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Old 13 Oct 2004, 06:00 pm
F2004: 15 of 17*
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Default Why Are Honda CR-V's Catching Fire?

October 12, 2004
Why Are Honda CR-V's Catching Fire?
By JEREMY W. PETERS
NYTimes.com

DETROIT, Oct. 8 - With barely 10,000 miles on the odometer of his 2003
Honda CR-V sport utility vehicle, the only thing Steve Elder expected
to smell inside was that new- car scent.

But as he drove home after having the oil changed last December, his
CR-V began to fill with smoke.

"So I got out, obviously, checked under the hood and saw flames coming
out of the engine," said Mr. Elder, a 35-year-old financial planner
from North Yarmouth, Me.

It was not long before the entire vehicle - and a pair of diamond
earrings Mr. Elder had bought his wife for Christmas - were consumed
by the fire.

Mr. Elder's vehicle was one of at least 60 new CR-V's nationwide to
catch fire suddenly while on the road. In most cases, the vehicles had
just been serviced for their first oil changes.

While no injuries have been reported, the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration has reopened and upgraded an investigation into
the CR-V to determine what is making some of them suddenly burst into
flames, in many cases destroying the vehicles. The expanded inquiry
covers about 280,000 CR-V's in the 2003 and 2004 model years.

So far, the investigation has yielded nothing but finger-pointing,
with Honda blaming dealerships for mishandling oil changes and
consumer groups accusing the automaker of dodging responsibility.

"The core issue for us is the issue of improper installation of the
oil filter," said a Honda spokesman, Andy Boyd. "There doesn't seem to
be anything else that we can point to."

In the new phase of its investigation, the safety agency is looking
beyond the oil filter to see what other factors could be contributing
to the CR-V fires.

Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the agency, said, "In this instance, both
N.H.T.S.A. and Honda initially thought it was merely a problem with
not executing the oil change properly, and that there didn't seem to
be anything inherently wrong with the vehicle."

Mr. Tyson added that while the agency had not found any evidence of a
manufacturer's defect, the manufacturing and design of the CR-V are
two of several subjects investigators are now studying.

Honda and the safety administration thought they had resolved the CR-V
fires problem this summer. In July, the agency closed a preliminary
investigation into fires involving 2003 model CR-V's after Honda said
the problem was a result of faulty oil changes.

According to documents from the safety administration, Honda said that
in many of the vehicles that caught fire, mechanics had either not
properly installed a new oil filter seal or had failed to remove the
factory-installed seal before putting in the new one.

With the two seals in place at one time, the new oil filter could not
create enough suction to prevent oil from leaking out and spilling
onto the car's hot exhaust system. With an improperly installed seal,
oil could also seep out onto the exhaust system and cause a fire.

The documents show that the agency agreed that the problem originated
at dealerships and service stations and had nothing to do with the
CR-V's design.

Honda then sent letters to its dealers warning them of the potential
fire hazard, and the agency stopped its inquiry.

The fires, however, did not stop.

From July 1 to Sept. 9, the date the safety administration reopened
its investigation into the CR-V, the agency received reports of 18
more fires.

The new investigation, known as an engineering analysis, is the most
exhaustive of the agency's safety inquiries. It is also looking at
model year 2004 CR-V's because drivers have begun reporting fires in
those models as well.

Mr. Tyson said the investigation could have several outcomes, ranging
from no action to a recall.

Honda insists the fires are being caused by negligence on the part of
mechanics and says it is not considering a voluntary recall.

"You can't recall the process of changing oil, and that really is the
root problem as we see it today," Mr. Boyd said.

What is puzzling Honda engineers and other automobile experts who have
been studying the fires is why they are occurring only in 2003 and
2004 models.

"There were no fundamental changes in the vehicle design from 2002 to
2003, yet we have seen this jump in the number of leaks, and in some
cases fires," Mr. Boyd said.

Mr. Boyd said the last significant redesign to the CR-V was in 2001,
but fires have only recently become a problem.

Some experts have argued that if the fault lies with mechanics, as
Honda contends, any vehicle would be prone to the same problems as the
CR-V.

"There's something Honda isn't telling the government about this
vehicle," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for
Auto Safety.

Mr. Ditlow said the safety agency should order a recall if Honda
refused to do one voluntarily. "This is an open-and-shut case, so the
only question for us is, Why haven't they done a safety recall?"

Gregory Barnett, an automotive and heavy-truck consultant to the
insurance industry who has written a book about vehicle fires, said
the CR-V problem appeared to be a result of Honda's design and
laziness on the part of mechanics.

The CR-V's oil filter, like those in models from many other
automakers, is near the exhaust system, which increases the likelihood
of a fire if the filter leaks, Mr. Barnett said. It is the mechanic's
job to keep a leak from happening, he added.

"For somebody to change the oil and not check for a stuck gasket is
just stupid," Mr. Barnett said. "I can't believe that Honda has had to
send a letter out saying, 'Hey, guys, check for the oil filter gasket
- you're setting cars on fire.' "

Some Honda mechanics disagree.

In a letter to Automotive News, Jonathan O'Brian, a Honda shop foreman
in Princeton, N.J., said the close proximity of the oil filter to the
exhaust system in the CR-V could not be overlooked.

"With oil changes being relegated to less-experienced technicians and
the constant pressure to do the job quickly, what is simply a mess on
any other car is potentially hazardous on a CR-V," he wrote.

Mr. O'Brian declined to comment further, saying his letter had made
his superiors at Honda unhappy.

"I'm better off not saying anything," he said.

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 14 Oct 2004, 09:56 pm
Nobody
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Default Re: Why Are Honda CR-V's Catching Fire?

Failure to remove the rubber seal from the factory oil filter when it
sticks to the engine (I assume).
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Old 17 Oct 2004, 08:06 am
TWW
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Default Re: Why Are Honda CR-V's Catching Fire?


"F2004: 15 of 17*" <tifoso@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:0scrm09p6jcdksf5fuukl42pcgkjbq7cps@4ax.com...
> October 12, 2004
> Why Are Honda CR-V's Catching Fire?
> By JEREMY W. PETERS
> NYTimes.com
>
> DETROIT, Oct. 8 - With barely 10,000 miles on the odometer of his 2003
> Honda CR-V sport utility vehicle, the only thing Steve Elder expected
> to smell inside was that new- car scent.
>
> But as he drove home after having the oil changed last December, his
> CR-V began to fill with smoke.
>
> "So I got out, obviously, checked under the hood and saw flames coming
> out of the engine," said Mr. Elder, a 35-year-old financial planner
> from North Yarmouth, Me.
>
> It was not long before the entire vehicle - and a pair of diamond
> earrings Mr. Elder had bought his wife for Christmas - were consumed
> by the fire.
>
> Mr. Elder's vehicle was one of at least 60 new CR-V's nationwide to
> catch fire suddenly while on the road. In most cases, the vehicles had
> just been serviced for their first oil changes.
>
> While no injuries have been reported, the National Highway Traffic
> Safety Administration has reopened and upgraded an investigation into
> the CR-V to determine what is making some of them suddenly burst into
> flames, in many cases destroying the vehicles. The expanded inquiry
> covers about 280,000 CR-V's in the 2003 and 2004 model years.
>
> So far, the investigation has yielded nothing but finger-pointing,
> with Honda blaming dealerships for mishandling oil changes and
> consumer groups accusing the automaker of dodging responsibility.
>
> "The core issue for us is the issue of improper installation of the
> oil filter," said a Honda spokesman, Andy Boyd. "There doesn't seem to
> be anything else that we can point to."
>
> In the new phase of its investigation, the safety agency is looking
> beyond the oil filter to see what other factors could be contributing
> to the CR-V fires.
>
> Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the agency, said, "In this instance, both
> N.H.T.S.A. and Honda initially thought it was merely a problem with
> not executing the oil change properly, and that there didn't seem to
> be anything inherently wrong with the vehicle."
>
> Mr. Tyson added that while the agency had not found any evidence of a
> manufacturer's defect, the manufacturing and design of the CR-V are
> two of several subjects investigators are now studying.
>
> Honda and the safety administration thought they had resolved the CR-V
> fires problem this summer. In July, the agency closed a preliminary
> investigation into fires involving 2003 model CR-V's after Honda said
> the problem was a result of faulty oil changes.
>
> According to documents from the safety administration, Honda said that
> in many of the vehicles that caught fire, mechanics had either not
> properly installed a new oil filter seal or had failed to remove the
> factory-installed seal before putting in the new one.
>
> With the two seals in place at one time, the new oil filter could not
> create enough suction to prevent oil from leaking out and spilling
> onto the car's hot exhaust system. With an improperly installed seal,
> oil could also seep out onto the exhaust system and cause a fire.
>
> The documents show that the agency agreed that the problem originated
> at dealerships and service stations and had nothing to do with the
> CR-V's design.
>
> Honda then sent letters to its dealers warning them of the potential
> fire hazard, and the agency stopped its inquiry.
>
> The fires, however, did not stop.
>
> From July 1 to Sept. 9, the date the safety administration reopened
> its investigation into the CR-V, the agency received reports of 18
> more fires.
>
> The new investigation, known as an engineering analysis, is the most
> exhaustive of the agency's safety inquiries. It is also looking at
> model year 2004 CR-V's because drivers have begun reporting fires in
> those models as well.
>
> Mr. Tyson said the investigation could have several outcomes, ranging
> from no action to a recall.
>
> Honda insists the fires are being caused by negligence on the part of
> mechanics and says it is not considering a voluntary recall.
>
> "You can't recall the process of changing oil, and that really is the
> root problem as we see it today," Mr. Boyd said.
>
> What is puzzling Honda engineers and other automobile experts who have
> been studying the fires is why they are occurring only in 2003 and
> 2004 models.
>
> "There were no fundamental changes in the vehicle design from 2002 to
> 2003, yet we have seen this jump in the number of leaks, and in some
> cases fires," Mr. Boyd said.
>
> Mr. Boyd said the last significant redesign to the CR-V was in 2001,
> but fires have only recently become a problem.
>
> Some experts have argued that if the fault lies with mechanics, as
> Honda contends, any vehicle would be prone to the same problems as the
> CR-V.
>
> "There's something Honda isn't telling the government about this
> vehicle," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for
> Auto Safety.
>
> Mr. Ditlow said the safety agency should order a recall if Honda
> refused to do one voluntarily. "This is an open-and-shut case, so the
> only question for us is, Why haven't they done a safety recall?"
>
> Gregory Barnett, an automotive and heavy-truck consultant to the
> insurance industry who has written a book about vehicle fires, said
> the CR-V problem appeared to be a result of Honda's design and
> laziness on the part of mechanics.
>
> The CR-V's oil filter, like those in models from many other
> automakers, is near the exhaust system, which increases the likelihood
> of a fire if the filter leaks, Mr. Barnett said. It is the mechanic's
> job to keep a leak from happening, he added.
>
> "For somebody to change the oil and not check for a stuck gasket is
> just stupid," Mr. Barnett said. "I can't believe that Honda has had to
> send a letter out saying, 'Hey, guys, check for the oil filter gasket
> - you're setting cars on fire.' "
>
> Some Honda mechanics disagree.
>
> In a letter to Automotive News, Jonathan O'Brian, a Honda shop foreman
> in Princeton, N.J., said the close proximity of the oil filter to the
> exhaust system in the CR-V could not be overlooked.
>
> "With oil changes being relegated to less-experienced technicians and
> the constant pressure to do the job quickly, what is simply a mess on
> any other car is potentially hazardous on a CR-V," he wrote.
>
> Mr. O'Brian declined to comment further, saying his letter had made
> his superiors at Honda unhappy.
>
> "I'm better off not saying anything," he said.
>


The filter on my 01 Prelude is right above the exhaust pipe. Virtually
every time the oil is changed at the dealer, I have oil smoke from oil that
spilled onto the pipe when the filter was removed. It just burns off -- or
you can use a degreaser and clean it off yourself. Seems that the CRV has
the same situation,although I cannot understand why a little oil leaking
would necessarily cause a fire.


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