The Problem with Oil Dilution
Direct-injection engines pump fuel directly into the chamber under high pressure. These engines are great for performance and fuel efficiency, but they are often more susceptible to oil dilution which is basically oil mixed with, well … stuff that isn’t oil.
One of those contaminates is fuel. In a cold engine, it’s common for fuel vapor to condense on the cylinder walls and mix with a 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.
Now typically when the engine is brought to a higher operating temperature the fuel vapors are burned off by the heat. However, if the engine never gets hot enough (or there’s a defect) the fuel can dillute the engine oil and cause a number of problems.
So What’s Up With the Earth Dreams Engine?
Earth Dreams is a 1.5L direct-injection engine with a silly name. And it appears to be experiencing a higher-than-average level of oil dilution, especially in colder climates where it’s harder to get your engine up to a high-enough temperature during short trips.
But it’s not only fuel mixing with oil, as owners have reported water dilution as well. All this extra liquid is causing overflow problems and leading 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.
- Internal engine parts breaking down faster than normal because they weren’t designed to handle the overflow or the gas-oil mixture.
It’s also been reported that the problem causes poor heater performance, a lack of power, strange engine noises, and
has been reported to require a cylinder head replacement.
At first, Honda went full spin-cycle when explaining the problem to consumers, blaming the issue on short drives and an extremely efficient engine:
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.
And it’s true – as we discussed above, short trips aren’t healthy for any engine. However, the level of oil dilution owners have experienced is not normal.
Honda asked drivers to limit extended idling, use a block heater, and drive their vehicles for longer to help the engine warm up.
When life gives you lemons, blame the sourness on someone else.
A Stop-Sale Ordered in China
After numerous reports of high oil levels and fuel smells were reported by Honda customers in northern China, where low temperatures are common, Dongfeng Honda ordered a recall of 350,000 vehicles in February 2018.
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.
Honda Canada TSB
Meanwhile in Canada, Honda released a TSB to its dealers after receiving reports of engine misfiring and oil pressure warning lights coming on during cold weather.
The TSB confirms reports of a higher-than-normal engine oil level due to contamination from fuel and water build-up.
They’re asking mechanics to report any owner complaints related to oil dilution.
What Owners Can Do While Waiting for a Fix
- Do not change the engine oil yourself. If there's engine damage, Honda will want to see proof that all oil changes were within the manufacturer interval. Owners who do their own oil changes have run into trouble in similar cases where the manufacturer has required oil change invoices as proof.
- Try to keep your engine temperature up by extending your drive time.
- Monitor your oil level and change it more frequently, aespecially in cold weather.
- Some have reported having their oil filter replaced which might work temporarily, but it’s basically guaranteed the problem will come back until Honda comes up with a more permanent fix.
Actions You Can Take
This step is crucial, don't just complain on forums! The sites below will actively manage your complaints and turn them into useful statistics. Both CarComplaints.com and the CAS will report dangerous trends to the authorities and are often called upon by law firms for help with Class Action lawsuits. Make sure to file your complaint on all three sites, we can't stress that enough.
Step 1: File Your Complaint at CarComplaints.com
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
Step 2: Notify the Center for Auto Safety
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
Step 3: Report a Safety Concern to NHTSA
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