Honda/Acura J37 Engines – Problems, Reliability, Specs, And Features

V6 engines engineered by Honda are always cool in terms of reliability and driving fun. These engines are durable and relatively economical. They offer cool horsepower and wonderful torque. But are all of them really good?

Today, we'll be looking at the J37 engine by Honda that was used in Honda and Acura SUVs. This is a legendary V6 with a lot of reviews to analyze. And we are going to ask some owners to share their experience with our readers. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a lot of precise information about the J37 engine online, so we've decided to write our own article.

Here's what we'll be talking about:

  1. Features and specs of the J37 engine - anything interesting?
  2. Longevity of the Honda J37 in miles and years.
  3. Which vehicles were equipped with these legendary engines?
  4. What are common problems with the J37 engine?
  5. Maintenance and repair tips to prolong the life of the Honda V6.

Let's get started!

Is the J37 engine really good?

The J-series of Honda engines started in 1996 and has been in production since then up until now. Actually, all engines in the family are V6. This is the fourth series of the V6 engines offered by Honda. This is actually a purely American series of the engines because it was engineered in the US and it was produced in the US (Ohio and Alabama engine plants).

Engineers reduced the size of the engine significantly to let the company install it in a larger range of vehicles. These engines are quite simple in construction, and this is one of the most important advantages.

Here are some features of the J37 engine:

  • 4 valves per cylinder, 6 cylinders, and 3.7 liters of displacement;
  • a single timing belt which is good for maintenance cost;
  • VTEC is standard for all engines in the series, it makes them less gas-thirsty, we would say;
  • some of the J37 engines have a cylinder management system turning off some cylinders under light loads;
  • these engines can offer 300-305 horsepower of power and up to 275 lb-ft of torque;
  • the simple multi-point fuel injection seems to be optimal for long life;
  • all J37 engines were only used in Acura vehicles, none of them was installed in a Honda car (exception is the Honda Legend for some markets);
  • the first J37 engine (J37A1) was presented in 2007 and it was produced up to 2013;
  • some J37 modifications were produced up to 2014.

The J37 engine had four modifications, but all of them were basically the same in terms of technologies and construction. They had slightly different settings and tuning options for different Acura models.

These 6-cylinder engines appeared to be extremely popular and they were sold all over the world. But in America, Acura sold more than half of all J37 engines that were ever made. And now Americans still love these V6 units saying they were one of the best engines in the Acura lineup.

What's the longevity of the J37 engines?

Acura J37 units can go officially 200,000 miles. That's what Honda says about their longevity. But of course, you can go much more if you regularly maintain your engine, and change oil and filters.

We think that the optimal longevity of the Acura 3.7-liter engine (J37) should be about 300,000 miles. Yes, you will have some minor problems at this mileage, but the engine can still go pretty well and have no major issues.

The cylinder block is aluminum, so you will not have many options to repair it after total wear. The VTEC system will need expensive repair after 200,000 miles. Probably, this is the reason why Honda says the J37 engine can only go 200K miles.

The longevity of your 3.7-liter V6 depends much on the quality of maintenance. If you buy bad oil and don't change filters regularly, the engine will have insane oil consumption at 150K miles already.

Application of the J37 engines in Acura models

As we've already said, Honda used these engines in Acura cars only with the exception of the Honda Legend in some markets.

So, the J37 was used for these vehicles:

  • Acura MDX up to 2013 - J37A1.
  • Acura RL up to 2012 - J37A2.
  • Acura TL up to 2014 - J37A4.
  • Acura ZDX up to 2013 - J37A5.

But actually, all these engines had absolutely the same construction with only some slight changes in tuning.

What are the problems with the J37 V6 Acura engines?

First of all, this engine is not equipped with hydraulic compensators. It means that every 30,000 miles or so you will need to pay for valve adjustment. It doesn't seem to be a really up-to-date decision even though the engine was first introduced back in 2007. Having compensators is something natural for all engines of that time, especially if these engines power luxurious vehicles like Acuras.

But this is not the only disadvantage. We should admit that the J37 engine has much fewer problems and issues than many other engines of the same type. It's quite a reliable unit and it won't make you go to repair shops too often.

Here are some of the issues you may have with this engine:

  1. VTEC problems. At high mileage, let's say at 200,000 miles, the VTEC system starts malfunctioning. It doesn't mean that the engine is over, it can still run. But it will glitch quite often until you repair the system. It's not a cheap repair.
  2. Too little oil capacity. The 3.7-liter engine should have a lot of oil. But the J37 engine only has 4.3 liters of oil in the system - just like some small 4-cylinder engine. This means that once the oil level drops for some reason, this engine is in big danger.
  3. The timing belt. This thing is said to last 60,000 miles. But very often, the timing belt dies much sooner. If it breaks in this engine, the valve system will be a mess. You will need to repair the head which costs quite a lot of money.
  4. The throttle valve. It's OK but it can get clogged fast. It's just something with the construction of the air cleaning system. If you see bad idling, you should know that the problem is because of the throttle valve.
  5. Excessive oil consumption. After 150,000 miles, these engines start taking the oil. That's a natural problem after piston rings and valve seals are not new anymore. But for this engine, it's a big problem. Once it burns some oil, it can cause oil starvation and the engine may die if you don't add oil quickly.
  6. Repair cost. We want to make this problem a separate point here. Because Honda and Acura engines are a big pain in your neck when you need to repair them. Parts are impossibly expensive.

Well, J37 engines are pretty good and they can last long. But when it comes to high mileage, these engines are not the best choice. If you are buying an Acura with a J37 engine, you should be ready for some investments. And yes, you'll be glad about how this engine goes, but you'll be disappointed with the bills at repair shops.

We still think that this engine is cool. When you compare what it gives and what it takes from your pocket, you understand it's a great unit. It basically doesn't have any serious problems up to 150,000 or even 200,000 miles which is a rare thing currently. So, we would buy an Acura equipped with the J37 if we found a low-mileage option.

Maintenance for longer life

If you own an Acura with the J37 engine, you should be ready to invest in maintenance. Be careful with the choice of repair shops, we recommend choosing dealers of Acura and Honda. Yes, they are expensive, but they won't experiment with your engine.

Here are some big tips:

  • only original oil and filters, please;
  • regular maintenance like the instruction says or even more often;
  • only original parts if you need to repair this engine;
  • check the oil with the dipstick very often;
  • don't overheat the engine;
  • notice all minor problems and repair them quickly;
  • only good premium gas, please.

If you just follow these tips, you will drive your Acura for more years, We would say that a 300,000-mile mark is not a limit in the case with the J37 engine. This V6 can go more if you just pay some attention to its condition.

Final words

Acura V6 J37 engines are great. They were engineered by Honda in the US, they were produced in two engine plants in the US. These engines basically have no minor issues, After 200K miles they will start bothering you with some problems, but those will also be easy to solve. If you have an opportunity to buy a used Acura equipped with a 3.7-liter J37 engine, don't lose this chance. You'll be glad about what you are going to get with this wonderful vehicle.

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