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Was this car a good purchase


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  • Just bought a 2004 Acura TL MT as a sort of project car. 137k miles for $2500 (less than $10 a horsepower :P) engine and the manual transmission seem to be in perfect shape, had two different mechanics check it out (as it was out of state) and I'll have my personal mechanic check it out tomorrow. So questions:

1) was it a good deal?

2) Door Locks unlock but don't lock, read online and people seem to find its because of a crappy MICU. Anyone else have this issue and did you manage to fix it?

3) I'm not sure if the timing belt has been changed, changing the timing belt consists of also removing the power steering pump and drive belt and an engine mount. I'd say I'm a novice at fixing cars, I changed motor mounts on my 2008 altima and some easier stuff. Should I attempt this? Any tips?

4) any best practices for caring for these Acuras?

Thanks guys! Love this community! 

5 Answers

Well they are actually the cars have taken care of but I definitely would change a timing belt those are interference engines.


Not bad on price, but definitely change out the timing belt. If you are a self-declared novice, I would have a reliable shop do the work. It is a pain and if something goes wrong it would be better if you had a warranty on the work vs doing it yourself and risking the motor.


I looked at a 2007 TL with more miles, and they wanted $4500 for it. It had issues, looked really beat interior, and in my opinion was a $2000 car. I walked away. In today's car market, yours is a reasonable price. Get the timing belt changed by a pro. You could probably find the door lock issue either in the forums, or somebody may have a video on Youtube.


I’m not a mechanic. Nor am I hardcore wrencher. 

I was able to change the timing belt / water pump on my 1999 Honda Accord, Acura’s consumer counterpart. BUT, the car was out of commission for weeks. I had to go back and forth to the store for tools. It was a pain in the rear end to change. 

What makes it a pain in the rear end? All the stuff I had to remove to get to the timing belt:

Valve cover

Power steering pump


Accessory belts

Driver side wheel

Harmonic balancer 

and more!

If you have the time (lots of time), the inclination to learn, and can have the car out of commission for a week or too, it is a good but painful experience.

If you need your car up and running, take it to a trusted mechanic to change the timing belt and water pump. 


There's a reason that replacing timing belts on Hondas and Acuras is expensive and you've hit the nail on the head; it's the labor.  I'm a completely self-taught mechanic and have changed timing belts, first in a Toyota and then in my Honda.  (The Honda was definitely more complicated.)  But if you want to learn, fixing it yourself is the only way.  But as Kaizen says, just be sure that you don't need your car to drive to work on Monday morning.  

     The first obstacle that you'll face is loosening the crankshaft pulley bolt.  Those suckers are on so tight that an industrial grade pneumatic wrench is the way to go.  I didn't have one of those so I purchased a special tool that holds the crankshaft pulley while you try to loosen the crankshaft pulley bolt.  Tip:  Apply a lot of penetrating oil to the bolt for a couple of days before trying to loosen it.  I also had to buy a deep impact socket and an extension bar to get the bolt removed.  You'll also need a 1/4" breaker bar with a cheater bar attached for more leverage.  Once you get that bolt loosened it's not that complicated, it just takes time.  Be sure to replace the water pump at the same time because you don't want to do it all over again when your pump fails.

     The only regular maintenance that my Honda has required have been oil and filter changes.  Eventually, you will have to replace the clutch, which will be another learning experience.  Hondas and Acuras are good cars to learn on as the replacement parts are not outrageously expensive.  I'd recommend finding a copy of the official Acura service manual for your car.  Try searching for one on the Acura Forum online.