Acura TL Navigation Removal


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Staff member
QQ Supporter
Since 2002/2003
Oct 18, 2002
College Grove, TN
My other project today (in this beautiful Spring-like weather) is addressing the 2004 Acura TL navigation issue. As you may be aware, the older Acura DVD-ROM navigation has not been updated for several years. (car is showing it's age; memory issues for seats/mirrors I ignore + software engineers of the day somehow did not factor that the day would come [during 2020?] where users no longer have an accurate clock anymore) But the car is powerful and fun to drive with DVD-A so I persist!

There was no problem with navigation UNTIL I replaced that great Acura 100 month battery that gave me 120 months. (2 weeks shy of TEN YEARS). Radio code reset went fine. But ever since the battery replacement my navigation screen would display: 1) 'Downloading software - please wait' followed by 2) 'Please check your disc'. Took the disc out, cleaned moderate dust off, noticed light scratches, reloaded the nav disc and the 2 screen messages persisted. So I browse the Acura fan sites and watch YouTube videos to find help. I use IMGBurn to create clone the nav disc and burn the ISO; same warning messages display again.

It's the stinking DVD-ROM drive buried in the RH quarter panel of the trunk. It was suggested that the laser lens could be cleaned by removing the unit and taking off the cover. I have removed the drive today; the only reason it will be connected again will be to see if cleaning the lens does anything and to eject the disc. I just want to confirm whether I can sell the DVD drive as working OR as parts / to be refurbished unit. I don't need nav, I use my iPhone.

There was no problem with nav at all (didn't look at it much) with the old battery so WTF act up now? My theory: the DVD-ROM drive had to go back and read the disc sectors necessary to initialize the system. It either can't get there or the laser assembly tried and got stuck. I don't need it. After getting the Nav code from serial #, I just found this was possibly my own unit as went to OEM Audio for repair in May 2014. As Brand X might comment, "the plot thins".

Back to work with final summary later.
Update: As soon as I read this I knew what to do: "I cleaned the disc, I cleaned the laser lens and still the same screen warning persisted. These things last about 10 years and then they need to be repaired." I was was done with the navigation drive for good. Thinking I might confirm if this was my DVD-ROM drive or a replacement (got the code just in case; haven't compared to card in glovebox yet), I found the transaction:
eBay May 2014 - OEM Car audio repaired my Alpine DVD drive and returned it for $320.

So now we enter phase II - replace Nav version head unit altogether with non-Nav head unit. When it was snow and cold I browsed eBay for such a unit and found a yard that had one for $93 free shipping. So I may only use the display screen with my own head unit (known good) or use this one as long as it reads commercial DVD-A and burned DVD-A. I looked up the radio code for this one today.
Now to begin.

Phase II:

I was able to remove head unit/nav display, plug in the non-Nav head unit and test the disc changer to see which way to go. I inserted a burned DVD-A as a low risk option. The disc was pulled in VERY slowly with some noises; then it proceeded not to play the disc! Strike two = time to eject. The eject maneuver was even scarier. I started to try again and quickly yanked the disc before it went in.

This confirmed the 'always go with the known good' testing before bolting the replacement unit in place. Sixteen, sorry twenty screws later, I had disconnected the Nav display from my existing head unit and the disc display from the unit just arrived. With the disc display mounted to my head unit, I bolted everything in place.

Start to finish was 90 minutes, much faster now since I've done the basic swap maneuver twice before. In the process, I no longer have the always wrong clock displayed and the disc changer icons reveal only which slots are occupied, not whether it is a DVD-A or CD. All I play is DVD-A or FM radio in the TL so not much lost. The tone and balance controls are simpler now too as there is no graphical display.

I will let the eBay seller - auto recycler - know the changer was bad; maybe he'll refund something but even if he doesn't, I can probably get more back from the good navigation screen and core DVD-ROM drive as-is. In any event, this situation is behind me now.
On to the next challenge: Wall-mounting TVs!

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