4 Reasons You Should Avoid Honda's 1.5L "Earth Dreams" Engines

The suite of technologies has become a nightmare for owners who must contend with diluted oil, the overwhelming smell of gas, and the sensation that you're riding in a washing machine.

Posted on
#review #engine
Scott McCracken

Earth Dreams badged engines are an absolute nightmare for owners. The name represents a series of powertrain techology modifications aimed at reducing emissions, improving fuel economy, and boosting performance. To their credit, they've hit those goals but created some big problems in the process.

Here's a handful of reasons why you might want to avoid getting a car with an Earth Dreams engine anytime soon.

The Engine Oil Gets Diluted

The 1.5L Earth Dreams engine uses gasoline direct injection GDI to increase horsepower while improving fuel economy. Like other GDI engines, the injectors are fed gas through a high-pressure fuel pump. The nature of that high-pressure means some of the fuel just blows by the piston rings and makes its way down into the crankcase where it mixes with engine oil.

Other GDI engines rely on engine heat to help burn off that escaped fuel, but Honda's efficient design doesn't generate enough heat. This means gas gets into the oil and lowers that oil's viscocity, reducing its lubricating benefits and creating long-term damage to engine components.

Honda tried to pass it off as only a problem in colder climates. When that turned out to be false they blamed drivers for taking too many short trips and released a series of software updates that led to a stop-sale order in China.

Eventually they extended the powertrain warranty to help cover those inevitable engine breakdowns.

Want to Learn More?

What is Honda's Plan For CR-V and Civic Oil Dilution?

Excess fuel vapors in Honda’s 1.5-liter engine aren’t burning off and diluting the engine’s oil. This raises the oil level, triggers warning lights, creates a terrible smell, and brings into question the prospect of long-term damage caused

Your Vehicle Smells Like a Gas Station

Another problem related to oil dilution is all that un-combusted fuel is just sitting in the engine stanking away. The excess odors eventually travel into the vehicle cabin and are reportedly so strong that it causes headaches, dizziness, and upper respiratory concerns.

To their credit, Honda has tried to address the problem. They've adjusted ignition and fuel injection timing in an effort to burn off the excess fuel, but the results have been [lackluster](deemed insufficient).

It's gotten to the point that Honda suggests avoiding short trips or using a block heater before driving your car. I'm surprised they haven't released a Honda-branded clothes hanging clip for $19.95.

Want to Learn More?

Sickening Gas Smells Inside the 2016-2018 CR-V

Honda says the strong fuel vapors are caused by excess fuel building up in the oil pan. The issue appears to be particularly bad in cold-weather climates. In a letter to consumers, Honda impressively skirted blame by placing it on the drive

The Heater and Defroster Stop Working During Idling

Continuing on the trend of omg where's all the heat in this darn engine owners say the heater and defroster and virtually non-existent unless you're on the move.

Yes, idling a car in your driveway to "warm it up" isn't efficient in any modern engine. But the problem here is owners complain that the heater and defroster are vistually non-existent while idling during their commute, whether that's in traffic or at a stop light.

Owners even complain about the heater falling into a chilly oblivious while coasting down a hill. In other words - no gas pedal, no heat. No fun.

Want to Learn More?

CR-V Heater and Defroster Doesn't Work While Idling

This popular SUV is terrible at producing heat while idling. In fact, many owners say it won’t produce any at all until they start driving. If you’ve ever had to scrape ice off your windshield you understand how powerful of an ally the defr

You Feel Like You're Driving a Washing Machine

If your own a CR-V and the horrible gas smell inside your cabin isn't enough to make you sick, I'm pretty sure the vehicle's violent vibrations will seal the deal.

For Earth Dreams engines, Honda had big plans to squeeze every possible fraction of a mile out of a gallon of gas. The engine and transmission were optimized to reach maximum horsepower at lower engine revolutions per minute (RPM). But a side effect of that change was increased noise and vibration.

Honda says this only happens to a "small percentage" of owners and the vibrations pose no danger of present or future component failure. Well thank goodness the car will be ok, right? The occupants are a different story.

Want to Learn More?

The CR-V Shakes So Much it Makes Occupants Sick

There are so many vibrations in the 2015-2016 CR-V, particularly at low speed or idle, that owners are starting to get sick. Honda has released a series of videos explaining the issue and a technical service bulletin outlining potential sol

Learn More About "Earth Dreams" Engines

Learn more about Honda Earth Dreams engines and see which vehicles are getting hit the hardest with these problems.

Do These Problems Sound Familiar?

There are thousands of Earth Dreams engines on the road and the complaints are starting to stack up. Compare your story or add your voice to the conversation over at CarComplaints.com.

Add Your Complaint