Looking to Buy a 2004-2008 Acura TL? Here Are 5 Common Issues You Can Encounter

2004-2008 Acura TL 11 photos
Photo: Acura
2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL2004-2008 Acura TL
The third-generation Acura TL is a well-built vehicle with a reputation for reliability, making it a popular choice for those looking for an affordable used sedan. However, because this is an older vehicle that, in most cases, has racked up well over 100,000 miles (160,934 km), potential buyers should watch out for these five common issues.
Built from September 2003 to August 2008 at the Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio, the third iteration of the TL is the perfect embodiment of Acura’s original slogan, “Precision Crafted Automobiles.” It’s pleasant looking, features an elegant interior, handles wonderfully, and hides a high-revving 270-hp V6 under its hood.

Thanks to the build quality, it gracefully withstood the test of time. There are many of them out there that still work fine even though they have been driven for more than 200,000 miles (321,868 km). Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that these Acuras are bombproof. Due to age and daily wear and tear, several components can fail.

If you’re looking to buy a used one and your budget doesn’t exceed $7,000, these are the five most common issues you should watch out for.

Automatic Transmission Failure

2004\-2008 Acura TL
Photo: Acura
The TL can be equipped with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed SportShift automatic. The latter is far more common, but it’s also the Achilles' heel of this model.

Many owners and Acura mechanics have reported that the third clutch pack tends to lunch itself, blocking oil flow and eventually leading to complete failure. The issue can be prevented by replacing the 3rd and 4th gear pressure switches.

Take the vehicle out for a thorough test drive and make sure it shifts through all the gears properly. You should also check the vehicle’s maintenance history to see if the transmission has been replaced or rebuilt or had the switches mentioned above replaced.

Worn Shock Absorbers

Depending on where and how it’s been driven, the sedan might need a new set of shocks. It is a common issue with many used cars, and if it doesn’t get fixed in time, it may damage other components of the suspension system.

During a test drive, pay close attention to the way the vehicle bounces when going over bumps. If it feels more like a boat than a car, then the shock absorbers need to be replaced.

Worn Front Lower Control Arm Bushings

2004\-2008 Acura TL
Photo: Acura
These rubber bushings wear out over time resulting in a clunking noise coming from the front axle when you drive over bumps.

It’s not a serious issue that will cost you a fortune to fix, but it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If you find a cheap TL that you really like and this is the only problem it has, you should also check the state of the front tires because the wheel alignment will be off, resulting in uneven wear.

Failing Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve

This exhaust system component helps to reduce emissions, and in time, it will fail regardless of the make and model. In some cases, it has a lifespan of well over ten years.

Considering that this car is now at least 13 years old, the chances that the EGR valve will fail are quite high so if the previous owner hasn’t already replaced it, you will surely have to. Fortunately, it’s not an expensive part, and with basic mechanical knowledge, you can even do it yourself.

Common symptoms include rough idle, poor performance, increased fuel consumption, or knocking noises coming from the engine bay.

Defective Idle Air Control Valve

2004\-2008 Acura TL
Photo: Acura
On earlier models that have cable-actuated throttle bodies, this component is attached to its exterior, whereas on those with electronically controlled versions, it’s integrated within the body.

Both are prone to fail, but on earlier variants, you can just replace the control valve instead of the whole throttle body which is obviously cheaper.

If this part isn’t functioning properly, the engine can stall, or you can encounter a surging idle. Be sure to check for this issue because if the whole throttle body needs to be replaced, it can lead to a hefty repair bill.

Overall, a used third-generation Acura TL is a great choice that’s well worth the money. If you take your time, search for a well-maintained model, and pay attention to these common issues, you’ll end up with a very dependable and comfortable sedan.

Finally, be as thorough as possible when checking its maintenance history and always perform a pre-purchase inspection before sealing the deal.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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