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SOURCE1 & Brian -- Why a great NSX shop / tech is ESSENTIAL to ownership.

1 May 2001
Point of No Return
So it would seem like common sense, but I have found through my own experiences that 'common sense' is far from common. You always hear people say that you have to find a 'good mechanic' for your car, and this is especially true in the NSX world where a mistake can be extremely costly, and the cars are even more specialized. The scarcity of common sense extends in many of my experiences to making the incorrect assumption that just because the technician working on your NSX works at the Acura dealer and is 'certified' to work on your NSX, assuming they actually care about your car, and have the detail oriented personality to maintain and repair your car correctly.

In short, when you find people that are truly exceptional in the NSX community, it is important to extend kudos to them so that other people know why it is important to sometimes go out of your way to get your NSX to these people for work done right.

I am in a suburb on the north side of Indianapolis, and after battling a recent nightmare on an air conditioning repair with a local dealer that spiraled out of control and cost me thousands, there was no way possible that I was going to even let them touch the NSX to disgnose and repair a small oil leak / seepage problem that I was noticing was leaving an ever increasing puddle of oil on my garage floor. So what was I to do? I am fairly handy, and do lots of wrench turning on my NSX because I enjoy it, but sometimes you have to divert to experience (which I do not have much of beyond my own car). Not wanting to have my credit card turned into even more of a flaming pancake by the dealer, I turned to Prime and was given a few things to look for, including the rear main seal since my car is a 1994 with over 185,000 miles.

Luckily, a couple of the more experienced guys told me there was an access panel to see if that was the problem. One of these guys was Brian over at SOURCE1 in Ohio. Over the phone he instructed me where the panel was, how to take it off, and what I should look for to see if the rear main seal was really the issue. I followed the instructions and, through some iPhone photos sent to Brian's phone, we were able to rule it out. He then asked about my oil pan gasket. I said it looked damp, but it was virtually new, as it was just replaced a few thousand miles ago by a dealer certified NSX tech (remember those words).

Brian said, 'Okay...but check the torque. Are they EXACTLY 10 ft. lbs.? Because they must be exactly 10 ft. lbs. or they will likely back out'.

I went back under the car with my trusty torque wrench and the bolts were not even tight!! So the 'dealer certified NSX tech' had not even torqued them properly!! One of the bolts had already fallen off, and the rest were probably going to within the next few hundred miles at this rate. You know what happens when your oil pan falls off?? Your engine no longer feels like being with you anymore and asks to go its own way. Needless to say, I was stunned, and went about the business of torquing them down PROPERLY!!

Why am I telling you this? Here is why. There is a HUGE difference between 'parts changers' and 'real mechanics' in my humble view. A parts changer does not spend hardly any time trying to fix a problem car or part, they just tell you that you need a new part and charge you accordingly. A real mechanic can tell you how and if you can save what you have and make it work properly. A real mechanic will also usually know exactly what you need to fix, and refrains from going on the 'while we were in there' scavenger hunt that a 'parts changer' will do to replace everything under the sun because they either do not know how to tell what is actually broken, or they just want to bill you. Brian at SOURCE1 helped me at NO COST to me, when he could have easily said for me to bring it in and see what happens. I actually was already planning to go to his shop next week to get what I thought was going to be the rear main seal replaced. So in this case, Brian's integrity in helping me get to the real problem actually prevented me from spending money at his shop. That is just something that you don't see much these days, and it is a valuable asset that the NSX community needs to appreciate. Beyond that, I highly recommend that if you are anywhere within any reasonable distance of Brian and the SOURCE1 shop, that you do take your car there for work in order to make sure we can keep him and his experience here to help keep our NSXs on the road.

Oh...side note. While my car was at the dealer for the air conditioning debacle I referred to earlier, I asked them to look at the oil leak and tell me what they thought. What was the reply? That they would have to bill me a few hours of diagnostic time to start and 'see what we find when we are in there'. Really? Because Brian at SOURCE1 told me what was wrong in 10 minutes and did not even have to have the car on his lift. Needless to say, that dealer will not see my business anymore, but Brian at SOURCE1 will.

Thank you Brian. Thank you.
This post should be sent to ALL new NSX owners.

Too many of us have used our local dealer as a default because we did not know where else to go. The truth is, with every passing year the NSX becomes more of a distant memory in Hondaland, and the likelihood of finding a decent experienced Acura/Honda dealer tech keeps getting smaller and smaller.

I am sure there are some good Acura/Honda dealers out there, but they are overshadowed by the bad- and some very bad- ones. It is up to the great non-dealer vendors- like SOURCE1 and many others here on Prime to keep their skills & knowledge sharp and our awesome cars running for years to come.

Support your local independent mechanic!
No longer live in Cincinnati but gat damn do i miss Brian's shop! Glad to see they are still some of the best in the business