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Used TLX Buyers Guide

 
Old 01-02-2019, 12:40 PM
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Used TLX Buyers Guide

It’s been about six months and about 8,000 miles since I bought my used 2015 TLX V6 SH-AWD Advance. It popped up at a Lexus dealer with really low (like 28,000) miles and in mint condition. It was my dream car.

Here is a Buyer’s Guide I wish I had before I went shopping around for a used TLX. This is based on a 2015 SH-AWD. Some of this is merely my opinion or recommendation. Some of this is fact based on my experience/observation. Please feel free to add to this list. I would love this to be a sticky for all the 2015-16 TLXs coming available as trade-in or off-leases soon. Some or most of this is NOT covered by any of the reviews, magazines or websites.
  1. Read the TSB list here. Familiarize yourself with the issues (more on why below). https://acurazine.com/forums/fifth-generation-tlx-2015-415/5g-tlx-technical-service-bulletins-model-year-links-inside-950304/
  2. I would only buy this car if it was under warranty (more on why below):
    1. If buying from a non-Acura dealer, still under the original warranty.
    2. If buying from an Acura dealer, certified pre-owned (with the warranty extension) by an Acura dealer.
    3. I'm not sure about 3rd Party warranties. You would have to make sure it was comprehensive coverage without co-pays and specifically covered a tranny replacement due to hard shifting. That item is tough because it's not really a failure item - Acura chose to replace in light of the high volume of complaints on jerky OEM trannies.
  3. The reason for the first two bullets is that the car was released with some flaws. Original owners had the ability to get some of these fixed by way of TSBs. My original owner chose not to do any of them, so my car was traded in with none of these things fixed. Fortunately, mine was under warranty, so my awesome Acura dealer fixed them over the course of my first few months of ownership free of charge. I just had to drive across town about 8 times to drop it off and pick it up.
    1. I had the highway vibration which I wrongfully assumed was an imbalanced tire. Two TSBs and a road force balance minimized the shaking. New tires ran me $750. Dealer labor would have run $600ish for a few hours over two trips to fix it.
    2. My rear deck speakers were rattling. Dealer fixed with foam tape. Probably $1 in parts and $200ish worth of time.
    3. I had the 1-2 and 2-3 hard shifting. I complained about this one time, dealer got shapshots and I got a new transmission. I heard this would have been $3-4,000ish in parts/labor.
    4. My engine chirped at idle. The pulley shim didn’t work, so they replaced my fuel pump. Who knows what these would have run? $1,000ish in parts/labor?
    5. I haven’t had my door seal popping or defrost damper flutter yet, but I expect those down the road.
  4. Honestly, none of this is observable in a 20-30 minute test drive around the city. You may not see symptoms of these for weeks or months down the road. Sometimes you have to wait for a cold winter or a hot summer for these to occur. Crank up the stereo during your test drive and include a drive down the expressway.
  5. The best thing you can do is ask Acura for a vehicle service history. That should be easy to get if they are selling it. If it’s a different dealer, test drive the TLX you are considering to an Acura dealer and ask for a service history on the VIN. You absolutely HAVE TO make sure this stuff is addressed; otherwise, you could be on the hook for repairs after the warranty expires.
  6. I would explicitly ask about the transmission if it is a low VIN TLX in the range of 15-040. If the transmission has not yet been replaced, you’re looking at two options: insisting it gets replaced or dealing with the awful original tranny quite possibly for as long as you own the car.
  7. This ZF-sourced 9-speed automatic is almost universally panned by owners and critics. The early 2015 VINs are especially terrible. I sit here writing this in awe that this car with that transmission was ever released for sale. Later 2015, 2016 and onward are rumored to be improved, but still not great for this car. I know my replacement tranny is MUCH better than the original.
I’m writing this because I’ve seen dozens of TLXs come up for sale on Autotrader since I made my purchase. I’ve seen VINs down in the hundreds – much earlier production than mine. They are absolutely beautiful cars whether Bellanova White or Crystal Black. They are detailed inside and out, with gorgeous interiors, low mileage and in mint condition. Yet every single one could be a trap – potentially a costly headache of initial ownership with multiple visits to the dealer. More than any other purchase I’ve ever made in my car-buying past BY FAR, the TLX requires research and awareness of all this stuff before buying. I never, ever would have expected to buy such a problematic car from Acura/Honda. But it really isn’t problematic. It just had things that needed to be fixed, which my previous owner neglected. I would never recommend buying a TLX out of warranty or without the service history. Go into the negotiation armed with the information. Have things like the tranny or vibrations fixed before you sign the dotted line.

You know what though? I’m still happy with my car. I look forward to my commute every day. It looks great and after all the fixes, it’s comfortable, quiet, fast, shifts properly and smoothly, AWD powers through snow and it's packed with technology. ACC paces the car in front of me. LSF handles heavy traffic for me. LKA steers for me. It’s not as fast as a BMW. It’s not as sporty as an Audi. It’s not as luxurious as a Lexus. Yet, my TLX is the best car I’ve ever owned. It just scares me that it would have been the worst had it been out of the warranty period. I don't want anyone to make that mistake. Best wishes as you look for your TLX!

Last edited by someguy11; 01-02-2019 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 01-02-2019, 03:36 PM
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Great guide! Would have loved to have had this when I bought my '16 CPO a couple weeks ago. When you say low VIN, what do you mean by that? Last 3?
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Old 01-02-2019, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by someguy11 View Post
It’s been about six months and about 8,000 miles since I bought my used 2015 TLX V6 SH-AWD Advance. It popped up at a Lexus dealer with really low (like 28,000) miles and in mint condition. It was my dream car.
I may be mistaken but I believe the 2015 have an extended warranty on the trans that extends well past the factory warranty. Maybe this goes into the 2016 model year. Frankly I would avoid a 2015 model but I know people that have it and they have not done any TSB updates to the trans and are fine with the behavior. Regardless, if buying any used TLX II would go with a CPO from an Acura dealership. Well worth it and typically comes with new tires, brakes and a full inspection along with the extended warranty. Well worth paying up a little more for IMO. Anyway, good luck with the car. Bottom line a well maintained TLX should be a low cost of ownership car for years. Acura iin general from my own experience covers stuff under warranty without any hassle.

Last edited by jhb31; 01-02-2019 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:21 AM
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I reread my post a few times and would have reworded and added a couple things. What I was ultimately trying to say is that - more than any car I've ever owned - this car was released with some bugs. Like any good car company would do, Acura and its dealers released fixes and were more than willing to iron these kinks out under warranty. Four of five of my issues were TSBs. My dealer fixed everything for me and gave me loaners for my convenience. Each line item was N/C and every invoice was $0. That would have been a MUCH different story had my warranty expired. I would be the most dissatisfied Acura customer since they launched in 1986 without my warranty. My car needed about $6,000 worth of work AFTER I bought it used.

One major addition I forgot to say is:
h. Test drive the heck out of the TLX you're considering. If it's low on gas before you leave the dealer, ask for more gas. Tell them you'll be back in an hour. Drive it at least that long, maybe longer if you have enough time. Mix city and highway driving. Drive your commute if possible. Ask them if you can keep the car overnight! The biggest reason is the transmission. You really want to get a feel for how and when it shifts, which impacts its drivability and your satisfaction with the car. The second reason are the vibrations. VCM vibrates while cruising 35-45mph. Highway vibrations between 70-80mph occur on some (but not all) TLXs. It's sort of weird behavior from a car. If you know the TSBs before going to the dealer, you can identify issues during your test drive.

Originally Posted by jhb31 View Post
I may be mistaken but I believe the 2015 have an extended warranty on the trans that extends well past the factory warranty. Maybe this goes into the 2016 model year. Frankly I would avoid a 2015 model but I know people that have it and they have not done any TSB updates to the trans and are fine with the behavior. Regardless, if buying any used TLX II would go with a CPO from an Acura dealership. Well worth it and typically comes with new tires, brakes and a full inspection along with the extended warranty. Well worth paying up a little more for IMO. Anyway, good luck with the car. Bottom line a well maintained TLX should be a low cost of ownership car for years. Acura iin general from my own experience covers stuff under warranty without any hassle.
There are many good points here. I think you mean TSB 17-027. Potential buyers should ask their dealer about this. The title suggests the transmission warranty is extended, but the text of the TSB says that the warranty only covers the transmission WARMER. To me, that means unless the warmer is the cause of a future transmission failure, that warranty extension does you no good for future claims. I would not rely on 17-027, 17-011 or 17-012. I'd instead rely on 15-040 during the warranty period as your best chance of getting a replacement. I think the people who accept their transmissions as-is experience what the rest of us did, but they either don't notice or don't care about such sloppy/jerky behavior. They might not know what a TSB is or that they're eligible for a FREE transmission replacement! I second the CPO for the TLX. It is absolutely, positively worth the little bit extra to have the peace of mind during the first year/first 12,000 miles for this automobile. I second Acura being a reliable brand after all my bugs were squashed. Reliability is why I go with Acura over any Euro brand (MB, BMW or Audi, which I've owned, have astronomical costs to fix). My issues and coverage under warranty were never questioned one bit.

Originally Posted by ashtnn View Post
Great guide! Would have loved to have had this when I bought my '16 CPO a couple weeks ago. When you say low VIN, what do you mean by that? Last 3?
TSB 15-040 is the silver bullet regarding the OEM ZF9 transmissions that original owners waited years to receive. After a couple years and several iterations of software updates, it finally authorized transmission replacement. The V6 FWD VIN range is 000001-021489. The V6 SH-AWD VIN range is 000001-007728. If anyone reading this is looking at a TLX that falls in that range, beware that you have an early edition ZF9 that very likely is plagued with problems. Mine included all sorts of crappy behavior. I specifically mentioned the "2-3 hard shifting" with my dealer because that was the title of the TSB and justification for replacement. But mine also jerked out of and into PARK, it crunched/lurched at low speeds in parking lots and driveways, it lagged when acceleration while turning right, it missed shift points (it would hold an RPM for about 2 seconds longer than it obviously should have before dumping the clutch) and it would pick really low gears that lugged the engine. Please, LOOK OUT FOR THESE THINGS during your long test drive. 15-040 only applies to certain early 2015 models. Other late 2015 buyers and all 2016 buyers like you should look at 16-012. This is the software update and idle relearn. Various owners have had mixed success with these.

Again, mine was replaced under warranty, my dealer was awesome, and my car was transformed into the driving machine I expect from Acura. The late 2015 and 2016 buyers have had mixed luck getting theirs replaced. There are threads all over this forum that cover more details.

I truly hope that potential TLX buyers find and read this thread before shopping and falling in love with a beautiful TLX that ends up being a costly mistake for them.
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