Honda CR-V Fuel-Oil Defect: Fix Coming Late

Honda is rolling out a fix for a problem that causes fuel to mix with oil in its popular CR-V, but it will come later than expected — and not everyone will get an automatic remedy.

The free update will "address potential for abnormal engine oil dilution arising out of consistent short-trip driving at extreme cold temperatures," Honda said in an emailed statement to Owners will receive notifications beginning in early December, several weeks later than the mid-November time frame the automaker originally anticipated.

Who Gets It

Honda will roll out the fix in five states at first — Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin — and fix all model-year 2017 and 2018 CR-Vs with the problem, to the tune of some 25,000 vehicles addressed. Honda plans to expand the fix to 16 more states over the next two months "when additional replacement parts become available."

The additional states are Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

What if you live in the other 29 states?

"Vehicles in states with warmer temperatures and vehicles that travel longer distances regularly should not be experiencing abnormal oil dilution," Honda spokesman Chris Martin told in an email. "Some variation in oil level over time is normal for direct-injected engines, even at warmer temperatures."

Owners who think they're experiencing abnormal dilution can go to a dealer for a diagnosis, Martin added, and any repairs deemed necessary will come under warranty.

The problem had accounted for scores of complaints in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website as of early October, but it's worth noting that the CR-V is responsible for nearly 300,000 sales this year, and three of its four trim levels have the 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Only a "tiny fraction of CR-V owners" are experiencing the issue, Consumer Reports estimates.

The Problem

In a video posted online, the automaker attributed the issue to fuel sprayed from the 1.5-liter engine's direct injector dribbling down the cylinder wall, collecting in the oil pan and failing to vaporize over time. Owners have complained of higher-than-normal oil levels on their dipstick, a smell of fuel in the cabin and, in some cases, engine hesitancy and stalling.

Honda notes that in some cases, excessive oil levels can cause the engine to misfire and illuminate dashboard warning lights. The automaker will cover all necessary repairs under warranty but hasn't observed "related vehicle symptoms" that affect safety.

The Solution

The fix involves updated engine and transmission software, an oil change and, in certain cases, replacement of the air-conditioning control unit. Such updates "will allow the engine to warm up faster, improving fuel combustion and reducing the potential for abnormal oil dilution," Honda said.

Martin told earlier in October that the automaker would remedy the problem for all 2019 model-year CR-Vs by the time they hit the market.

Honda issued a recall in China earlier this year to address similar oil-fuel problems in Civic and CR-V models with the 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder, but said today that its overseas cars "are not identical due to product-specific differences between vehicles sold in China and other regions of the world, including the United States."

Consumer Reports says the automaker will phase in a repair for both cars in Canada but has yet to rope in the Civic for U.S. consumers because "its investigation into additional models is ongoing."

Honda contends that the problem comes "primarily from the northern areas of the country during extreme cold weather conditions combined with short, intermittent driving," Honda's Martin said in an Oct. 8 email to

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