Defeating Acura TL "torque management"
July 1, 2009 6:56 PM   Subscribe

My 6-speed 2006 Acura TL has a factory installed "torque management" feature which limits power in first or second gear to reduce understeer. Any way to defeat this with replacement chips or other aftermarket devices? The low power and tendency to stall is killing me!
posted by queue_strategy to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
If the car has a tendency to stall, this suggests you have some sort of fault, rather than blaming the torque control system as a whole. Modern automatic cars should be almost impossible to stall.

Getting this fixed, rather than blaming the torque management may be your best bet.
posted by Brockles at 7:34 PM on July 1, 2009

There might be something more going on. I have a six speed accord with a similar chip and I can easily chirp the tires in gears 1 through 4, as long as I press the off button on the torque management system or whatever that button is called. Even without turning that off a little chirp is still possible before the computer decides I might be ready to slide into disaster or something. These VTEC engines are torque monsters. They pull in the low end like a V8 and when you wind them up they scream.
posted by caddis at 7:51 PM on July 1, 2009

The torque management in your TL reduces "torque steer" not understeer. Torque steer is the tendency of a powerful front wheel drive car to steer itself as power is directed back and forth between the front wheels, depending on the traction available. That torque bias will transfer from side to side and snatch the steering wheel out of your hand. In your TL, the ECM looks at a steering angle sensor in your steering column and will cut back power based on that sensors position, combined with throttle position, and a number of other inputs. Starting with the steering wheel at a less-than-straight position can cause the torque management nanny to be more aggressive.
Understeer, on the other hand, occurs at high speeds when the forward momentum of the car overcomes the traction of the front wheels and causes a ploughing skid when the driver intends to turn.
If a chip or mod exists, the best place to find that information is on Honda or Acura Tuning forums.
A quick Google search doesn't turn up anything and there's usually all sorts of hot tuning stuff out for Honda and Acura. This might be the time when you work on becoming super smooth with your stick-shift skills.
Honestly, though, if you've driven any front wheel drive with more than 200hp, you REALLY would rather have the torque management. They can be extremely squirrely and all over the road. I drove a new 2.0Turbo Audi A3 earlier today and it wanted to put me into a ditch every time I nailed the gas.
And any chip or modification that can alter the torque management software might also have an unintended negative effect on other integrated systems like stability control, traction control, and ABS, all of which rely on steering angle sensor data as well as accelerometers and yaw sensors throughout the car that might be inputs to the torque management you dislike.
posted by Jon-o at 7:59 PM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: @Brockles: 6-speed = manual transmission, not automatic

@Jon-o: I found nothing about any mods on the forums either. I figured someone might exactly know what I am talking about and be able to recommend a specific solution.
But it's very helpful to understand how the ECM operates, thanks. Based on the steering wheel position, I may be exacerbating the problem. I'll experiment a bit tomorrow.
posted by queue_strategy at 8:54 PM on July 1, 2009

One other thing you might want to be mindful of is that by limiting the torque in low gears, the system is also limiting the maximum stress applied to everything on the output side of the transmission. Not sure if they weren't counting on this when they designed the half-shafts, joints, etc.
(this comes into play when selecting power mods for my truck, might not be a concern in your case)
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:06 PM on July 1, 2009

It's not nice to talk at people, and when you talk to Brockles about what 6-speed means, know that he is a racing car engineer.
posted by caddis at 4:58 AM on July 2, 2009

@Brockles: 6-speed = manual transmission, not automatic

Sorry, that wasn't clear.

As for torque steer, Jon-o is completely right - you so don't want any more than you have now. Either getting the system fixed/learning how to pull away better (whichever is most relevant) is better than having the full force of the engine in low gears. If your clutch ability is average or better, there's still no way a system like this should make you stall, so there must be something wrong, to my mind. The low power element may be when you pull out of a driveway or something (ie accelerating right or left) with lock on, which is when you'd most want the system to work but conversely the most annoying. High amounts of torque steer can make the steering wheel feel locked over and generally be pretty dangerous in high powered front wheel drive cars.

Hell, I was driving a 4L Dodge Caravan over the last week, and that thing had hideous torque steer (6 speed auto, incidentally). I'm no weakling, but standing on the throttle to pull away often tried to rip the wheel out of my hands.

It's a real shame that packaging convenience has made FWD so prevalent. It will always be a compromise to get any sort of power to go through the front wheels in a manageable manner, and as power increases this sort of annoyance (torque steer or the systems to try and make it safe) will continue to irritate people. But, as said, I think it's better for you to have this and fix/learn it than the alternative.
posted by Brockles at 5:01 AM on July 2, 2009

Response by poster: Forgive my use of "@" if it is considered not polite on MF. And I was only clarifying my car's configuration as a manual 6-speed.

I appreciate your reply, Brockles, and am glad you didn't seem to find any offense in my response :-)

Part of the irritation is in comparing the TL to past cars I've driven including my favorite, the Porsche 944. Perhaps I am just being unreasonable to expect similar response from a FWD vehicle. Maybe the real question is "what kind of car should I be driving?"

I have read good reviews about the AWD TL, however.
posted by queue_strategy at 8:41 AM on July 2, 2009

If your favourite car is a 944 and you are looking for an Acura to behave the same you are well and truly onto a loser. You have to have a very different driving style in a front wheel drive car - especially a powerful one.

Perhaps I am just being unreasonable to expect similar response from a FWD vehicle.

Oh hell yes. Unfortunately for you, you are. No matter what you do, it will never, ever be able to hold a candle to the handling style of a 944. Front wheel drives are just inherently compromised in that respect.
posted by Brockles at 9:48 AM on July 2, 2009

The only Acura that's going to handle anything like a Porsche is the discontinued Acura NSX. They're kind of rare and collectable, though.
posted by Jon-o at 10:04 AM on July 2, 2009

Front wheel drives are never going to be as much fun to drive as a rear wheel drive. There is something satisfying about an all wheel drive with limited slip differentials all around which allows you to put lots of power down without wasting it spinning your wheels. I think Accura sells something like this. If you want a nice luxury sedan that will go fast and has real rear wheel drive then check out a BMW.
posted by caddis at 10:16 AM on July 2, 2009

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