2014 Accord i4 CVT, sluggish, tight steering and stiff brake boost, rpm fluctuates on cold start

My 2014 Accord i4 CVT has 7000miles and it has acted a little strange ever since I pushed it to 3500rpm at Sport mode and then I maybe abruptly shifted it to Drive mode, at which point it made some whining noise shortly. But don’t get me wrong, acceleration was gentle and I don’t ever beat a car.

Since that incidence, it idles at 1500rpm upon cold start at P and fluctuates between 1000rpm and 1100rpm after it warms up a little bit (still in Park). When on stop (brake) on D, it has slight rough idle that periodically comes and goes, which gets better when the A/C is off but not completely resolves. Acceleration is sluggish and lagging, and it has some “dragging/sluggish” feel on coasting as well. When braking, it takes more effort and brake feels stiffer as if it lacks some break boost. Also, the electric power steering gets heavy/tight (I think this could be more of a sensor/input problem rather than the motor).

All these symptoms come and go together except for the fluctuating idle upon cold start, which is persistent. Gently pushing gas at 1200 rpm for, say 10 seconds, tend to “free” the tight steering wheel, and car starts to act more normally with better coasting and acceleration, and more responsive brake for a while. And problem comes back. Also, turning off the A/C seems to make the car act behave notably better but I am cautious of this point since it is known that Honda’s A/C system really takes away the engine power.

I had the dealer shop check for vacuum leak. The report says “check idle, check idle control, check for vacuum leaks ok, check or any codes, checks ok”, basically saying there is no vacuum leak. But I think it is still possible that they missed something.
Dealer shops and some independent shops I visited aren’t so willing to figure out what is going on, and I basically need to ask them “check this and check that”. I have been fed up with this problem, so I will greatly appreciate some help with correct diagnosis.

Thank you!

Hybrid or not? That matters big time for these symptoms. You may be feeling things like the hybrid system changing/balancing the power sources as well as the regenerative braking system’s affect on the braking feel combined with the characteristics of the CVT.

I can tell you that the AC compressor kicking in at idle for the AC or for the defroster will cause a rough and slightly increased idle until the AC clutch again disengages… the system clutch engaging and disengaging while idling is normal.

I’d suggest that you try another of the same from the lot and see if it exhibits the same characteristics. If it does not, than keep complaining, keep detailed records including your copy of the shop orders, and follow the complaint protocols included for you in your owner’s manual, bumping it to a higher level each time. Look into your state’s “lemon laws” (if your state has them) in the interim.

Things I recommend NOT doing are to tell the shop what to check when you take it in (describe the symptoms, but don’t tell them what to check… figuring that out is THEIR job), and do NOT try to fix this yourself or take it to a non-dealer shop. By doing that you just might void the warranty and absolve the dealer of any responsibility.

Accord i4 CVT EX and this is a non-hybrid model. I did actually test-drove many other Accords with same trim level when I was in the shop for diagnosis/repair and other cars didn’t have these problems for sure.

Most dealers just say “your car is normal”, while I and my brother who drive this car on daily basis do notice them. For this reason, describing only symptoms to the dealer won’t work I guess…

And one side note, in the past a dealer replaced a clock spring and did not re-calibrate the steering angle sensor. My car had horrible steering feel (and even dangerous since it felt light even on highway) and every single dealer I visited would deny my car had any problem. Luckily one experienced Honda technician suggested this possibility, I had the dealer recalibrate the sensor, and my car was brought back to normal.

I live in Iowa, and we have lemon law. But I also know that it is not an easy process especially when dealers won’t even acknowledge there is a problem.

By the way, thank you very much for your advice on not taking the car to the independent shop. I never thought of the risk. Hope to hear more advice!

Document everything and keep going back to the dealer to have this resolved. The more dealerships the better. I’ve been down that road once with a true lemon and it was not a pleasant journey by any mean.

+1 to mountainbike’s and missileman’s recommendations.

Do NOT have anyone other than the dealership work on your car.
Do NOT pay anyone to work on your fully-warrantied car.

If the dealership is non-responsive, then you need to “kick it up a notch” by contacting Honda at the corporate level. Contact info can be found in your Owner’s Manual.

The manufacturer wants to keep you happy, even if that is not one of the goals of the dealership, so politely-worded complaints to the mfr will frequently result in a visit from the district supervisor for an evaluation of your car’s problems. These folks can usually “motivate” a dealership to do the right thing, or–in some cases–the district supervisor will perform repairs himself.

That is exactly what happened after I wrote a Lemon Law demand letter for a friend of mine. As a result of that letter, the district supervisor and a Japanese engineer came to the dealership and they repaired my friend’s Toyota, despite the dealership’s apparent inability (or reluctance) to repair it on 3 occasions.

replace clock spring and no recalibrate? is this normal repair process? maybe “some” cars dont need a recalibrate process? what does the honda zone manager say about this repair effort? uh, yes that might have had some impact on that former repair but it has no bearing on your current situation? is a zone manager a customer “fixer” or a person with tech skills and people skills?

" is a zone manager a customer “fixer” or a person with tech skills and people skills? "

I think that this might vary with the company.
The Ford Zone Rep with whom I dealt seemed to be more of a customer appeaser, while the Toyota Zone Rep clearly had mechanical and diagnostic skills.

Idling at 1500 on start up, then fluctuations between 1000 and 1100 when warm seems close to what I’d expect to be normal. The rpms when warm seem a little on the high side, but I presume you are reading this from a dash tach, and the dealership has verified the idle rpms correct using their calibrated rpm meter.

The brakes seeming to take more effort to press on the pedal than normal is troubling. But they checked the intake manifold vacuum with the shop gauge, right? And checked for a vacuum leak in the booster? I presume so, given your complaint, as it is very easy to do. Does the dealership shop say this amount of pedal force is normal? If so ask them to prove it, by allowing you to drive another of their cars similarly equipped. They’ll almost certainly have something similar awaiting your test drive on the lot. While doing that, you could compare the idle situation too between your cars and the test car.

The only other thing I can think of is to check the battery and alternator to be sure the proper operating voltage for running the car’s equipment is being maintained, even at warm idle.

Thanks for the advice. I have contacted Honda and opened cases in the past. I found them pretty helpful and they actually make calls to dealerships to do the job. However, I also figured they are limited in what they can do. Probably making calls to dealerships and documenting the problems are their best before I write a lemon law demand. I should probably consider writing one, but I am holding things off since the procedure seems very complicated. In my knowledge I have to go in with a same problem three times without successful repair. But the thing is Honda dealerships here in Iowa city are very very unwilling to do warranty work and turn away customers saying everything is normal. They won’t acknowledge any problem. When your warranty expires everything will be abnormal for them and should be replaced…I am very sure. Billion Honda in Iowa city is very infamous and they once accused me of bringing in a car that was purchased elsewhere. One dealer in Cedar Rapids tried to charge me $100 for diagnosis when my vehicle is under warranty…

I actually want to see an engineer come in and have some discussion to figure out what’s wrong with the car.

The OP writes they have opened cases ( meaning more than one ) with Honda in the past. That being the case why the heck would you buy from Honda again?

At 7000 miles i would document this problem for as many times as your local state lemon law requires and then get a lawyer to take it from there. Rocketman

Buyer’s Remorse…

Buyer’s remorse again.

My current vehicle is a 2010 Kia Forte SX 2.4L 6spd M/T 32,000 miles. When cold started it idles at 1,500 RPM. After a bit it steps down (fluctuates)? to 1,000 RPM. After a couple of minutes it steps down (fluctuates)? to 600 RPM which is normal idle. If this is what OP is experiencing, what is the problem? The dealer trying to charge $100 diagnosis on a warranty claim is total BS. I had this pulled on me in 2002. My 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse 2.4L 5sp M/T 7,000 miles was fine until the brake pedal sunk to the floor when stopped. When the pedal was released it pumped up and worked fine. I suspected a defective brake system pressure relief valve. I took it to the dealer where I had recently purchased it. I described the symptom and did not offer my diagnosis. They had a mechanic come to the parking area, start the car and press the brake pedal. He stated “another bad pressure relief valve.” I walked a couple of blocks and had lunch. When I returned the car was ready. I was presented with an invoice that listed pressure relief valve no charge, 0.8 labor no charge, diagnosis 1.0 labor $90. What!!! I suspect from the mechanics statement it was probably a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) which as recalls does not require diagnostics. As there were no diagnostics required the dealer would not be paid by the manufacturer. They were trying to recoup this from ignorant customers. I was not one. I refused to pay and they came up with the " since you’re a valued customer we will delete the diagnostics charge". Gee. Lucky me. Fortunately I had no other problems and never returned to this crooked dealer.