The Acura NSX is a good all round, modern sports car. However, if you are in the market to buy one of these cars, then you should be aware of some of the problems they might have.
In this article, we dive deeper into what you should look for when buying a 1990s Acura NSX.
Table of Contents
The newer models of the Acura NSX are significantly different and upgraded. Thus, we have focused specifically on older Honda NSX cars.
Difficult Bodywork and Paint to Maintain
When buying an NSX, it is extremely important to check the bodywork of the vehicle. This is important for the NSX specifically, as the body of the car is made up of aluminum.
Unlike steel or other materials used to build vehicles, aluminum is a much more difficult material to work with when it comes to fixing or even maintaining it.
Here is what you should be looking for when doing an inspection on the vehicle:
Check all of the paperwork that the vehicle comes with, the previous owner should have a good track record of maintenance carried out on the vehicle, not only for the engine but also for the actual bodywork of the vehicle.
If there has been any body work done, then the paperwork should reflect this.
Remove all the rubber seals in the areas such as the doors and trunk. This way, you will be able to inspect the welding seals and pick up any hidden damage that the rubber seals will be covering. This also helps you check the rubber seals at the same time.
A worn-down rubber seal will cause water to leak in and can cause some trouble.
While you are inspecting the rubber seals, make sure that you also check the windshield rubber, these can go missing and, if they aren’t replaced, can cause water leaks to enter the interior.
Lift up the edges of the carpets in the interior and trunk, this will allow you to look for any damages that are present. You will be able to inspect the factory seams to ensure they have not broken apart or been cheaply fixed.
When checking the exterior of the vehicle, make sure that you inspect the panel gaps between the different panels of the car. The closer and more evenly spaced these are the less chance of it having been removed for repair.
When checking the paint of the car, look for any dull spots or uneven spots that do not match the rest of the car. These could be bad patch jobs where the work was not completed according to the correct standard.
Complicated Brakes and Suspension Components
When checking the vehicle all around, it is important to make sure that you are checking the tires and general suspension of the vehicle as well.
As mentioned before, the vehicle is made mostly of aluminum which includes parts of the suspension, and thus they need to be inspected thoroughly to ensure they are safe and still functional.
This can be done in two steps to make it easy for you to identify problems.
Step one: Visual inspection of the components; when checking the components try and look out for the following:
- Inspect the tires of the vehicle, make sure they still have a good amount of tread left and that there is no uneven wear on all the tires.
- Make sure to check for cracks or any bubbles on the side wall of the tires, this includes the inside wall of the tire. The previous owner should also have paperwork to prove when the last set of tires was purchased and installed.
- Inspect the suspension and brakes of the vehicle, this is done easily by quickly looking underneath the car on each corner of the vehicle. Even though it is difficult to spot any problems, this is purely done to find any obvious issues, such as missing bolts or even bent suspension components.
Step two: Take the car for a proper test drive, things that you aren’t able to pick up in the visual inspection, should be more noticeable now.
When test-driving the vehicle, make sure to pay attention to the following:
- Any suspension noise whilst driving is an indicator of worn-out suspension components. This sounds like metal clunking together and is easily noticeable.
- Keep an eye on the feedback from the steering wheel. If there is any noticeable vibration, then it could indicate some problems, such as wheels that are not balanced. Or, it could mean the bushes of the suspension components have worn out.
- Also, ensure to test the brakes of the vehicle thoroughly; the vehicle at all times should be able to stop without hesitation.
- If there is a buzzing noise from the ABS or brakes, and it does not go away, this could mean that there is a fault with the system.
Remember it is your sole responsibility to ensure that the vehicle is thoroughly tested before buying.
Please also read our article about popular sports cars with air suspension.
Fragile Interiors Prone to Wear and Tear
Even though the outside of the car is important, the interior is even more important as this is where you will be spending most of your time actually driving the vehicle.
As with many older vehicles, the interior can wear down over time. And this is largely impacted by how owners have maintained their cars.
Thus you need to make sure that everything is in good working condition.
When inspecting the interior, keep a look out for the following:
- Ensure that all the electric windows go up and down.
- Turn on the aircon and make sure cool air is coming out of all the vents; also make sure that all the vents are functional and that your aircon controls are all functioning the way they should.
- Double-check the dash for any cracks or damage, including the rubber coating around the center console.
- Check all the seats of the vehicle, especially the driver’s seat, as this seat is used the most and is prone to wear and tear.
- Lastly, make sure all the electronics of the vehicle are working, such as lights, indicators, all the lights on the dash, and your stereo system.
- It’s worth noting that early models came with cassette players, and these are most likely not working anymore.
Transmissions Become Faulty Over Time
The earlier version of the NSX with the 3.0-liter engine came with either a 5 – speed manual, or an F-Matic automatic transmission.
Later models of the NSX came out with a 3.2-liter engine which was upgraded to a 6 – speed manual or the same F-Matic automatic transmission.
Regardless of which transmission you have, it is important to ensure that you check everything before buying the vehicle.
When checking a manual transmission car, look out for the following;
- Make sure to engage all the gears while driving the vehicle.
- Whilst driving, make sure that none of the gears pop out on their own; this is a sign of a worn-out gearbox and will only get worse with time.
- If you hear any noise coming from the transmission while driving, this could mean worn-out components that need replacement.
When checking an automatic transmission, keep an eye out for the following:
- Move the selector from drive to park, or from park to reverse and look out for any jerky movements or whether the car lurches forward or not. This could mean the gearbox could be worn out, and in need of a service.
- While driving, make sure the car smoothly moves between gears and that there are no issues with gears not changing.
Regardless of which transmission you have, it is important to make sure that the car drives properly without issues.
If there are any issues that bring up red flags, do not buy the car, even if it is a bargain.
In the end, this will cost more money to fix than you might be willing to spend.
General Pros and Cons of a 1990s Acura NSX
- Cheaper to maintain than most sports cars
- Easy to drive as a daily mode of transport
- Great handling
- Cheaper to buy than an equivalent model of its time
- Difficult bodywork and paint to maintain
- Complicated brakes and suspension components
- Fragile interiors prone to wear and tear
- Transmissions that cause problems
What Do the Reviews Say?
The NSX has it all – real supercar verve, back road frolicking, and calm city behavior. Never before or since has a car of this class offered such a combination of entertainment, reliability, and accessible running costs.
The Acura NSX may have simultaneously been the best, and most underrated JDM car of the 1990s. It set a new standard for luxury performance and forced its global competition to step up its game.
It’s clear that the Acura NSX is a vehicle in its own league. And, even the older models from the 1990s are still rated as top luxury sports cars that impacted the sports vehicle industry.
What’s the Resale Value On the Acura NSX?
|1995||31 200 miles||$ 18 200|
|1991||75 697 miles||$ 15 100|
|1993||61 706 miles||$ 14 970|
With many parts being made of aluminum, it can be difficult to maintain. Problems can easily creep in if the car has been poorly maintained.
In conclusion, if you manage to find a well-looked-after model of the NSX, and you have followed the steps set out above in making sure it is safe and reliable, then you should have a real gem of a sportscar.
There is no doubt that the NSX will go down as one of the all-time great vehicles. It is sure to be a valuable collector’s vehicle in the near future.
Read on for our article about common issues with the Acura TSX.