The tires on our Acura TSX Sport Wagon were overdue for a rotation, and it’s quicker to just do it at home than going somewhere, so out came my fleet of el-cheapo Harbor Freight jacks. And it also gave me the opportunity to examine what has been bemoaned by Hondaphiles: the loss of Honda’s double wishbone front suspension on the current generation of the Accord family.
It’s not like the typical SLA (short-arm, long-arm) front suspension of yore. The upper wishbone is mounted quite high, halfway up the coil spring. But it does its job regardless of where it’s located, of optimizing camber, which a typical MacPherson-type strut does not do as well.
Here’s another view, with the upper wishbone just barely visible. The other thing I did of course was to check brake pad wear. I had been told Honda’s are brake-eaters. With just over 30k miles on it, the front pads appear to have over 50% or more left. And the rears are at 70+%.
Here’s the rear suspension, a multi-link type of the kind pioneered by the Mercedes W201 and W124. That was a true marvel at the time, as it was the first really perfected rear suspension, never letting the rear wheels do anything untoward no matter what was dished out to them. It’s a veritable jumble of struts/control arms.
So how does it all work? Splendid! I hate to crow, because it’s something car owners are so apt to do about their cars. But the handling of the TSX is absolutely superb. The wagon, with its heavier rear body, has an excellent 57/43 F/R weight distribution, and it’s neigh-near impossible to feel that this car had FWD. Part of that may be because the four lacks the extreme grunt of the V6, but I prefer balance, and I rather hate the classic FWD front-heavy feel. It’s just missing here, to an extent I didn’t expect. Handling is the TSX Sport Wagon’s best quality.
No matter how fast I dive into an unfamiliar/blind curve at high speed on our many winding highways and back roads, I have yet to ever be able to make the TSX feel the slightest off-balance or like I was pushing it a bit too hard. very impressive, and very confidence-inspiring.
It’s a great road-trip car, and we’ve made a number of them up and down to California, on various routes along the coast and through the coastal mountains. But I avoid driving it on town, as it feels ponderously big and wide compared to my little xB, which nips through traffic and parks so easily.And I prefer the xB for gravel forest roads, as I know its habits on the loose stuff so well, and it’s just a lot more nimble there. Plus if I someday do slide off a gravel road, i’d rather it be in the cheap old xBox than the TSX. It’s Stephanie’s car, except for weekend trips or longer ones.
The TSX has not required anything other than the stupid little dead battery to be replaced. A couple of oil changes, and that’s it. While you’re reading this, we’ll be driving it into the Cascades for a hike. And loving every minute; both the drive and the hike. Need to exercise those double wishbones as well as the double legs.
That is an impressive suspension design. Much more so than the McPherson strut setup on many newer cars. I apologize for being a safety nanny, but using jack stands is much safer than using jacks alone to support the car.
Yeah, even just changing tires I’d never trust Harbor Freight jacks by themselves.
it’s not like I took a nap under it. 🙂
FWIW, hydraulic bottle jacks (which is essentially what this is) failure rate is extremely low. More likely to get hit by lightning.
When I was fixing up my moved houses, we used cheap bottle jacks to raise up portions of the house we were working under all the time. The house mover did the same thing.
But go ahead, and be safety nannies. I’ve survived this far, and this is profoundly low on the risk factors in my life. You should see the steep roof I climbed yesterday to clean off some sky lights…I was right on the edge of adhesion the whole time….thrilling.
You’re a braver man than I.
Safer than when I did this the other day!
As long as you’re not under the vehicle there is little danger even if a jack fails. Worse case would be a failure just as you are putting the tire on/off.
I can assure you the failure rate for cheap-ass jacks is much higher than the chances of getting struck by lighting. And I don’t consider using something as basic as jack stands to be nanny-ish. It’s your car and your risk, but that doesn’t make it safe or smart.
I have a personal reason I felt the need to say this…and I’ll leave it at that.
Ah, no, jack stands are a must. It is not like you were just taking a tire off and on as evidenced by the picture taking. Even when I rotate tires on a side I use stands even though the job takes me under 8 minutes. Right now my Sable is up as I pull the timing cover and oil pan. Each side has two jack stands under the frame of the car in front.
Those jack are not similar to bottle jacks. These have wheels and they can move. I’ve seen it happen. Not to mention over time they have a tendency to bleed off and allow the jack down.
Steep roof and on the edge of adhesion. I knew someone who was helping out Houses for Humanity and was only 10 feet up when he fell. Broke his back and ended up a paraplegic
I once had the safety jacks collapse while replacing brakes when 4 were placed under the frame, holding up my 70 C10. The brakes were down to the backing plates which were now L shaped after slamming on the ground. The triangular base portion of the ‘safety’ jacks just folded up and under. And this was on a concrete level floor. The truck shifted forward as they collapsed but that was probably due to the heavier front. I’m so glad I wasn’t under the truck at the time, and that I had shooed my friends young son away from the front of the truck. Moments after I did, it fell and the front bumper was an inch away from the back wall of the garage.
At least at the time (mid ’80’s) backing plates were easy to find at U pull. These stands were rated at 1200 lbs apiece, the truck weighed less than 4000 lbs.
If I am going to work under a vehicle I now use rims with tires stacked up to hold up the vehicle, they won’t slip or collapse. Space savers work well for fine adjustments in height. But if I’m just rotating or installing winter tires, like Paul I just use floor jacks to hold up the car, along with blocking the wheels on the other side. I will never use jack stands again.
It’s easy to see why the TSX rides and handles so well with it’s sophisticated suspension set up. A lot of thought and engineering went into it’s design.
Remember to never use the safety belts too so you’ll be ” thrown clear ” in any collisions…..
Ideally you would use both a jack and jack stand. That way 2 things would have to fail for the car to fall. The failure rate for jacks are higher than jack stands. Some people also put wheels under the car, so they have triple protection.
One misleading thing about the jack stand industry is that they are rated in pairs. For example, a single 6 ton jack stand is really only rated for 3 tons. The only company I know of that rates their jack stands as singles is US Jack.
Here is an interesting thread about jack stand failures.
I don’t see an issue using jacks alone to change wheels. It’s not like your climbing under the car and yanking or banging on parts. I have done this countless times just with a jack to pull a wheel or do a quick inspection. There is one local tire shop I know of that regularly uses four jacks at once without stands, one on each corner, to change tires. This is one of the busiest shops in town and they have never had an issue. That said, whenever I am under a car for a repair, I do use stands, and often have a jack or something else as a back up.
TBH I think Honda really should’ve offered a manual, maybe even the Accord Coupe’s V6/manual on the TSX wagon. When something’s a niche product to begin with, might as well go for it and not leave any potential “if only…(shrug) maybe next year” sales on the table.
And offer it in brown! 🙂
Don’t forget the diesel!
I’m not sure if it was available in brown, but there was a Honda Accord Tourer 2.2 i-DTEC with a 6 speed manual. Here’s one in silver, 180 hp. The Acura TSX is the same car as Honda’s contemporary Euro-Accord.
yeah, but it needs to be RWD.
Damn you Honda !
I’d give Honda a pass on the RWD, since they were FWD early adopters.
Whew! For a second there I thought Paul had become a victim of the seemingly inevitable for an Acura/Honda!
Stolen wheels/tires. Accord Sports and high-line Fits are especially popular with wheel thieves but pretty much any Honda aluminum wheel that will fit a Civic/Integra is a potential target.
I have long felt that a given Honda will have a lightness and a fleetness about it that seems to be lacking (or at least present in smaller amounts) in the comparable Toyota. But, as you note, I am more of a Hondaphile than a Toyonut, and a guy’s biases can come out in such a statement.
I did not pay much attention to those when they were out, but since you got yours, I have liked these more and more.
I will also confess that I have not rotated a tire in quite awhile, preferring the lazy guy’s approach of letting the tire place do it for free.
preferring the lazy guy’s approach of letting the tire place do it for free.
I prefer that too, but not the long waits. By the time I had finished this in 15 minutes, I’d just be getting there. I hate waiting around.
I take my cars to the dealer, which has a first-come-first-served lane. I am first in line when they open and I’m out with changed oil and rotated tires in 20 minutes.
Problem is that the tire places won’t do it. They promise they will when you buy tires, but when you come in to get it done they cite that idiotic tire company video as evidence that the most tread has to be on the rear, once the fronts are worn a bit more that promise is void.
I’m done with those places, I get a good price on recent dates and plan on taking care of them myself. It’s a good opportunity to check other things with the tires out of the way. I also retorque the lugs after mounting. On a trip I’ll do it right in their lot before I go.
My Element has gotten about 100k out of pads, fronts were still at 60% at 200k after being installed at 99k. I use OEM. Important to change fluid ($5 plus $3 for veterinary syringe) so the calipers ($lots more) don’t corrode. If I’d known that long ago I’d have changed fewer pads over the years, as well as other parts. The Element still has original brake and clutch hardware 12 years later.
My 2004 Element EX AWD automatic would eat rear pads….less than 20,000 miles while the fronts would last more than 40,000. Some blamed it on the calipers hanging up due to the road salt in Buffalo, some said it was the rearward proportioning valve…IDK….I will say my 2011 was much better
This is a recent development. I had to sign a waiver for the tire shop (Wall Mart) to install the two new tires on the front of a Geo Prizm even though the back tires were like new.
They will make this argument, but when I push back they make some comment along the lines of “it’s your funeral” and then do it.
I used to rotate my SRX’s tires at 6000 mile intervals between oil changes at 12,000 mile intervals (oil monitor at 25%). I had a spare tire and one jack. Now the CTS has run flat tires, no spare and no jack, but oil changes come at about 7000 mile intervals (semi synthetic oil), so the tires are rotated with the oil change (included service for 50,000 miles).
…preferring the lazy guy’s approach of letting the tire place do it for free.
I exploited that “free rotation” from the Firestone store, once. Of course, they were trying to sell me a new air filter, and anything else they could try to claim was amiss, which is the objective of sucking people into the store for the “free rotations”. I declined their offers.
When I returned to my car, I gave it a look over as I always do when anyone else has been near it. Made a discovery: they had been so intent on finding something under the hood to charge me for, that they neglected to fold the prop rod before closing the hood. The result was a broken prop rod and a fatally bent hood. Fortunately I made this discovery before leaving their property otherwise they would have said I did it myself.
I coddled that Civic, and I was never closer to homicide than at that moment. Firestone ended up paying for a new hood, and a rental car for me to use while the Civic was in the shop (a Toyota Echo, but that is another story), about $750 for their moment’s stupidity.
Now, I let the dealership charge me for the rotations in the scheduled maintenance packages. Trying to be cheap isn’t worth coming that close to murder and spending my retirement in prison.
I have bought most of my tires at Discount Tire that offers free lifetime rotations, and they do nothing but tires, so no upselling. However, the thing I am waiting to run into is what SpeedyK mentioned above – this idiotic idea that the best tires need to be on the back. I call BS on this, particularly on a FWD car since all the back tires have to do is follow the fronts.
I don’t recall this becoming an issue until the last couple of years, but I have heard this at DT more and more as I sit and wait.
My dealer (car) left the tire where they were once, because the best tires were in front already. Last oil change they did rotate. I am @17%, so will need an oil change any time. One time they did a FWD rotation instead of a RWD, which might explain why they did a skip.
“…since all the back tires have to do is follow the fronts.”
Yes, I can confirm this 😎
I’ve owned 4 different Honda products, and have driven about 4 or 5 that belonged to other people, and I’ve never known them to be “brake eaters”.
As much as you like the TSX, you need to try a Honda with double wishbones at all for corners. Unfortunately, Honda doesn’t build them that way anymore, so it will have to be a used car.
This IS a Honda. 🙂 It just happens to be wearing an Acura badge. And they don’t build this (Euro)Accord anymore either. The only one left with double wishbones is the Acura RLX.
The only Honda we had that liked brake pads was a 2008 Accord that liked rear pads every 20,000 miles.
The only time I really did a direct comparison between Honda and Toyota suspension design was when I was doing brakes on my 1991 Camry and my wife’s 92 Accord the same day…I sensed that Honda had more elegant design…cast aluminum suspension arms vs. the Camry’s stamped steel pieces, and even the brake calipers used 4 small fasteners vs. 2 bigger ones in the Toyota. The Toyota seemed perfectly functional and utilitarian, but maybe a little crude compared to the Honda.
My 2010 Accord needed front brakes at 30k. My 2013 needed front brakes at 75k.
Glad you are enjoying your TSX wagon, Paul! Maybe as an Acura salesperson one may think I am partial, but that is truly a great handling car. I don’t think many people have really pushed their TSX to the limit, to really appreciate what that car is capable of. And I have a long list of people looking for them pre-owned. Now that they are discontinued everyone seems to want a wagon again. Go figure! When we get one in stock it tends to sit around for a day or two before getting snatched up.
I have always loved any Honda with the true Double Wishbone design at all four wheels. My ’99 Accord has Multi-Link 4-Wheel Double Wishbone suspension and it rides, handles and drives like a dream, even with 194k miles on it. I suspect people bought these cars for the overall goodness of them and never realized just how incredible that suspension setup actually is. I’ve owned the newer model Accords and they simply aren’t the same.
And why do people still think that everything from Harbor Freight is junk, when it is not? And Milwaukee has a killer M18 1/2 drive cordless impact wrench that would speed up the process even more. It makes my old Ni-Cad 18v Snap-On impact wrench look silly
I’ve had my big harbor freight floor jack for 8 years now, cost me maybe $60 and I’ve used the crap out of it – I lift the whole front or rear end of my 3700lb car with it, either with the cup on the differential or front crossmember – There’s certain things they do well and just happen to be super cheap, I’d get another jack and stands from them in a heartbeat.
While I do tend to obsessively use jack stands, I don’t really get the HF sass (nor the online patronizing, for that matter – can’t we just be happy that somebody is posting stuff with pictures). I’ve had a HF jack for years now and like Matt’s it has routinely serviced a 3700lb car from the diff to the front crossmember and has been great. All of the other tools I’ve ever purchased from HF have been first-class too, and I have purchased many. Thumbs way up!
The Harbor Freight aluminum jacks have become sort of de facto standard for some applications. Aftermarket companies sell fabricated custom-fit “sleds” for these jacks to allow them to be used in dirt, and many off-roaders use this setup instead of the time-honored HiLift jacks.
+1 for Harbor Freight
Harbor Freight is like any other place…just since this article hit the airwaves, I’ve been to HF and bought a pole saw. I now need to take it back as the nut that holds the cutting bar is stripped coming out of the box.
However, when the oopsies happen from HF they always appear to be very good about backing their stuff.
Yes HF has an excellent return policy, almost too good. My gf used to be a store manager and they constantly had people buying specialized tools using them and then returning them for a refund. Some of that stuff was returnable to the company return center, but most of would end up being thrown away. The neighborhood crackheads would dumpster dive for stuff to take back into the store to attempt to “return” for a refund.
… people buying specialized tools using them and then returning them for a refund.
Same thing happened when I worked at Radio Shack in the 80s, people buying a camcorder, or CB, or radar detector. Then refund the stuff when their vacation was over. Buy a stereo, then refund it after their new year’s party. One guy ran a telemarketing boileroom. He’d buy a dozen phones, use them in his boileroom for a month, then refund them. Next time he had a telemarketing contract, he would buy the phones again, used them then refund them.
The neighborhood crackheads would dumpster dive for stuff to take back into the store to attempt to “return” for a refund.
Same thing at RS. Had to hammer anything to rubble before tossing it in the dumpster to prevent that. People with more stones would walk in the store, take something off the shelf, walk up to the counter and demand a refund for the item they just shoplifted.
Nothing has changed since. I was in Home Depot last year. Saw a guy demanding a refund for a very expensive bronze faucet. No receipt, no box, no drain assembly. Just the faucet and the plastic nuts that hold the faucet in place. Looked like he had pulled it off the store’s display.
Good article and certainly a quicker way to rotate tires than using jackstands and the vehicle’s own scissor jack.
Wagon bodies can really help the handling feel of FWD cars. At one point we had a Focus hatchback and a Focus wagon, both first generation. I preferred driving the wagon because of the more balanced feel from the extra ~150lbs out back. The hatch always felt a little nose-heavy. I am sure that weight didn’t help acceleration but I really couldn’t tell by the seat of my pants.
I has a 98 Civic with the same artistic suspension components. Some regard that late 90s generation as peak Civic. I remember the whining in the automotive press when Honda waved the white flag to Hyundai and went to struts to cut cost in 2001.
I can’t believe you rotate the tyres. I’ve always thought this to be a bad idea. I find the 45 profile tyres on our Accord/TSX very sensitive to wheel alignment and it’s easier to check for irregular wear if each tyre stays in one place. Of course, the road surfaces can be pretty coarse here in the Emerald Isle.
Did you notice the front bush on the front lower arm ? Very big and squashy and mounted in an odd plane, to cushion the NVH from low profile rubber.
Well, my understanding is that the typical RWD SRX would wear out two or three sets of front tires (which would not fit in back) while the rears were still good. My 2007 SRX came with full size tires all around, so they could be rotated. I got 40,000 miles out of the first set, and 60,000+ out of the second set.
Believe it! It’s what the overwhelming majority of folks do, if they want to follow the recommendations and get maximum mileage out of their set of tires. Why would it possibly be a bad idea?
Tires wear faster on the front than the rear. I prefer to buy new tires in sets of four, not two. I rotated them because the fronts were clearly more worn, and this is the car’s second rotation. Tire tread wear warranties require rotation if you want to file a tread wear adjustment.
Tread wear is dependent on driving style, car condition, and the kind of road surface it’s used on, so I don’t understand how you can have a “tyre tread wear warranty” – certainly couldn’t happen here.
There is a school of thought that says tyres get “run-in” according to what corner of the car they are on. Once they have settled in they should be left alone. There is a general suggestion these days that the best tyres should be on the back, but I believe the folk who came up with this idea haven’t been driving as long as I have.
I prefer to buy 2 tyres at a time – the cost of buying 4 might force me to buy a cheaper tyre that I don’t really like. Obviously with AWD you need to buy a full set at once and keep the wear equalised, which is one reason for avoiding it.
Michelin recommends rotating tires as do other notable tire manufacturers. If you have directional tires both front and rear and different sizes front and rear, rotating is probably not worth the trouble, or possibly not even doable. I try to avoid such vehicles.
What you’re espousing are the recommendations for radial tires back in the 60s and 70s, the notion of them taking “a set” to one wheel, one direction, etc, and not rotating them.
All of that was decisively changed a few decades ago, by the major tire manufacturers. The protocol has changed. Tires are to be rotated, and they can be swapped side to side as well.
Absolutely, rotating is the best way to keep your tires wearing properly and evenly. Plus unrotated tires tend to scallop when not rotated in the rear and will get noisy.
Yup. I ignore mileage and go by my handy tire tread depth gauge, which I used to check the tires once or twice a year. The tires get reinstalled on my FWD vehicles as follows:
most tread depth > RF (that corner wears tires the fastest)
Second-most tread depth > LF
Third-most tread depth > RR
most-bald tire > LR
Identical suspension front and rear as the 2003-2007 7th-gen North American Accord.
The front suspension looks similar to the 1988-onwards Ford Falcon suspension which they term Short-Long Arm, Long Spindle (SLALS), where the top ball joint is also above the tire side wall. Later versions had a split lower wishbone that places the effective location of the lower ball joint (there are two with this system) within the brake disk. They call that Virtual Pivot.
This shot is from an F-100 that had a Falcon crossmember swapped in, and is much easier to see the suspension than when panels get in the way!
Nice setup, but somehow I’m unimpressed. It would have been interesting that you have taken a shot of the front lower control arm to see if they use a single or a double ball joint arrangement. From what I can infer in your pictures, you have a single LCA.
The front setup on the current Falcon (flashy aluminium) and Territory have a split LCA with 2 ball joints. And I have seen some Audis with 2 ball joints in the front upper control arm.
You rear suspension is more interesting from a simplicity, weight and cost effectiveness point of view. I guess there is some sort of strut back there as I cannot see the spring.
The rear springs are high-mounted coils over the shocks, which you can see in the rear suspension photos. As for the multiple ball joints, if the kingpin axis and scrub radius are already where you want them to be — which is easier with wishbones or multilink than with struts — there’s an argument for NOT adding the extra complexity of virtual-pivot, multi-ball-joint links, not least from a cost standpoint. (It’s also something else to wear out, as owners of cars with Toyota’s Super Strut can attest.)
2003 Civic w/5 speed. Front breaks done for the first time a 152,000.
There was still many miles of break pad left.
Now at 277,xxx we are thinking maybe front pads again? The back
shoes are still original.
One repair in those 277,xxx miles. The keys/locks were shot, no idea
why and the dealer said they hadn’t seen that before.
I am paying attention, rotate tires a 5,000 oil at 10,000 (full syn.)
The only problem with the Civic is I don’t look cool when driving it!
…”The only problem with the Civic is I don’t look cool when driving it!”…
I assume it’s not the 200 hp Civic Type R ?
What could possibly be cooler than a well pleased thrifty Honda owner/driver ? .
That Acura wagon is really a nice useful car, looks good too. My 1990 Civic had the dual wishbones, made for a nice low cowl that Honda was once known for. My ’92 Nissan 300ZX had a even more complex dual wishbone set up. That made for a nice ride with good handling. I admit I’m an old man. I want a smooth ride. I was so happy to see that the new Mustang finally went to an IRS. My ’07 rides pretty good but this is way over due.
This makes me want a TSX wagon, again. Which is something I’m not getting in the foreseeable future, alas.