Black Death and Warranty Ethics

Recently my 2004 Honda Cr-V AC died - again. After researching I discovered I had “black death” where the whole AC system is infected with little black chips To judge by the number of upset owners online, the problem occurs frequently to the CR-V compressor, and the replacement cost is $3650. My car has 44000 miles and is out of warranty. Despite pleas Honda has refused to help out in any way. Presumably, Honda keeps track of failures and complaints and must have known they had an exploding part before my warranty expired. What is their responsibility to the customer with a dead AC and a huge repair bill?

Honda has no responsibility after the warranty has expired. The vehicle is five years old and has 44,000 miles on it.

Get a price from an independent AC shop. You don’t have to pay dealer prices for this.

The car has had three compressors. The first mechanic did not know about Black Death and put in a new Honda supplied compressor, which failed immediately. The next one lasted a year. My second mechanic found out about the problem after I gave him a heads up after I researched. My question is about whether a company should share information. If Honda knows a part is going to fail and cause huge damage, then is it OK as long as the disaster happens after the warranty expires? Couldn’t Honda inform customers and independent mechanics so they have options, at the very least?

As usual, I concur with McP.
And I sympathize with the OP. Sometimes life just happens in an unpleasant way.


Your problem of getting good will compensation from Honda might be that you had a independent garage make the first repairs. So now Honda is going to wipe there hands clean of any responsibility.

If this is a recurring failure that began while still under warranty and you have all teh documentation you may have an arguement. If it does not meet all of the criteria listed you have none. Sorry.

Could they inform customers if they know a part will fail after warranty? Sure.
Are they likely to? No.
Have I ever seen any manufacturer do that? Not unless NHTSA was about to order a recall for a safety defect.

Sadly, I have to go along with Mcp and with mountainbike.
Every manufacturer, even Honda and Toyota, have had situations like this and it would be very unusual for any manufacturer to provide coverage after the warranty has expired.

Is this good? No.
However, we do not live in an ideal world, and this type of thing can happen.

However, this is just my opinion. If you wish to pursue this with American Honda at the corporate level, do so with a tone of civility. While it is possible that you will get some assistance from them, I doubt that you will like the outcome.


This person was able to get some help from Honda So it may be possible if you pursue it in a manner that VDCdriver suggested

I don’t understand. The warranty was for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The vehicle is five years old with 44,000 miles. I sympathize with you and your problem, but since you went to an independent mechanic for warranty work, you would have to rule out the possibility that he made a mistake somewhere, which is rather difficult.

I would also prefer to go to an independent mechanic, but I would never do so for warranty work since it is free.

My question is about what is right to do, not what Honda is likely to do or is legally obliged to do. Honda is well versed at saying no on this issue. In my case, all the AC deaths happened after the warranty had expired. I am sure my original mechanic. like me, did not understand the full extent of the problem. The mechanic finds a dead conmpressor and replaces it. He wouldn’t be looking for a bigger problem unless given a heads up. You have to research online to find out about black death. I didn’t expect warranty coverage after the expiration so I went to an independent mechanic to save $$. It is only after finding out that this problem has been well documented for many years with hundreds, probably thousands, of complaints that I am upset with Honda. It didn’t help that Honda America told me they could help me, but I needed a Honda diagnosis at $109, (to tell me what I knew already.) Then they declined to offer any assistance, not even a 10% discount which would still give them a profit. They have offered other customers 80% of repair costs and more, based on “customer loyalty.” So, if you get service at the dealer they take responsibility, but if you didn’t then tough luck. To me, they either screwed up or they didn’t, it cannot depend on who the customer is. It upsets me that Honda is making money out of their design error. Is Honda going to help me out? No. Is it right? No. Is it a sound business decision? Only if customers accept unethical practice as par for the course. Hond amakes fine cars, but they screwed up by trying to cover up black death.

It sounds to me like you are having problems distinguishing between Honda and Honda dealerships. Have you tried going to more than one Honda dealership for help? If you are unhappy with the way you have been treated at one Honda dealership, go to one that isn’t owned and operated by the same company.

My answer of what is right to do is to take the car to a Honda dealership for warranty work. If you had done that, you would have been less likely to have a mechanic who “did not understand the full extent of the problem.”

My advice is to shop around for either a better dealership service department or an independent mechanic who specializes in Hondas. If you do this, you might increase the odds that this is the last time you have to replace the compressor. Consider that “black death” might not be the reason you are running through compressors. You don’t necessarily know that with 100% certainty.

AS I stated, the problem is with Honda America not my dealership. My dealership diagnosed AC contamination and my ace mechanic has found a ton of black chips in the system. Case closed. I feel badly for Honda dealerships because they did not cause the problem, and they have to follow Honda Corp policy. Then they get angry customers. My local dealership has been fine, except for pretending that CR-V AC problems are unusual. The problem is with Honda America.

Honestly, I think you’re expecting Honda America to go beyond what any manufacturer of any product will do. Unless there’s a safety issue involved, no manufacturere of consumer goods is going to cover or assist in covering a product repair beyond the warranty period, even of it’s something that fails more often than it should on product beyond warranty coverage.

That does not mean your disappointment with Honda is unfounded. The AC compressor should have lasted far longer. It just means that nobody else would have covered it either. Warrantys are limited for a reason, to limit their long term exposure.

Ther are no health or safety issues involved. It’s simply a part that suffered premature failure. Ethics has no place in the scenerio.

If you can document that this is a common problem for Honda I would contact the Honda Zone Rep and start a complaint. Yes it is not under warranty anymore, and yes Honda can say bug off but you can still persue it. You can get an attorney, you can contact JD Power and see if they are aware of a problem. You can contact a Consumer Reports reporter and see it they want to investigate it further. You can contact your local TV station Consumer Affairs reporter about doing a story.

Honda has a reputation on the line and your experience is inconsistant with the reputation Honda wishes to maintain. If my '03 Civic was going on its 3rd or 4th AC compressor I’d not have the same opinion of the car as I have now.

If the Keihin Scroll compressor in CR-V which was also installed in the Acura TSX is such a big problem, then I wonder why Honda doesn’t simply change compressor vendors?

They probably already have.

In cases of catastrophic A/C compressor failure, the whole system needs to be flushed, the filter/drier and even sometimes the evaporator need to be replaced. If this wasn’t done the first time it happened, no wonder you’ve had continuing problems.

Perhaps this was done, but I’ve seen too many mechanics just replace a bad part without considering why it failed, and what other damage could have occurred as a result.

“In cases of catastrophic A/C compressor failure, the whole system needs to be flushed, the filter/drier and even sometimes the evaporator need to be replaced”

One problem with most cars A/C systems is, do to manufactured line sets, and connection, there is no provisions for a suction filter drier, there is only the receiver drier.

A Suction filter drier is used for cleaning debris and protecting the compressor after a catastrophic compressor failure. But as far as I am aware of, auto A/C systems make no provisions for a suction clean out drier.

my AC has now been replaced for over $3000 by my trusted mechanic. The job gave him nightmares, he told me, as he had to dissassemble the dashboard. Three days of work from one of Boston’s top mechanics.

I can understand why Honda begged off from this problem, but it was not consistent with their usual commitment to customer service.

By the way, my research doesn’t tell me what Honda did about the compressor design. Apparently they still use the same supplier, but presumably somebody changed something because the consumer reports complaint numbers for AC on Cr-V go down after 2004. But, I asked my mechanic to use after market parts so as not to take any chances, or give Honda my money.

I am in the AC parts business (wholesale) and well aware of this problem. There are good “aftermarket” compressors available for the CR-V at a fraction of the cost of the dealer unit. The problem is, if the job is not done right the replacement compressor will fail as well. Honda recommends the replacement of the entire AC system; the compressor, condenser, evaporator, expansion valve and all hoses. There are aftermarket replacement parts for all of these components. Find a good AC repair shop that knows what to do (a challenge in itself) and you should be able to get this repaired for less than 1/2 of what the dealer charges. Dealers do what dealers do; screw their customers.