2011 CRV timing recall update robbed me of 20% fuel economy

In November 2011, I had a software update from a recall, that adjusted the timing. I was getting 32 mpg consistently on the hwy, and 28 when I did city driving. After the update, I can’t get anything more than 26, city or highway. Honda corp said to have the dealer check it. They did, and all was ok as far as they were concerned. Then Honda said to have the dealer run a mileage check. The dealer said there is no such thing, other than looking at the mpg indicator. Then Honda says if it is within the “normal range”, then there is nothing they can do. No one can give me a number for “normal range”. I keep getting the runaround from Honda. I have the extended warranty as well. As much as I drive, this will cost me over $900 a year. I have tried mid octane fuel, and changing different gas stations, but no luck. Honda said they can’t take the change out. My driving conditions have not changed, I drive the same highway every day. I drive over 24,000 miles a year. I hope someone has an idea on how to fix this issue!
Frustrated in Virginia!

26 is normal. You never actually ever got 32mpg unless you were going downhill with a tornado behind you! Or possibly the engine was running incredibly lean and was about to burn up its valves. If any sort of gauge read 32mpg, then the gauge was wrong or the engine was burning up.

The only way to accurately measure fuel economy is to use the same pump each time you fill up. Divide miles driven by gallons used over several tanks full.

If you need better mileage, you need a smaller car. Ford Focus, Chevy Cobalt, and Hyundai Elantra are all rated 40mpg.

I can sense your frustration, but I am wondering if you took a few factors into consideration…

The weather subsequent to that software update likely became quite a bit cooler. Fuel economy will tend to drop by a few mpg when temps drop, due to several factors:

The ECM will enrich the fuel/air mixture and increase the idle speed for a few minutes, in order to make for smoother running until the engine reaches full operating temperature.
Fluids (motor oil, trans fluid, differential fluid) and wheel bearing grease will become more viscous when temps drop, thus leading to more rolling resistance.
Tire pressure drops ~1 lb for every 10 degree drop in temperature.

All of the above factors will reduce your MPGs.
Have you checked and corrected your tire pressure in the past few months? (Hint: Do not rely on the TPMS to tell you that the tires have lost a few lbs of pressure!)
If you are “warming up” the engine for more than…perhaps…30 seconds, you are needlessly reducing your MPGs.
If your usual driving conditions typically include a lot of short-trip, local driving, that will take a bigger toll on your gas mileage in the winter than it does in the warmer months.

As to what is “the normal range” of MPGs for your car, that was prominently displayed on the original window sticker. If you saved that sticker, it will tell you what range of MPGs you should expect. If you didn’t save the window sticker, a visit to The EPA’s website will show you the range of MPGs for your vehicle. These “official” figures will tell you if your CRV is giving you the gas mileage that was claimed for it.

Here is a link to the EPA estimated mileage:


26 mpg combined is MUCH better than expected. (23-24)

I agree with the speculation that the weather had a lot to do with this, assuming you live somewhere that gets cold in the winter. Cold weather is murder on your fuel economy. My vehicles normally see a 10-20% loss in fuel economy when the weather gets cold. See if your good gas mileage comes back in the spring/summer. I bet it will.

I wonder if the mpg read-out was out of calibration to begin with. After all, unless you did a manual gas use tracking method like ‘mleich’ described to confirm the mpg read-out, you really have no idea if you were really getting the 32 mpg you thought you were. Couple that with the large deviation from the ‘official’ EPA numbers, and it makes sense. Just some food for thought.

I have the same car and did the same update and have not noticed much difference at all. The MPG per the ODO is not what I am looking at because based on my calculation the computer is more optimistic and gives better numbers than my simple calculator.
On the crv forums, the consensus has been that the MPG difference seen is mostly related to the winter blend of gas having more ethanol and less MPG. The update for most of us has been done around the same time that gas stations changed their blend.

BUT, on a different note, in CA a woman took Honda to the small claims court over the gas mileage on her Civic hybrid and won the case against Honda. She is a lawyer herself and did not need any representation, so low cost to her to file the claim. Just google the story in LA times.

Winter fuel and cold drops your MPG slightly as you are finding.

Here’s a link to a related thread on the Honda Civic Hybrids. It seems that Honda was getting great mileage with the hybrid systems, but started loading an program ‘up-grade’ that re=programmed the hybrid system to use the battery system less aggressively. This killed the gas mileage numbers a lot of owners were seeing. To me, it stinks of a ‘bait-n-switch’ scheme.


And an article on the lawsuit.


Thanks to some of you for actually reading some of my post before making comments. I guess there are always people who think they are much brighter than anyone else. If you were really smart mleich, you might have figured out that if I was driving 24000 plus miles a year, that I would check against the amount of fuel used and mileage. Geez,
If I drive 80 miles a day, then I tend to think the engine is warmed up., Duh.
Here in VA, it has been in the 60’s and 70’s, so I think weather temps is not a factor.
I can see gas stations changing the mix as one possible cause.

I have to agree with mleich. It seems that you were beating the kind of mileage that you were supposed to be getting by a wide margin, coincidently by about 20%. And now you’re merely getting about 8% better fuel mileage than the vehicle is supposed to get. Honda isn’t going to do anything for you, as there appears to be nothing wrong with the vehicle in the first place.

VaCRV, do you remember that movie when Jack Nicholson shouts “You can’t handle the truth”? We are only trying to help you. Do not lash out with insults (of VDC Driver) or sarcastically assume that I can read your mind. We have seen your ilk on this board before. Here is how it usually goes:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Argue with any answers that are not giving you exactly what you want to hear
  3. Personally attack other people who are trying to help you
  4. Disappear

I also agree with mleich and think he gave you good advice. We have no way if knowing how you check you mileage, and he was simply gently suggesting the correct way to do so. We get regular posts here from people that estimate their fuel usage by looking at their fuel gage, and that doesn;t work.

Regarding the articles that Busted linked us to, be wary as to whether they’d apply to your case. In that small claims court suit, the plaintiff was a lawyer. In most small claims courts layers are not allowed unless they’re parties too the action. We don’t know anything about the defendant. Beyond that, the plaintiff convined the judge that she was convinced by the sales personnel and by Honda that the vehicle would get 50 mpg. Since your vehicle is advertised as less than you’re actually getting, that would be a hard sell in your case.

The bottom line is that you’re now getting better than the advertised mileage and the car is operating as designed. Unless you can prove that you were intentionally misled, you have no leg to stand on. You should appreciate that you have a perfectly operating reliable and decent car that met the expectations you had when you bought it. The reprogramming may have even given it a longer life before requiring an expensive battery replacement.

Maybe I just have a fairly thick skin, but I did not interpret the OP’s response as an insult directed specifically at me, as much as it represented a general dissatisfaction with all of us for telling him/her what he/she did not want to hear. As we see fairly often in this forum (and elsewhere), nowadays people seem to ask questions mainly to get affirmation of what they have already decided the correct answer to be.

Since none of us are meteorologists (AFAIK), and none of us can personally observe someone’s driving habits, we have a tendency to try to lay out all of the possibilities regarding a drop in MPGs for someone whose automotive savvy is unknown to us. Unfortunately, this does not satisfy some folks.

So–I did not take it personally, and neither should you. I suggest that you chalk that response up to the typical lack of gratitude nowadays when people are given reality rather than the answer that they wanted to hear.

With the car getting better than the estimated EPA figure for combined driving I don’t see a problem here.

From the original complaint I read this as the OP basing their MPG on a dashboard readout and those should not be trusted. Maybe this reprogramming caused a hiccup in that reading and it’s time to verify gas mileage by the division of gallons required to fill up into the total miles driven.

I would also think that if an engine was running so poorly as to suffer a 20% drop in fuel economy that a CEL would illuminate.

I don’t understand how that women in CA won, the EPA tells Honda (and every other car company) what to put on the sticker. Honda had no say in the matter, and when the EPA recalculated mpg in 2008 the mileage on the civic went down occirdingly. Plus she never complained about MPG to the dealer so that never got a chance to check the car out. Not sure how it’s Hondas problem.

I also think Honda is getting a bad shake on that lawsuit. Note that the CA lady is an ex-lawyer about to become one again. She sees Honda’s deep pockets and is going to cash in.

The judicial system flat reeks and for another example consider what happened in OK last week. About 10 years ago country music star Toby Keith’s father was killed here when his pickup was bumped by another vehicle. This sent him across the interstate median and head on into a bus traveling the opposite direction. Per the usual, the bus company was sued, for allegedly faulty brakes, and a near 3 million dollar judgment was awarded and upheld by the OK Supreme Court. It was an unvoidable collision and similar ones happen all of the time.

What a jerk in our OP. @VaCRV

A “jerk” is a strong reaction for some one responding to those accusing him/her of something they never did. Heck, I’ve heard a lot worse responses between the regulars.

Little I can add to this, but it does seem significant that the software update occurred in November, right when the weather starts to get consistently colder. If gas stations change to winter fuel blends around that time, you may be getting the false correlation others have mentioned. I always get lower mileage in winter even though my driving habits don’t change. Is this the first winter you have owned this CRV? It would be really great to compare between winters rather than between summer & winter. Did you change tires for the winter?

At 32 mpg you were getting way over EPA estimates, which is awesome. And addicting. Not to trivialize your concern, but 26 mpg in the middle of winter for a CRV seems pretty good. To put this in perspective, try visiting a site called True Delta. It has a section where some owners log their fuel economy, providing how much of it was city and highway driving. You may find that your mileage is right in line with other CRV owners or maybe still significantly better.