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Timing Belt Replacement in Charlottesville

25 March 2023
Hello fellow Prime members,

About to buy my first NSX (‘91) and quite excited about. Was part of their launch when I was an auto journalist at the time (still have the original press kit) and really looking forward to it.

Does anyone have a recommendation for an experienced shop in the Charlottesville, VA, area that could do a timing belt change for me?

Many thanks,

Hi Lowell and welcome to Prime!

If you want to use a specialist, they are becoming fewer and fewer every year as many of the original factory-trained techs (the ones Honda flew to Japan for training at the actual Tochigi factory) are retired or retiring. Ben at Daisy Auto is probably the closest to Charlottesville, but it's going to be a drive.

If you have a 91, then you're going to need more than the basic TB/WP service, which is what a specialist will tell you. The engine is now more than 30 years old, so even though it is a Honda, it still needs maintenance because all of the rubber seals in the engine are way past their designed service life. In the NSX world, we call it the "engine refresh," which is based on what Honda does at the NSX Refresh Program in Tochigi. You've got two pathways: you could do the "stage 1" engine refresh, which does not remove the heads, but replaces all of the accessible rubber seals on the engine. It's about $500-ish in extra parts and labor because you remove the cams. Or, you can do the "stage 2", where you remove the heads and replace the head gaskets, along with the oil supply port seals in the block. This is partially dependent on whether your NSX is leaking oil past the valve seals and your exhaust guides. Both of these parts tend to drift out of spec around 100,000 miles. The valve seals go sooner because they are made of rubber. They won't really affect performance, but you may get puffs of blue smoke under hard throttle. As for the head gaskets, it's more a function of miles and usage than age, but we're starting to see more failures in the sense of weeping leaks (versus complete blowouts, which are rare). Thus, many owners choose to replace them to ensure 30 more years of reliable running.

So, no matter who you take it to, make sure to mention this. If the engine is coming apart for the TB, it's crazy not to save the labor and do the rest while he's in there.

Hope this helps.
Mine is currently with Ben at Daisy Auto. He is removing the engine/trans for a “engine refresh” along with a number of other things at my request like a new SOS clutch, all hoses, radiator, axle rebuild, A/C conversion, etc. But also a good bit of things Ben recommended. I insure you the 3 hour drive for you is worth it. When I say he has a passion for these cars, that’s an understatement. He truly enjoys fixing/maintaining these cars. He knows them inside and out!
@Lowpad @Honcho pretty much summed it up as far as the closest technician I would trust the car to. Other good options include going to the Atlanta area and working with Eiffel Chin at Eiffel's Place or heading out to the Cincinnati area and working with Brian Urlage at Source1 Automotive. As this will be your first service and the car is new to you, I recommend taking it to a true NSX "guru" that can also give the car a good "once over" and recommend a maintenance plan to make sure the car is "tip top"...

When well taken care of, the NSX can last hundreds of thousands of mile. That is why I always say "take maintenance history over mileage, all other things being equal." Unlike watching the guys in the Porsche 997 community that pretty much, regardless of maintenance and "tender loving care" pretty much think a Porsche engine needs a complete rebuild at somewhere less than 100K (unless it is a Mezger engine...) Those engines are fickle...

I would also recommend reading this post if you haven't already - it has plenty of highly recommended mechanics that are NSX gurus and their contact information in it...as well as other thoughts I've cobbled together in 22.5 years of ownership...

Also, consider joining NSX Club of America (NSXCA) if you are not already a member as you approach doing a bunch of maintenance, the discounts can quickly pay for the annual membership dues ($50)...also you have to be an NSXCA member to attend NSXPO...and this fall (Thursday, 9/28/2023 - Sunday, 10/1/2023) it is in Atlanta, GA - so well withing driving distance...

Finally, NSX Prime and NSX OWNERS GROUP on Facebook are two other great resources to get "quick response" to questions...

Congratulations on your new NSX!!!!
Pohanka Acura in Chantilly, VA recently did my ‘05 timing belt service and a bunch of other things. Mike is NSX tech there and also did my PPI. He apparently has been at the dealership for some time.

This is probably a little closer to you.
Thanks to everyone for the great info. Looks like the car is headed to Ben's place for a thorough going over. Great to be a part of this group.
Congrats on the new NSX! I am also a new NSX owner... '92 with 89k miles. Just brought home last week... leaking coolant at the thermostat (replaced) and just noticed a pinhole leak in the front left brake line, so going to replace with some new ones before also bringing mine up to Ben at Daisy Auto. I was told by Honda of Chantilly (where I had the thermostat replaced...it was the closest to my delivery point) that Mike at Pohanka Acura is one of the older, highly trained NSX tech's... but he may not work on them anymore and acts more as shop foreman, but the knowledge is still there. Honda also told me a local shop "My Dad's Automotive" in Chantilly also has an experienced NSX tech, but I'm not sure who or what his actual background is; but may be worth investigating since they do seem few and far between.

In any case, I plan on having Ben do a complete refresh as well. Mita Motorsports sells some nice "kits" for most (if not all) of the serviceable parts when the TB is being serviced... water pump, pulleys, hoses, gaskets, seals...you name it. (https://www.mitamotorsports.com/product/water-pump-set/).

Good luck, and hope Ben doesn't find anything too bad on your car! Fingers crossed mine passes his test as well.
@Lowpad is your car still with Ben? Trailered mine up there on Friday and he had a white one still up on the lift, along with 3 black ones, another red, and a gorgeous, pristine, 6k mile green one with 2 blown head gaskets. He is quite the character, but damn does he know these cars inside and out. Took about an hour to go through all the potential problem areas, but he seems very fair, and knew exactly where to look.
Mine was one of the black ones. 1991 w/39K miles. As you say, he knows the potential problem areas and have been communicative with me. I pick it up in 10 days and can't wait!
@Lowpad will you take a second and peek at my car (white one on the first lift to the right) and see if the motor is back in? Even some pictures would be great! I don’t think I can send you a PM
@DOHC5, Ben's shop was rockin' when I got there. Your car was apart, but Ben & Cliff assured me that they were on the case. If the results for my car are any indication, you'll be very happy!!!!
@Lowpad - was there a red one with Volk TE37 wheels still in the shop? I'm probably heading up Monday to drop off a load of parts. Not sure if they've gotten started tearing it apart yet.
Yes, I saw that too. Kind of stunning to me how much work they manage to get done in a fairly small shop.
@Lowpad i greatly appreciate it! I know Ben got sick a little bit ago so I know that’s been delaying things. He reached out to me on Wednesday and told me to plan to pick it up later next week! Fingers crossed!
DOHC, did you get your car this week? I'm so happy with my car -- Ben did amazing work on it.
@Lowpad not yet, Ben is close to the finish line and he has been keeping me updated daily. I don’t mind being patient bc I know it’s going to be done the right way
My car is with Ben getting a refresh too...probably having a good conversation with your cars at night when all the humans are gone. This might as well be a whose car is at Ben's shop thread!