2015 Honda CR-V Vibration Complaint: A Deal Breaker

2015 Honda CR-VWhen you trade vehicles every two to four years, you’re bound to get a dud. I’ve definitely liked some cars better than others, but my biggest disappointment occurred this year with vehicle #13 (triskaidekaphobia, anyone?). It was a brand new 2015 Honda CR-V, highly touted as the “Motor Trend SUV of the year.” So much for the accolades; I traded it before it was halfway to its first oil change. My reputation as a frequent trader has hit a whole new level.

Shortly after I bought the CR-V last October, I noticed a strong vibration while sitting at stoplights. It was annoying, but as colder weather moved in, the vibration disappeared and remained absent throughout our long Minnesota winter. As I drove home from work one of the first spring-like days in March, the vibration returned with a vengeance. Why would it go away all winter? Apparently the cooler temps and certain accessories, like seat warmers, help keep the idle speed above the 600 RPM “rattle your insides” vibration zone. Mind you, this is a vibration you might expect in a 20-year-old Yugo, but certainly not in a new vehicle with a sticker price higher than what my parents paid for their first home in the early ‘70s.

I liked a lot of features about the CR-V, but it also had a shudder at certain RPMs while driving, the stiff suspension clunked like an old lumber wagon, and the AWD was not impressive in the snow. In fact, most of my previous vehicles were SUVs, and this is the first winter I carried a bag of cat litter in case I got stuck. But the vibration at idle – where the passenger seat literally shivers and the driver’s seat feels like a Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed – that was completely unacceptable. A deal-breaker.

I experimented with the car and figured out several work-arounds for the vibration at idle, each of which had its own shortfall: slip the car into neutral when sitting at stoplights (the shifter is not in a convenient location for this, and I would have bought a manual transmission if I wanted to keep shifting gears); drive the car in sport mode (it runs at higher RPMs in all gears, so engine and cabin noise is louder all the time); keep the seat warmers on high (not a good plan for the summer); keep the A/C on all the time (this one had potential, but I don’t like using the A/C); or turn the headlights to “on” every time I drove the car (again, this one had potential, but what? I’ve had auto headlights for the past 15 years).

Deeply dissatisfied with the vehicle performance and the shortfalls of the vibration work-arounds, I emailed the dealership sales manager. Next, the service manager called me, and he said, “I knew it was a problem when I got three complaints in one day.” He couldn’t do anything about it until Honda issued a fix, so he encouraged me to call Honda and file a complaint, which I did. The Honda case manager acknowledged this is a known issue and they are investigating. He said it is not considered a safety issue and there are currently no concerns about this “vehicle characteristic” causing damage to the car. Most concerning, he said they weren’t sure whether Honda would issue a fix for this or if it would be something they would address in future models. Great. So after being sold on the superior resale value of the CR-V over the RAV4, I could be stuck with a model year that used car buyers will avoid because it has a reputation for this awful vibration issue that led to a TV news station investigative report.

So, I circled back to the sales manager, again expressed how dissatisfied I was with this new vehicle, and asked if his dealership was willing to work out an equitable trade. He made a genuine effort to work with me and offered equitable numbers, so after five months and less than 3,000 miles, I traded the CR-V. I’m giving Honda one chance at redemption. My new 2015 Crosstour reminds me of the Mazda CX-7 I had originally traded for the vibrating CR-V, and I truly enjoyed that Mazda. I sure hope the Crosstour performs as well, because I never again want to trade a vehicle before it’s even halfway to its first oil change.


Update: Honda has posted a YouTube video acknowledging the vibration complaint.


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One Response to “2015 Honda CR-V Vibration Complaint: A Deal Breaker”

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