Honda's Underpowered Battery is Subject to Parasitic Drains

Key Points

  • Honda has been sued for using weak batteries that are incapable of running the Accord and CR-V's electrical systems.
  • The batteries also suffer from parasitic drains that continue to draw power as the vehicle sits unattended.
  • The drain could come from the vehicle stability assist (VSA) system, a faulty A/C relay, or the wrong battery charge management mode.
Posted on
Author
Scott McCracken
Tagged
#electrical

Certain generations of Accord and CR-V vehicles chew through batteries. Leave one of these sitting a couple days and there's a good chance it won't start due to an underpowered battery, parasitic drains, and an ineffective battery charging system.

Over the years, Honda has released multiple technical service bulletins (TSB) outlining potential software fixes for battery problems. However, those fixes aren’t always effective and have been limited to the 2012 and 2017 model years.

ModelYearProblemCount
Accord2018Won't Start1
2017Battery Died Prematurely2
Won't Start3
2016Battery Dies Prematurely10
2015Battery Failure4
Battery Dies Overnight2
2014Engine Won't Start42
2013Battery Continually Drains25
Won't Start40
CR-V2019Dead Battery17
2018Electrical Drains2
2017Battery Keeps Going Dead19
2016Won't Start or Turn Over4
Battery Dead5
2015Battery Dies25
2014Dead Battery5
Won't Start4
2013Dead Battery19
Engine Won't Start7
2012Battery Goes Dead79
Won't Turn Over21
2011Battery Goes Dead3

Why the Accord and CR-V Batteries Keep Dying

The batteries are contending with a parasitic drain, which happens when an electrical component continues to draw power from the battery even after the vehicle is turned off. Even a slight draw can empty the battery if left unattended for a couple days.

Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) Drain

The vehicle stability assist (VSA) software in the 5th generation CR-V may continue to draw power from the battery after the vehicle is turned off.

In TSB #17-032, titled Parasitic battery draw from VSA modulator (vehicle will not start), Honda says the VSA software logic may not shut down correctly when:

  1. The electronic parking (EPB) is applied within 3 to 4 seconds of the vehicle being shut off, or…
  2. The EPB switch is held for a 3 to 4 second duration when the vehicle is off

The VSA modulator will continue to draw 350mA of power after the vehicle is shut off. More than enough to drain the battery after a day or two.

Honda recommends technicians install a software update to the VSA modulator-control unit and perform a VSA sensor neutral position memorization procedure. Unfortunately this TSB only applies to a specific VIN range of 2017 CR-Vs.

  • Failed part: #57114-TLA-A04
  • Defect Code: 03214
  • Symptom Code: 03203

A/C Relay Drain

The A/C relay in 4th generation CR-Vs may stay engaged after the engine is shut off, according to TSB #A11090M.

An electrical short and failed resistor means the relay gets stuck in the open position, draining the battery through the multiplexing system.

The relay (part #39794-SDA) is a $9 part and an easy DIY repair.

Other Battery Problems

It’s not just parasitic drains that are killing off CR-V batteries. Here’s a look at a couple other common problems in post-2010 CR-Vs.

Wrong battery management charge mode

In November of 2012, Honda released SB #12-041 titled The Battery is Dead and Needs Multiple Jump Starts. Two years later they released SB #14-071 titled _ Battery Management Software Update_. Both service bulletins describe an issue in the powertrain control module (PCM) where the proper charge mode for the battery is not selected when the vehicle is turned off.

The system’s computers need a software update with a functional battery present.

  • Failed part: #37820-R5A-A65
  • Defect Code: 5JS00
  • Symptom Code: JL500

Defective alternator

When the engine is running, the alternator charges the battery. But the CR-V’s alternator can sometimes over or under charge the battery, reducing its performance either way.

In February of 2013, Honda released TSB #12-002 outlining procedures for alternator testing with a GR8 Diagnostic Battery Station.

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Mastrangelo, et al., vs. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., et al.

    Honda Accord and CR-V battery drain problems have caused a class action lawsuit that alleges the batteries are too small to power the vehicles. In addition, the plaintiff alleges the 2017-2019 model years suffer from a parasitic draw that kills the batteries.

    Status
    pending
    Class Vehicles
    • 2017-2019 Honda Accord
    • 2017-2019 Honda CR-V
    Location
    California

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Honda generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

  1. 10th Generation Accord

    Years
    2018–2020
    Reliability
    40th of 58
    PainRank
    17.2
    Complaints
    201
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Accord
  2. 9th Generation Accord

    Years
    2013–2017
    Reliability
    54th of 58
    PainRank
    49.34
    Complaints
    1341
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Accord
  3. 4th Generation CR-V

    Years
    2012–2016
    Reliability
    51st of 58
    PainRank
    34.7
    Complaints
    1238
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a CR-V
  4. 5th Generation CR-V

    Years
    2017–2020
    Reliability
    43rd of 58
    PainRank
    21.19
    Complaints
    481
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a CR-V

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at CarComplaints.com.

  1. Honda's batteries are such a drain.

    A new lawsuit suggests that the batteries in the 2017-2019 Accord and CR-V are simply too weak to run the car's electrical systems. Couple that with a parasitic drain and you've got yourself a killer combo if you're a big fan of curse words and walking to work.…

    keep reading

What Owners Say About This Problem

Problem first occurred after 4 months of ownership. Tried to start car, battery was dead, towed to dealer, they replaced battery. Six months later same problem, towed to dealer, they did a "hard reset of ecm". Six months later, same problem, towed to dealer, they still have the car. This car has about 8500 miles on it.

Inconvenient to say the least! Worried about this happening in case of an emergency and car won't start! Looking to trade in after reading other owners having same problem with the same outcome from dealer....can't find anything wrong!

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA