Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Acura TSX dies in cold weather

I have a 2009 Acura TSX that I bought used ~85,000 miles on it. It has been inspected 5 times and each mechanic says the car is basically new in perfect condition. However, it has an extremely difficult time starting after sitting in cold temperatures for more than about 12 hours. If I drive it every 8 hours or so it is fine. Everything has been checked repeatedly; alternator, wiring, battery connection etc. … . The battery is only 3 months old. Any ideas?

Does the starter crank the engine normally, or noticeably slower? How many tries to get it started? Do you have a voltmeter to check the battery volts before and during cranking?

The small 51R battery that is recommended for this car provides 500 Cold Cranking Amps according to its specifications. However, I have found that its output seems considerably less on cold mornings (or the starter motor requires more current to turn the engine fast enough to start it).

If you are using a thicker oil that the specified 5W30, then the engine will provide more frictional resistance and will turn over more slowly on cold mornings.

Has anyone checked the idle air control valve (IACV) and cleaned the mass airflow sensor (MAF)?

It would be helpful to know if its a slow cranking problem or if it cranks normally and doesn’t start. Two different paths to follow.

Wow! Thanks so much for the lightning fast replies. I purchased the car in October and it first died near the end of November. I was only driving it 3 days a week and no more than about 400 miles per month. I got a new battery once that one died and I thought the issue would be solved.
I continued driving it lightly and in about 2 weeks the new battery was extremely weak/dying in the mornings in cold weather. If I drive it at midnight for 10-15mins I can get it to crank(weakly) at 8am.

Insightful: I took the car to a “battery/voltage” specialist who kept it over a weekend and examined every aspect of those systems. They said everything was working properly

SJP1: I have not gotten the oil changed yet but when I do(likely in May) I will note what type of oil they want to use.

Jesmed1: I had it inspected multiple times and I hope/assume that they cleared those issues as possible caused. When I get the oil changed in a month or so I will specifically ask them to check those systems to be 100% sure.

Bing: Early on, one auto shop thought that there was a “slow drain” on the battery(maybe the power seats, some internal light, or some part of the electrical system was faulty. That’s when I took it to the “battery/voltage” specialist to see if they could I.D. the drain. They said there was no drain and everything was in “like new” condition.

Now that it is spring, I don’t have any issues with the starting(even after leaving it undriven for multiple days. It’s a strange mystery. When I get the oil changed I will have them check Jesmed’s suggestions.

Thank you guys sooooo much!

I assume the specialist tested the car in cold weather, leaving it outside.

Have you been to an Acura dealer with it? Heated seats were sometimes a problem and you may have an alternator that is not up to par or even a starter that draws too much when cold.

As a stop-gap you can buy a battery “maintainer” or “conditioner” to keep the battery topped off.

You should have the battery tested. Sometimes new batteries are bad right out of the box.

We still don’t know what the car does when it doesn’t start. Please describe, in detail, what happens when you turn the key.

If it isn’t cranking robustly, you know that rrrrr sound, you get the sound but it is weak or just hear a click, and that’s why it isn’t starting reliably, it could be any of a half dozen different things, battery, battery cables and terminals, ignition switch, under dash relays, transmission safety switches, or the starter motor solenoid contacts.

Rather than guessing or using swaptronics, a reputable shop will measure the voltage at both starter terminals during attempted cranking. If either is below 10.5 volts, it’s upstream of the starter. If both are 10.5 volts or above and you don’t get a robust crank, that’s usually a problem with the starter solenoid contacts, and requires replacing the starter.

Probably need a new battery! We have an Acura TSX as well, and the factory battery is TERRIBLE in the cold weather! Go with a higher CCA battery!

My guess (since we haven’t gotten a detailed explanation of exactly what happens) is a slightly under-sized battery combined with little use in high-drainage (cold weather, short drives, headlights on) driving. I’d get the biggest battery that can fit, and I’d make sure I drive it at least once a week for a half hour during the daytime. Or I’d get a ‘battery tender’ (still get the bigger battery).

Thanks for all the replies/help! I just wanted to give a final update. Here it is 2 year later and I just got an answer from the dealership.

I don’t drive the car long enough haha…go figure!

The alternator needs extended driving periods to recharge the battery. If I drive like 5 or 10 miles every other day then the battery isn’t getting “re-juiced”

The woman at the dealership has the same issue and said that she has to replace her battery every 12months because she only drives between 5 and 7 miles a day.

So either I will drive more or just buy a new battery every year.

1 Like

Get a battery booster

deleted by poster

When winter sets in and the battery in the car is older, then sometimes it just barely cranks.

Purchased car fall of 2014 and failed to crank two mornings in early December. I replaced the battery winter 2015 and things have been fine until now. It’s starting to get sluggish on cool mornings again even though the battery only had 20,000 miles.

Dealership said battery was 500cc or something and was only charging to 400 and that I needed a new one so they replaced it.

Another alternative is to give the battery a refresh charge every once in a while using a battery charger. Probably 2 or 3 hours at a 2 amp rate once a week is all you need. I do that w/my Corolla once in a while for the same reason during colder than normal weather. It’s true what the dealership says, esp with newer cars, what with all the electrical gadgetry they use, they need to be driven more than older cars to keep the battery fully charged up.

So apparently the Acura TSX is severely underpowered by the weak battery recommended (500 CCA). It is all electric and electronically advanced compared to the following cars but uses a puny battery:

Kia Forte… 700 CCA
Toyota Corolla…625 CCA
A dang Kia Rio…760 CCA

Why on Earth would Acura put such a weak battery in an “advanced” car?


Probably because they assume if you go to all the hassle and expense of buying a car, you’ll actually drive it.