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Matt, Engineer
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 21865
Experience:  Honors degree in Mechanical Engineering, worked 8 years as a Formula 1 engine engineer.
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MDX: On October 19, 2013, I purchased NEW winter tires X 4

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On October 19, 2013, I purchased NEW winter tires X 4 from Acura and had them installed on my MDX. On October 29, I returned to Acura for installation of front struts and front inner tie rods as per the service department's recommendation. Two days later (October 31) I discovered vehicle handling and vibration problems at a speed of 70km/hr or higher, with a rattling sound at the right rear wheel. Steering was pulling strongly to the right while I was on a freeway driving at 90km/hr. Exited freeway to assess at what speed rattling sound became audible - 70km/hr. Vehicle spontaneously lost radio and navigation codes (New battery purchased from Acura and installed in July 2013). I confirmed battery connections were secure. Notified Acura of problem. Nov 1, Acura retrieved and serviced my vehicle and reported wheels were not balanced which was the reason for the vibration. On November 6, I discovered my vehicle had spontaneously started running when parked in the parking lot at work. I do not have a remote starter. Vehicle doors locked. I accessed the vehicle as usual and tried to turn off the ignition. Discovered that placing car in reverse shutdown the ignition, then shifted back to park position. Placed key in ignition and started car. Contacted Acura to report issue. Acura was initially baffled by the reported problem and indicated they would contact head office. Later that day, Acura explained the possibility that an after market remote starter might be the root cause of the problem. Previous owner might not have removed all remote starter components from the vehicle before I became owner. Still Nov 6, vehicle spontaneously lost radio and navigation codes. On November 8, vehicle briefly lost radio and dash power for approx. 2 seconds, then later on, vehicle spontaneously lost radio and navigation codes. November 9, vehicle lost radio and dash power for approx. 2 seconds again. Then approx. 1 minute later the same problem occurred for the second time. This time the VSA indicator light appeared. I drove the 5km distance home and referred to the Acura User Manual for details. Manual states "the VSA indicator can malfunction if driving with varying tire or wheel sizes. If you install winter tires, make sure they are the same size as those that were originally supplied with your car." Given I purchased the winter tires from Acura, and such was installed by their service department I assume the tires meet dealer specifications for my vehicle. Later that day - yesterday - I drove a 2 km distance. When returning home, the vehicle briefly lost radio and dash power for approx. 2 seconds for the third time, then lost ALL vehicle power. Placed on emergency indicator lights and slowly pressed brake. Turned off ignition and restarted vehicle - drove home. My vehicle was FREE of issues prior to having the winter tires installed, and the front struts and inner tie rods replaced. It was regularly serviced and maintained. I believe the VSA indicator malfunction problem is directly related to the fact that the vehicle was driven at a freeway speed when the wheels were not balanced properly. As a result, other vehicle components are now affected - collateral damage. Please advise regarding what vehicle components could potentially be affected when a vehicle is driven on unbalanced wheels at speeds between 70-90km/hr)? Please describe how these other vehicle would be affected and cause the VSA indicator to malfunction.  Please advise if the VSA malfunction issue could also be related to the recent installation of new struts and tie rods, and how the installation of these new components could potentially impact the VSA.


It is my understanding that struts are used to stabilize the overall function and integrity of a car’s suspension system in conjunction with leaf springs, coil springs, and stabilizer bars.  Following replacement of the front struts I mentioned the suspension didn’t seem to soften much.  Acura service informed me that initially the shocks will “remain hard because they are new. She recommended I give the shocks a bit of time to break in as they will soften later.”


Prior to October 19, 2013, my 2008 Acura MDX was free of Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) indicator issues or any other issues to my knowledge. After the installation of new winter tires, front struts and tie rods the vehicle began having problems with power to the dash and radio, handling and steering at highway speeds of 70-90km/hr, the spontaneous loss of radio and navigation codes, and total loss of vehicle power.  Given these vehicle components – winter tires, tie rods, and front struts - all play a role with vehicle stabilization, handling, and performance I believe the service work recently performed has directly and negatively impacted my vehicle’s VSA system and overall vehicle operations.


It sounds like the winter tyres fitted are the incorrect size to match the parameters stored in the car's ECU as this would upset the stability control and traction control ( the VSA system)

the other possibility is that when the new suspension parts were fitted one or both of the wheel speed sensors was damaged or hasn't been reconnected properly
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I had a friend come look at my vehicle last night. He checked under the hood for an after market remote starter and found nothing. However, he did discover that the battery clamp to the positive post was loose, despite appearing tightly secured. He showed me that the clamped could be raised off the positive post without loosening the screws. He was unable to tighten the clamp screws as they were fully tightened. Therefore, the battery clamp needs replacing. He also compared the top of both battery posts and informed me that someone had pounded on the top of the positive post as it was shroomed and evidence of blunt force used is visible. He believes when the new battery was installed Acura service was unable to properly tighten the battery clamp and thus shroomed the positive post to facilitate post to clamp contact.


My friend said that this is the reason for the loss of vehicle power, and loss of radio and navigation codes. He asked me if the vehicle still vibrates at highway speeds and if the steering seems fine. The steering and handling has improved since Nov 1. The possible reason for this issue appearing now is because the aluminum post contracts in cold winter weather so contact between the post and clamp changes, or clamp-post contact changes while driving due to bumps in road thereby causing a brief loss of power.


Do you concur with my friend's assessment?


I mentioned the VSA indicator that comes on when I start the car. He said it is supposed to come on then go off which is does.


thanks for the extra information a loose battery clamp will certainly give all sorts of electrical issues so yes this should be fixed 1st

and I'd approach the Acura service centre to make good on their previous repairs
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Acura is currently replacing the new battery and the battery clamp and wiring as we speak at no cost. The service department apologized and has been very accommodating.


hopefully that'll put this to bed