Save the Manuals

Odometer:  511,810

One of the things that most impresses people about my mileage success with my Acura Legend is that the car still has its original clutch.  My clutch maintenance has consisted of the following:

  • Clutch master & slave cylinders replaced:  90,012 miles
  • Clutch master cylinder replaced:  382,740 miles

That’s it!  It’ll give your left leg a workout, but the fact remains that the original clutch still somehow has some life left in it and is not slipping.

Anybody who’s an “enthusiast” driver like me demands complete control of his or her automobile.  We are now in an age where the masses are moving toward primarily automatic cars.  While some cars that claim to have manual attributes (paddle shifters, sport shift modes, and other ways to engage the driver in selecting gears) these measures are still no substitute for the driving connection that comes from having a third pedal in the driver footwell.  Of the eight Acura Legends I’ve owned, all except two have been stick shifts.

Believe it or not, there’s a whole 20,000-fan community on Facebook dedicated to advocating the cause of helping the traditional manual transmission endure.  Join up if you’re as much a fan of a manual gearbox as I am.

A fitting history lesson:  I learned to drive a stick shift on my dad’s 1994 Ford Ranger pickup 5-speed when I was 15 years old in 1997.  It was the bare-bones little green two-wheel-drive pickup pictured here.  As I recall, it didn’t even have carpet.  And along with manual roll-up windows (do they even make vehicles with those anymore?), it had a manual transmission.

Dad took me and my brother to a remote dirt road called the “Arizona Strip” because it marked the state line between Utah and Arizona.  I had a lot of fun figuring out the delicate balance between throttle & clutch until I finally got it right.  Here is the very road where I learned to drive.   I went back much later with my Legend and took this series of pictures in November, 2008 when my car had 355,000 miles on it.

Amazing how well Desert Mist Metallic hides the dirt when the lighting is on your side!  Speaking of mastering a stick shift, in my opinion nobody’s skill came anywhere near that of Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna who during his F1 racing career picked up 41 wins.  This guy’s heel-toe shifting technique is masterful.  Watch him pilot this NSX around a track.  Senna passed away almost exactly 18 years ago but his legacy is unforgettable.

The parking lot at the bank when I ran an errand during my lunch hour today looked like an Acura convention of sorts.

The car next to mine is a 1995 Legend Special Edition.  The “SE” model, offered in 1995 exclusively, is easy to identify because it was the only Legend that came with a two-tone paint scheme.  In this case, we’re looking at a Sherwood Green example.  I left the owner a business card and the handwritten address to the online Legend forums on it.  To the right of the SE is a 2012 Acura RDX SUV.

Current Maintenance News:

A couple of new things to report this week.  The coupe was making a terrible whining noise intermittently which came from the alternator area.  I suspected that it might be a bad alternator but in fact we discovered it was the A/C tensioner bearing.  The below part made it about 511,600 miles before it failed.  $85 later and I was back on the road.

And it was time to retire that old faithful set of Michelin Primacy tires that I’ve been riding on for nearly 100,000 miles.  Discount Tire in Tempe, Arizona hooked me up with a pretty decent deal this afternoon on a set of Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires.  The guy at Discount asked me for the odometer reading after we walked around the car to assess the condition of my old tires.  He was floored when I said, “five eleven, eight oh four.”  Guess they don’t see a whole lot of cars in there with over half a mill!

Peeking out from the service bay…

Look at that delicious tread life.  These ones have a 60,000 mile warranty.  Love these tires.  Thanks Bill and the Discount crew!

And finally, I’ve scheduled this Legend’s 6th timing belt & water pump replacement.  The car will go into Acura of Tempe next Wednesday for the service, which is typically recommended every 90,000 miles.  It was last done almost exactly two years ago, at 421,013 miles on 5/12/2010.

Another high mileage story worth sharing is that of my friend Brett in Huntington Beach, CA.  Brett and I met via the Acura Legend online forums and we’ve hung out a couple of times – most recently last August when I was in his neighborhood and we met up briefly.  I first learned of Brett when his 1995 L sedan in Canterbury Green had about 222,000 miles on it.  Today he’s at 241,000 and the car still shines better than most vehicles with half the mileage.

My only counsel to Brett is the same as my neighbors used to tell me:   Be careful!  If you wax that thing any more frequently, you’re gonna wear the paint right off it!


I’m off to San Diego for a wedding this weekend, but I’m riding copilot with a friend so this old Legend will get some chill time.

Happy Friday to all!  Since I reminisced in this post about ‘learning-to-drive’ experiences, I’d like to hear from readers.  What vehicle did you learn on?  Comment and share!

21 Responses to “Save the Manuals”

  1. Half the mileage? Try 1/5 of the mileage 😉 Nice tire choice, and thanks for featuring me on the blog again! Hope to meet up again soon.

  2. Learning to drive my first manual transmission vehicle. I was by myself, in a 1971 Ford F100, with a 3 on the tree. I still remember today that feeling of not being able to figure out why it wouldn’t take off in 1st. After 15 cars passed me at that stop sign, (most of them calling me an idiot) watching me essentially take years of life off that clutch, I finally figured out that 3rd and 1st were in the same exact location in the vertical position, but not in the same dimension in and out. Valuable lesson I learned that day as I strongly chirped away in 1st gear, once I found it. 207,897 on my Legend as of tonight. I need a new set of Primacy tires as well. Mine have 65K on them as of now, hoping to get another 10K if I’m lucky. Should I check my tensioner bearing?

    • Duane, I’ve always wanted to drive a 3-on-the-tree! What became of that Ford F100? I spent plenty of embarrassing moments stalled-out at stop signs before I finally got the hang of first gear. Your Legend is doing great – a high mileage story in itself. Share another current picture with me sometime and I’d love to post it to Drive to Five. I bet you’ll easily squeeze another 10k out of your Primacy tires. Tensioner bearings, I’ve learned, go bad at the randomest of times! I’d say don’t sweat it unless you start hearing a whining sound like a jetliner. That’s what mine was like.

  3. Francesco Says:

    Hi Tyson I came from Italy…I found your “Drive to Five Celebration” video on Youtube…your Legend is amazing..i love high mileage car their represent life on the road…I wanna try to do something similar whith my 05 Fiat Panda 1.3 common rail engine (the same on the 500 in Usa) that had 240k km on the odo (about 150k miles)…congratulation

    • Francesco Says:

      my odo two days ago 🙂


      • Hi Francesco! I’m glad you enjoyed the Drive to Five Celebration video and found my blog! As you can see I’m still driving the old Legend. Thank you for the compliments. You have reached an impressive mileage in your Fiat Panda 1.3 – I hope you keep pushing for 300,000 km! Would love to share a picture of your car on the blog if you’d like to email it to me. It is an honor to have someone following my blog from Italy.

  4. Very entertaining. You are petitioning to save the manuals…and I know you save the printed kind too. Record keeping and organization equate to a driver who takes pride in his vehicle! Have fun in Cali.

  5. Francesco Says:

    Is an honor for me to view my small diesel car on your blog!!! I email 2 photos of it to you…thanks!

    • Thanks Francesco! I received your email and will share your pictures on an upcoming post. It’s great to hear from you. Enjoy your weekend!

  6. Jim Lemyre Says:

    I learned on an old Toyota LandCruiser at the boat yard I worked at during high school, then relearned on an Isuzu Trooper that I bought in college.

  7. Tyson- I agree with the Michelins. Not cheap but last a long time and overall perform well! You just have to make sure the tire place does not lay your nice wheels face down on the shop floor like they did to a couple of my wheels 😦
    Have fun in Calif.
    I learned to drive stick when I bought a 1984 Dodge Omni GLH back around 1989 I would guess. It was like a go cart- very cheap car, but the GLH version (stood for Goes like Hell) had low profile tires, stiffer suspension, and high output 2.2L engine. Horrible clutch and gearbox but was great to learn on. Fast and fun little car!

    • Marc, that sucks about the wheel shop putting your rims face down! I remember that story. I did remember to specifically ask Discount Tire to please use the wheel weights on the INSIDES of the wheels instead of the outside lips. I’ll have to look up a picture of an ’84 Omni on Google Images! Sounds like a real rocket. ha ha

      • haha- yes, at the time a friend of mine had an ’86 GLH-S which was turbo intercooled. As laughable as the car kinda was, it was actually a super handling and fast little sleeper. I bought mine after riding in his seeing how crazy that little thing was 🙂

  8. Tyson I will have you know that I learned to drive manual on a 75,000 pound rig with 18 gears. On the farm at 14 we were learning how to navigate Hi Lo gearing options. My first car was a 1987 Honda Accord LX-i with a manual transmission. I have since had numerous Honda products with both manual and automatic transmissions. I will gladly cast my vote in favor of the Honda S2000, which has the slickest manual transmission on the planet.

    • I want to drive an 18-speed big rig! I wish you had a picture of that classic 87 Accord LX-i. What was the “i” all about? And I do agree on the S2K being among the most buttery transmissions in the world.

      • Tyler S. Says:

        I believe the “i” denotes the fuel injection system. The LX trim has most of the same enhancements as LX-i, except the injection.

  9. I didn’t choose the easiest route to manual life by learning on my other ride, the Honda s2000; however, it sure was the smartest.

    Because I was taught on the manual beast of an s2000, I can drive any manual vehicle. I have yet to find one as enjoyable.

    I’m with Jeremy on this one!

    • What a great car to learn to drive on! A friend of mine in Salt Lake City had a silver S2K and I took it for a spin once. I couldn’t get over how much that car loves to rev high! It was pretty advanced for its time, too, with the push button start.

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