replace the whole headlight housing.
unless that round light comes out from the back and you could get in and try to clean it. but I don’t think so.
@OP, it’s a very real problem that is common to the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Acura RDX base model. It’s outrageous that Acura hasn’t recalled it. The low-beam reflector itself oxidizes, is not reflective at all, and no amount of brighter bulbs or clean outside lenses will help with a reflector that doesn’t reflect. (It’s also not related to the cloudy inner-lens. It’s the reflector.)
Replacing the entire headlight assembly is the only solution for 99 percent of the world. (Extreme DIYers could take the headlight assembly apart and find someone who professionally resilvers the reflectors, possibly involving having to ship them somewhere. (So the 1 percent would need to have time on their hands, an oven (yes, an oven to melt rubber to get the glass off), and be able to be without their car (daytime only!) for days, probably.
People who mean well and arent familiar with the specifics of the Acura RDX 2013 to 2015 problem will give you conventional advice (clean the outside lenses and buy the brand bulbs they like), but they are incorrect. There is a widespread and extreme problem and defect with this specific generation of the Acura RDX.
On this model car, the low beams get so dangerously dim, that (my case for example), I literally could not tell if the low beam headlights were on or off if I were driving on a street where any street lights (even just residential neighborhood street lights) were anywhere within eyesight. The only time I could make out that they were on would be if I were on a pitch black section of a street, in which case I could see a very faint glow that only extended maybe four-feet out. And when I parked facing the garage door at night, just about three feet from the garage door, both the running lights and the flashers were far (not just a little) brighter than the low beams.
The deterioration also happens gradually, so you don’t necessarily notice it at first, but it gradually gets worse and worse until the headlights are practically nonfunctional.
In my case, the pandemic, working from home, and being in a household with other cars made it possible to have this car while completely avoiding using it at night. Other people may not be as lucky.
I replaced mine through eBay. I chose the seller am-autoparts because their price was almost the lowest ($20 to $40 more than the official lowest price), but their ebay reputation rating (and the quantity they have sold) was very high. The box the headlights came in says “Eagle Eyes” as the brand. They fit perfectly and the car is safe to drive again.
I’m an occasional DIYer with what I’ll call “medium” skills. It took me about five hours, 1.5 of which was failing to pay attention to one key bit of advice: The bottom of the headlights are attached to a bracket, which in turn is what attaches the bottom two bolts to the car. The headlights plus bracket can and should be removed (and reinstalled) together, pre-attached. I mistakenly tried to connect them back together in place on the car, and 1.5 hours later, I realized that was pretty much impossible.
Also, you only have to remove the bumper cover, the top/painted/visible part. The splash guards, really everything down below, can stay in place. (Many bumper-removal videos show how to remove the lower parts too. Not needed in this case.)
Also, purchase a package of assorted clips in advance. Expecting to remove the bumper cover without at least SOME of the original clips breaking is too eternally optimistic. (Plus, even though everyone does it, you’re not supposed to reuse clips in critical places.) Likely to cost about $10 U.S. if you shop around carefully.
Good luck. I personally am choosing to contact the law firm that’s gathering information for a class action lawsuit, and to force Honda/Acura into doing a recall. (Chimicles, btw.). I’m out $500 bucks from this defect, and fortunate that nothing terrible happened while driving the car before realizing that the low-beams basically didn’t work.
By the way, being the creative (and cheap) type, I tried the following (without success) to one side of the original (defective) headlight assemblies:
- I straightened and shaped part of a wire hanger into an L shape (about six inches long, about 1 inch long for the tip of the “L”)
- Very securely affixed a smallish (2 inches by 2 inches, roughly) shop towel, folding several layers over one another, and VERY thoroughly taping the end of it so that I wouldn’t end up with the paper stuck inside.
- And I fished it into the low beam compartment. With LOTS of patience, I eventually got to where I could more or less feel my way into the low beam compartment, and wipe around.
- I was (but only momentarily) able to wipe the cloudy inner (low beam assembly) lens, and visibly see more clearly than before through it.) That made no discernible difference when I tested. And the inner lenses got cloudy again within seconds of testing the lights out.
- So, I focused on trying to polish/clean the reflectors. But, all that accomplishd was to wipe the oxidized grit away. There was no magical shiny surface below the grit, probably just bare plastic. What I did definitely didn’t help. When I would pull out and inspect the shop towel, there was slightly shiny metallic/damp powder-like residue on it.
- (I daydreamed of finding a magical high temperature chrome paint and brushing it on, but (a) even if it worked, it probably wouldn’t have restored the low beams to street legal brightness, but (b) I didn’t find any such paint that would have been safe for light bulb temperatures, and (c) most importantly, my practical side knew it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. It became time just buy new headlight assemblies. I had spent over a year and a half not using the stupid car at night.)
I can’t say I really expected it to work, but I’m glad I at least tried, 45 minutes out of my life. If I’m bored one day, I may try to fish a dental mirror through the hole to get a better look inside, now that the old/bad/defective assembly is off the car.
There are 55 complaints for this problem at safercar.gov, but no NHTSA investigation or manufacturer communications for it. If you haven’t already, consider lodging a complaint with NHTSA. Have your VIN handy for the complaint. It’s no guarantee that there will be an investigation, but more complaints do get NHTSA’s attention. As you may know, if there is a recall, you will be reimbursed for the cost to fix your RDX, so keep all receipts.
Additionally, if the OP bought the vehicle second-hand, there is a possibility that he wouldn’t receive a recall notice–if a recall actually takes place. He should periodically go to NHTSA’s website, enter his VIN, and check for recalls on his vehicle.
@JTSanders & VDCDriver, thanks. There are 56 now, and I’ll pass this along over in some Acura/Honda forums I’m part of.
@Cavell, yes, it’s a projector style low beam. When I mentioned painting as a wishful thinking thought that I never really took seriously or expected to work, I was talking about my contraption with the bent wire hanger and shop towel, to paint the reflectors inside the projector.
The oem entire headlight unit is $500-800. But the bulb capsule is $30. And almost every light “guts” from ford-chev-Acura is the same.
@Cavell, that’s an interesting thought, assuming a person is willing to disassemble the headlight unit (which I might have done myself, given a choice of spending $500 vs. $100.
Do you have a link or name of someone/somewhere who sells the drop-in low beam part? When I looked, I only found aftermarket/retrofit kits that appeared to be a combination low/high beam projector for people who wanted to convert to “angel-eyes” or “demon-eyes” looks (not a drop-in exact replacement specifically for the low beam projector that the car came with. Thanks
any junkyard car could have a potential source for your lens assy. How they mount is the question. Is Acura tlx light same as rdx? Or any Acura? Never took a headlight assy apart. Cut it out? Use plastic adhesive?
But, will it be aligned properly?
My former car had models with reflector lights and projector lights. The aftermarket units are as cheap as $200. Which isn’t cheap.
Put away $100 a month and by summer you’ll be all fixed up.
ah, I misunderstood your earlier post with the picture from ebay. I thought you were saying that replacement “innards” projectors were easy to get.
Regarding junkyard replacements, I personally wouldn’t trust OEM Acura-provided headlights (or used ones on eBay). It’s an unusual situation where the aftermarkets may very well be superior. Although I suppose it will take six years to find out.
Oem rdx lights fuzz out.
Rdx only have this issue?
Guts from any other brand might be fine.