— Honda CR-V SUVs and Honda Civic cars with high oil levels are waiting to be fixed in China as Honda tries to respond to a growing chorus of owner complaints about overwhelming fuel odors in the vehicles.
Based on customer complaints, the high oil levels and fuel smells have hit Honda customers hardest in the northern areas of China where low temperatures are common.
Dongfeng Honda, a Chinese car company half-owned by Honda, originally announced in February a recall of about 350,000 Honda CR-V SUVs and Honda Civics. The vehicles are equipped with 1.5-liter turbocharged Earth Dreams direct injection engines that, according to Honda, have oil levels too high due to short drives in cold weather.
The automaker says the cold climate and short trips cause condensation and excess fuel vapors if the engines don't have time to reach temperatures that would normally burn off the contaminants.
Honda says excess fuel builds up and stays in the oil pan where it would normally evaporate and recycle through the combustion chamber of the engine. In addition to the high oil levels and fuel smells, customers report illuminated engine warning lights, but Honda says the problems won't cause engine damage and there haven't been any reports of crashes.
Dongfeng Honda told Beijing media that experts from the Honda Technology Research Institute conducted lab tests and real-world driving tests in northern China and allegedly determined the high oil levels don't cause abnormal engine wear.
The high oil levels also allegedly won't cause any performance issues with the CR-Vs and Civics, and although numerous customers complain about high oil levels and gas odors, no customer has alleged engine damage.
Investigators further determined the engine warning light will activate when the oil level hits 21 mm above the limit of the dipstick.
Honda and Dongfeng planned on resolving the problems by updating the gasoline injection control software, adjusting the ignition timing and speed of the engines and updating the fuel injection timing to effectively burn off excess fuel.
Additionally, the automaker planned on extending the warranty to six years, but Chinese officials put the kibosh on the plans, at least concerning the CR-Vs.
Chinese regulators say Honda needs to come up with better recall plans for the CR-V SUVs and will likely need to do the same for the Civics. This means Honda cannot sell CR-Vs in the country until officials approve new recall repairs.
Honda recommends limiting extended idling periods, using a block heater and driving the vehicle in a lower gear to cause the engine to warm up faster. The automaker says longer trips at higher engine revolutions will help the excess fuel and vapors to properly evaporate.
While Honda stays busy responding to Chinese customers about the CR-Vs, the automaker has experienced its own problems in the U.S. concerning gas smells in the SUVs.
A class-action lawsuit filed in 2016 alleges model year 2016 Honda CR-Vs have problems with fuel odors in the cabins, and a separate lawsuit alleges 2015-2017 CR-V SUVs have defects that cause fuel odor problems within a year of owning the SUVs.
CarComplaints.com has owner-reported complaints about Honda CR-Vs going back to 1996 models, and Honda Civics going back to 1982.