1991 Acura NSX: A Change Will Do You Good
March 22, 2012
As noted in an earlier post, it was time to change the oil in our beloved long-term NSX. I volunteered to do the job myself, even though our local Acura dealer quoted us a very reasonable $70 to have it done. Here's how it all went down.
Once I had the NSX on our two-post Rotary lift (nose-in, instead of backed-in, as Dan Edmunds suggested), everything was easy to access. I should note that I made sure to empty the trunk of everything I brought with me (tools, oil, filter, etc.), because too many times in the past, I've had to lower a lift to grab something I forgot.
So there's the drain plug in yellow and the filter in blue.
Just on the initial glance, I realized that filter was going to cause me problems. It was quite a bit taller than the Fram filter we bought, and was too close to the brake line to use an oil filter wrench. Back to that in a bit.
The drain plug was pretty stubborn so I had to resort to a breaker bar to free it. And that leads me to me least favorite part of oil changes: trying not to get doused with hot oil once the plug drops. Once the bolt plinked into the catch basin, oil covered my Craftsman 17mm socket, the wrench and most of my hand. But at least the basin had a mesh strainer so the bolt wouldn't fall into the inky abyss. I also made sure that the catch basin's neck valve was open (I'll never make that mistake again).
Once drained, I replaced the bolt and torque it to a factory-spec 33 lb-ft.
Then came the dreaded filter. First, I removed the brake line bracket to get it out of the way and zip-tied it to the control arm. I used a strap wrench to break the filter free and dropped it into the catch basin. It ended up being less of a pain than I anticipated. I cleaned off the filter seat and wiped the control arm down, too.
A quick film of fresh oil on the new gasket and the new filter was ready for installation. As is customary, I tightened it by hand, then used the wrench to give it another 3/4 turn. Done. The shorter filter should make it much easier next time around.
My next step was to ensure that everything was cleared from underneath the car. No catch basin and definitely no camera and tripod. Moving with slow and deliberate actions in a shop have proved most helpful throughout my life.
We went with Castrol GTX High Mileage 5W-30 partial synthetic as a replacement oil. The total for the big bottle, the additional quart and the filter came to $45.33. I searched for a funnel, but came up empty handed. So I channeled my inner MacGyver and ripped the bottom off of a water bottle. After I poured all 5.3 quarts into the engine, I started it up and let it run for a few minutes.
I checked the oil and it was halfway between the low and high marks on the dipstick. I poured in half of the spare quart to get the level right at the high mark. From beginning to end, the whole process took about 45 minutes. It would've been quicker if I didn't have to wipe my hands clean and shoot pictures. All things considered, I think it was well worth the savings, plus, I just love turning wrenches.
Finally, this morning I checked the spot in my driveway where I parked the NSX for the night. There wasn't a single drop of oil to be found. Success!
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 52,876 miles