Fires were being reported immediately following oil changes on 2003-05 Honda CR-Vs because of oil from an incorrectly installed oil filter dripping on the hot exhaust. Honda blames improper oil-filter replacement procedures. We think the design is at least partly to blame. Here is Honda's response to a recent column on the subject.
Dear Tom and Ray:
I read your recent column about Honda's actions regarding fires in 2003-05 CR-Vs. Early on, we implemented steps to strengthen our communication with dealers and independent repair shops to further educate service personnel on the proper procedures for oil-filter replacement and the importance of proper installation of the oil filter. [This included letters to service managers, newsletters to dealers, information printed on Honda filter packaging, online information for owners].
We are now undertaking a Customer Assurance Program that includes the following measures:
A letter will be sent to affected owners of 2003-05 model CR-Vs. The letter will instruct the customer as follows:
If the customer has not yet had an oil-filter change, he or she is instructed to ask the dealer to inspect the old filter gasket when the original filter is replaced. A sticker will be provided to all customers that can be given to the service technician to underscore the importance of following proper procedures. This sticker can be affixed to the work order at the time of service.
If the customer has had his or her first oil-filter change within the past 30 days, he or she is entitled to a free inspection of the filter by a Honda dealer to ensure proper installation. In the event of a double gasket, the service technician will replace the filter and top off the oil at no charge to the customer.
All new CR-Vs in dealer inventory will have the original factory filter replaced by a new filter prior to customer delivery.
Honda will be sending additional communication to independent service facilities to further reinforce the importance of following proper procedures during the oil-filter change. The sticker provided to owners can also be used with independent shops to help ensure proper protocol.