1999-03 Acura TL’s and CL’s Pattern Failurers

Home Forums Stay Dirty Lounge Common Problems/Pattern Failures 1999-03 Acura TL’s and CL’s Pattern Failurers

This topic contains 20 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by Jake F Jake F 8 months ago.

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  • #586820
    EricTheCarGuy 1

    These cars had a laundry list of failures. In fact, they get my vote as the worst Honda’s ever made. Here’s some of the issues I recall from these vehicles.

    Transmissions. These go out wholesale. If you haven’t had yours replaced yet, plan on it. Also, don’t think if you’ve had yours replaced you’re safe. I’ve seen these transmissions fail multiple times. They did extend the warranty period, but at this point I would think most of them are out of that period. If you wonder if your’s is covered, contact American Honda with your VIN.

    These cars warp front brake rotors like it’s going out of style. In fact, I’ve often suggested to customers that they upgrade to slotted rotors to help eliminate the problem.

    Front wheel bearings are also a common failure.

    Coolant leak in the crossover passage that runs along the back of the engine above the transmission. This is an easy fix with a couple of gaskets.

    EGR passages clogging. Although they changed the design during the model run, it still continued to have issues. Sometimes this problem shows up as a misfire code.

    Timing belt tensioners. If you have the ‘grenade pin’ type of tensioner, replace it when doing a timing belt. They have a high failure rate and when they go, they can cause the belt to jump time.

    Serpentine belt tensioners. This is less common but should be checked when doing a timing belt.

    Struts. Once again less common but they seemed to fail more than pervious year Acuras and Hondas. Look for leakage from the strut to confirm failure.

    Heated seat elements are also a common failure. BTW, the passenger seat does not have an upper lumbar heating element. This is because of the SRS sensor that’s placed there.

    CD changers and radios. I think we were replacing these weekly.

    Rear view mirrors. If you have one of these car’s you probably already know this. That said, be VERY careful during replacement. It’s very easy to crack the windshield when replacing this component.

    Window regulators. This is a common failure on a lot of Honda’s if I’m honest. You can help extend their life by not using the power window’s if the window is frozen shut. This overstresses the mechanism and can cause it to fail early.

    Hood switches for the security system. This can sometimes cause the security system to go off at random times. To verify this all you need to do is unplug the switch. If the problem goes away, you’re good. The computer won’t know that you’ve unplugged the sensor. However if someone tries to break into the engine compartment the security system will not activate if it’s unplugged.

    Outside temperature sensors. These can cause inaccurate readings of the outside temperature. You can also adjust these a few degrees up or down. I honestly don’t remember the procedure though. See if you can dig up the service manual for that. In fact, it might even be in the owners manual.

    One last note. These cars are VERY sensitive to the tires you put on them. If you use anything but Michelin, you’ll likely experience excessive road noise and uneven wear.

    Those are the ones I can think of for now. If I remember more, I’ll add to the thread later.

Viewing 5 replies - 16 through 20 (of 20 total)
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  • #872041
    EricTheCarGuy 1

    [quote=”Nipplator” post=178172]Sounds just like V-Tec module maintenance needed every 20k or so ;)[/quote]

    VTEC rarely needs anything. In fact, all it needs is the correct viscosity oil at the proper level. Too many people fault VTEC for problems when it’s hardly ever the cause of them.


    Sorry, I wasn’t clear on that post. I was talking about the little screen on the servo that gets clogged if the oil isn’t changed at proper times and gets burnt. I have 1 guy that has brought me his car 5 or so times because it’s in limp mode with the code to replace the v-tec module, but I just end up needing to change the oil and clean off the screen to get it working perfectly.

    mark lavrack
    mark lavrack

    I have a 2002 Acura Tl 3.3 basic. I love this car. Easy to work on. Last year I replaced the radiator because it was leaking at the seems. It took an hour to replace. What was so puzzling, when I went to change it, the transmission oil lines were not connected to the radiator? So I just never connected them. This vehicle was always serviced at an Acura dealership 100% from the previous owners. Any ideas why? I have changed the transmission oil every year for four years now, even though it says every 30,000 miles.

    Rudy R
    Rudy R

    We had a 1999 TL for two glorious years before we lost it in a freak flood here in Michigan. (It was five inches of rain in a couple of hours.) I really miss that car (it was the deep emerald pearl color), and I think we dodged a bullet on the transmission, as it still had the 4-speed auto vs. the 5-speed (from 2000+) that grenaded regularly.

    Thing is, the fix for the 5-speed auto has been staring everyone in the face for over a dozen years now, and hardly anyone does it. Don’t repair, rebuild your TL’s transmission. Instead, get the 5-speed auto trans out of a 2007 Accord. It’s the new, redesigned unit and they are much more solid. The few I’ve read about who have replaced them with these newer 5-speeds have had no failure issues at all. I guess all you need to do is swap a few sensors or solenoids over, and it’s good to go. It bolts right up since the V6s are all J-series engines.

    The seat heater in the driver’s seat never worked when we bought the car, but I was able to remove the leather and repair the wire. The issue is that it burns through from the heat where it crosses over the metal supports. Simply soldering in wire in a few spots got it working nicely.

    We did replace the rear struts, but, the car had probably 190k miles on it at that point.

    The radio worked, but that system sounded terrible. I was almost ready to put a new system in it when the flood claimed it. Glad I didn’t bother.

    The only other issue we had was the usual Honda evap error code, and all of that is located underneath closer to the gas tank. (My kiddo’s 2002 Accord has the exact same setup, since it’s essentially the same chassis.) That was another on my to-do list. We did lose a couple of the ignition coils but again, by nearly 200k miles, those usually go bad anyways. After literally hundreds of millions of sparks generated, they are bound to wear out.

    As for tires, we put Kumhos on it and never had an issue–they rode smoother, gripped better and were quieter than the Michelins that were on it. Totally transformed the car, and they wore evenly up until she drowned (where they became flotation devices).

    The 1999s still don’t have a bulletproof transmission, since the 1998-2002 Accords also had a lot of failures, my kiddo’s car included. They are very similar, from what I understand. Hers (B7XA trans) has had the harsh 1-2 shift ever since we bought it dirt cheap a few years ago. It hasn’t gotten any worse, but it’s annoying. With all the other problems now (the rear beam rusting through, the leaking gas tank, the exhaust that someone “fixed” by welding the entire thing together…even the cat…), it’s not worth replacing it. I did try cleaning the solenoids but it got no better.

    Jake F
    Jake F

    If we only knew about these problems before we could afford a used acura, we STILL wouldn’t have been afforded the money to buy Honda quality which we all know during the year is way beyond Toyota. The 1999 Acura TL didn’t seem too hard to work on and drove smooth as a booty even with worm suspension. Oh well. I’d buy an Odyssey if I was a mom of many.

Viewing 5 replies - 16 through 20 (of 20 total)

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