Honda America has announced a plan to address the engine oil dilution issue some owners are struggling with. The problem is that gasoline is getting into the engine's lubricating oil. Owners checking their oil find that the level on the dipstick is rising, sometimes alarmingly.
Honda is calling its program a "Product Update." Owners of model year 2017 and 2018 CR-V crossovers with Honda's new 1.5-liter turbocharged engines in certain regions will have their engines modified by Honda dealers at no cost. The problem is linked to frequent cold-weather starts. Honda says that its inventory of components needed to address the issue is limited temporarily. So the product update will first begin in five northern states (ME, MN, ND, SD and WI). Once parts become more readily available, Honda will expand the program to 21 states in all.
Honda dealers performing the free product update will install new software for the engine and transmission control units (ECU and TCU), change the engine oil and, in some vehicles, also replace the air conditioning control unit. Honda says that these updates will allow the CR-V's engine to warm up faster, improving fuel combustion and reducing the potential for abnormal oil dilution. That term, "abnormal oil dilution" is Honda's name for the issue.
65 owners have reported this issue at the publication CarComplaints.com. Many of the reports have the same basic story. Owners report the issue to dealers' service departments, who call the situation "normal" and then offered no solution to frustrated owners. Owner Jerry D.'s story is typical. Jerry reported in September of 2018, "At 15,000 miles our 2017 Honda CRV oil showed over full and had a strong fuel smell to it. I mentioned this at dealership when having oil changed. The guys at the dealership act like it was no big deal. They were quick to give me a discount on the oil change and told me to check it often. They would not document this. Honda U.S.A. you need to admit that this is a problem and make it right. Will likely be the last Honda we buy if Honda is unable or unwilling to make this right!"
CarComplaints has tracked the issue and found that it most typically occurs between 4,000 and 10,000 miles. On its "Severity Meter" CarComplaints gives this issue a "Prety Bad" rating and has stuck its infamous "Beware of the Clunker" warning on the CR-V.
Honda discovered this issue in China first and addressed it there. The Civic was also part of that program. Although the American and Chinese market vehicles are not identical, they are are very similar. Some U.S.-market and Canadian market Civic owners with the 1.5T engine have also reported the same problem, and same Honda dealership brush off. Consumer Reports is reporting that Honda is not including the Civic in its plan. In Canada, Honda has a more extensive program planned which will include added warranty time. Honda uses its new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine in the CR-V, Civic, and Accord.
Honda seems to have dragged its feet a bit addressing the issue here in the American market, but it is refreshing to see an automaker step forward, admit an issue exists, and offer a definitive set of changes that will correct the problem. Subaru of America should take note.