I am new to the site as well, but I am not new to Acura TL's. I'm on my 3rd Acura TL currently in the same model range (1999 to 2003). My 1st was a 1999 Acura TL which I bought in 2006 with 136,000 miles from the original owner who was an elderly lady. She had the water pump and timing belt replaced at 100,000 as recommended by her local Acura Dealer. She had all regular maintenance done to it but is still had the original transmission in it. I used it for almost 3 years from the beginning of 2006 till the end of 2008 adding another 50,000 miles to it. I did all regular maintenance to it all the time I had it. The transmission nor the engine gave me any problems.
My 2nd was a 2001 Acura TL that I purchased in the beginning of 2009 with around 120,000 miles on it from its second owner who purchased it from a dealers used lot with about 25,000 miles. This person liked likes his car and wanted to pull back from selling it to me after I test drove it and was going to buy it for sure. He took good care of his car. Again the timing belt and water pump and all regular maintenance was done with the original engine and tranny. Car never gave me any problems and I sold it after using it for about 2 years till the end of 2010 and adding about 35,000 miles to it.
At the beginning of this year (2012), I bought a 2002 Acura TL Type S with Navi. Again this car was from a female 2nd owner who bought it from a used lot with very low miles and always had it serviced and maintained at her local dealer including the timing belt and water pump. I have already added 13,000 miles on it with no problems with the engine or tranny so far. Except one minor problem which is it shakes a little while accelerating which is a problem a lot of 02 to 03 Type S owners are having for some reason which has nothing to do with the transmission because someone said on a forum that he continued to get that problem even after he put in a brand new transmission.
I think these transmissions may have some problems but if you take care of your car, it shouldn't give you any problems. Honda makes good cars and ever since I switched to Honda's back in 2001, I have always bought Honda's (except for one Nissan that I bought in 2006).
Some tips for taking care of your transmission:
-Check transmission fluid all the time and make sure it has recommended levels of the right type of fluid
-Do a transmission fluid change or flush at recommended intervals
-Do not shift from "Drive" to "Reverse" or "Park" until your car has come to a complete stop
-Do not shift from "Reverse" to "Drive" or "Park" until your car has come to a complete stop
-Try and accelerate through the first 2 or 3 gears slowly and step on it hard (if you want to) only after its in running mode (3rd or 4th gear and above)
-Do not hill stop your car on gear by holding down on gas. When you are stopped at a red light while going up a hill (like if you are driving in San Francisco, CA) always use your brakes or parking brakes to stop. I have seen some people let go of their brakes and slightly step on the gas to hold the car at stop while stopped at a up-hill red light or stop sign (like in manual transmission cars). Never do that with automatic transmission cars.
-Make sure your parking brakes work and always apply parking brakes when parked on an inclined driveway or any inclined surface for that matter. This will keep the pressure off of your transmission.
I am 35 now and I have been owning cars ever since I turned 18. In those last 17 years, I have had 12 cars so far. I know that I have been through a lot of cars but I like buying cars for a deal, using it for a couple of years, and then selling it before it loses much value. But all my cars have been used cars and out of all the cars I've had, none developed any transmission problems so far (knock on the wood...I do not wanna jinx myself). I have never blown a transmission or an engine for that matter in any of my cars in my whole life so far (except for my very first car which was an old ford escort and it did not blow anything but the engine seized on me one day).
The reason is because I take care of my cars. I do oil change every 5,000 miles. I know the dealer says 3,000 miles but they just wanna make money. The manufacturer says 7,000 but I like getting it done sooner at 5,000. I use STP and other fuel system cleaning agents at every oil change. I use engine flush agents to clean out the deposits in the oil system before doing my oil change at every other oil change. I use only top quality fully synthetic oil in my cars. I fill up top quality gas only at Shell or Chevron gas stations and only use the recommended grade fuel. I do tune-ups and other service and maintenance as recommended (including timing belt and water pump if/when needed). I always keep an eye on engine temperature and check coolant level all the time. I take care of my transmission like I have mentioned above which is something that I was told by one of my dad's friends who was a great mechanic.
So if you take care of your car like I do, your Acura will take you long ways. Good lucks with your new car and as an Acura fan, I hope your car makes you proud. If you get a chance, can you look at your gauge cluster and see if it says something like "Use Premium Fuel Only" on it somewhere. My other TL's said Premium only on the gauge cluster but my 02 Type S doesn't so I am thinking that I should be using regular gas in this car...because I only fill in the recommended grade gas and if its supposed to be regular and I am filling premium, it might harm the car in the long run. So just wanna double check with someone who has pretty much the same car. Or if you have the owners manual for the 02-03 TL Type S models only, can you please check what the manufacturer is recommending in the manual (my currrent car did not come with an owners manual and it doesn't say anything about premium gas on the gauge cluster). Please let me know, I'd appreciate it.