Honda CR-V problems: a comprehensive list of what to expect

Honda CR-V Problems

Even though Honda is known for above-average reliability, it’s always smart to be aware that no car is perfect (not even anything made by Honda). Here, I’ll be focusing specifically on Honda CR-V problems.

As you might expect, the Honda CR-V doesn’t have that many issues compared to the competition. It has been a generally relivable vehicle ever since the first version was launched back in 1997. It has remained reliable and mostly trouble-free throughout the years, because, well…Honda.

If you’re looking to buy one these things, continue reading to find out more about what problems to look out for with all model years of the Honda CR-V.

What problems does the Honda CR-V have?

The top three Honda CR-V issues reported by owners are unintended acceleration, excessive oil consumption, and problems with the air conditioning. There are a few other issues as well, which I will explain below.

Unintended acceleration

Many CR-V owners state they hear the engine revving while braking. When they press down on the brake pedal to stop the vehicle, it continues to lurch forward. This seems to be a common complaint, but in all my research, I haven’t been able to find the cause of it. 

For what it’s worth, my 2010 Honda Fit does this as well. It happens when the air conditioning is running, and when the compressor kicks on. This causes a surge in engine RPM, and even if my foot is on the brake, the car will lurch forward.

It’s something I’ve learned to deal with – and to be honest I didn’t consider it enough of an issue to include in my list of 2010 Honda Fit problems.

Excessive oil consumption

Excessive oil consumption is one of the most reported issues with the Honda CR-V. It affects nearly all model years.

Owners report that the check engine light (and / or oil light) does not come on when the dipstick is essentially dry. Some report that they were told by mechanics to add oil each time they fill up their tank with gas – which is something that is unheard of in modern vehicles.

There are many reports of CR-V owners who have had to get engine repairs done, sometimes even rebuilding the entire engine – which is very costly.

Honda CR-V engine
That unfortunate moment right before your mechanic tells you that you need a new engine in your CR-V.

Air conditioning compressor failure

Many owners report air conditioning issues with Honda CR-Vs. Mainly, the problem is that the air stops blowing cold air. Some owners reported having the air conditioning system fixed but then having it break again shortly thereafter.

Drivers say they hear a loud noise, and then the air stops blowing cold. This is most often due to a broken air compressor (very similar to what I discussed in my list of 2011 Ford Escape problems).

A friend of mine who has a 2017 CR-V has had this issue. He told me that his mechanic said this issue is common in Honda CR-Vs once they reach about 80,000 to 100,000 miles.

Engine issues

  • Some CR-V owners report smelling gas inside the vehicle. This is most often due to an overfilled gas tank. There are lots of other reasons why your car smells like gas though…
  • The other main issue is that the engine sometimes does not produce enough heat. Although it seems unrelated, it’s worth noting that these two problems most often occur together in colder climates. Your guess is as good as mine as to why (and how) they are related…

For the most part, these problems occur in Honda CR-Vs with the 1.5L engine.

Suspension problems

Some owners have had issues with the suspension in their Honda CR-V. These issues include having to replace the shocks/ struts often, along with alignment problems. They’re almost identical to the suspension issues I listed in my overview of 2017 Ford Escape problems.

Funky alignment seems to be a problem that occurs when needing to replace the shocks and struts. Suspension repairs are expensive, and they are not usually covered under warranty.

In addition to these suspension issues, many owners report power steering system leaks. Power steering hoses needing replacement is more understandable in older vehicles, but it’s concerning that it’s a somewhat common issue on newer CR-Vs.

2013 Honda CR-V
You’ll never be able to look at a CR-V again without wondering if it has had it’s shocks and struts replaced. The things you learn reading DriveAndReview.com!

What year Honda CR-V has the least problems?

I was actually thinking about buying a CR-V to replace my Fit, and I did a lot of research on which model years were the most reliable (on average). I found that the least number of complaints were made about the 2009, 2019, 2020, and 2021 models.

This may be due to the latter three models not being around as long. However, the 2009 model has an overall positive rating by owners, so it’s not one you should overlook if you’re looking to save some money.

Honda CR-V years to avoid

The 2015 model is the CR-V that owners seem to complain about the most (ironically enough, that was the year with the most Mazda CX-5 problems as well). However, the 2011 model seems to have the most complaints about expensive repairs.

You may want to avoid the 2017 model as well. I read a large number of complaints about that particular CR-V (the most troubling one related to oil overuse). If you purchase a 2017 model, expect many trips to the mechanic over the coming years…

What is the average life expectancy of a Honda CR-V?

You can expect to have your Honda CR-V for a long time if you take care of it. These are durable vehicles and can last up to 300,000 miles. In some cases, even a bit over that.

It all depends on having it serviced routinely and addressing the recalls. If you do not take care of it, you’ll be lucky to see 150,000 miles IMHO. Even though Honda makes very reliable vehicles, it’s still a mass-produced car after all. It isn’t invincible.

For comparisons sake, Honda CR-V problems (ones which will decrease life expectancy) are nowhere as severe as 2015 Ford Escape problems. Or 2016 Cadillac SRX problems.

The bottom line is this: change the oil often. Don’t drive like an idiot. And for gosh sakes – give it a nice coat of wax every now and then.

gray Honda CR-V
Even if the CR-V had Kia Forte problems (which are bad), I’d still be tempted to buy one. I like these things!

Recalls

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has issued a handful of recalls on the CR-V over the years (note that 2014 was the only model year CR-V that didn’t have any recalls issued). And for what it’s worth, the list of recalls in my Honda HR-V problems roundup was much shorter. Go figure.

You can find specific recalls on each model year by going to the NHTSA website.

  • 2000: The 2000 model has two recalls for airbags that may deploy incorrectly, causing injury to the passenger. Yes, the CR-V was greatly affected by the Takata airbag scandal.
  • 2001: The NHTSA recalled the airbags in the 2001 Honda CR-V for the same reason as the 2000 model.
  • 2002: This model has 16 reported recalls on it. These are for the airbags, like the previous models, as well as six other areas. The airbags were recalled in 2004, 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2019. Other recalls listed relate to the electrical system, the power train, the seats, the seatbelts, the exterior lighting, and the visibility.
  • 2003: Airbags proved to be an issue in the 2003 model as well. Other recalls were for the electrical system, exterior lighting, visibility, and powertrain issues.
  • 2004: The 2004 Honda CR-V recalls mimic that of the 2003 model. The only recall that was not reported on both the 2003 and 2004 models is the powertrain one.
  • 2005: Another airbag recall. Additionally, recalls for the electrical system, visibility, and speed control were issued.
  • 2006: The 2006 Honda CR-V 2006had the same issue with the airbags as the previous model. The electrical system, visibility, speed control, and suspension were all recalled.
  • 2007: Recalls for airbags and powertrain problems were issued.
  • 2008: The NHTSA issued recalls for airbag issues and powertrain problems.
  • 2009: Recalls were issued for the airbag problems and powertrain issues.
  • 2010: Electrical system, airbags, and powertrain issues were all recalled issued for this model.
  • 2011: Airbags. Again.
  • 2012: This is the first model without an airbag recall. The three recalls here are for latches, linkages, a misprinted label, and powertrain problems.
  • 2013: This model only has one recall. It is for powertrain issues (claiming the vehicle could roll away while in park).
  • 2015: Engine issues and cooling issues are the reasons for the two recalls on this model.
  • 2016: Another recall on the airbags. There is also one recall for engine issues.
  • 2017: The 2017 model has three recalls. These include misprinted labels, steering issues, and fuel line problems.
  • 2018: This model has the same issues with steering and fuel line as the 2017 model.
  • 2019: The 2019 model is more problematic than previous versions. There are recalls for the fuel system, the airbags, and body structure.
  • 2020: Structure concerns and electrical system issues are the two recalls on the 2020 model.
  • 2021: There is a recall on the seat belt system in this model.
  • 2022: The same seat belt recall as the 2021 model applies to the 2022.

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