CHICAGO (CBS) — A Joliet man trying to get a known defect on new SUV fixed received a rude message from his Honda dealer.
Honda of Joliet wrote “NOTWELCOME” as Mark Baranski’s middle name on the service invoice.
Branski bought a 2019 Honda CR-V in December for more than $34,000. He doesn’t drive it much – approximately 1,800 miles so far – but said “it’s had the oil changed twice now, because of the smell of gasoline.”
The first time, his SUV had to be towed in. The dealer noted a misfire fault code resulting from the oil level reading too high.
“About 40 miles an hour, the vehicle just cut off. No power. All the lights started flashing on there,” Baranski said.
Less than two weeks later, according to Baranski, the CR-V backfired, creating a big cloud of black smoke.
“They said the vehicle needs to be driven more,” Baranski said.
The service report from Honda of Joliet said they could not duplicate the problem, and contacted the tech line, and were told “vehicle needs to [be] driven more.”
“That’s obviously not an acceptable solution,” said Jeff Plungis, an automotive expert for Consumer Reports magazine. “It’s not reasonable to tell people that they can’t drive it the way you’re used to driving in a car.”
Plungis has written extensively about issues with the CR-V.
“The concern that people have is that the oil is mixing with gasoline, and it’s diluting the oil, and that could end up damaging the engine over time,” Plungis said.
Baranski even got his oil tested at his own expense by an independent laboratory. The test showed 3.8 percent fuel in his oil, nearly double the normal 2 percent it should be.
“That’s enough to be considered an issue,” the lab said in its report.
Honda has put together a video about the CR-V, called “Understanding Engine Oil Level Increase,” urging drivers to visit their dealer with any questions about their oil levels.
But when Baranski tried to get help from Honda of Joliet, he was given a service invoice that listed his middle name as “NOTWELCOME.”
“I was taken back. I was appalled. I found it a bit disturbing,” Baranski said. “It didn’t make me feel good at all.”
Honda also sent a note to dealers in April about “Engine Oil Dilution Durability Concerns,” offering to extend warranties.
“These are very narrowly targeted actions, and they also only apply if you know the right questions to ask. If you go into the dealer and say he magic word, then you’ll get this extra coverage,” Plungis said. “If it were just like a straight recall, then it would be much more widely publicized, and people would know about the problem, and there would be a much greater chance it would actually be taken care of.”
The Honda video, memo, and the oil issue previously were thought to only apply to earlier models; and to have been fixed by 2019. Now it appears that might not be the case.
“That would suggest that Honda hasn’t actually gotten to the bottom of it,” Plungis said.
“I’m trying to spread this message. I want the consumers to know what they’re doing,” Baranski said.
Honda of Joliet said Baranski was harassing, used foul language, and was physically aggressive. Baranski denied acting inappropriately.
The corporate office sent a statement which said it “regrets any distress that has been caused to Mr. Baranski related to his recent purchase.”
Honda promised a company representative would reach out to Baranski.