The $200,000 Acura NSX supercar comes with a tricky chore: cleaning out the massive air vents down its sides

The $200,000 Acura NSX supercar comes with a tricky chore: cleaning out the massive air vents down its sides
2020 Acura NSX.Kristen Lee
  • The Acura NSX is a supercar, yet part of its design traps dirt and other debris after driving.
  • You can clean it either by taking part of the car apart or with compressed air.
  • This is not an NSX-specific issue. It happens to a lot of other supercars.

Some of the most prominent features of the new Acura NSX - or indeed, any mid-engined supercar - are the rear airflow intake vents, located just behind the doors. They're large, eye-catching, and most importantly, functional.

But they do present a bit of a problem sometimes: They get dirty and they're not always easy to clean.

Airflow is necessary for all internal combustion engines, no matter where they're located - in the front of the car, the rear, or like the NSX, in the middle. An air intake system lets air reach the engine, and part of that system includes vents in the front of the car so the air can get channeled to the engine more easily.
Advertisement
The $200,000 Acura NSX supercar comes with a tricky chore: cleaning out the massive air vents down its sides
Here's a visualization of the NSX's aerodynamics.Acura
Because the NSX has a mid-mounted engine - meaning that it's found between the car's axles - it has two giant intake vents in its sides. Air that flows over the hood gets fed directly into the engine via these vents. Cool stuff all around.

Here's a diagram of the NSX without its body panels so you can see. The two radiators are placed behind where the car's doors would be and right in front of the rear wheels. The engine is behind the driver.

The $200,000 Acura NSX supercar comes with a tricky chore: cleaning out the massive air vents down its sides
The big rectangles in front of the rear wheels are the radiators.Acura
While I was out with the car, I happened to look down into the NSX's intake vent and saw some debris chilling in there. Not big debris, mind you - just what appeared to be some dust, small pebbles, and pine needles. Undoubtedly, the honeycomb mesh grille protecting the vents kept the bigger stuff out. But how would one clean such an area? The grille that keeps bigger rocks out also prevents you from wiping away the accumulated grit. I couldn't see an easy way to remove the grille, either.
Advertisement

The $200,000 Acura NSX supercar comes with a tricky chore: cleaning out the massive air vents down its sides
Looking down into that vent.Kristen Lee
As it turned out, my instinct for removing the grilles was correct. Daniel, a professional car detailer from Clear Detail LLC in Richmond, Virginia, told me via email that when detailing cars like this, he also tries for the best access by removing the grille.

This isn't always possible, though.

"The new NSX grilles can only be accessed [by] removing the wheels, wheel wells, and radiators," Daniel said. Since that isn't an option for most people, Daniel recommended that owners first try blowing out the area with compressed air, a pressure washer, or even a vacuum, spraying it with a paint-safe citrus cleaner, letting it soak, pressure washing it out, and finishing with blowing it out again with compressed air - or a Master Blaster, if you've got one.
Advertisement

An Acura spokesperson declined to confirm whether or not this is the recommended way of cleaning out an NSX's intake vents.

The $200,000 Acura NSX supercar comes with a tricky chore: cleaning out the massive air vents down its sides
It's a great vent.Kristen Lee
I'm not dogging on the NSX for this issue, as it seems fairly innocuous. I just know that if I owned the car, the buildup of dirt in the vents would bug the hell out of me, and I wanted to see how someone would go about finding a solution.

In the case of my loaner, it had been driven 15,000 miles by journalists who, like me, can sometimes enjoy making a car do things it wasn't designed to do. Because of the life it's lived, it is very possible that this NSX merely accumulated more dirt than others that haven't been tracked or parked, outside, under trees.

And it's also not an NSX-specific issue!
Advertisement

"With a lot of supercars, the intakes are fantastic leaf, pebble, dirt, pine needle, and sand traps," Daniel said. In his experience, this is a problem that has plagued many supercars, not just the NSX. It's just what happens when you combine sticky, performance tires that have a habit of flinging debris around with an intake vent that's behind those tires.

The issue is addressed more easily in some other cars, though. All Daniel has to do in a Lamborghini, for example, is remove three screws and then the grille comes right out.

But if you're an NSX owner who's been frustrated by a small collection of dirt riding around with you, here's your solution.
Advertisement
{{}}