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2012 Acura TSX - Grinds when cold

I started to experience a grinding noise after cold engine starts. 2012 TSX SE 6-sp manual, 65K miles, always full syntetic oil changes by the minder. I had this on cold winter days, but now it is happening in summer heat too! When i showed a small video clip with the problem at the [st/d]ealership one guy said he has no clue, another immediately said “it is VTC smth; it’s normal, you don’t have to do anything”. Even before reading up about VTC actuator issue i knew, this is NOT NORMAL! Now after reading i’m extremely concerned! How is Honda/Acura (a luxury brand!), who know about and acknowledge the issue via several TSBs, being let to not actually fix this? Internet is filled with people reporting this issue on all models with K24 engine!! And at best we can maybe get the bad part replaced by the same faulty one, for $500+?! WTF? Does anybody have the same problem?

Welcome to Car Talk!

Go to an independent shop for a second opinion, preferably one that specializes in Hondas/Acuras.

The correct spec of oil, and oil change intervals, is important for some of those actuators. Have you followed the requirements in the owners manual?

Are you hearing this grinding noise during cranking (i.e. key in “start”), or are you hearing it after it starts, and the engine is idling? What is meant by the shop tech saying “it is VTC smth”, never heard that expression. Which engine do you have? 2.4L 4 banger or 3.5 L 6 banger? If you feel there’s a problem, and the oil and filter are in proper condition, a pro-diagnosis is probably what you need at this point, should be priced at around 1 hour labor.

VVT is very sensitive to the engine oil, so make sure to always use the correct oil spec, buy the filter at the dealership, and change oil and filter at least as frequently as the owner’s manual says, using the severe service schedule. Changing the oil more frequently will only help, never hurt.

If the camshaft timing actuator needs to be replaced, that’s not the end of the world btw. Not an uncommon repair item.

To add more info: 2.4L 4-cyl engine, Mobil1 0W-20 full syntetic oil (which i always buy beforehand and bring to the shop). Just had oil replaced 10 days ago at HAAS Inc. (Chicago).
I said “VTC smth” since at the moment i didn’t catch the exact phrase of the dealership’s rep.

http://ghost-wheel.net/mov/VID_20190821_085617.mp4 is my 9 sec capture of the start. Grind or rattle is heard for 1-2 sec right after the engine starts. Googling for “VTC actuator rattle on cold start” brings up many similar reports and videos (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8b5x_v8Nz4).
Now that i’m aware i’ll be changing oil more frequently (not waiting for the minder to go to 5%).
The problem with replacing VTC actuator is that there is no guarantee this will fix the issue (many people report that it might come back even as early as the next cold start).

the spool valve is $50. under valve cover? what happens if you unplug it and start car? i saw a spool assy for as little as $55 and up to $150. parts seem rather cheap
friend paid 500 to have his cam sensor replaced on his 4cyl altima. seems like a similar job and maybe the tech did take several hrs poking around but that seems high priced

So how do you know it’s the actuator? I wouldn’t be relying on the dealership who first had no clue and then didn’t think such things need to be addressed to properly diagnose the car.

I’d get a second opinion. Also, letting the minder get to 5% is fine. You didn’t do anything wrong and it didn’t hurt anything by letting it get that low.