anyone else into an intersection. In 'Comfort" or "Normal Mode,' your concerns become a non issue. If (I) personally have any issues with MDX, it's the (initially) stiff drivers seat. Other than that, MDX is as represented. Hey, drop by your Chevrolet, Cadillac dealership and take a look at SUV pricing and standard features. That's were MDX smokes the competition. *Note: What you may be experiencing based on your comment is the "Ride stability", or "Lane Watch" feature. Turn it off while driving in stop and go traffic, you'll be happy with MDX. Thanks for your comment.

AKJ (not verified)    April 6, 2015 - 11:39AM

In reply to by Parks McCants

while trying hard not to respond to your "bull..." comment, let me ask some specific questions:
1. in your test drive, if you ever have to slow down or STOP in "Sport" mode, do you feel any jolt along with jump in RPM when MDX is downshifting gears? if yes, why would you call this flawless?
2. if yes, have you felt similar behavior in 2015 MDX in "Sports" mode?

I test-drove mine and another 2016 MDX along with dealer technician and we both felt same jolts in both SUVs so I don't think it's just in my mind. I know what all different driving modes are and when to use them. and as I said, even in drive mode, I feel jolts but to a lesser extent. so it is not because of using incorrect driving mode in different driving conditions.

Thanks for your expert opinion and time.

T Cavanagh (not verified)    October 12, 2018 - 6:58PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

I am an owner of the 2015 MDX Tech with 34k totally random and unpredictable the transmission starts heavy and at 3000k RPM suddenly makes gear switch by clunking into a lower gear.. have video of issue ( x 6 ) dealer experienced it (1x) dealer mech says it is tranny but ACURA CALIFORNIA demanding an Image of issue at time... REALLY !! that requires 2 folks in the car with a laptop tethered to the car and you have to be there WHEN the random screw up happens... my 6 plus videos and dealer observation and opinion is NOT enough for ACURA California to replace the tranny !!! 50k for this paperweight...

Parks McCants    April 6, 2015 - 4:27PM

Good day AKJ. Thanks in advance for your civility. With apology: We find many Acura brand detractors, here(mostly competing brand personnel or sales people) it's difficult to discern the genuine consumer concern from the planted online Troll at times.

In answer to your questions: #1. The 9 speed ZF manufactured transmission emulates the "downshifting" pattern of a close ratio manual transmission, effectively "engine braking" the vehicle.

Also, the 9 speed transmission features a down-grade "hill control" feature. It doesn't operate in the same manor as a conventional 5 or 6 speed automatic transmission. 2. The 2015 Acura MDX doesn't feature the 9 speed ZF transmission, thus the transmission, shift pattern, hill braking, and downshift transition when coming to a stop is much different than the 5 or 6 speed automatic.

It's a "personal preference." For me, spending 2,000 miles driving between the 2015 and the 2016 model, (I) personally prefer the performance of the 9 speed transmission in transitional traffic situations. It enables me to engage "Sport Mode," when exceptional acceleration is called for in maneuvering; then, I go back to "normal" mode driving.

Note: I rarely engage the "Sport" mode. And when doing so, shift it in and out of mode via the drive button. I'm assuming that your reference to "jolt" is pointed to an aggressive or "hard" shift between gears? Unfortunately for you and other's used to driving a smooth-transition-long-legged-automatic, the 9 speed transmission may not be for you. Wish to soften up your shift points? Drive MDX in "Comfort" or normal mode.

In closing: The 9 speed transmission is not mechanically flawed, simply different! As with all new technology, it will take a bit of getting used to. Thank you for your though provoking comment, and best of luck.