What's going on with turbo Honda CR-V engines?

Honda appears to be having problems with its bread and butter crossover. Some owners of 2017 and 2018 CR-Vs equipped with the new 1.5-liter turbocharged I4 have been reporting stalling and reduced power output, resulting in a top speed of 20 mph.

Consumer Reports has confirmed several instances of this problem, and there are numerous complaints via online forums and social media. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also confirmed reports with CR of gasoline scents in the passenger compartment and dilution of engine oil with gas. NHTSA did not confirm any complaints about stalling or loss of engine power.

The problem appears to stem from unburned fuel finding its way into the engine’s lubrication system. Honda released an official statement that confirmed that they are aware of the issue and that they are working on a solution. According to the statement, the fix should be ready by mid-November and will be covered under warranty. Honda will also be applying the fix to all 2019 CR-Vs.

The complaints from owners began in 2017. Many of the reports have originated in areas with cold weather but have not been exclusive to those climates. Experts have said the most likely culprits are the design of the fuel injectors or a lack of heat in the cylinder resulting in incomplete vaporization of the fuel. Excess fuel in the combustion chamber and oil system can dilute the oil’s lubricity, which could result significant internal damage to the motor.

According to CR and NHTSA, the only consistent fix Honda has presented to date is offering owners frequent free oil changes. Some cars have had their fuel injectors and spark plugs replaced. Though Honda has confirmed the issue, the company has not officially said what the repair will be.

Honda did issue a service bulletin for 380,000 CR-Vs and some Civic models in China for a similar problem. The recall instructed owners to take their vehicles to the dealer to address “an inappropriate fuel-injection setting” that caused unburnt fuel to seep into the engine’s oil at temperatures of  -4° F and below, especially in vehicles were used for short trips. 

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