2012-2016 Honda CR-V Problems and Buyers Guide: Complete List

2012-2016 Honda CR-V Common Problems: We talked about the 2012 Honda CR-V’s main competitor the Toyota RAV4 before and it was easily one of the most reliable cars we have ever written about. The 2012-2016 Honda CR-V is easily the next contender for the most reliable SUV on the used vehicle market but just like all cars, it has some issues. Nonetheless, the 2012 Honda CR-V comes with plenty of features that made the CR-V’s fourth-generation one of the most sought-after and popular SUVs on the market. The main problem with the 2012 Honda CR-V is the faulty battery issue which turned many CR-V fans away from this generation of the CR-V. We will explain that and all the other issues as we continue.

2012-2016 Honda CR-V problems with the Battery

A big number, and we mean a big number of 2012-2016 CR-V owners are reporting to have issues with the battery of the car. This can leave you stranded and it seriously shines a bad light on the CR-V’s overall reliability. The battery tends to die, without any previous warnings. And what is even worse, Honda has yet to take responsibility for the issue and it is considered to be a problem that only affects a small number of vehicles. Which is not true.

The problem did not appear after years of ownership, when one would not be surprised by a faulty battery, the problem appeared rather quickly. Before most of the affected CR-Vs reached 40,000 miles to be exact.

The problem is rather easy to fix, you just buy a new battery, replace it and call it a day. But a 150$ battery needed to be replaced several times in many of the owner’s reports. Meaning that their car left them stranded with a bad battery several times and the replacement costs of the battery started piling up. The battery problem seems to affect all model years of the 2012-2016 Honda CR-V. Honda to this day still blames the owner’s battery condition and driving habits for this issue.

2012 Honda CR-V Dying Battery Problem Causes and Solution

Over the years, people have been trying to find out what makes the battery drain out while the car sits overnight. The most possible two causes are:

  • Vehicle Stability Assist Function

Some owners report that their vehicle stability assist function has continued to drain the battery after the car has been shut off. If the vehicle was sitting for a long enough period, the battery was completely drained and unable to start the vehicle.

  • Malfunctioning AC Clutch Relay

Other mechanics and owners reported that replacing a faulty AC clutch relay solved the issue after it has been found out that the AC clutch relay remains engaged after the vehicle is shut down and as a consequence, the AC compressor drew power from the battery.

Major fault and problems with the 2012-2016 honda cR-V

Variable timing control actuator (VTC Actuator) failure

Variable timing control actuator failure problems show up with a short 2-second rattle after a cold engine start-up. This problem was mainly present in the 2012 and 2013 model years of the Honda CR-Vs petrol engines. The procedure costs more in labor than in parts but it is generally not something that should hold you back from buying the fourth-generation Honda CR-V.

Idle vibration in 2015-2016 2.4 VTEC EarthDreams CR-V’s

Some Honda CR-V’s with 2.4 i-VTEC Earth Dreams engines and automatic transmissions experienced excessive engine vibration when holding the car in Drive with the brake pedal. The problem was resolved with the technical service bulletin (TSB 15-046) and included a PCM software upgrade, new transmission mounts, and new bottom radiator cushions. Some of the affected vehicles also experienced vibrations while driving.

Rough shifting, slipping and damage to torque converters

A small amount, but a noticeable one nonetheless has reported having problems with their automatic transmission. The most common fault is rough shifting from 1st to 2nd gear but some owners also report slipping of transmission which is mostly due to worn out torque converters.

AC compressor premature failure (AC blows hot air)

Many owners are reporting premature failures of the AC compressor which is not exactly cheap to replace.

Fuel odor inside the car

Fourth generation CR-Vs with 1,5L EarthDream engines are nothing but trouble. Another issue associated with them comes as a result of oil dilution. Fuel that accumulates in oil pan or the oil dilution itself is reason for oil fuems or fuel odor in the interior of the car. Honda issues some pointers on how to reduce the fuel odor, but no lawsuit or complaints have ever gained any real traction.

Minor faults of the 2012-2016 honda cR-V

Underinflated tires lead to acceleration delays

This fault might sound weird but we have seen it circle on several owners’ forums. There have been instances of unexplained acceleration delays on vehicles with automatic transmissions. The issue, weirdly enough, is resolved by properly inflating the tires as per the owner’s manual.

Fast front brake disc wear-causing vibration when slowing down

Due to the weight of the car and the amount of force required to stop the  CR-V, front brake discs are prone to excessive wear and warping. As they wear down, owners report having excessive vibration in the vehicle which can only be resolved by changing the front brake discs. 

Oil pressure switch is prone to developing oil leaks

Oil leaks were very common at the oil pressure switch, a simple solution but locating the leak was not easy before people started talking about the oil pressure switch leak.

2015 Honds CR-V vibrations at idle and general vibrating

2015 Honda CR-V’s were notorious for vibrating, it sounds funny but it is absolutely true and the case even ended up on court. The vibration can be felt in CR-Vs equipped with the newer Earth Dreams engine if it is combined with the CVT transmission. CVT transmission and directly-injected Earth Dreams engine idle at lower RPMs which reduces the MPGs but at the same time causes vibrations, that made some owners even sick. The lawsuit against Honda ended up with no success, so no recall has ever been made.

Soy coated electrical wire coating attracting rats and mice

The 2012-2016 Honda CR-V has certainly the most intersting Common Problems. In an effort to “go green”, Honda used a soy based electrical wire coating that attracted rodents as a consequence. Owners reported unusual amounts of issues with damaged wires caused by mice and rats.

Body and interior problems

Rainwater leaks passenger side bottom windshield

As the title suggests, rainwater tends to leak into the front passenger interior are at the bottom of the windshield.

2012-2016 Honda CR-V Problems with the heater core

One of the more common 2012-2014 Honda CR-V problems is the faulty heater core that is hidden under the dashboard of the vehicle. This heater core, which needs to be available for the coolant to run through tends to clog which means that a particular side of the car will not be getting any hot air comming out of the vents. Not a pleasant thing to experience.

Honda released a technical service bulletin (14-063) which recognized the issue in 2012-2014 CR-V and as a fix recommended flushing the heater core with a cleaner (CLR Cleaner) and in some cases even a replacement of the heater core. Flushing a heater core is much less work (2-4 hours of labor) than replacing it (9-10 hours of labor) which also means it can be expensive to fix. Replacing the heater core means you need to completely strip the dashboard of the car, which as you can imagine, is a nightmare (Read this great article, with pictures detailing the process).

2012 Honda CR-V problems
Pre-facelit 2012 Honda CR-V

Electronic problems

Electronic Air-Pressure sensor failure (TPMS)

Many 2012-2016 Honda CR-Vs were plagued with constant warning lights about low air pressure in their tires, even when the air pressure was correct. The problem was in the software that reads the tire pressure sensors data and reports back to the dashboard. The issue was fixed with a software update and recognized by Honda in technical bulletin (14-006).

Frequently asked questions about the 2012-2016 Honda CR-V Problems

Does a 2012 Honda CR-V have a CVT transmission?

Some 2012-2016 Honda CR-V’s do have a CVT transmission, be sure to check before buying the car. We would recommend you pick the regular hydraulic automatic transmission due to the vibration problems asociated with the CVT transmission.

Does 2012 HondaCR-V have Bluetooth?

Yes, Bluetooth connectivity did come as an option on 2012-2016 Honda CR-V.

Does 2012 Honda CR-V have backup camera?

Yes, a backup camera did come as an option on 2012-2016 Honda CR-V.

Does a 2012 Honda CR-V have a timing belt or chain?

All engines in the 2012-2016 Honda CR-V are fitted with timing chains.

Is a 2012 Honda CR-V reliable?

We would say it is still incredibly reliable when compared to some competitors. On the other hand, the 2012-2016 Honda CR-V is considered to be one of the most problematic CR-Vs made.

Conclusion and recommendation for the 2012 Honda CR-V

Eventhough the list of 2012-2016 Honda CR-V common problems is not that long, the fourth generation is considered to be the least reliable of the CR-V legacy, we would still like to praise its later model years, especially the 2016 model years, without the 1.5 EarthDreams engine. One thing that we also do not like about the 2012 Honda CR-V are its incredibly uncomfortable seats. This makes long trips a nightmare, which they should not be. If we had to compare a 2012 Toyota RAV4 against the 2012 Honda CR-V, we would have to go for the Toyota. This is our first Honda buyers guide so we cant offer you more Honda content, but you can always check out our other buyers guides.

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