2012 Honda CR-V Long Term Road Test


2012 Honda CR-V AWD: DIY Oil Change

August 27, 2012

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My use of the 2012 Honda CR-V for last month's trip to Monterey and Oregon came with one caveat: I would have to change the oil (or have someone else change it) before I set out. The hour was late so I decided to do it in my driveway.

I know, I know; 3,099 miles is a bit early according to the maintenance schedule. But the unusual nature of our track testing regimen has led us to halve the interval of the very first oil change. After this we'll stick to the published formula.

This is not something we feel is necessary for everyone. But, let's face it, our test days at Auto Club Speedway are not unlike an autocross weekend. We'd recommend you change your oil more often just the same if you counted autocrossing or track days among your weekend pursuits.

But even this bit of racer wisdom wasn't enough to make this decision on its own. It's also based on multiple new car oil samples we've sent to Blackstone Laboratories. After those tests the folks in Fort Wayne invariably reported back a version of the following: "Nothing looks bad, and prospects for long engine life are good, but we are seeing a wee bit more break-in metal in the oil than usual." Their advice was to do the first oil change early and settle in to normal maintenance after that.

I love it when lab results support gut feelings. And so we have the Edmunds test team oil change procedure for our long term test cars.

Enough back story. Here's how easy it is to change the oil and filter on this new generation of Honda CR-V.

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Synthetic oil isn't specifically called for, but 0W-20 weight oil is required. At my local auto parts store these are one in the same, so I walk out with Mobil One. The oil volume is listed in the manual as 4.0 quarts without a new filter and 4.2 with one, but the stuff's expensive so I buy just 4 quarts, figuring I'll be very close to the full mark either way. The way I see it, the store is only a mile away if I'm unhappy with the result.

The end drive oil filter wrench comes from the same auto parts store, but I bought the oil filter and new drain plug washer at my local Honda dealer.

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The CR-V has a forward center jack point that protrudes from a convenient notch in the plastic undercover. It's part of a perimeter subframe that encircles and supports the engine, transmission and front suspension. But this sort of perimeter subframe is not something that every car has, so it's quite common to find cars that lack such a front-and-center jack point. The new Ford Fiesta and Focus come to mind.

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That forward jack point is especially fortunate because it makes it easy to put jackstands under the reinforced jack points. The results is a very stable platform.

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The plastic undercover contains a hatch that must be removed to gain access to the filter and drain plug. It comes off easily with a Phillips screwdriver.

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With the hatch out of the way, the filter and the drain plug are easy to spot. Better yet, they're very close together. Both can drain into the same pan at the same time with ease.

Trouble is, the drain plug you see here is not tight at all, as I don't have to exert myself in the least to break it free. I'm not sure what that factory pen mark is supposed to represent, but it is not near tight enough in my book. Barely tighter than snug, I'm able to loosen it with the pull of two fingers. Still, it hadn't been dripping before I started.

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Glug, glug. Drip, drip.

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Honda is one of those companies that suggest you install a new drain plug washer every time. You can barely see the scoring on the left one, but that's the telltale that marks it as used. As for the new one, it cost 30 cents at the dealer, the same place I bought the new filter.

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In all the oil-stained excitement I forgot to take a picture of myself removing the filter. No matter, you've seen it before. An end-drive filter wrench of the type I usually prefer works very well here.

After that it's important to clean the sealing surface. All of the above is very easy because access is outstanding through the open hatch. This is an easy one.

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Before installation I spread a light coating of fresh oil on the new oil filter's o-ring.

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I like to put a Sharpie mark on the filter to make it easy to see when I've tightened it the proper amount -- 3/4 of a turn, in this case. No tools but my bare hands were necessary.

Looks like I've got a bit more oil to wipe up, and I musn't forget to tighten that drain plug.

Once these are checked (and double-checked) it's time to reinstall the hatch and remove the jack stands to get the car back on level ground.

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Pour, pour. Glug, glug. My patented water bottle funnel comes to the rescue once again. I pour in 3.5 quarts to start, then run the engine for a minute or so to distribute it to the nether regions. After that I refer to the dipstick as I pour in the rest. The oil level nudges up near the full mark when I'm done. Turns out I didn't need to buy that 5th quart.

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The 2012 CR-V's oil life monitor is ridiculously easy to reset using steering wheel controls. It takes no more than a minute without the need to consult the manual.

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Finally the oil needs to go into the waste drum at the auto parts store. My trusty Rubbermaid drain pan is excellent for this because its gasketed screw top lid doesn't leak and slosh oil all over the car. Don't think they make this one any more, though.

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Done. But this all happened a month ago. I went on to put a good 2,500 miles on this new oil in the ten days that followed. Others have added at least another 1,000 miles since then.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,099 miles back then

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Honda CR-V in WA is:

$131 per month*
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