Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

NHTSA — Power Train: Automatic Transmission Problems

2002 Acura TL (Page 1 of 9) Seal Of Avoid Like The Plague Notes: The 1999-2003 Acura TL has a known & widespread defect with the transmission.

Honda fixed some vehicles with a recall in 2004 by changing the oil cooler return line. To settle a class action lawsuit in 2006, Honda extended the transmission warranty on some of these Acura TL's to 93 months / 109,000 miles.

Now these vehicles are past the warranty limit, so buyer beware.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 1
Average Mileage:
40,890 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Acura TL transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Acura TL Owner Comments (Page 1 of 9)

problem #175

Sep 012014

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


My 2002 Acura TL with automatic transmission which has only 59,851 miles on it. I bought it from the original owner 6 years ago, and since then I have only driven about 11,000 miles. The well-known 2002 TL automatic transmission design flaw is now causing big sudden jerks and the car shooting forward, thus creating a huge safety issue to me and the generic public. Initially a rep at Acura client relations (1-800-382-2238 option 4) told me to take the car to an authorized Acura dealer for diagnosis. I had the car towed to kearny mesa Acura, paid $130 for a written diagnosis, and faxed it to Acura client relations. The rep said as the car had only 59,851 miles on it, he would take my case to his management. But my request for help from Acura was later denied, citing their extended 109,000 miles and 7 year 9 month warranty had expired. I wonder why Acura cannot man up and take responsibilities for their faulty automatic transmission on 2002 TL models. How can Acura use an arbitrarily-set warranty expiration date to ignore the huge safety problems on their cars?

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #174

Jul 102013

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2002 Acura TL. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle transmission problems. The consumer believed she purchased one of the few Acura's that had a defect in the material and/or workmanship of the transmission that went undetected when replacing the oil cooler return line during the recall in 2004. She believed the damage was already done to the transmission and in her case; the discoloration of the line because of overheating had not occurred or went un-noticed. Subsequently, only the line was replaced and the transmission was not further inspected. The consumer stated it would seem that flushing and changing the transmission fluid would act only as a temporary fix or band aid to the problem and several miles down the road, the same problem would occur. The consumer brought her vehicle in for service because, the D5 light was flashing, the tcs lights were on, and the check engine light was on. Also, she experienced hard shifts, after first gear, usually first to second, and then one last shift into third, upon take off from a stop, and while increasing speed on an incline of a freeway entrance ramp.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #173

Sep 202006

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura TL. The contact stated that while driving 70 mph, the vehicle shifted into neutral and decelerated without warning. The contact stated that the failure occurred twice before and the transmission had to be rebuilt. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. Updated 05/21/12 the dealer stated a new transmisison was needed and it was cost $5300.the transmission was replaced three times. Updated 06/04/12

- Cleves , OH, USA

problem #172

Sep 282011

TL 6-cyl

  • 65,406 miles


Transmission does not shift smoothly anymore. It seems that 2nd gear is gone. The check engine light comes on too. It has the RPM go high before shifting.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #171

Jan 092009


  • 109,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura TL. The contact stated that the transmission was replaced January 2009 because the vehicle would stop accelerating between first and second gears. The manufacturer replaced the transmission with a refurbished transmission yet the exact failure recurred. Both transmissions failed due to excessive heat buildup. The manufacturer was contacted and advised that they would not replace the transmission at their expense a second time. The failure mileage was 109,000 and the current mileage was 135,201.

- Mainville, OH, USA

problem #170

Apr 242003

TL 6-cyl

  • miles
2002 Acura TL type S, has had three transmissions suddenly fail, two at highway speed, endangering the driver and occupants. Apparently from on-line reports, this is quite common for this vehicle. The transmission suddenly and without warning, seized as if the brakes were slammed on. This occurred three times: April '03, July '06, and July '11. Twice Acura (Honda) claimed that it replaced the transmissions. However in light of the subsequent same failures, that claim is suspect unless its engineers have still not fixed the problem, and knowing so, have continued to endanger its customers by not repairing it.

- Mineola, NY, USA

problem #169

Jun 152011


  • 93,000 miles


Transmission failure 2002 Acura 3.2 TL failure occurs after driving for 20 minutes, results in difficulty in shifting and interferes with maintaining safe driving. Attempt to correct failure by manufacturer was unsuccessful in 2004 and repeated failures were in evidence in 2011.

- Chevy Chase, MD, USA

problem #168

Jul 122011


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura TL. The contact stated that the transmission failed and was replaced on three occasions. The manufacturer covered the costs of all three repairs because they were aware of the design flaws. The failure mileage was 40,000 and the current mileage was 184,205.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #167

Dec 282007


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura TL. The contact stated that the vehicle was hesitant when attempting to accelerate from a stop. The vehicle was inspected by an independent mechanic and they advised that the transmission was failing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 90,000.

- Caysville, UT, USA

problem #166

Mar 152011


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura TL. The contact was driving approximately 45 mph when the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact was able to restart the vehicle and was able to drive the vehicle without stalling. The failure recurred approximately ten times intermittently. The dealer was contacted and stated that the transmission would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not taken in for diagnostics or repairs. The approximate failure mileage was 30,000.

- Jackson Heights, NY, USA

problem #165

Mar 122011

TL 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles


My 2002 TL S type was at a red light when my transmission went for the second time. When the light changed the car acted as if it were in neutral, the engine revved but the car didn't go. I had it towed to the dealer and filed a case with their corporate office. When the case manager reviewed it, he said that they didn't feel as though they should have to pay. They also asked me how much I think I should pay. I told them I didn't think I should have to pay anything for a faulty transmission that wasn't ever manufactured properly. Knowing that no matter how many times it goes that it will never be right, no matter who pays for it. I pulled up my VIN # to find info that the warranty extension was extended because of known "defects in the material or workmanship." This is going on the third transmission. I bought it precertified from the dealer in 04 and in 05 my transmission went the first time and the second this March 11. They provided me with a refurbished one. Now that one has broke, which leads me to conclude that the defects in the material didn't get any better each time they changed it. I think they should replace the transmission for life!

- Pa, PA, USA

problem #164

Aug 282009

TL 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
I purchased a used 2002 Acura TL typs S. the care had approximately 60,000 miles on it when I bought it. The transmission began to slip when shifting through midrange gears within a month of purchase and is slowly getting worse.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #163

Oct 182010

TL 2-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,300 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura 3.2tl while driving approximately five mph the vehicle stopped accelerating. The engine rpms continued to increase but the vehicle would not accelerate. She downshifted the vehicle and was able to continue driving normally. The failure began to recur intermittently so that the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the transmission was replaced. The failure and current mileages were 124,300. Updated 01/11/11 updated 03/28/11

- Foster City, CA, USA

problem #162

Sep 152010

TL 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
Had recall on transmission replaced 07/2007. Now 10/2010 transmission is doing the same thing. Took to dealer was told it needs to be replaced and would cost $3800. We feel help should be provided to replace the 2nd transmission. There is no way this car should need another transmission. This car has been well taken care of.

- Guyton, GA, USA

problem #161

Sep 032010


  • 79,250 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura TL. The vehicle was taken to the dealer in 2005 for the Acura transmission recall and on September 3, 2010 she was not able to place the gear in drive. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the transmission will need to be replaced. Since the vehicle warranty expired, the vehicle wasn't repaired. The failure and the current mileages were 79,000.

- San Jose , CA, USA

problem #160

Jul 232010


  • 101,798 miles
On 7/23/10, while traveling East bound on I-95 outside of savannah, ga at approximately 75 mph in my 2002 Acura TL type-S, I noticed white smoke in my rear view mirror. Initially I ignored it and assumed it was dust from the interstate. After traveling a few hundred feet, I looked and noticed the smoke was still there. I immediately looked down at my RPM gauge and found it near the red line without any forward momentum and wondered if this was another transmission failureżit was. At the time of the failure I was in the far left lane of a four-lane interstate. I only had seconds to try and clear the lanes and reach the shoulder on the right side as cars sped by me. It was a harrowing event. This is the third transmission failure over the life of the vehicle despite NHTSA involvement in 12/02. Unlike the other failures, there were no warnings of the catastrophic event. The vehicle was towed to southern motors Acura in savannah, ga. A fourth remanufactured transmission was placed in the vehicle 7 years after Acura informed NHTSA they fixed the problem. I believe these remanufactured transmission are unsafe and have the potential to create vehicle crashes causing seriously bodily injured or death.

- North Charleston, SC, USA

problem #159

Aug 062010

(reported on)

TL 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,128 miles
2002 Acura TL with transmission problems. Consumer states that even with the extended warranty he still has to pay to get the vehicle repaired. The consumer stated with only 20,514 miles the vehicle has yet again developed transmission problems. While driving, the transmission slipped into first gear.

- Walnut Creek, CA, USA

problem #158

Jul 102010


  • 99,860 miles
My car started locking up on me while driving, I would accelerate and it would act as if it was in neutral, and at times I couldn't even reverse. The car will drive then jerk me forward then lock up while I would drive. I called Acura and they told me I would have to pay 5,000 dollars for a new transmission and they would not cover my transmission problem.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #157

Nov 142004


  • 35,524 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Acura TL. The automatic transmission failed. The transmission started slipping at 35,524 miles and the vehicle was taken to the dealer who replaced the transmission. At 51,000 the transmission failed again and the vehicle had to be towed in order to have the transmission replaced again. The transmission failed three times but they were willing to repair it at a 50% discount. The manufacturer was contacted and stated that they have spoken to the regional manager who stated that they were unwilling to replace the failure without him paying 50% of the cost. The failure mileage was 35,524 and the current mileage was 135,000.

- Glen Ridge, NJ, USA

problem #156

Jun 152010


  • 111,000 miles
I own a 2002 Acura 3.2 TL. It has been diagnosed as needing a new transmission. It has 111,000 miles on the defective transmission. Acura has extended the warranty to 100,000 miles, but will not replace this defect under warranty. I believe this is disgraceful. This is my 3rd Honda auto and probably my last.

- Dayton, OH, USA

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