Consumer Reports: Honda CR-Vs plagued by engine trouble

The Honda CR-V, one of the most popular vehicles in America, is plagued by a potentially dangerous engine problem that could cause the small SUVs to lose power or even stall, according to Consumer Reports magazine.

In some CR-Vs, gasoline can leak into the SUV’s engine oil. That can eventually cause the engine to lose power or stall completely. Several Consumer Reports subscribers reported the issue which has also been the subject of of dozens of complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to the magazine. Many more owners have complained of the problem in online forums, Consumer Reports said.

Several CR-V owners have posted complaints with NHTSA reporting a strong smell of unburned gasoline as a result of fuel getting into the engine’s lubricating oil.

Honda told Consumer Reports it is working to figure out a fix for the problem but does not consider it to be a safety threat requiring a recall. Consumer Reports disagrees with that.

“There are many ways stalling can be a safety issue, so if these cars are stalling, they need to be recalled,” said David Friedman, vice president for Advocacy at Consumer Reports and a former acting NHTSA director.

Honda did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

The problem occurs in 2017 and 2018 CR-Vs with Honda’s new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. There are more than 500,000 of them on the roads in the United States. Somehow, gasoline is getting into the car’s lubricating oil which should not normally happen, Consumer Reports said. That dilutes the engine oil making it less effective at lubricating the engine. Over time, that can lead to engine damage and loss of power or stalling, especially on cold days or in heavy traffic.

Honda told Consumer Reports the problem has occurred mostly in northern parts of the country during short drives in extreme cold weather. Honda insists the problem is not widespread. Consumer Reports said the problem had been reported to them by CR-V owners as far south as Texas and New Mexico.

Honda has recalled CR-Vs in China for a similar issue. But those vehicles do not have precisely the same engine used in CR-Vs sold in the United States, Honda told Consumer Reports. Also, Honda told Consumer Reports that, despite the recall, Honda still did not really consider the issue in China a safety threat that would require a recall but there was no other way to handle it under Chinese regulations.

When an automaker issues a safety recall in the United States, it is legally required to fix the problem, at no charge to the owner, in all potentially affected vehicles. Automakers frequently do other sorts of updates and fixes to vehicles, at their discretion, without necessarily fixing the problem in all vehicles.