Acura MDX Fuel Requirements

by Richard Rowe
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The Acura MDX is an upscale version of Honda's popular crossover utility vehicle. The MDX offers a number of standard features that are either optional or not available on Honda's less expensive Pilot models. The top-dog, 300 horsepower engine makes the MDX a sprightly performer for its 4,500-pound curb weight. Fuel requirements are fairly standard across Honda's line of vehicles which for the most part have not yet been adapted for use with full ethanol.


Honda recommends a minimum 91-octane fuel for the MDX/Pilot but advises that 87 octane is acceptable for short-term use. However, don't tow anything or go drag racing if you decide to use 87 octane; Honda warns that the high-compression engine in the Acura MDX/Pilot can begin to knock and ping if it is strained while using low octane gas.

Detergent Additives

Honda recommends using a gasoline with high detergent levels to keep the fuel system and engine clean. Detergents are just what they sound like: soap-like surfactants that keep particles from sticking to surfaces they touch. Detergent additives can increase the life of your fuel filter, pump and injector, as well as help prevent carbon build-up on the valves.


Don't use any gasoline containing the octane-boosting additives lead or MMT (Methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl). Lead will clog your catalytic converter. It's unlikely you'll encounter leaded gasoline anywhere but a racetrack. MMT is a lead alternative that contains manganese, which the EPA once declared as harmful to vehicle emission systems. The Federal government reversed that decision in 1995, but Honda still recommends that you not use any gasoline with an MMT additive. Manganese exposure can cause damage to the liver and kidneys as well as symptoms similar to Parkinson's Disease, so it may be wise to avoid MMT exposure even if it won't damage your vehicle.

Ethanol and MBTE

The Federal government mandates that all vehicles sold in the United States since 1988 be compatible with a 10 percent ethanol mixture. The MDX/Pilot meets this requirement but cannot run on E85. Honda says that its crossover vehicle can tolerate fuel with no more than 15 percent of the methanol derivative methyl tertiary butyl ether (MBTE), an oxygenate used to raise the fuel octane level. Most state governments began phasing MBTE out of their fuels in 1999 after geologists discovered contaminants from MBTE vehicle emissions had leeched into the groundwater near one town in Southern California, but many states still use a certain amount of it. In any case, MBTE levels are typically below Honda's 15 percent threshold, so fuel containing this additive should be acceptable for use in your Acura MDX.

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