CR-V Parasitic Drains and Battery Charging Problems


The 4th and 5th generation CR-V chews through batteries. Leave one of these sitting a couple days and there's a good chance it won't start due to long-running issues parasitic drains and an ineffective battery charging system.

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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.

Battery problems have been a drain on Honda’s reliability for well over a decade. Even 2019 owners are waking up to dead batteries with only 1,000 miles under their timing belts.

CR-V2019Dead Battery10
2018Electrical Drains2
2017Battery Keeps Going Dead17
2016Won't Start or Turn Over3
Battery Dead1
2015Battery Dies20
2014Dead Battery4
Won't Start3
2013Dead Battery19
Engine Won't Turn Over, Won't Start7
2012Battery Goes Dead77
Won't Turn Over20

Parasitic Drain

A parasitic drain is 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.

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 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