Honda’s 1.5L Earth Dreams engine is experiencing rising oil levels due to dilution from fuel contamination. The problem is particularly bad in cold-weather climates, and affects the 2015-2018 CR-V and 2016-2018 Civic.
Direct Injection and Oil Dilution
Earth Dreams is a direct-injection engine which pumps fuel directly into the chamber under high pressure. These engines are great for performance and fuel efficiency, but are more susceptible to oil dilution which is basically oil mixed with, well … stuff that isn’t oil.
Fuel vapors condense on the cylinder walls when the engine is cold. That fuel then mixes with the thin layer of oil that’s just hanging out trying to do its job. Think of yourself as the oil, and the fuel vapor as that creepy uncle who visits you at work and insists on awkwardly long hugs.
Unfortunately, you and Uncle Petrol are now linked together.
The engine’s heat helps burn off these fuel vapors. However, if the engine never gets hot enough (or there’s a defect) the fuel can dilute the engine oil and raise the level of liquid in the oil pan.
So What’s Up With the Earth Dreams Engine?
Honda blames the Earth Dreams oil dilution problem on two things.
- The engine is just “too efficient.” Yes, they said that.
- Short-trips taken by drivers, especially in cold weather areas, never let’s the engine heat up sufficiently to burn off the excess vapors.
Honda has a point about short trips being detrimental to your engine’s health. However, there is a higher-than-average number of complaints coming in about dilution issues in the Earth Dreams engine specifically.
In addition to fuel, owners have reported water dilution problems. The combination of oil, fuel, and water is causing overflow problems which leads to:
- The check engine light coming on once the oil level reaches 21mm above the dipstick’s current limit.
- A stinky, gas-fumed cabin that’s so bad owners report feeling nauseous and dizzy while driving and have long-term health concerns.
Honda’s spin cycle
Once again, Honda insists that 1) the engine is too efficient and 2) needs longer drives to burn off the vapors.
With minimal wasted heat your engine can develop condensation and excess fuel vapors than combustion if not driven in a manner that allows the engines to fully reach operating temperature which would normally burn off the contaminates.
Honda is asking drivers to limit extended idling, use a block heater, drive in lower gears at the start of trips, and drive for longer trips to help the engine warm up.
When life gives you lemons, blame the sourness on someone else.
Are the higher oil levels damaging the engine?
A common concern is internal engine parts breaking down faster than normal because they weren’t designed to handle the overflow or the gas-oil mixture.
In response, the Honda Technology Research Institute conducted lab and real-world driving tests in the extreme cold of northern China and determined high oil levels do not cause engine damage.
Tell that to these 2017 CR-V owners.
“Although Honda in China stated in a press release that this issue would not cause engine damage I believe my oil analysis report provides evidence to the contrary. I was told upon receiving my report that oil was at approximately 5% of the viscosity it should have and that the wear metals number should not be higher then 20. My number was 218. That’s insanely high. Honda has yet to respond to this oil analysis report.”
“…the dealer has told me they will replace entire cylinder head. They have not told me that there is a fix to the cause of the problem nor can they tell me how long it will take to fix the damage. Honda needs to address this problem and communicate with their affected customers as to what the plan is. They also need to either offer buy-backs or extend the warranty once resolved to 6 years.”
A Stop-Sale Ordered in China
In February 2018, Dongfeng Honda – a Chinese car company half-owned by Honda – ordered a recall of 350,000 vehicles after numerous complaints from owners in the colder regions of northern China.
Honda planned on updating the vehicle’s gasoline injection control software to adjust the timing and speed of the injection. They also planned on extending the engine’s warranty to 6 years.
But the emphasis is on plan, because the recall was rejected by Chinese regulators, who want a better plan for fixing the problem.
Until a new recall is agreed upon, Honda has issued a stop-sale on all new CR-Vs in China.
What About the North American Market?
Similar complaints are now being watched in the USA and Canada. American Honda spokesman, Chris Martin, says Honda hasn’t seen the same patterns of failure in the USA but that could surely change:
”We’ve been watching to see what kind of consumer complaints come up in order to determine whether that issue will affect the U.S.”
Honda Canada Acknowledges the Issue
In April of 2018, Honda Canada released a TSB regarding the engine misfiring and oil pressure warning lights coming on during cold weather.
The TSB confirmed reports of a higher-than-normal engine oil level due to contamination from fuel build-up in the 2015-2018 CR-V and 2016-2018 Civic.
In August of 2018, they took it one step further by releasing a statement saying they’re aware of the problem and working on potential counter-measures.
Potential class-action lawsuit in the USA
The law firm of Sauder Schelkopf LLC is currently investigating a class-action lawsuit on behalf of owners of 2016-2018 Honda CR-V vehicles that are prone to engine oil contamination.
Sauder Schelkopf (www.sauderschelkopf.com) is a leading national class action law firm that advances the interests of its clients by recovering the money they have lost, and obtaining the relief to which they are entitled. The lawyers at Sauder Schelkopf have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of consumers and have earned their reputation as skilled and aggressive veteran litigators