Honda CRV valve adjustment

The Honda dealer says our 2005 CRV is due for valve adjustment at 108,000 miles. The owners manual makes no mention of adjustment, and I would have guessed the valves were hydraulically operated, so is my service adviser planning on a boat payment or do the valve clearances need to be checked?


FORGET THE OWNER’S MANUAL . . . as far as valve lash is concerned

Valve lash is critical

Burned valves result from insufficient valve lash that is ignored for too long

I might add that insufficient valve lash CAN’T be heard

That’s why you check and adjust the valves

I would call the shop IMMEDIATELY and schedule that valve adjustment.

Some Honda engines don’t even make it to 108K, because the valves were never checked

That’s the part when an expensive head job is needed . . .

DB is correct and there are two things wrong with that 100k+ miles recommendation.

  1. That interval is way too long. Lash should have been checked about 78k miles back and every 30k miles afterwards.
  2. You may hear from the dealer that the valves are “to be inspected audibly” and that is asinine to think that procedure could be done in such a manner. No way, no how can that happen. Ever.

The dealer is repeating what the manufacturer says and the car maker is not always correct. The car maker has a vested interest in stating that valve adjustments can be delayed for an eternity.
How many CR-V sales would be lost if a salesman told every potential buyer that, “Oh by the way, you need a lash inspection every 30k miles and it will cost you X dollars out of pocket…”.


You can be grateful that you have a Honda, and not a Toyota

Your Honda can be in and out on the same day. All you need is a valve cover gasket

Toyota engines use shims. Unless all the shims are in stock, you won’t be out the same day.

My early 90’s Corolla has valve lash in the routine maintenance schedule. So did my late 70’s VW Rabbit. I forget now what the intervals are for those cars, but they do spec definite mileage intervals in the owner’s manual to check and adjust (if necessary) the valve lash . Does Honda say to only inspect it if the valves become noisy? If so, I presume Honda have hydraulic lifters, yes?

If I owned the OP’s car, whether the owner’s manual said so or not, I’d have the valve lash confirmed by measurement every 60 K. Often the lash is good, so nothing else needs to be done. And to just do the measurement without any adjustment is probably less than an hour’s labor. Peanuts. Plus in the process you’ll discover any leaks from the valve cover seals, which are best to find early, before the oil leak damages something else.


Honda vehicles do NOT have hydraulic lifters

Nevertheless, the owner’s manual often states that it’s only necessary to check the valves if they’re noisey

Insanity . . .

First generation CRV engines were notorious for damaged heads because owners did not check valve clearance frequently enough (due to an error that Honda made in the owners manual). Fortunately you have a later generation engine that is not as susceptible to damage, but you should definitely have the valves adjusted regularly.

Honda recommends that valve lash be inspected at 110,000 miles.


The factory is not always correct in a purely mechanical sense. Honda also issued a service bulletin about valve lash (TSB 03-038) regarding this issue and what to do for those people out of warranty and who now own a vehicle with a lunched cylinder head.

It’s just been very recently that I became aware of several bogus factory recommendations about one of my cars.
The first owners manuals for the Lincoln Mark VIIIs state that “Dexron” must be used in the transmission although Mercon is actually called for and the dipsticks state “Mercon Only”. One has to wonder if someone in the past has wiped their transmission by adhering to the owners manual and using a GM spec fluid.

Upon discovering that info I then found out that one end of the manual on my car says to use Ford spec power steering fluid (don’t remember the numbers) but on another page it states to use Type F ATF only. The manual on my prior Lincoln states to use Mercon ATF in the PS.

It appears to be a potluck dinner on fluids…

Between the rubber timing belts and valves that require periodic adjustment, why do people think Honda’s and Toyota’s are the greatest cars in the world? Hydraulic valve lifters have been around a long, long time and consumers need not be subjected to unnecessary service requirements… On a FWD V6 engine, adjusting the valves can turn into an expensive all day job…


Honda is really good at producing a trouble-free car, with a high level of technology relative to the purchase price.

What they aren’t, though, are particularly enduring. Timing belts, rust prone, tranny failures, blocks that can’t be rebored…the hallmarks of a 100k, semi-disposable car.

Top that off with Honda’s history (both two- and four-wheeled) of being quick to discontinue factory support, and corporate philosophy becomes clear.

Toyota no longer uses belts on their cars. My old 99 Camry does. Just changed it out for the second time since I bought it new.

  • 1 Joe…You can make ANYTHING run forever if you pour enough money into it…

I’ve adjusted the valved on my 1999 Honds Civic a least 3 times and it now has 149,000+ miles. Each time there were at least a few vaves that needed adjusting.

BTW the newer Honda engines have a timing chain, not belt.

Just curious. I measure the valve clearances on my Corolla from time to time, but I’ve never had to make an adjustment. Likewise, I never had to adjust my VW Rabbit either. Is the typical valve adjustment to replace the existing shim with a thicker shim, or a thinner shim? I’d guess it would be a thicker shim replacement, as the existing shim and cam would wear over miles, and so as the cam lobe came around to hit the cam follower (the shim), it wouldn’t push the valve in as far as it should. And is it ever the case that sometimes a thinner replacement shim is needed? What would be the reason for that?

@GeorgeSanJose, it’s typical for a Honda to have wear inside the cylinder head and not at the valvetrain. Picture the valve seat in the head wearing ever so slightly, as well as very slight wear on the sealing face of the valve. The result would be that the valve stem would be ever so much taller when closed. This would make valve clearance less than spec over time. The valves actually tighten as they wear. Let them go long enough, the valve won’t close completely and it will burn.

You’d be surprised how many Honda emission failures and check engine lights are fixed by a valve adjust.


There are two things happening: the valve is recessing into the cylinder head, and the shim is wearing thin. The first tends to tighten clearances; the second tends to loosen.

In a perfect world, they’d cancel each other out exactly. In the real world, one “wins” over the other.

105k is the typical time to inspect valve lash. On the I4 its relatively quick process and inexpensive and you will get a new valve cover gasket that would potentially leak.

@Caddyman there has not been a timing belt present in I4 Honda since 2003 which is majority of the engines/top sellers they have. Not sure why at the same time folks spout off about this stuff.

Why people think Honda are the greatest things. My experience and wife’s Civic’s. We ignored valvl lash requirements and simply changed the timing belt at 100k for <$300/car. Both Civic’s NEVER had an internal engine repair and everything was working at 10yrs/200k and 12yrs/230k when sold. And when sold we got 1/4 - 1/3 of original purchase price( bought cars slightly used). That makes a low cost of ownership and why Honda gets the reputation. Not sure if applies currently.

Thanks @meanjoe75fan and @asemaster for the explanation. I wasn’t thinking of the other side of the situation, the valve seat. I can see what you both say now, that it is entirely possible that the valve clearance could diminish – rather than increase – over time. If the valve/head surface wear rate exceeds the cam-lobe/shim wear rate. Good explanation.

Something else that affects valve lash (too tight) is stem stretch and this is the case with exhaust valves more often than not due to the valve spring slamming the red hot valve down onto its seat repeatedly.

Another factor causing excessive lash is stem mushrooming. This often occurs when a valve is allowed to remain a little loose. The rocker arm (or cam follower as the case may be) is repeatedly slammed onto the end of the stem and which then bells it. Sometimes this is visually noticeable if bad enough and sometimes it can be detected when the valve is removed and will not drop through the valve guide very easily.

No has to inspect valve lash. Most people who ignore this procedure luck out. For some of that number, the end result can be expensive.

I’ve also adjusted enough of them to say with utter confidence that 3/4 of the engines inspected needed one or more, or even all, valves adjusted.