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Old 08-02-2018, 10:53 AM
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Engine Oil Consumption

My 2011 MDX Elite started to consume engine oil at about 75000 kilometers, about 1.5 years ago. With regular dealership maintenance and some minor warranty work, minus, of course, the fact that the vehicle loves fuel in city driving, my MDX has been a fantastic ride. The dealership is working with me to find the cause of the engine oil consumption. No visible undercarriage leaks and no obvious oil burn discharge from the exhausts. I am a docile driver and have never burdened the engine, even taking acceleration easy when temperatures reach 35C. Working on an oil consumption test with the dealership. The latest update: with 70% engine oil life, the oil level is below the dip-stick tip - which I believe is 0.5 liters from dip-stick end to upper level mark - and 2400 kilometers since the last oil change. Note that during all previous incidents of oil level dropping, I was too scared to burn the engine out, and always topped up when the oil level went below the dip-stick tip. The dealership tells me that 0.5 litre engine loss through the whole 100% life cycle is factory acceptable. My MDX is loosing that much in 30% oil life. I would be much obliged to receive comments, thoughts and advice regarding this matter. Thank you. Harrisroad1
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Old 08-02-2018, 11:22 AM
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All of the 3.7L engines used in Acura's including the MDX, TL (SH-AWD), RL and ZDX are prone to oil consumption. There's no certainty that every vehicle with the 3.7L will have problems, but it's definitely a chronic problem with a good deal of them experiencing the issue. From what I understand, it has to do with the lower-friction cylinder liners in the 3.7L which I believe is composed of some sort of siliconized aluminum. The other 3.0L, 3.2L and 3.5L V6's from Honda have standard cast iron cylinder liners which aren't prone to the problem. I'm not sure if it's the oil control rings or liners themselves that are the problem, or if it's the simple trend in many auto manufacturers to "loosen up" contact between the two in an effort to improve economy by reducing friction between the two. Honda/Acura certainly aren't the first to do it. But either way, it's resulted in oil consumption across the board with that engine. Other posters may correct me if I'm wrong on any of those technical statements. That's largely just what I've gathered from the numerous posts here on Azine and other forums.

There have been many TL SH-AWD owners that have had their engine, or at least small block, replaced by Acura due to the problem while still under warranty. Many have had the problem return shortly after since Acura hasn't redesigned the liners and simply replaces it with the same block and liners which are obviously prone to the same issue later down the road. There's been a lot of anecdotal fixes, most of which have had mixed results. Some have modified the break in procedure with their new engine. Some have used various additives. Others have used a certain type of oil that's supposedly reduced consumption. And some haven't had any problems at all and are well over 100K. It's largely been a game of luck.

Simply checking the oil every 1000 miles or so has been the "fix" for those that have the problem and haven't been able to find a remedy. Oil is cheap, so that's not an issue. I own a FWD TL which has the 3.5L. But if I had an Acura with the 3.7, my main concern would be the potential to get carbon buildup in the cylinders due to oil entering the combustion chamber as well as running through the PCV valve due to blowby. That could lead to knock, exhaust valve leaks due to carbon buildup or other problems. If I had a car with the 3.7L, I'd install a catch can to attempt to mitigate excess oil running back into the intake manifold as well as run top tier gas and an occasional bottle of cleaner such as Gumout, Techron or Seafoam in the gas tank to provide some cleaning to the piston heads and exhaust valves.

Anyway, best of luck to ya. Do some additional research and maybe try some of the fixes that others have suggested.
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Old 08-02-2018, 12:08 PM
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Engine OIl Consumption

Thank you very much, Losiglow, for your insight. Good information to know and do some more research. You are right, oil is cheap, so I have been topping up over the last little while with the understanding that engines do consume oil. However, I got a bit concerned when the consumption got excessive and reported it to the dealership. The dealership is great, I did buy a MDX and RDX Elite in the space of a couple of years, and they have been very cooperative. No problem at all from that angle. I just spoke with them, they acknowledge a problem, and am going in tomorrow to top up and document the oil consumption issue. I love the vehicle and am partial to this body shape and size, even compared to the latest iteration. I am looking forward to the 2020 redesign (expected to come out next year this time) and am interested in the Hybrid. Let us see what happens. In the interim, thank you, again for taking the time to respond. Have a great day. Harrisroad1.
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Old 08-02-2018, 12:25 PM
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No problem. I haven't driven the MDX but it's a great looking vehicle. I've considered it since I drive Uber and Lyft and could do the Select and UberXL service which pay a lot better, with the MDX being both a luxury vehicle and seats 6+. I personally wouldn't let the 3.7L issues deter me. When I shopped around for a TL I was all onboard with the SH-AWD despite the potential oil issue. The only thing that deterred me was the significant markup over FWD. Here in Utah everyone thinks they need AWD because of snow. Thing is, we really don't have terrible snow in the valley and FWD with snow tires is more than enough to get around. So I went FWD which I've been happy with.

Just another tidbit of trivia; Acura discontinued the 3.7L altogether with their current lineup and are very unlikely to bring it back. You'll notice that the newer TLX and MDX both have 3.5L's. Granted, they added direct injection which helped but it's still 10hp less than previous generations. They also lightened the car up though, so it's probably 6's in terms of performance. Not that you buy the MDX for raw power but it's interesting they went that direction. In the future, I'm guessing they'll use a smaller V6 or even a 4-cylinder with a turbo. That seems to be the way most manufacturers are going. We'll see.

Yeah, the current Hybrid setup is pretty sweet from what I've heard. I'm sure they'll have one with the next generation as well. They're not cheap, that's for sure. But it seems most of the owners on here of both the hybrid RLX and MDX are quite happy with them.
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Old 08-02-2018, 02:27 PM
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Thank you, Losiglow. Yes, you are right, Acura moved away from the 3.7L and into the 3.5L, from what I understand, similar to the Honda lineup with similar applications. My dealership sales professional tells me that the 2020 Hybrid will have the conventional engine; not turbo 4T. Not sure if the regular 2020 MDX will be a turbo. Will check with him tomorrow. By the way, I am just North of the border in Calgary, Alberta, and I live in the hills. Winter ice has been nasty these past years. I was running Michelin XI2 and XI3 on my vehicles till Winter 2016/2017, but still had some hair-rising encounters with distracted drivers, snow and ice. Winter 2017/2018 I moved up to Nikain Hakkapelitta 9 factory studded tires, and they are markedly more comforting on sheer ice. They also have aided the 'age' factor where reaction times tend to be slower. I have them on my 2015 Accord Coupe V6, as well, and they really provide for some great handling. Take care and happy driving.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:56 PM
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I have a 2012 TL (6MT) and a 2008 MDX (base), and the MDX has no oil consumption issues, but the TL is definitely burning oil, especially when driven in a spirited manner. I have been taking the TL into the dealer for maintenance, and when I mentioned this issue to them they switched the oil to a heavier weight (from a 5w20 to 5w30) and the oil consumption has been reduced dramatically.
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:04 PM
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Yeah, thicker oil has usually helped with most folks around here. Ultimately it's a band-aid but hopefully it works for you in the long term.
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:53 PM
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Have a 2014 TL SH-AWD that started to burn oil right at 70k. Purchased as a CPO and stil under warranty. Dealer ( Acura of Avon)conducted an oil consumption test and told me that 2 quarts in 3000 miles is normal and refuses to pursue fix with Acura. I reached out to Acura Client Relations and have received no response to calls or emails. I have owned 2 previous Acura’s and this will be the last one. I now understand why Acura no longer scores well in CR consumer reviews
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Old 08-09-2018, 12:27 PM
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Thank you ae3979, losiglow & Mikemck.
My dealership advised against going with a heavier oil - mentioned some adverse functionality due to design cylinder/rings clearance. I did not top up with heavier oil.
Mikemck, something does not seem right with your dealer's oil consumption comments. 2 quarts (1.89 Litres) consumed in 3000 miles (4800 kilometers) will empty your oil reservoir in 5000 miles (8000 kilometers) conventional mileage to oil life ratio, considering total oil change is 4.5 quarts (4.23 Litres). My dealership is conducting their oil consumption test based on mileage run compared to dipstick level from full mark to just at, or below, dip stick tip. I am told that this measure is 0.5 litres (0.53 quarts). They are concerned about the oil level going below this level, because, among other technical reasons, driving hills of 30-degree gradients, which I drive every day, causes oil starvation and knocking in the engine. The first test done a week ago with about 2500 kilometers (1500 miles) since last oil change, showed a loss of 0.7 Litres (0.75 quarts). They topped up the oil and will do three such tests, and then send the documentation over to Acura. My engine life is 86000 kilometers, fully dealership serviced from day one. I am not quite sure why dealerships in different countries would treat their clients differently for the same issue. I apologize, I am not sure if the 2014 TL has the same 3.7L engine as my 2011 MDX. If it does, then the problem is the same. From my side, I am told that Acura does accept an oil consumption problem, though, this is a recent admission, and that is why there was no earlier formal form of documentation, even though I have informed the dealership of my problem more than 1.5 years ago. Sorry you were treated poorly, maybe try another dealership. What is your mileage, Mikemck? Should be a lot less than mine by vehicle age. Thanks and take care, All.
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Old 08-10-2018, 08:00 AM
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To Harrisroad 1: Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post. This was my first ever post, so let me try to clarify my experience. My car is a 2014 TL SH-AWD purchased as a CPO with 12000 miles. The oil consumption problem surfaced at 70,000 miles. With approximately 6,000 miles from the last oil change, I received a Low Engine Oil level notice on the cars MID. I immediately pulled over and check the dipstick and no oil was visible between the dipstick lines. The MID indicated remaining oil life was 40%. Since purchase, I had changed the oil and filter as soon as the MID reading was 20% and always used synthetic oil.

i then called the dealer and was advised to bring the car in for an Oil Consumption test. The dealer is about 30 miles away and not knowing how much oil was in the engine, I topped the oil off before driving to the dealer. It took 2 quarts to reach the top fill line on the dipstick. The Consumption test consisted of a dealer oil change and returning every 1,000 miles for 3 times for readings. There was no visible consumption during this 3,000 mile test and I thought the issue had been a fluke. HOWEVER, I checked the oil at 3,500 miles and noticed a slight oil level decline. Based on this, I returned to the dealer for consumption readings at 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 miles-a total of 3,000 miles beyond the original test and well within any MID recommended change. At 6,000 miles, the aggregate oil consumtion was again 2 quarts.

Obviously, I feel there is a significant problem that should be addressed while the CPO warranty is in effect. The dealer, Acura of Avon, disagrees and tells me that the oil consumption at this rate is normal for this 3.7 liter engine and should be expected to begin a few thousand miles after an oil change as the oil “thins”. When I asked why this “normal” consumption did not appear until 70,000 miles, and if “normal”, why there is no mention in the Owners Manual or Sales Material, I received a blank stare. Interestingly, the dealer Service Advisor advised that I not top off oil until the MID indicated remaining oil life of 5% and that if the engine was damaged by low oil, repairs would be covered under the CPO warranty. This suggestion is totally unethical and reflects as poorly on Acura as it does Acura of Avon. Apparently, both organizations believe that you are a valued customer at all points prior to a sale and prior to product reliability issues surfacing.

in the last 15 years, I have purchased 6 Acura of Honda vehicles and I am disappointed in this brands decline and culture of paying only lip service to customer service. I recognize that my problem will not be addressed, but glad to have found this forum to alert others. Thanks again for your feedback.
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Old 08-10-2018, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Harrisroad1 View Post
Thank you ae3979, losiglow & Mikemck.
My dealership advised against going with a heavier oil - mentioned some adverse functionality due to design cylinder/rings clearance.
I'm a subscriber to that thought as well. For various reasons including increased heat due to additional fluid friction as well as VTEC operation. The VTEC system is controlled by oil pressure. I've disassembled the whole module on my wife's Pilot and was surprised to see how many passages there are. It's more complex that I figured it was. And those passages are small - smaller that what I've seen in an automatic transmission. I've read (and of course, everything on the internet is true ) that VTEC may operate more slowly or act unpredictably with thicker oil. I've used thicker oil before and haven't noticed any difference but I still stick to what the engine recommends. 0W-20 in my case, with the 3.5L.

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Old 08-10-2018, 08:11 PM
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Thank you for your detailed message, Mikemck. I can surely see your frustration. One thing my dealer explained to me. There is no relationship between engine oil life and oil consumption. The median for the engine oil life algorithm from 100% to 0% is 8000 kilometers (5000 miles). The median does not change with using conventional or synthetic oil. The algorithm does not know the difference in the type of oil used in the engine, because the type of oil used is not a user input variable into the ECM via a communication media (OBD tool or laptom). For simplicity, the engine oil life algorithm can be programmed into an engine ECM specifically using either conventional or synthetic oil, but not both. The algorithm is based upon the potential de-grading of oil additives; synthetic oil being able to handle higher operating temperatures and stress, being a man-made friction mitigation molecule. The theory is that, outside of an actual physical oil leak, visible or not, the only way an engine can burn oil is bypass via the cylinder rings. The burning of oil forms carbons, recognized as soot, conventionally seen and tested at the tail pipe. This is true of older vehicles. Today's exhaust system catalytic converters and mufflers can easily mask the presence of soot at the tail pipe, hiding its presence. To really see soot blowing out of the tail pipe, in the presence of engine oil consumption, will be to suddenly accelerate, open up the engine exhaust valves and see the blow-by of soot. You will not necessarily see this when driving steadily, even at high speed, unless you have an engine that is really burning a lot of oil.

I can see that different owners are given different stories by dealerships to evade the issue of oil consumption, and what that consumption really means. My dealership tells me that if my 3.7L engine burns 0.5 Litres (0.53 quarts) of oil in 8000 kilometers (5000 miles), that is factory acceptable. Anything more than that means that the engine is consuming more oil than design acceptance.

This is where you will notice that my explanation differs from yours. Whatever mileage one drives, irrespective of the oil degrading over driven miles, if there is no oil burning, there should always be oil in the reservoir. However, I am only referring to oil being somehow consumed. What I am not clear about is how you managed to drive 6000 miles (9600 kilometers), should I say, between oil changes, and still have 40% oil life remaining. Setting aside the oil consumption, I can only drive 8000 kilometers (5000 miles) from 100% to 0% oil life. Again, setting aside the MID indicating low engine oil level, what you are explaining, above, is that such vehicles in the US can be driven 16000 kilometers (10000 miles) between oil changes, based upon 100% to 0% oil life, using oil life as the yardstick for oil change intervals. That is double of what I can drive up here in Canada. Something is a bit unclear in the US vehicles in the algorithm lining up mileage with oil life.
Mikemcl, so, again, setting aside the oil consumption issue, do you recall what mileage you were driving during oil change intervals based upon the oil life monitor, since the time you have been driving your vehicle?

Coming back to the oil consumption issue, these 3.7 L engines are burning oil via the piston rings. I have done some good reading on aluminium engines, and 70k - 80k kilometers cylinder failure has been the norm with various manufacturers, not just Honda and Acura. You have actually done better with seeing the problem only at 70k miles, which is 112k kilometers. Notwithstanding, it is still an issue for you because your MID showed a low oil level at 40% oil life.

Mikemck, the above is a bit of reading for you. I apologize for the long post. Let me do a bit more calculations and chat with my SAE certified engineering buddy and gather some more insight into this situation. You will still need to convince your dealership to fix your vehicle within its warranty.

Losilgow, your comments are correct as far as valve lift control goes. Oil viscosity does affect such systems - per my dealership service consultant.

Take care all. Harrisroad1
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:10 AM
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Harrisroad1- I appreciate your thorough feedback and it is clear you know your stuff. To respond to a couple of your comments, I was first introduced to MID systems when I purchased a 2005 TL. My long trusted independent mechanic gave me an overview of how those systems worked and that using synthetic oil would not impact the algorithmic driven oil life/ oil change recommendations. I drove that car foe 230,000 miles and it never burned a drop. That reliability and overall drivability is why I stayed with Acura in 2015 and my “surprise “ with the 3.7 liters oil consumption issue and my disappointment in Acura’s unwillingness to address the problem. As always with large corporations, Buyer Beware.

i mentioned my use of synthetic not in the context of oil consumption, but merely to indicate how I took care of cars that I intended to keep and drive for a long time. I live in a rural part of Ct and for the last 30 years at least 70% of my miles have been highway or backroad with RPMs rarely above 2000.( my05 TL went 70 mph at 2000 rpms and the 2014 is at 75-I presume as the result of a 6th gear. In any case, my driving habits resulted in very good mileage and long lasting brakes)

You raised a very good question re my oil change interval experience. With both the 2005 and 2014 vehicles, I tracked the miles driven per 10% decline in estimated remaining oil life. I started this with the 2005 because I had always been a “ change the oil every 3-4000 mile guy” and wanted to be comfortable with the new to me MID system. In any event, with the 2005, with my driving habits, estimated oil life declined 10% every 750 miles driven. With the 2014, the 10% interval is almost 900 miles-which again I have attributed to the lower rpms for any given road speed, but you may have a more fact based explanation. PLEASE note however, that I never went below 20% estimated oil Iife for any change and based on my experience with the 2005 TL and the Acura/Honda Motor Company’s self proclaimed a brand as a “engine” company, I had no reason question this routine. Now however, I will be checking the oil every 500 miles, just as I did over 40 years ago when my father gave me a 1960 Plymouth Belvedere that he purchased for $200 for college-a head of its time with a slant 6 and push button transmission. Kind of sad that the 2014 comes in 2nd in this comparison.

i greatly appreciate your help and wish I had your car knowledge. Unfortunately, I have no expectation of Acura resolving this issue, so time to start researching what will come next for a car that I can reliably keep for a long time.
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Old 08-14-2018, 11:29 AM
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Good Day, Mikemck. Thank you for your message of the 11th. I can see that you take great pride in your vehicle ownership, and look after your vehicles. I fully understand your disappointment, not just with the engine in the vehicle, but also the way the dealership and Acura Corporate have treated you, especially since you are a loyal client. That is sad! I myself cannot talk for the rest of Canada, but here in Alberta, my reading is that dealerships are more willing to listen. One reason is that there are usually one or two dealerships in a large city. Lack of good customer service can not only lose a dealership client, but also a brand client. If one has a lot of disposable income, then going with the European luxury brands is fine, but over here such vehicles are between C$15k to C$25k more than a similarly sized Acura vehicle, and that includes Lexus (Toyota) and Infinity (Nissan.) It is more a matter of driving a 'brand' than driving a vehicle. Additionally, annual cost to maintain such vehicles is also exorbitant; a simple oil change running into the hundreds of dollars, forget about non-warranty, and major wear-and-tear parts replacement. Also, in comparison, these European vehicles depreciate at a terrible rate, so if one does not intend to keep a vehicle for an average of ten years, that person is loosing heavily when selling such a vehicle between one and four years old. Of course, all this is in my neck of the woods; something I can talk for.

Also note that, unfortunately, quite a few Acura clients unwittingly landed with this oil-consuming 3.7L engine. For the MDX size, I really enjoyed driving with the power it had and the 6-speed torque curve. I currently have three other (plus any number or previously owned) Honda/Acura vehicles with the 3.5L, and they have all been perfect. I tend to be a bit more patient with the oil consumption issue, concentrating on an amicable resolution, because I do have a very good dealership to work with. They seek my loyalty - and of course are working towards a 2020 MDX, too. Good luck on your new vehicle search. I will be happy to know what brand you went with. Take care. Harrisroad1.
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