CRV fires and Honda support response

Discussion in 'CR-V' started by Andre, Jul 13, 2004.

  1. Andre

    Andre Guest

    I called Honda 800 999-1009 after reading reports of CRVs burning and
    exploding; I recently purchased a 2004 model. I was told by Honda
    customer service that nothing is wrong with the vehicle and no recall
    is planned. The fires are due to improperly installed oil filters.
    Am I wrong to think that this is not good enough?

    Another post in this newsgroup states that the oil filter is closer to
    the CRV's hot engine manifold than in other cars. Would not a simple
    splash guard prevent oil from leaking onto hot engine parts to prevent
    fires and explosions in the case of improperly installed or leaking
    oil filters?

    I have owned enough vehicles to realize oil may sometimes leak from a
    filter during or after installation, but this leak doesn't result in
    catastrophe, except in the CRV. While looking up Honda's contact
    information on the Web, I saw much information touting Honda safety
    records and standards and awards, yet they are completely ignoring
    this problem. Since safety is a main concern in choosing a car for me
    and my family, I really feel that I probably will not buy a car again
    from Honda in the future. Maybe I am overreacting to this. Andre
    Andre, Jul 13, 2004
  2. Andre

    Caroline Guest

    Here is how I think I would feel if I owned a 2003-2004 Honda CR-V:

    First, I wouldn't trust Honda Customer Service to know what they're talking
    about on this point. Seems to me before any defect is fully known, Customer
    Services everywhere, with any product, will deny any defects exist.

    Second, the report at (Make: HONDA Model: CR-V
    Year: 2003 NHTSA Action Number: PE04018) suggests to me that maybe more of
    these particular Hondas are having oil filter leakage-onto-exhaust-and-fire
    problems than the average car. Maybe not. The report doesn't give a baseline for
    all cars.

    Third, I do care about the baseline for all cars. My very first vehicle (a
    Toyota pickup truck) had its first oil change at Sears in the early 1980s. A few
    miles down the road the low oil pressure light came on. I pulled over
    immediately. Looked underneath and saw oil on the ground. I walked to a payphone
    and called Sears. Sears sent a tow truck and towed my car back. They find the
    kid mechanic did not scrape off the old gasket. It was double-gasketed, just as
    the report above identifies for a number of the cars with fires.

    Fourth, so how often does such an error like Sears' *also* result in a fire? Do
    Hondas have a poorer record on this count? One can only guess, no thanks to the
    government report, and no thanks to Honda.

    I'd find out where my Honda CR-V's oil filter is and try to inspect it,
    especially for dripping oil, after every oil change. I think I might say
    something to the service advisor at every oil change, too, about the report
    above, and ask that he/she have the work double checked. Maybe bring a copy of
    the report with me. The service advisor might start thinking me anal, but oh
    well. I personally would just not be comfortable right now with the information
    available on this.

    Based on my and I'm sure others' many experiences with improperly installed oil
    filters, anyone with any car should get to know where the oil filter is and know
    where to look for leakage. Also, be cautious for the first couple of hours of
    driving after any oil change.

    As for never buying from Honda again: Many (all?) car makers have had serious,
    life-threatening defects at some point in their life. Have they learned from
    this? I think so. I can't think of a car maker that has erred so badly re
    serious defects that I would not buy from them just because of its serious
    defect record.

    I'd keep an eye peeled for further studies of this problem, but I wouldn't
    reject Honda outright in the future.
    Caroline, Jul 13, 2004
  3. Andre

    jim beam Guest

    let's get this straight: some troll spams unsubstantiated drivel on a
    newsgroup based on unconfirmable reports alledging a total of 27
    vehicles burning - apparently due to filter/exhaust proximity - a
    feature that is the norm for a vast majority of modern fwd's - and
    you're buying this story? 27 vs. the thousands of fords, gm's &
    chryslers that burn every day?

    hey, i have some used buffalo fodder i can sell you too. want to buy some?

    this is nothing but an astroturf campaign. get wise.
    jim beam, Jul 13, 2004
  4. Exploding now, are they?

    Please post where you read this.
    Steve Bigelow, Jul 14, 2004
  5. Andre

    James Austin Guest

    Actually, Honda themselves have admitted problems with about 164 vehicles if
    i recall. However the problem is with the mechanics doing the oil change.
    Maybe it is a bit trickier to do than on other vehicles. But, if you are a
    trained mechanic, an oil change shouldnt be too difficult.
    James Austin, Jul 14, 2004
  6. Andre

    jim beam Guest

    james, where did you get that number from? can you provide an url?
    jim beam, Jul 15, 2004
  7. Something funny is going on though. My Integras (86 and 94) have the
    filter right over the exhaust virtually guaranteeing that any leaked
    or spilled oil will smoke off. I assume Civics are similar. Why are
    only new CRVs being singled out? Is the filter nearer to the cylinder
    end of the manifold thus increasing temperature? Or something else?
    Gordon McGrew, Jul 15, 2004
  8. On the K-series engine the exhaust manifold is on the back of the engine
    and I believe the filter is on the right (looking forward) rear of the
    engine - dunno where the catalytic converter is located but it's possible
    it takes catalytic converter contact to actually ignite the oil, since even
    exhaust heat is marginal for actual ignition of engine oil.

    There was also a story from some link here that there was a suspicion that
    the factory filter had not been installed with sufficient lubricant on the
    seal, causing the old seal to stick to the mating surface.

    IMO this stacked and pinched seals is just *bloody* sloppy mechanics - who
    here has not run their finger around the oil filter mating surface on every
    oil change to clean and check it? I've done dozens of filter changes on
    Hondas and pinched seals is simply due to overtightening or insufficient
    lubrication of the seal.

    Rgds, George Macdonald

    "Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean you're not psychotic" - Who, me??
    George Macdonald, Jul 15, 2004
  9. Andre

    Andre Guest

    Below is a Washington post story I took from the Web just now, I read
    a similar report on my local paper, TV carried similar stories. Again
    as I said I may be overreacting. I plan to watch my oil level
    closely, and I plan to inspect the oil filter following changes, Andre

    27 Fires Linked To Oil Changes In Honda CR-V

    By Greg Schneider
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, July 9, 2004; Page A01

    At least 27 Honda CR-V sport-utility vehicles from the 2003 and 2004
    model years burst into flames shortly after getting their first oil
    changes, according to records provided to the federal government by
    the manufacturer.

    While no injuries were reported, many of the vehicles were destroyed,
    usually with 10,000 miles or fewer on their odometers.

    The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration investigated
    the situation and concluded July 1 that the cases were the fault of
    dealerships or others who improperly installed oil filters. The agency
    agreed with American Honda Motor Co. that oil from the filters most
    likely leaked onto the vehicles' hot exhaust systems, quickly igniting
    -- in some cases as the owners drove the small SUVs home from being

    "We consulted with Honda. Honda concluded it was a technician's error,
    and they have taken steps to make sure service technicians who work on
    this vehicle understand that they need to be particularly diligent
    when they replace the oil filter," NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson said.

    But auto safety advocates say they're dismayed that the agency didn't
    take a stronger stand. "Relatively new cars catching on fire? Running
    the risk of injuring their occupants? It's a very unusual and a very
    dangerous situation," said Sally Greenberg of Consumers Union,
    publisher of Consumer Reports. The fact that a routine oil change
    could have such catastrophic results suggests "a dire and a dangerous
    situation that both the automaker and the auto safety agency should
    have looked much more closely at," she said.

    Honda, whose products are consistently rated among the safest
    vehicles, doesn't know why the fires are happening in only the two
    most recent CR-V models, spokesman Andy Boyd said. "That's the part
    we're still investigating. Honestly, that's something we're still
    trying to understand," he said, adding that there have been no major
    design changes.

    While Boyd said the problem is "absolutely not a design defect," he
    said the CR-V's engine is configured "such that there is a higher
    likelihood of oil spraying onto the manifold than . . . on other
    vehicles." Honda has no plan to recall the vehicles and install a
    barrier to block the oil from hitting the hot exhaust manifold, he

    "At this stage I don't believe we think a recall is warranted," Boyd
    said "We think with a little more communication and education with the
    dealers, the problem can be eliminated."

    About 140,000 CR-Vs were sold in the United States in 2003. Honda said
    22 of them caught fire from the apparent oil filter problem. So far
    this year, five owners of 2004 CR-Vs have reported such fires to

    NHTSA's records relate the stories of drivers whose vehicles caught
    fire. Their names were blacked out. A woman driving on Braddock Road
    in Northern Virginia last January noticed smoke coming from under her
    2003 CR-V. A passerby pulled up and told her it was on fire, so she
    swerved onto the shoulder, the electrical system shorted out and all
    the doors locked. She got out without injury.

    A North Carolina family driving to church one Sunday in May noticed
    smoke and had to rush to get their two small children unbuckled from
    safety seats before their 2004 CR-V went up in flames.

    A Georgia man coming home from a flea market stopped when he noticed
    smoke, tried to open his hood and "heard an explosion and the front
    end just burst into flames," according to records Honda supplied to

    All had recently had their oil changed for the first time. Honda
    recently warned its technicians about the need to be careful replacing
    oil filters in a regular newsletter mailed out to all 1,008 U.S.
    dealer service shops, Boyd said.

    Now the company is drafting a letter to the dealerships themselves, as
    well as preparing an article for a newsletter sent periodically to
    independent repair shops such as Jiffy Lube and Pep Boys. Honda also
    plans to change the language on the oil filter itself and its
    packaging, warning of the dangers of improper installation.

    There are no plans to send warnings to customers who might change the
    oil themselves, Boyd said.

    The problem is believed to happen one of two ways: The O-ring gasket
    on the old oil filter sometimes sticks to the crankcase, and if the
    new filter is installed over it, oil can leak around it. Or, if the
    gasket on the new filter isn't lubricated properly, it might set
    incorrectly and allow oil to leak around it. Then it can spray onto
    the hot manifold and burn.

    Kay C. Brittain of Jacksonville, Fla., was driving to work from her
    first 5,000-mile oil change when she noticed black smoke in her
    rearview mirror. She pulled onto the median to turn and go back to the
    dealership, but a passing motorist shouted that her 2004 CR-V was on

    A week later, the elderly parents of one of Brittain's co-workers
    avoided injury when their 2003 CR-V burst into flames.

    Brittain, 56, who learned from Web site chat groups of other such
    incidents around the country, said she had no problems with the 2002
    CR-V she drove for two years before trading it in for the new model.
    Now that she has gotten her dealer to replace the one that burned with
    another 2004 CR-V, she has lost her peace of mind.

    "It just scares me. Here I'm sitting with a brand new car, and come
    5,000 miles I'm going to have to go through it again," she said. "I
    don't want this to happen to somebody else. If there is a problem, I
    think Honda should acknowledge it and at least check this out and not
    write it off.

    "I'm just afraid something bad's going to happen. I just want them to
    take it seriously."
    Andre, Jul 15, 2004
  10. Andre

    jim beam Guest


    1. have you ever heard of astroturf?

    2. do you know how many "news stories" are submitted every day to the
    washpost by interested parties seeking to further the objectives of the
    persons that paid them?

    3. [most important of all] why do you keep spamming this newsgroup with
    this stuff? are /you/ being paid to astroturf?
    jim beam, Jul 16, 2004
  11. If it is spraying on the cat, that would certainly explain why it is
    more likely to burn than cars where it hits a pipe. The sticky gasket
    could certainly be contributing but this doesn't sound good to me.
    Errors in maintenance can happen. I'm surprised that Honda wouldn't
    be designing a shield for this. Maybe they are.

    From the article that someone else posted, the incidence of the CRV
    fires is down sharply from last year (5 YTD vs. 22 in 2003 with a lot
    more of this model on the road this year.) Could be due to better
    assembly at the plant or increased care by the mechanics. If the
    latter, there is a risk that fires could increase when these vehicles
    start being serviced by non-dealer mechanics.
    Gordon McGrew, Jul 16, 2004
  12. Andre

    jim beam Guest

    5 ytd??? non fatal??? how does this compare with accidents caused by
    incorrectly torqued lug nuts? punctures caused by incorrectly inflated
    tires? how about lack of washer fluid causing dirty windshields? how
    about fatalities caused by distracted cell phone users? dude, get some
    jim beam, Jul 16, 2004
  13. Andre

    jim beam Guest

    and another thing. my driveway is now soaked with oil because a friend
    just brought his toyota over to have me look at a leak. that thing is
    gushing. and guess where the oil's blowing? all over the catalyst &
    exhaust! apparently they're been driving it in that condition for
    nearly a year - 1 quart every 100 miles.

    now, should toyota do a recall because when the main crank case seal
    goes, it leaks oil that can blow onto the hot catalyst? how about the
    fire risk? other than having the engine at the rear and catalyst at the
    front, can you name any engine configuration where this is /not/ a
    potential "problem"?
    jim beam, Jul 16, 2004
  14. Andre

    Hai Pham Guest

    It seems all/most the cars were on fire after the first oil changes. Is it
    due to the stuff Honda put in the new car mixed with oil to lubricate the
    engine. The oil mixed with this stuff leaks when the first oil change was
    done carelessly and the mix caught on fire ?

    Hai Pham
    Hai Pham, Jul 17, 2004
  15. Andre

    E. Meyer Guest

    That is not at all what Honda say is happening. The old filter gasket was
    not removed, consequently a good seal is not achieved with the new filter.
    The oil starts blasting past the gasket out the edges of the filter,
    spraying onto the exhaust system and catching fire. We're not talking about
    a little drip here. Oil pressure is measured in pounds. It can pump out
    the whole load of oil in a very short time.

    Checking your oil level won't prevent this. All the oil will blow out
    almost all at once. Checking the filter after an oil change might, if you
    know what to look for.

    There is no recall because it is purely and simply incompetent maintenance.
    E. Meyer, Jul 17, 2004
  16. Andre

    Chip Stein Guest

    anyone know how to do an oil change?? when you pull the filter off
    you are supposed to wipe the block with a rag where the filter goes
    on. standard practice forever. it keeps stupid stuff like this from
    happening. This problem is simply the fault of lazy techs.!!
    Chip Stein, Jul 17, 2004
  17. Andre

    Caroline Guest

    I put at least some of the blame on dealers overworking and underpaying their
    techs, such that they rush, are tired, and so commit the equivalent of
    Caroline, Jul 18, 2004
  18. The oil change guy is frequently an entry level job anyway, and not a
    real Honda-trained technician at all. He might aspire to that, but he
    starts out paying his dues with oil changes.
    Elmo P. Shagnasty, Jul 18, 2004
  19. Andre

    Chip Stein Guest

    doesn't matter, the tech should take pride in his or her work
    either way. if they can't do that then they need to get out of the
    Chip Stein, Jul 18, 2004
  20. Andre

    Caroline Guest

    This is a nice sentiment but I don't think it's practical, particularly at
    dealer shops.

    The more repairs a tech cranks out, the more valued he is by the dealer. If a
    comeback results and is disguisable so as to make more money for the
    blood-sucking dealerships, the the tech's bosses don't care. In fact, they might
    even encourage slipshod repairs that aren't obviously slipshod, so as to bring
    in more business.

    Same thing is happening with MDs: They're forced to see more patients to the
    detriment of the care they give, IMO.

    Lawyers have always been corrupt, so no need to point out the similarities

    Just my opinion.
    Caroline, Jul 18, 2004
Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.