April 23, 2013
Earlier this week, I took our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V to the dealership to address the B1 service reminder that popped up just before it hit 20,000 miles. I showed up at Honda of Santa Monica just before 11 on Monday morning. I didn't have an appointment, so I pulled right in to the service department's dedicated lane for customers without appointments.
Within 30 seconds, a porter approached and asked what I wanted.
"I'd like to get a B1 service if I can," I said.
"Sure, I'll get a service advisor for you," she replied.
Sure enough, a friendly advisor appeared at my door with his own iPad about 30 seconds after that.
April 11, 2013
Before our 2012 Honda CR-V turned over 20,000 miles, I noticed it telling us that its oil life was down to 20 percent. Shortly after it ticked over 20,000, oil life dropped to 15 percent and the CR-V also tells us it wants a B1 scheduled service: replace engine oil and filter, check front and rear brakes, rotate tires, and inspect a grip of the essentials like brake hoses and lines, tie rod ends, suspension components and more.
February 21, 2013
This weekend I noticed there was a long, dark pen mark on our 2012 Honda CR-V's light gray headliner.
January 25, 2015
Hard to believe for our friends in the Midwest and Northeastern climes, but not only do we get the shakes out in southern California, but sometimes also the chills. Whether or not a 38-degree morning qualifies as cold for you, to me its six degrees above freezing. Cold enough.
Regardless of the temp, I endeavor to always let the engine of any car I'm driving warm up a bit, three minutes minimum, enough time to get the phone plugged in, get some air moving around the cabin. Before driving the kid to school in the morning, I like to let our old Civic warm up a good five minutes or so, especially if turning the wheel over to the wife, who otherwise would simply turn over the ignition, place it in Drive and hammer on the throttle to be first up the on-ramp.
I can't help but feel that letting an engine's fluids come up to temp before asking too much of it is simply good karma and sound mechanical empathy. But as I was sitting there in the CR-V, letting it warm up, I began to wonder if today's engines are simply built to tolerances that allow them to be wrung out by unknowing, uncaring or just hurried drivers. What do you think? Old myth or good practice?
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 15,564 miles
January 14, 2013
You can tow any car behind a motorhome if you bring a trailer. But that's not the preferred method. The ideal scenario is pictured above: a so-called "dinghy" vehicle rolling behind on its own four wheels, ready to be unhooked and driven around on side trips while the motorhome sits parked with its awnings unfurled and its sliders popped out in full relaxation mode. The extra towed weight, loading time and storage hassle of a trailer puts an unwelcome damper on such proceedings.
This activity goes by many names: dinghy towing, flat towing and four-down towing to name a few. As you can imagine there are mechanical implications for the car involved.
Automatics tend to be less compatible than manuals, in large part because of the way some of them are lubricated. Some all-wheel drive systems can hack it, others cannot. The only way to know for sure is to dive into the owner's manual.
The only transmission offered in the 2012 Honda CR-V is a five-speed automatic, but the drivetrain comes in front-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. The latter is more versatile for this sort of usage because it can tackle sightseeing terrain that's a bit dodgier.
But can it be done? Does the 2012 Honda CR-V make a good dinghy?
The answer is yes. Any 2012 Honda CR-V can be safely towed behind a motorhome, be it a front-drive or AWD version. The one caveat is this: the front-driver can also be towed with its front tires on a dolly, if you're into that sort of thing, but the AWD models cannot — only four-down dinghy towing for that one. But that's OK. That's what we're after.
As usual, Honda wants you to do things in a particular way to stay within the bounds of your warranty and avoid damage.
November 30, 2012
A couple of weeks back I decided to try the oil change service offered by Wally Park, a premium LAX parking garage I frequent. They're efficient, all of their parking spaces have foam pads suspended between the cars to prevent door dings (except for the cheaper rooftop and outdoor spaces) and it's generally a pleasant place to start and end a business trip.
Beyond that, the price they charge for an oil change would still be reasonable even if they didn't include the free car wash they provide as an incentive, and the convenience of having this stuff done while the car sits idle in my absence is mighty appealing. But, as has been documented here, they screwed up on the oil viscosity. I asked for 0W-20 synthetic and they put in 5W-30 synthetic. It was a somewhat deflating end to an otherwise pleasant experience.
True to their courteous nature, however, they didn't argue when I came back in to talk about a resolution. They offered to redo the oil change for free. The mechanic who did the job came out to talk with me, and he wasn't the careless noob I'd half-expected. He was well-spoken, experienced, professional and sincere.
It soon became apparent what happened. Turns out they simply didn't have 0W-20 synthetic on hand. They get their Penzzoil in tanks from a commercial supplier, and the somewhat recent industry change to a 0W-20 oil recommendation caught them out -- they simply didn't have a drum of the stuff on hand. Stuck between a choice of installing the wrong oil or not doing the work, they chose the former, not wanting me to return from my trip to a job not done at all.
I'd have preferred option 3: send someone to the local Autozone for some 0W-20. After all, I was out of town for 4 days. They had time.
As we stood their talking I decided to accept their offer of a full refund rather than wait for them to go off to a local store to buy the oil while I needed. After all, Airport Marina Honda was just a few miles down the road. I'd take my money back ($43.96) and go there instead.
A half-hour later I was there in the Honda dealer's "Express Service" lane.
"How long?" I asked the service writer.
"About 45 minutes," was the reply. "No one is in front of you in the Express Service lane."
The above photo above was taken a full 70 minutes into my eventual 91-minute wait. Even the 45-minute estimate had me rolling my eyes because I knew I could DIY it in my own driveway in 15 minutes -- and I don't have a lift.
In the end I paid $48.79 for a confirmed 0W-20 oil change at the dealer. And when I picked up the car I noticed they did something else that surprised me.
November 24, 2012
A couple weeks back the TPMS light came on while I was headed to the airport for an overseas business trip, but it winked off once the outside air temperature -- and the tires -- warmed up.
That was the working theory at the time, anyway.
Here's what I found when I got back.
November 21, 2012
Unbeknownst to our airport parking oil change technician, I set a trap under the hood of our 2012 Honda CR-V to see if they really did do the work I paid for. Well, no, actually, I didn't set a trap intentionally, but the underhood mess created by my escapades on a temporarily wet dry lakebed in Nevada a few weeks back amounted to the same thing.
Yes, I'll wash it off, of course. The point is this: the technician either didn't spill a single drop that he needed to wipe up around the cap or he didn't actually add any oil or do the work.
A check of the dipstick revealed the golden hue of uncontaminated new oil, so it would seem we are dealing with a mechanic that is proficient at not spilling much.
November 20, 2012
In our last episode I drove our 2012 Honda CR-V to LAX and parked it at Wally Park for the duration of my trip to Japan. With oil maintenance looming, I decided to try their oil change service.
For $54.95 they'd change the oil (synthetic) and filter and throw in a car wash, too. I made sure the attendant wrote 0W-20 on the work ticket, the recommended oil viscosity from the CR-V's owner's manual.
You can almost smell what happened next when I got back to LA and drove home.
November 19, 2012
Oh, great! This is exactly what I don't need while driving to the airport at 0-dark:30 on the way to catch an early flight to Japan. Our 2012 Honda CR-V is throwing me a two-fer: a TMPS warning light and a maintenance light.
I can not miss my flight, and leastways I have no tire gauge, no handy gas station with an air hose. Still, a very quick stop on the roadside for a hasty visual check is warranted. All four tires look the same, so I press on, figuring I'm good to go for the 25 remaining miles to the airport parking lot, where I can deal with the tire if time permits.
Thankfully, the TPMS light winks out about ten minutes later, making me think it's at least partially temperature-related. Maybe all four tires are a little low and the low morning temps were enough to illuminate the light until they got some heat in them. I can sort that out later.
But the panic got me thinking about Wally Park, a particular LAX airport parking outfit I frequent. They have mechanics that can perform an oil change and do other minor work while you're out of town, but I've never bothered. Maybe now is the time to give it a try.
October 30, 2012
Our CR-V's oil life is down to 15 percent now. We're at nearly 11,000 miles. In-house Jedi wrench Dan Edmunds changed the oil at around 3,100 miles, ahead of the recommended interval due to our initial track test regimen and Dan's subsequent road trip (read his post for a fuller explanation).
So we're at 8,000 miles on the current oil. The "B1" notification also reminds us that it's time for a full complement of factory recommended services: oil change, brake service, tire rotation, regular inspection of links, hoses, lines and levels.
I'm guessing we'll get it in for service (or DIY-it again) soon enough. How long should we wait? Should we take the oil down to zero percent and just thicken it with metal flake?
In times like this, it's helpful to ask: What Would Soichiro Do?
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
October 02, 2012
When we first reported a recall on the 2013 Honda CR-V for door latch failures, parts were not yet available at dealerships. Now they are in stock. So we called our local shop, Honda of Santa Monica to schedule service.
Renovations didn't seem to slow the process. This was a reasonably quick fix. Both front door latches and handles were replaced under warranty in about two hours, as promised. Now we are back on the road.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 7,895 miles
August 27, 2012
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.
August 08, 2012
Sure, a long road trip doesn't hurt, but our 2012 Honda CR-V has already covered 5,000 miles. It happened a couple of days ago on the way home as we passed Mount Shasta headed south on Interstate 5. We'll add at least 600 more by the time we arrive back at home base.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,000 miles