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One 2018 Honda CR-V Owner’s Experience

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One 2018 Honda CR-V Owner’s Experience

 
Old 01-30-2019, 05:21 AM
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Default One 2018 Honda CR-V Owner’s Experience

UPDATE: I originally posted this on January 30th. I have since updated it with some corrections, additional dates, and additional information.

One 2018 Honda CR-V Owner’s Experience
Updated 2/3/2019

My wife has really enjoyed her first five months with the CR-V EX. She has logged 3,700 miles. She likes the turbo acceleration, the 26-mpg, the back-up camera, the comfortable seats, the handling – she says it really hugs the road just like her old Subaru, and she likes some of the safety features. Her only complaint is that it doesn’t have as much cargo space as the Subaru. I would love to say we couldn’t be happier with our selection but that would be a lie.

When we were looking to replace her Subaru Outback last year we looked at twenty-eight different SUV’s represented by fifteen different manufacturers. While we did not actually test-drive every single one we did those that we didn’t immediately reject and several were worth consideration. In the end we placed the Honda at the top of our list. Even so, before signing anything we took it for a 100-mile test-drive. I try to do my homework. I had reviewed all the usual sources and some you likely never heard of: Consumers Reports , Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Edmonds, US News, Consumer Guide, AutoWeek , The Detroit News, Chicago Tribune, Auto Extremist, Automotive News, Automobile Magazine, Car Preview and TrueDelta. The CR-V generally ranked at the top of everyone’s list. Having done such diligence I still missed an early warning sign of a bad issue - oil contamination!

In early 2018 some 350,000 CR-V’s were recalled with the 1.5L turbo engines in China. I, along with others, placed the blame on Honda China’s engines being made by Dongfeng Motors, a Chinese company, rather than Honda Motors.

After determining the CR-V was the car for us, I went into buying mode and stopped checking the CR-V owners club. My mistake! The excessive oil dilution problem appeared in North America models. After our August 2018 purchase I re-visited the site to read reports from Canada and the US. In addition to reporting over-filled diluted oil pans some experienced a strong odor of gasoline inside the car and others having the car’s check-engine light come on, sometimes with stalling.

Turbocharged gasoline direct injection engines are designed to run rich in certain conditions – especially cold starts. A rich mixture means unburned fuel that contributes nothing to engine heat. This is a common problem with direct injection engines. But Honda seems to have controlled it poorly and the 1.5T seems to be one of the worst offenders. Whether it’s the inherent design of the engine (e.g. injector placement) or engine tuning (e.g. compromises made to maximize economy) is a good question.

Honda Canada acknowledged the issue and said Honda was developing countermeasures to cure the problem. Honda’s public relations programed kicked in claiming there was no actual damage to the engine and suggested the oil issue was limited to short trips in very cold weather. However, it became immediately clear to me that simply was not true.

When I checked our oil level in mid-November our dipstick registered above the full mark by 0.25” and smelled of gasoline. I went on record with a letter to both the dealership and to Corporate Honda about my oil problem but did not receive a response from either.

Between the 2017 and 2018 there were 756,908 of the new 5th generation CR-V models sold in the US. We learned in late October Honda did a factory fix prior to the 2019 model being released (more later).

On August 24th Honda Canada announced they were investigating the irregularly high oil levels, and then they issued a series of press releases leading up to a recall announcement on October 29. It stated dealers would upload new software, change the engine oil (but not the filter), and, in certain vehicles, replace the air conditioning control unit. To ensure customer confidence, Honda Canada provided a warranty extension on certain engine components for up to six years from the original date of purchase, with no mileage limit. It struck me as really odd Honda or anyone would want to risk continue using a gasoline diluted oil filter to save $8 plus some additional oil.

The similar Honda USA program may not have even happened were it not for a headline from Consumers Report on October 5th drawing national attention to the issue. Seventeen days later, October 22nd, Honda released a video saying Oil Dilution in the CR-V was nothing to worry about. The PR team put it together so fast they showed the wrong dipstick! That was also the same day they released TSB 18-114 and TSB 18-124. Rather than initiating a full recall and without any press releases Honda USA began a so-called regional product update with a two-part roll out plan starting in December for what Honda estimated to be about 25,000 vehicles. Roll out #1 covered the five northern states of Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Roll out #2 covered 16 additional states including Michigan. Letters sent to owners in the lucky states did not mention of oil contamination nor any warranty extension. Instead Honda threatened that the repairs must be done to ensure warranty coverage and that failure to do so could be determined a lack of proper maintenance. The letter stated reports of vehicles experiencing drivability concerns that could result in the malfunction lamp coming on. In the meantime my oil contamination issue has gotten worse. The amount of overfill has now doubled and it registers 0.5” above full in just 1,400 miles since I first discovered it. My best estimate is I currently have 23 ounces of gasoline contamination. A small number of posters have reported alarming oil level of 1” to 1.5” above full.

Honda Canada’s November 2018 letter to owners on engine oil dilution was very clear. “On some 2017 and 2018 CR-V vehicles equipped with a 1.5L turbo direct-injection engine, the engine oil may become overly diluted with fuel and moisture, particularly when driving repeatedly short trips in very low ambient temperatures. Overly diluted engine oil may cause a variety of symptoms: MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp) illuminated due to engine misfire; MIL illuminated due to excessively rich (high fuel/air ratio) running conditions; Low oil pressure light illuminated due to moisture freezing in the oil pan; In exceptional cases, abnormal noise from the engine camshaft due to wear caused by freezing of the rocker arm roller bearings. The amount of oil dilution your engine may have is determined by a balance between the amount of fuel injected into the cylinders that migrates to the oil pan and the ability of the engine to vaporize and burn this fuel as it warms up. Some oil dilution is normal for this engine.” It goes on to say the fix is a software update to modify the fuel injection parameters, the CVT, and on some vehicles the climate control unit to improve the speed of engine warm up. They add you may feel increased cabin heat during warm up and you will see the oil level above the upper mark. “This is a normal condition for this class of engine and will have no adverse effects on engine performance or long-term engine durability.”

On February 1, 2019 Honda announced a change in their regional product repair procedure. TSB 18-114 and 18-137 were revised. They will no longer replace the AC control and instead do a software reflash procedure.

No additional plans for the remaining states have been announced. A handful of owners in southern states on good terms with their dealer have had a goodwill fix; others have been turned away and told everything is normal. Guess it doesn’t get cold in Colorado. Even more disturbing is owners who had the oil issue before and who still had it after the fix are being told it is normal and nothing more can be done.

Lack of sufficient cabin heat is a serious issue for many, especially in Canada where extreme lows like -20° can be a winter norm. It has been suggested Honda engines are over fueling on cold starts with lots of gasoline pouring into the cylinders, accompanied with a lack of heat. Who knows? Not every CR-V has the oil issue. Not every CR-V has the heat issue. Who knows why – I wish I did.

A cold cabin is a big issue for northern owners. Many owners report it takes an unusually long time to heat up. Owners in very cold climates find using the remote start useless; it actually makes things worse by blowing ice-cold air on the windshield for the full ten minutes. Two other very noticeable areas of cabin heat loss are when the car is at idle or when it is going down a long extended hill. As a example of the idle issue, after a 20 minute drive one owner’s measurements showed a 30° drop at the heat vent in just two minutes! In frigid Canadian temperatures with -35°F there are reports of ice buildup on the inside the windows. Something I have not experienced since driving a very leaky 1962 Triumph Spitfire in the winter.

We have been spared the cabin lack of heat issue. Ironically, at least two very credible sources report on Facebook they had no heat issues untildoing the fix! Instead of heating up in 3 to 5 minutes it now takes 10 to 15 minutes of driving and heat drops noticeably when at idle in town, something they did not have before the fix. At least a dozen owners report their heat is worse since having the Fix.

An advisor at a Canadian dealership acknowledged Honda’s fix is trying to keep more temperature in the engine rather than the heat core in order to combat the oil dilution; unfortunately it can be at the expense of cabin comfort.

There are several factors that determine cabin heat such as coolant temperature, ambient air temperature, engine speed, engine load, and the status of the air conditioning system. In cold temperatures it is very clear the little aluminum block 1.5L turbo engine does not make enough heat to keep both the engine and the cabin warm, except at speed. Issues begin to surface at about 15° or 20°F.

Before taking our car in for the required fix I plan to document the heat using a standard cooking thermometer placed in the heat vent along with noting the outside air temperature. In general the minimum on a warmed up car should be at least 125°F from the duct in a warmed up car. I will attempt to do the same test in similar outside temperatures conditions after the fix. Saying, "The car doesn't get warm enough" without having any hard numbers I am sure I will be told it is just a personal opinion.

Does the fix work? Sadly, early feedback is mixed. The majority who had the fix report either no change or a slight improvement in heat. The same is true for the oil issue.

Forums like the CR-V owners club and the owners groups on Facebook constantly discuss how Honda has handled the issues and many owners are wondering if they made a mistake, including myself.

Seeking relief is not easy. NCDS is Honda’s dispute resolution process and would be the place to start after exhausting the dealership. The NHTSA, the US Government’s dispute process is likely a waste of time unless there are deaths involved. CMVAP is Canada’s lemon law mediation process. In the US lemon laws differ by each individual state. For example, Michigan’s is written in favor of the manufacturer (surprise, surprise) whereas Indiana favors the consumer. Also, there are a couple class action lawsuits seeking owners. As best I can tell only .001% of CR-V owners have officially gone on record using resources such as those. Consumers Report set up a site for member stories. To date it is 10 pages long with over 100 owners venting. Clearly there are not enough numbers to push Honda into a real lasting fix.

Does that mean only small portions of owners have the problem? I think not. When my dealership contacted me to set up an appointment the dealer said he had 500 owners to contact. I was his 362nd contact and he stated most had never heard of the oil problem. The only reason I became aware of the problem was visiting Internet sites, something only a handful of new owners are likely to do. The 7,600 owners register on Facebook represent less than 0.01% of the total US sales. The dealership certainly is not going to tell you the issue when doing a routine oil change.

Expert advice claims the oil dilution many of us are experiencing is not good for an engine long term. If these experts are correct, then once these engines start failing it will tank the resale value of everyone's CR-V and not just the ones who know of the issue. Having the fix would seem to be in everyone's best interest unless Honda comes up with scientific literature supporting the claim that fuel in oil is a non-issue. On the other hand it may take 10 years for engine wear to show itself.

We really have no choice but to have the fix. If we end up with a cold cabin in return for the fix I will be more than a little upset. We bought the extended warranty because today’s cars are really computers on wheels but we didn’t plan on having these issues.

If faced with the question, “Would you buy this vehicle if you had to do it over again?” That is reallyhard to answer; most likely no. I would certainly consider looking at the base model, the LX with the 2.4L normal engine in lieu of the turbo. I realize there is no perfect car and no perfect car manufacturer but Honda is losing long time loyal owners every day until they properly address the issue.

If you are still reading this, I will end with this story - a story from a first time poster on the CR-V owners site. He was driving a three-week old CR-V EX just like ours.

“Got my first taste of the CR-V heating issue just this past weekend. Living here in Wyoming we are used to bitter cold temperatures. Went across the state to the folks house this weekend and when leaving Monday morning the temperature was -8 deg F. I used the remote start to start the car. Went out shortly after and windows still frosted over and blowing cool air (not warm) out defroster vent. Didn't think anything of it since it was pretty chilly out. Re-started car and went back inside. Ten minutes later when leaving front window still frosted over 2/3 of the way [on the inside]. So I got out scraper. Started driving and it took about 12 miles at 50 mph before vehicle got to temperature according to gauge. But at least by then vehicle was blowing adequate warm air to keep windows thawed.

Going up a steep grade for the next 30 miles was not an issue. But then dropping back down the other side I noticed almost immediately the windows were starting to fog up, so I put the control to full defrost and hot but noticed it was blowing cold air. The temperature gauge on dash bottomed out completely! This downgrade lasted for approx. 20 miles so by the time I got to bottom the windows were almost completely fogged over and the wife was thinking it was the end of the world! The rest of the 250 miles to my house was fine since there were no steep downgrades and the vehicle RPM was held at 1800 or above.”

“I wouldn't want to be stranded on the side of the road all night in this vehicle relying on the heater which has happened to me before in the middle of nowhere Wyoming when it is well below zero.”

Update: After I published my story the above owner from Wyoming wrote to tell me he sold his CR-V due to the severe lack of heat, severe oil dilution, blatant Honda dealer disregard and Honda Motor Corp indifference.

PS, I case you are wondering if the 2019 model took care of the issues, read this post from a Honda owner in Philadelphia:

“I was at the Honda dealer down the street from my work yesterday getting an oil change for my 2019 Pilot. While in the waiting room I heard a guy complaining about lack of heat, oil dilution and a strong smell of gas in the cabin at times, my ears perked up. Turns out he was driving a 2019, built in November CR-V. After he got done giving the service manger a lot of grief we started talking and he was well aware of the problems with the 2017-18 line and was assured the problem had been corrected on the 2019, he had traded in a 2013 CR-V He bought the car 6 week ago and has about 900 miles on it. To say he was pissed off was the understatement of the year.”

Last edited by dlq04; 02-03-2019 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 01-30-2019, 05:58 AM
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Dave, it might be worth it to take an oil sample and send it to Blackstone for analysis. Just for your records.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Scooterboy View Post
Dave, it might be worth it to take an oil sample and send it to Blackstone for analysis. Just for your records.
Excellent suggestion. I am considering that now we have nearly 4,000 miles on the car. Its generally believed, or recommended, that you want 3-5,000 miles to get a good read out. I think it takes 2-3 weeks to get the results back. Several CR-V owners have sent their's in to start to build a case.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:38 AM
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Dave,does it apply to all of the 1.5 turbo engines?
Wife has a 2017 Civic 1.5 turbo,currently at 28000 kms.and never noticed any of those problems.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:55 AM
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Dave, great write up! I was wondering if this is an issue with other brand small displacement turboed engines. Ford and Mini have small, three cylinder turbos, and there are lots more small turbo engines being sold. Do you know if Honda is the only one having this problem?
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Emil St-Hilaire View Post
Dave,does it apply to all of the 1.5 turbo engines?
Wife has a 2017 Civic 1.5 turbo,currently at 28000 kms.and never noticed any of those problems.
Not everyone is aware of the problem and some claim they do not have any issue. You can check with Honda.com to see if your VIN# is listed for the 'fix'.
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:10 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to write up your good report, Dave. Well done.

Wow......that makes me look clairvoyant. My son was looking at the 2018 CRV to replace his 2008. He asked me about the turbo motor. I looked at the product lineup and told him to go for the base model with the old K24 motor. We could add a lot of bells and whistles with aftermarket gear if he needed it. Then we could wait out the cycle with the turbo motor to see if it is worthy.

His car is essential to his livelihood which makes reliability the key factor. We know the K24 motor well. He's got 280,000 on his CRV with the K24 and my wife has 125,000 on her K24, both, without a single problem. I, also, have the K24 in my Crosstour. It's only got 33,000 on it. It runs great and get's 30mpg+ on Interstate trips.

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Old 01-30-2019, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by S1997 View Post
Dave, great write up! I was wondering if this is an issue with other brand small displacement turboed engines. Ford and Mini have small, three cylinder turbos, and there are lots more small turbo engines being sold. Do you know if Honda is the only one having this problem?
No Honda is not alone, although the Civic has it too. I have not made note of which other company's have it but many do. I have been told by a good source that all direct injection engines have the same problem. Different manufactures approach it in different ways; for example, BMW has done away with the dipstick and reports oil with an illuminated gauge so you wouldn’t know if is over filled.
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by hecash View Post
Thanks for taking the time to write up your good report, Dave. Well done.

Wow......that makes me look clairvoyant.
Thanks Harry. You are indeed a very wise man.
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:33 AM
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Just this week Motor Trend announcement the CR-V won their SUV comparison test.

8. Chevy Equinox
7. Jeep Cherrokee
6. Nissan Rogue
5. Hyundai Tucson
4. Toyota RAV4
3. Subaru Forester
2. Mazda CX-5
1. Honda CR-V

"Now with the whole of its competitive set assembled, the CR-V shines again. No crossover provides a better overall balance than the Honda. It's fun to drive yet still comfortable. It's quick yet efficient. It's affordable yet still well equipped. And it's compact outside and spacious inside. The Honda CR-V is not only the best in this segment, but its crossover appeal should also put it on the short list of anyone shopping for a new family ride of any shape or size. With a CR-V this good, it's easy to see why the sedan is on its way out."

I guess the people who voted never asked this poster for input, "...their complete disregard of the plight of their customers is nothing short of shameful. My wife and I have owned a total of 11 Hondas over the years, but you won't catch me in their showroom ever again."

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