Honda CR-V with mystery shudder

I have a shudder that the dealership can’t seem to fix. Three weeks ago I had my tires replaced (all four). Company X, which is very reliable, told me that I needed to have my tires aligned and that the cv joints had disintegrated and needed replacing. Company X had a very difficult time finding cv joints that would work with my 2003 Honda CR-V (automatic, all-wheel drive). They put FOUR different sets on before they found a set that would work. When I picked up my car I noticed a fierce shudder in the front end whenever I turned a corner, particularly to the left. Upon further investigation the shudder was noticeable whenever I accelerated from approximately 18-24mph. We took the CR-V back to Company X and they replaced the cv joints, again. At this point they said they believed the problem was the motor mounts. We took the car to a Honda dealership who said, “Nope. Not the motor mounts. It’s the cv joints.” Back to Company X and I’ll save you the drama… they couldn’t fix it. Back to Honda. For my $42 diagnostic fee Honda mechanics put over $500 of labor into trying to find the source of the problem. Now they tell me they have given up. I’m desperate… I’ve been reading online and it appears that some readers have had torque converter issues. Here are a few more items that might be pertinent. The car has 70,000 miles on it. It was operated in Fairbanks, Alaska, for seven years and I know the cold weather can accelerate the aging process in cars. The last time I had the oil changed, actually a few days prior to getting the tires replaced, the guy noted that my transmission fluid was well-worn and suggested I get it flushed. Can anyone shed some light on my mysterious shudder?

Shudder associated with turning and acceleration? The most likely thing is that it is still the CV joints. Almost all CV joint replacements these days are remanufactured…and not well. I once went back four times myself on my car. I got tired of that game and replace them myself now.

The whole thing about the first shop not being able to find them and then “trying” 4 sets before they found one that worked? That’s just plain odd. This isn’t a guess and try procedure. Its an '03 AWD CR-V. You get the CV axles made for it.

Honda put in cv joints and an axle that worked in another vehicle and it didn’t help the shudder.

And none of this was there before you got the new tires and new CV joints?

This really is a puzzler. No problem before the tires and CV joint replacement, and afterward, shudders?

Did you ever drive the car after the new tires, but before the CV joints?

Only 70K miles on this car? Unusual. Did you notice before this tire/CV replacement any unusual noises, especially when accelerating out of a turn? Why did you go to shop X in the first place? Before you visited shop X, did you notice any funny-sounding noises, clicks, scrapes, knocks, etc, when you come to stop sign, stop, then turn right and accelerate from a dead stop while turning a sharp right (or left)? If your CV joints were badly worn, you’d definitely notice a noise under those conditions. If you didn’t notice any noise, I expect your CV joints just needed cleaning, repacking, and rebooting. 70K is about when CV joint boots tend to break (especially the outer ones)./ But I’d be surprised if they were badly worn at 70K miles.

I’ve never replaced a CV joint with a rebuilt one. I’ve always simply repacked the existing ones, and put on new boots. It’s a simple procedure (for a car mechanic anyway, not necessary for me.) In any event, I never had any shuddering problem at all.

Here’s my guess: Usually when they use rebuilt CV joints to fix torn boots, I think they replace the whole drive shaft too. They just take your drive shaft with the CV joints on each end out, and send it to the rebuilder. Meanwhile the rebuilder has already sent a rebuilt unit supposed to be identical to Shop X. I think Shop X may have accidentally put on a unit with the incorrect length shaft in one side or the other. They often aren’t the same lenght on each side, and they vary with make/model/and year, so it’s an easy mistake to make.

My guess is that either this hasn’t yet been corrected, and one of your half-shafts is still the wrong length, or maybe they’ve fixed that, but the initial mistake has damaged either the transmission splines, the transmission itself, or the wheel splines or the wheel bearing.

The first thing I’d probably do is ask them to verfy (by comparing to another car of the same make/model/year/xmission the shaft lengthes are exactly correct.

You just might want to read this.


Tester may be on the right track, or…it might be due to the known issues with the center differential on CR-Vs of this era. If you have never changed the diff fluid on this car, it should be done anyway. And, it is just possible that doing this maintenance may resolve the shudder problem that you are reporting.

Just be sure to use ONLY genuine Honda Dual-Pump Fluid for this purpose. Any other fluid will cause more problems than you currently have. On this model, there is a fluid connection between the rear diff and the center diff, and draining/refilling the rear diff will also drain/refill the center diff.

Thank you for your suggestions, all. My troubles continue. To answer a few of your questions, I did not have a chance to drive the car between the tire replacement and the new cv joints. The only thing that I noticed prior to all of this was that occasionally when I made a very sharp turn into a parking spot I noticed what felt like slippage of the tires on the pavement. As I live in Oregon now and the pavement is often wet I wrote this off as actual slippage. In retrospect it may have been the cv joints? I’m not sure because I don’t know much about cars. RE: Mileage and wear to cv joints - My automobile was operated in central Alaska for the first 60k miles and it is common for automobiles there to experience accelerated wear in the cv boots due to the extremely cold temperatures.
I went into Company X because I had a screw in the tread of my tire. They removed the screw but noted that the sidewalls were thin and highly suggested replacing the front tires. As I have put 40k miles on this car and never replaced the tires (or had them rotated, I know, bad me) I figured it was about time. I didn’t have the money at the time so I took the car home. A week letter I found ANOTHER screw!! (Not sure where I keep picking up screws, but whatever). This time I took the car to a different branch of Company X who independently suggested that I replace the front tires. This branch also encouraged me to replace all four tires because the CR-V has Real Time 4WD which means that the front and back tires need to have the same tread depth for stability, I guess. When the first branch of Company X replaced my tires and completed the rotation they noted the problems with the cv joints and we had them fixed.
After Company X gave up (a nationally reknowned tire sales chain, by the way), I took my car directly to my local Honda dealership. They have been working with the national Honda service department to try and solve this problem, but currently have not been able to resolve the shudder. Honda replaced the front axles and they should know better than to use the wrong fluids or insert the wrong parts. I am considering taking the car to a different Honda dealership, but the diagnostic hours at this location have already exceeded $550 worth of labor, for which I will pay one $42 diagnostic fee. I don’t want these mechanics to think that I am less than grateful for their free work, but I am at a loss as to how to get the car repaired.
Thank you Tester for the link. I had actually already read that article and the linked comments and so we had Honda do a full transmission fluid flush. Still no improvement. They are discussing replacing the wheel hubs next. Diving into the tranny would no doubt be an expensive endeavor and Honda is saying that I would be charged for their work/time regardless if it fixes the problem or not.
VCDdriver - I can look into having the diff fluid changed out. I don’t remember if I’ve had it changed before.

Replace your rear differential fluid. <$100, required maintenance, typical fix.

Raj–I’m glad to see that you agree with my advice.
The grabbing/shuddering problem on these cars is located in the center differential, but, as I mentioned earlier, the fluid change actually involves the rear diff as well as the center diff.

Hopefully it is just the differential fluids.

If not, one thing to consider is the new tires. Sometimes improperly sized tires can cause a kind of shudder effect on low speed turns. This is especially the case if the new tires are wider than the old tires. One thing to check: Are the new tires exactly the same size as the old ones?

You can get a sort of shuddering during slow speed turns if the front tires are delaminating too. This would be extremely unlikely with new tires.

But if you have any doubts about the new tires, what I’d do is ask the tire shop to temporarily put on the old tires back on (if they still have them) or tires identical as possible to the old tires on the front wheels, and see if that stops the shuddering effect.

I have an 04 CRV 4WD. The shudder felt as though the road had caterpillar tractor tread indentations in the pavement. It was sporadic and happened usually at 30+MPH but happened lower sometimes. I had this at about 60K. After several suggested corrections didn’t work, it was suggested I change the trans fluid. Seemed totally disconnected to me but a mechanic at a Honda dealer had heard of a similar problem with that solution. I had it done. Not all the fluid including the torque converter but just about three quarts of the HONDA recommended, drained and replaced, and a filter. It worked. It happened again at about 140K. I did the same thing and it cleared up.