The Acura RDX is a compact luxury SUV that was first sold in 2007 and quickly rose to become Acura’s best-selling model in the last few years.
Previous models shared platforms with the CR-V, but the third generation RDX, introduced in 2019, now uses its own unique platform and comes with more attractive styling.
All generations of the RDX offer powerful engines, premium interiors and lots of value for money.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Acura RDX’s most common problems.
Table of Contents
1. Limp Mode Issues
Lots of third-generation RDX owners have reported having issues with the car suddenly going into ‘Limp Mode’ when trying to accelerate at freeway speeds.
In a lot of cases, the limp mode issue only comes up when there’s high humidity or in rainy weather, and the car needs to be restarted to get it to run normally again.
Here is how some owners described their experience:
“Was driving on the interstate with slight rain and trying to accelerate but then the check engine light started flashing and the car would not accelerate. Speed on the interstate is 70mph, but the car immediately dropped down to 35mph.“
“While driving on a two lane road at app 60 mph, we accelerated to pass a slower car, Our 2019 Acura RDX lost power and coasted down to about 20 mph and the check engine light was flashing.”
“For the second time, while accelerating in rainy conditions, the engine lost all power and went into limp mode. The check engine light came on and blinked. I was able to pull over and turn the car off and then back on the check engine light was gone.”
This can lead to a very dangerous situation if the car suddenly loses power while trying to overtake and there’s an oncoming vehicle ahead.
The ‘limp mode’ problem usually occurs in the 2019 and 2020 models. Acura has since issued a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) to address the problem.
In December 2020, Acura issued a TSB to fix the ‘limp mode’ issue that early third-generation RDX owners were experiencing.
The TSB recommended updating the ECU (Engine Control Unit) software and swapping out the intercooler parts and ducting for redesigned units.
People who have gotten the software and intercooler update have also noticed that their car accelerates much smoother and any hesitation that they noticed previously has been completely eliminated.
2. Turbocharger Failure
As the first generation RDX gets up in age, more and more turbochargers are starting to fail and throw ‘Check Engine’ lights.
Turbo failures are not uncommon in cars with over 100,000 miles but it should be something to watch out for in the first gen RDX.
Most of the time, it’s just the external turbo actuator, which controls the boost pressure, that fails. Once this goes out, the engine produces less power and gets worse gas mileage.
Most dealerships will want to replace the entire turbo which can cost over $1,000. But there are ways to fix just the actuator itself by checking out different Acura forums.
If it’s just the actuator that needs to be replaced, it’s possible to get a used turbo unit and swap the defective actuator out for a working one. This can be easily done at any reputable auto repair shop.
3. Squeaking Brakes
Another common complaint with the third generation Acura RDX is the brakes making squeaking noises at low speeds even when they are relatively new.
On the Car Complaints website, brake squeal is one of the most commonly reported problems of the RDX, particularly with the 2016 model year of the second generation.
Here is how some RDX owners described their experiences:
“Front brakes make noise and you can feel the abrasive rubbing. I have had both the brake pads and rotors replaced at approx 2500 miles only to have the symptom reoccur about 500 miles later.”
“2019 new RDX! The car brakes sound horrible everyday! I have been promised over 9 months it’s being worked on. I’ve had them changed 3 times by the dealer and still squeaks every time I stop.”
Noisy brakes usually happen when the brake pads are worn out or if the rotors have too much rust or debris on them.
In the case of the RDX, the squeaking tends to happen even after the pads and rotors have just been replaced. This could mean that the squeaking is caused by one or all of the following:
- Manufacturing defect
- Component design issue
- Installation error
If the brakes have just been serviced and they continue to squeak, it shouldn’t really affect their functionality or reliability. It can be annoying to live with or even embarrassing especially since it’s happening in a new luxury vehicle.
Acura released a TSB in 2020 for the third gen RDX which requires dealers to replace the front and rear brake pads and discs to deal with the brake noise.
The brake components were likely updated and redesigned in later models to address the number of complaints they’ve received.
Replacing the pads and discs should be covered by the warranty since it’s caused by a manufacturing defect.
If the issue persists, aftermarket brake pads and rotors are also a good option.
4. Noise When Opening Rear Hatch
Several third-generation RDX owners have complained about hearing loud noises whenever the tailgate is opened.
Some report the noise as a popping sound while others hear a groaning or creaking sound.
Here is how a couple of third gen RDX described their issue:
“My 2020 RDX A-Spec has made this popping/binding issue with the tailgate since I purchased it last year,”
“The tailgate developed a creak while opening and closing within the first 1,000 miles. My attempt to spray lube in the hinge area did not fix the problem. After the dealership inspected, they discovered that three parts need replaced. “
The popping sound is likely caused by the rubber weather stripping catching on the top of the hatch’s frame. The noise occurs once the part that’s stuck is freed up.
People who have experienced this issue have also noticed paint chipping on the top of the hatch where the rubber gets caught.
The groaning or creaking noise is most likely caused by a defective or worn out hinge or spring assembly.
To fix the rear hatch popping noise, Acura has trimmed the pieces that catch and painted over them in newer vehicles.
People have also reported that the ‘groaning’ noise from the hatch was eventually fixed after the dealer replaced the spring assembly.
In some cases, the noises can also be caused by misaligned body panels and trim pieces, which should be addressed by the dealer.
These repairs should be taken care of under warranty as they are considered manufacturing defects.
5. Rear Glass Shattering
Some third generation RDXs have had issues with the rear hatch glass shattering on its own.
Here is how a couple of RDX owners described their experience:
“I got in my car after work. It was 75 F out. I closed my front driver side door, didn’t slam it, and my rear window shattered.”
“My rear windshield on my 2021 RDX spontaneously combusted. I got out of the car and it sounded like an explosion.”
“I have a 2019 RDX. Was cleaning off the snow when my rear windshield started shattering.”
The problem seems to happen more frequently in cold weather and the rear glass can shatter without even touching the rear hatch.
Acura has released a TSB in June 2022 asking dealers to replace the rear glass as long as there is no obvious sign that the car was involved in an accident or that none of the other body panels and components near the rear glass has been compromised or damaged prior to the glass shattering.
According to the TSB the possible cause is an “incorrect specification for the rear defroster grid.” This could mean that Acura has identified a defect or design issue with the rear glass and has updated the part.
6. Dim Headlights
Looking at the data listed on Car Problem Zoo, a website that collects owner feedback, one of the most reported issues for the RDX is poor visibility due to very dim headlights.
Lots of owners on different Acura forums have complained about barely being able to see the road when using just the low beams.
This headlight issue only affects the 2013 to 2015 base models of the second generation RDX because these were equipped with halogen headlights.
After a couple of years, the reflective material inside the headlight assembly would eventually wear out which significantly affects its light output.
Owners often report having to deal with low visibility even after swapping out the bulbs for more powerful units.
Higher trim levels used HID or Xenon lights which used different headlight assemblies, so they didn’t suffer from the same issues.
The 2016 and newer models of the second gen RDX also don’t have this issue because they were updated to LED headlights.
The only real solution to improving the light output of the early second gen base models is to replace the entire headlight assembly.
A pair of original headlights from Acura usually costs over $500. It’s also possible to get aftermarket replacements for a much lower price.
Simply replacing the halogen bulbs for brighter LED or HID bulbs is not recommended since the original headlight assembly is not designed for these bulbs and won’t throw the correct beam pattern.
It’s also possible to upgrade to LED or HID headlights, but you’ll need to use the correct headlight assembly and perform additional electrical work.
Acura RDX Model Years With the Most Problems
To get a better idea of which Acura RDX has the most problems the fairest way is to compare models based on the number of vehicles sold in relation to the number of reported problems.
We’re using Car Complaints PPMY index which means problems reported per thousand vehicles per Year.
For example, newer cars will have fewer complaints simply because they’ve been around for less time.
Based on this index, the most problematic years are:
- 2020 – 1.13 PPMY
- 2019 – 1.10 PPMY
- 2015 – 0.39 PPMY
And the least problematic years are:
- 2008, 2011 – 0.12 PPMY
- 2009, 2016 – 0.13 PPMY
- 2010, 2017 – 0.15 PPMY
|Problems||Sales||Vehicle Age||PPMY Index|
Source: Car Problem Zoo
Acura RDX Pros and Cons
If you’re considering an Acura RDX as your next car you might be wondering what its strengths and weaknesses are…
- Nimble handling especially with SH-AWD
- Premium interior
- Quiet and comfortable cabin
- Engines have decent amount of power
- Lots of standard features and tech
- Good value for money
- Doesn’t have the best fuel economy
- Infotainment lags behind some rivals
- Not the most sporty or luxurious in its class
Acura RDX Reliability Compared to Similar Cars
Consumer Reports rankings detailed below is based on the model’s newest three years, the Acura RDX sits in the middle, with a decent score of 43/100.
|Make & Model||Consumer ReportsReliability Score|
|Land Rover Discovery Sport||25|
|Land Rover Range Rover Evoque||25|
|Land Rover Range Rover Velar||25|
|Alfa Romeo Stelvio||18|
|Tesla Model Y||18|
Source: Consumer Reports
Acura RDX Used Value
We’ve taken a look on Car Gurus to gauge the resale value of a Acura RDX, below are typical asking prices for each model year.
According to Car Edge, an Acura RDX will depreciate 33% after 5 years and have a 5 year resale value of $33,265.
Note: Used model prices will vary depending on trim level.
|Model Year||Mileage (miles)||Resale Price|
Source: Car Gurus
What Do Owners Like and Dislike About the Acura RDX?
Based on owner feedback from the Kelley Blue Book site here are what real-life owners love and hate about the Acura RDX.
- Cargo room
- Fuel economy
- Gear shifting
- Wonky technology
“Really like it so far, interior is amazing when fully loaded! I actually like the touchpad set up better!”
Source: Kelley Blue Book
“The styling, performance and comfort are key features of this Acura. We love using this car for long drives. The seats are very comfortable and highly adjustable. The advance package gives air conditioned seats which is hard to live without once you have it…”
Source: Kelley Blue Book
“…All of the features are great. I am not sure why all the complaints about the True Touch Pad. I’m not a young techy and I mastered the system in just a few days and I love it…”
How Reliable Are Acura Cars?
According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, Acura are ranked the 8th most reliable car manufacturer out of 28 brands, with a score of 64/100.
Source: Consumer Reports