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Honda VTEC Turbo Engine Oil Dilution with Gas Georgia Class Action

2018 Honda Civic

When Honda announced its new VTEC Turbo direct-injection engine in 2013, it touted it as a next-generation powertrain technology that provides a high level of fuel economy. But the complaint for this class action claims that it has a serious flaw: It allows fuel to migrate and mix with the oil, lowering the oil’s viscosity, increasing friction, and eventually possibly damaging the engine.

The class for this action is all persons who bought or leased a class vehicle in Georgia.

In 2017, Plaintiff Christopher Hamilton bought a new Honda Civic with this 1.5T engine. He serviced the car according to the company’s recommended schedule.

The schedule for the engine says that under normal conditions, oil should be replaced every 7,500 miles or twelve months; under severe conditions, it should be replaced twice as often.

A year later, when the car had just over 10,000 miles on it, he checked the oil and found that it smelled of gasoline. He took it to a Honda dealer, the complaint says, but although the technician noted that the oil was “dirty and filled over the crank case,” the repair report claimed that “no problem [was] found at this time.” However, Hamilton has noticed the smell of gas in the passenger compartment and believes the vehicle is suffering from the fuel dilution effect.

The complaint claims that the oil’s dilution with fuel is a result of the engine technology. “As fuel is sprayed into the combustion chamber, it can wash past the rings and down the cylinder walls to the oil sump.”

The dilution can cause a number of problems. The complaint cites reduced oil viscosity leading to increased wear, reduced ability for the oil to act as a hydraulic fluid, reduced ability to guard against deposits, increased oil volatility, accelerated oxidation, and eventual engine damage.

The complaint claims that Honda knows about this defect but has done nothing to remedy it. It quotes reports made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the problem.

  • “I … noticed a definite fuel smell on the dipstick and rising above the full mark.”
  • “During the first oil change we removed over 5 quarts of liquid. The owners manual states the car holds only 3.7 quarts of oil.”
  • “Gasoline smell in the car.”
  • “Vehicle misfired and shutdown on highway dangerous situation and breathing gas fumes.”
  • “The report came back saying that the amount of fuel in my oil was greater than 5% which was deemed critical.”

Also, according to the complaint, in February 2018, Honda said it would recall about 350,000 CR-Vs and Civics in China that were equipped with the engine because of the collection of gasoline in the engine’s oil lubricant pan. But the complaint says that “a Chinese watchdog rejected the automaker’s plan to recall” the vehicles. Honda has halted the sales of CR-V crossovers in China, the complaint says, “and may yet have to do the same with its Civic model…” 

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