Reader Question: Acura VCM Issue?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Connie asks: Does the 2012 Acura MDX have any trouble with VCM that was in earlier models?

My reply: There was a major class action lawsuit directed at Honda (Acura) over allegations of excessive oil consumption/engine issues affecting more than 1.6 million Honda (Acura) vehicles equipped with engines fitted with cylinder deactivation system, Variable Cylinder Management (VCM).

This includes the 3.5 liter V6 in your 2012 MDX.

The system “turns off” some of the engine’s cylinders during light load conditions, such as deceleration/steady-state cruising. “Turn off” is in air quotes because you can’t really turn off any engine’s pistons while the engine is running. The pistons go up and down inside the cylinders and are connected to the crankshaft, which continues to rotate as long as the other pistons are going up and down and everything is connected.

But you can shut off fuel flow and spark – to eliminate the combustion event and thus (in theory) increase fuel efficiency. I think it’s a stupid idea – added complexity/increased possibility of problems for the sake of trivial potential MPG gains. But Honda and the other car companies who install this stuff see it as a way to increase their corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) numbers, which are affected greatly by even small per-car efficiency gains.

A difference of say 2-3 MPG is of little meaningful value to the individual car buyer; but it matters hugely to the car manufacturer as far as CAFE “compliance.”

Anyhow, Honda responded to customer complaints by extending the warranty coverage on the alleged problem cars. And it apparently has made changes to the VCM system in newer models to counteract the reportedly high oil consumption and other issues.

The good news is you can have your Acura’s system disabled – which will eliminate the potential problem by eliminating the source of the potential problem. It will not cause your Acura to run poorly; if anything, it will better.

You can do this yourself of have a shop do it for you. You will need a kit such as this one.

Even better news, it costs less than $100!

. . . 

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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