Update: 2005 Acura TL VSA system kicks in randomly

Update: Took the car into the Acura dealership and they gave me a $7700 repair estimate for everything, including the ABS Modulator.

Belt Tensioner - $450
Oil Pump Gasket - $1300
Power Steering Pump Reseal - $460
ABS Modulator - $2700
Rear brake pads and both rear brake rotors resurfaced - $320.00
RR Main Oil Seal - $1900
Valve cover gasket set replaced - $620.00

I’m not putting $7700 into a car that’s only worth $5300 in good condition, so any thoughts on if I should repair some of it, take it somewhere cheaper to repair, don’t fix any of it and sell as is, keep it, sell it, etc.?

My 2005 Acura TL’s VSA light, orange warning light, and VSA system has had issues for the last year and a half or so. It wouldn’t be a big issue to me if the light was just on, but the VSA traction system actually kicks in while driving - during driving and braking, on completely normal pavement and under good weather conditions. It has approximately 180k miles. My 18-year-old daugther drives it and I’ve realized after driving the car myself this last week that it’s a very big safety issue for her, as it pulls violently to the right when it kicks in, making it hard to control the car, especially when travelling at faster speeds.

I have an appointment to take it to the dealership on August 7th, but wanted to get your opinion on how simple/complex this issue could be and how much money I’m going to have to sink into it to get it repaired. Because of the mileage, I’ve had to put some money into it lately - timing belt, alternator, new tires, new brakes, etc. I’m dreading having to pay for this repair.

Thank you!

It’s probably something as simple as a wheelspeed sensor. Only the mechanic can be sure because he will have the proper tools to diagnose it. The cost depends on the car and what is needed. If you do not have a trusted mechanic, ask people you know for references, and/or get more than one estimate. You stated that this is a safety concern so if you are not a mechanic, I would get it in as soon as possible.

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The repair charge is better than getting a call that you daughter has crashed into a ditch . No one likes repair bills on anything but it can’t be avoided .

That timing belt was expensive, but the good news is that this shouldn’t be that bad. If the dealership diagnoses it as a bad computer, get a second opinion.

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14 year old car, stuff goes wrong, stuff wears out, money gets spent. Cheaper than payments on a new car.

Pull the ABS system fuse. That defeats the VSC as well. 2 second repair. The VSC and ABS lights will stay on but the car won’t kick anymore. ABS and VSC won’t work anymore either. Zero cost repair.


I wouldn’t want to be the driver if there was an accident that was my fault and the other side found out I’d intentionally disabled a built-in safety system.

If I were the other side, I’d sue them sideways. I vote it’s fine to pull the fuse for the drive from the house to the mechanic’s, but viewing it as a permanent solution is asking for trouble.

The legal issue is certainly a consideration. Same could be said for bald tires, rusty and badly maintained vehicles. Life is a risk and insurance exists for a reason.

Cars were built for 100 years without these systems. In this situation the failing system could easily cause a wreck because of said safety system.

All food for thought and discussion.

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While I agree in general, I bet there’s something in the policy that says the policy is void if they disable a safety system that might have prevented the wreck. Ins. co’s are pretty good at covering their butts even from payouts they should be making.

Thank you for your helpful comment. I’m hoping it’s something as simple as that.

The point of my question is not to avoid fixing it all - just trying to get an estimate or some inkling what may be wrong with it. And I do realize that paying for repairs is better than risking my daughter’s safety - that’s why she’s not driving it until I get it fixed.

Thank you! Keeping fingers crossed.

Yes, I realize that it’s an older car and that’s why I’ve been agreeable to all the recent repairs. However, I don’t have limitless financial resources and I’m about tapped out money-wise on this. Your advice about disabling the VSA system was something I was thinking about, but I guess shadowfax brings up some good points. Something to ponder. Thank you!

Are all 4 tires the same make/model/size and roughly the same amount of wear? If not, differing tires could have something to do w/this symptom and should be considered early on, before doing anything more drastic. A dealership shop isn’t needed for this problem btw, any well recommended inde shop that works on Acura’s can figure it out, and might save you some $$ too.

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I know Acura had issues in your vintage with VSA engaging randomly but only know it applied to MDX. I would google that and hope the recall extended to your model.

Hi! Yes, all 4 tires have been replaced recently and have been balanced. When I took it to an independent shop, they tried to fix it but we still had problems with it. I then took it to the Acura dealership and they gave me an estimate of $2700 to get the ABS Modulator replaced.

Good call! I checked and unfortunately the TL wasn’t included - just the MDX and the RL.

I don’t see any pertinent service bulletins or recalls on this vehicle related to the anti-lock brake stability system either. It appears you are on your own on this one. Here’s the most likely candidates. The wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor, lateral and yaw sensors, and traction control switch are probably the most easy of the group (i.e. inexpensive) to test. With this problem I’d probably start by testing all four wheel speed sensors using an o’scope to view the wave-forms each produce as the wheel is hand-spun. If that didn’t work I’d ask if it was possible to just disconnect the ABS system altogether and just accept the limitations of a brake system without ABS.

  • brake fluid pump
  • braking sensor/switch
  • electronic brake control module
  • hydraulic control assy for ABS
  • lateral accelerate sensor
  • steering angle sensor
  • traction control module
  • traction control switch
  • wheel speed sensors
  • yaw rate sensor

The other repairs, they are probably all needed. You might could defer the power steering pump, the rear main oil seal, and the valve cover gasket provided you don’t mind the leaks on the garage floor, and having to top off the fluids to compensate for the leaks. If you have a manual transmission the rear main seal probably has to be done pretty soon, b/c it could cause the clutch to start slipping. When my Corolla sprouts a leak at the valve cover I can usually stop it by removing the valve cover, re-position the existing gaskets as required, and applying a few dabs of sealant at the places the valve cover tends to leak, then re-installing the valve cover, making sure to tighten the fasteners in rounds of three in the proper order to the specified torque.