Washboard Noise: Is my undercarriage going to fall out on the road?


My 2004 Honda CRV is experiencing an intermittent noise that sounds like I am driving over a washboard. The sound is LOUD and accompanied by a strong vibration that seems to originate from under the car and can be felt in the steering wheel.

The washboard effect occurs primarily at @ 35 - 45 mph, and seems to be generated by driving over a bump in the road (glad I live in Minnesota: land of winter, road construction and man sized pot holes!).

I can take my foot off the accelerator and steer into a slightly different path to temporarily stop the vibration.

I thought the noise was a result of my old tires,but after spending $655 on new ones the situation still exists.

I took the car to Honda for diagnosis. They were unable to identify the problem on the first visit and I brought the car back for a second visit so that they could hook up to the National Honda Tech Support system.

There is apparently one other case similar to mine in their records. The car’s drive shaft was replaced. But there is no record that this actually fixed the problem.

Anybody out there with a suggestion as to what is wrong with my car???


My first guess was a bad universal joint in the driveshaft, but since you tell us that the driveshaft was replaced, I guess we can rule this possibility out.

Something else that came to mind is the rear differential, since this is a known problem on the CR-V. While people usually report noise and vibration from the differential while making low speed turns, it is possible that your differential has experienced enough wear and tear to produce symptoms at a higher speed.

So–has the rear differential oil ever been changed? If not, shame on the dealership, since this is the “cure”–albeit probably not a permanent cure–for CR-V differential problems. I would suggest exploring this possibility, as well as whatever other board members might suggest.


I have reviewed all of my maintenance records and they do not show changing the rear differential oil. . .only the front.


Well then, shame on the dealership!

I suppose that Honda only recommends changing the rear differential oil on the CR-V when differential noise begins to show up, but since that differential is clearly a bad design, you would think that they would act in a proactive manner and would recommend changing the rear differential oil before problems show up.

Of course, there are many people who swear that the dealership is trying to rip them off if anything not listed in the factory maintenance schedule is suggested, so perhaps they are hesitant to suggest this until problems show up. Personally, I think that Honda of America should have sent notices to all CR-V owners, making them aware of this situation, and suggesting that the rear differential oil be changed before problems crop up.

Here’s a good test of the technical knowledge of the service manager at the dealership:
Broach the subject of CR-V rear differential problems with him, and if he claims to not know anything about this topic, then he is either lying or is not very knowledgeable about the products that he is servicing. In that case, you might want to try another dealership.


Wait a second, lets clear something up first. Is your CRV AWD or 2wd. If it is two wheel drive it shouldn’t have a rear differential to have the fluid changed in. As I read the OP you are saying that the other car on record with the same problem had a drive shaft replaced, not the one on your CRV.


Good point, jsutter! In re-reading the OP, I now come to the same conclusion as you, namely that the “other vehicle” had its driveshaft replaced.

However, if Honda is considering the same fix for this vehicle, I sure hope that it is also AWD, or I will totally lose faith in Honda Tech Support!


If this is an all wheel drive CRV, you could be having a shudder problem with the clutch pack in the rear part of the transfer system. Even though you have a new set of tires, make sure that the circumference of all the tires are the same – measure around the tread on all. If the problem is chatter in the rear lock up clutch, a fluid change and using the exact specified fluid might cure the problem.