The first generation NSX was notable for being able to compete with European exotics of the time without the drawbacks. You could drive it every day without the worry of an engine-out service every few years. There hasn’t been another supercar like that since, and when the complex second-generation hybrid NSX was launched it looked like there might never be another serviceable supercar.
Those fears might have been for naught. The new NSX has shown itself to be capable of completing back-to-back track events without much of a fuss and comfortable enough to travel in for thousands of miles. The one question that remains is how reliable and serviceable it will be in the long-term? Luckily, we got our hands on a new NSX technical service bulletin and the related procedures which give some insight on how it compares to the old car.
Sam Smith wrote about the first-generation NSX just as the new one was set to be released. He called himself a luddite knuckle-dragger because he realized that the simplicity and reliability that made the original so good could disappear in the complex new model. Smith went on to describe the original as being “like a Civic that behaves like a period Ferrari, dresses like a runway model, and offers the ownership headache of a pair of blue jeans.”
Testing of the new NSX has already proven that at least part of his fears were unfounded. Early issues have been minimal and a for a thermostat issue shows us that the new NSX might not stray too far from its more pedestrians siblings when it comes to maintenance.
The TSB recognizes that some thermostats might have shipped with a faulty seal and describes the procedure and tools to replace it. The document allows for four hours to complete the replacement since it requires the removal of some of the rear bodywork to access the engine bay. This is about twice the time that is usually required for such a replacement on something like an Accord. But it's still hours less than what it would take to perform the same procedure on a front-engined luxury sedan .
The actual thermostat replacement is fairly standard, but the process of accessing it is notable since it shows that Honda engineers put effort into making the service as easy as possible. The procedure starts off with draining the coolant, which is done through the two easily accessible drains under the car and are sealed by standard Honda washers that can be found on everything from the TRX250 to a CR-V.
Once the coolant has been drained, the next step is to start on the body work. The rear bumper cover, bumper beam, fender liners, and bumper side spacers must be removed because of the location of the engine. These steps are fairly simple as all of the rear body work can be removed in less than an hour.
The lower diffuser is held in by eight bolts. Once it's removed, all that's required to pull the bumper off is the removal of two bolts from inside the wheelwells on each side. The rest of the fasteners are snapped out by pulling on each corner. Once all of these pieces are removed, the entire trunk assembly can be removed with five more bolts, making the whole powertrain fully accessible.
With the trunk removed, the engine is fully in sight, but the fenders are no longer protected and could be easily broken if someone were to lean on them. Luckily, Honda sells a special platform tool that installs in place of the trunk in order to protect the rear fenders and the fully exposed powertrain as service is being completed. This tool is available to Honda dealers and even owners for about $552.
Once it's in place, replacing the thermostat is no different than replacing one on an Accord, and the NSX requires a coolant refill and bleed once complete. That specialty platform might seem a bit steep at first, but it is a multipurpose tool and a bargain, particular when compared to the single purpose specialty .
I expect to see these cars with mileage exceeding 200,000, just like their first generation counterparts. Even though the car is exotic, there is nothing exotic about the maintenance or the parts involved. Time will tell if there are any common issues that pop up, but based on what I see today, second and third owners of the hybrid NSX should be able to maintain it at a minimal cost. Honda will even give access to the full service manual and its i-HDS diagnostic and programming software for just $20 per day.
Most of all, it's just good to see that the NSX continues Honda's simple supercar maintenance tradition.