Crossover SUVs have become extremely popular in the American market, and for good reason. Versatile crossovers like the Honda CR-V offer the handling of a sedan with the cargo space and utility of a small SUV.
Still, if you’re considering a used CR-V for your next vehicle, you may be wondering if there have been any documented problems with the Honda CR-V transmission. Yeah, There are multiple reports of the following transmission problems on certain models:
- Slipping and/or loss of gears
- Frontal vibration when driving or idling
- Gear stick problems
- Fuel leaks into engine oil
Before deciding on a used Honda CR-V, make sure you are aware of these issues and what to look for. We have covered each documented issue in detail below for your convenience.
Learn more about the Honda CR-V transmission
The exact transmission you find in the Honda CR-V will depend on the model year you are considering. On 2014 and earlier models, you’ll most likely find a five-speed automatic transmission. On models manufactured after 2014, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard.
What is the difference? Simply put, an automatic transmission relies on a series of gears or gears to shift, and each gear is designed to be used at specific speeds. A CVT, on the other hand, does not have individual gears.
Instead, a CVT relies on a single variable ratio to handle shifting at all speeds and driving conditions. Many modern vehicles have CVTs instead of “traditional” automatic transmissions, and most drivers can’t tell the difference.
In fact, when a CVT or automatic transmission works as it should, you shouldn’t notice it working at all. Unfortunately, in the Honda CR-V and many other vehicles, this is not always the case.
Common Honda CR-V Transmission Problems
Honda CR-V 2015: Transmission slips and/or stalls
NHTSA Complaint ID: 11352779, 11243958, 11255679
Many of the CR-V’s problems seem to be related to the CVT. In the 2015 model year, for example, many owners have filed complaints about the CR-V’s CVT slipping and/or locking up while driving, which can create a dangerous situation for motorists.
In a report filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), one owner claims that the transmission frequently shifts from drive to reverse or neutral, apparently for no reason.
In a similar NHTSA report filed in September 2019, the owner of a 2015 CR-V alleges that while driving down the highway at about 70 mph, the vehicle suddenly slowed to 35 mph before stopping.
Another owner reported a similar problem, stating that the vehicle stalled while traveling about 40 mph. According to this report, it took several attempts to press the accelerator pedal before the vehicle accelerated again.
Honda CR-V 2016: Vibration when driving or idling
NHTSA Complaint ID: 11300347, 11306372, 11220793
Gear slippage and stalling aren’t the CR-V’s only transmission problems. In the 2016 model, many owners reported problems with excessive vibration from the front of the vehicle while driving or even when idling.
In a NHTSA report filed in January 2020, the owner of a 2016 CR-V claims that when the vehicle is running, “it begins to vibrate so much that all passengers can feel it.” This owner also states that this is a well-known problem.
Another owner who also filed a report with NHTSA in 2020 mentions that the same problem occurs when the vehicle is running and idling at red lights. This owner reports that “the entire body, engine, and transmission vibrates very loudly.”
Despite these complaints, it is not known what is causing this problem. Owners have reported taking their CR-Vs to a Honda dealership to have them inspected, only to be told that the problem cannot be recreated or that everything is fine.
Honda CR-V 2017: Problems with the shift lever
NHTSA Complaint ID: 11302099, 11322743, 11361560
The transmission problems don’t seem to stop with the 2016 model year, as the 2017 CR-V also has numerous documented reports of transmission problems in the form of an apparent shifter failure.
Owners who experience this problem claim that the gear shift lever can come off, which can prevent the car from shifting into different gears.
The owner of a 2017 CR-V writes in an April 2020 NHTSA report that he had to use a pen to activate the shift lever and shift the vehicle from park to drive. The owner was also unable to turn off the car or lock the doors due to this issue.
This issue is also documented in reviews on VehicleHistory.com. In a review, Lee M. writes that the shift knob came off when trying to park the vehicle, preventing him from parking safely.
At least two other reviewers also reported this issue, with one owner mentioning that after taking the vehicle to the dealership for repair, the technician claimed he had already replaced 40 CR-V shift paddles in four months.
Honda CR-V 2018: a fuel leak in engine oil
NHTSA Complaint ID: 11315528, 11309775, 11361710
Another potentially serious transmission problem has been reported in the 2018 Honda CR-V. With this alleged failure, fuel can apparently leak into the engine oil compartment. Ultimately, this can lead to a complete loss of power or the engine stalling while driving.
This problem appears to be more common on models equipped with the 1.5L turbocharged engine available on the CR-V. It also appears to be more common in areas where the vehicle is driven in cold climates.
In addition to the multiple complaints from NHTSA on this issue, a Vehicle History Review by Jose Gonzales from June 2020 also mentions problems with mixing fuel with vehicle oil.