COAL:2001 Honda CR-V – Perfectly Average

Having had my winter beater ’92 Shadow develop a case of headgasket-itis, I figured it was time to get a good vehicle.  I had a few things in mind – the only prerequisite was that it would have to be automatic, so my wife could drive it.  I wasn’t sure what to get – but figured on it being Japanese.

I have to confess – I’d said previously that the Shadow had lasted till May – it didn’t even get that far.  Looking at these pictures, I would have to say it gave up the ghost in March or so, given the snow.  My wife and I had also gotten married the previous May (2007), and we had a baby on the way – I wasn’t going to cart them around in a $300 car.

Anyhow, we went looking in Halifax for something that would suit us.  She still had her Mazda 3, but wanted to be able to use it if the weather was bad.  The CR-V interested us the most – I don’t remember looking at anything else at the time.  I had two uncles that each had one, and they were given good service by them.

All 3 CR-V’s together.  Mine is in the middle.

We settled on a black ’01 EX.  The EX had some extras like remote keyless entry, aluminum rims, and some other stuff I can’t recall.  It had a shade over 200,000 KMs on it, but it ran well, drove tightly, and was a price I could afford.  All the switchgear had that traditional Honda feel of being solid.  The mileage didn’t scare me off, either.  These CR-V’s had a 2-litre DOHC engine, one of their B-series engines.  It was kind of a high-strung engine, needing to rev to make its power.  The transmission suited it – it would hold out its shifts to keep the engine in the power band.  I find it really annoying when something shifts too soon and you’re left lugging the engine.  It handled well, too, and was quite good in the snow.

Taken just after I bought it.

The instrument panel was laid out nicely, with clear gauges, a nice notchy column shifter, and all controls fell easily to hand.  It even had a maintenance reminder that’d change colour from green to yellow to red as you got closer to oil change time.  One annoying thing about the CR-V was a lack of variable intermittent wipers.  The heater and air conditioner gave no trouble, and all the other power accessories worked well.

It proved to be mostly reliable over the time I had it.  I changed the timing belt and water pump before it gave trouble, but it did develop two strange issues.  The first time it left my wife stranded on the side of the road 150 KM from home. It had a sudden loss of power, and would not make much more than 20 KM/H on the road.  We had it towed home.

It’s a shame you don’t sit up this high in the new CR-V’s.

Some research pointed towards a plugged catalytic converter.  I tapped on the converter and could hear a rattle.  Sure enough, some of the substrate inside had broken away, and was plugging the outlet.  With that replaced, the CR-V was back to its own self.  The second issue it developed was stranger still.  It developed a bad surging at 1700 RPM.  It wouldn’t set a trouble code, though.  After reading some on the online forums, it was suggested that it may be the idle air control motor.  I replaced it with a new one, and it was the same.  Someone else suggested the mass air flow sensor – replaced that, and it made no difference.  I took it to the dealer, and they couldn’t find anything apparent, but they did suggest that it could be the computer.  A used one was installed, and the problem went away.  Upon pulling the old ECM apart, I could see a burnt spot where some component had failed.

I’d put about 60,000 KM on it in my 2 years of owning it.  I enjoyed it, but I was starting to get tired of it.  The final straw came when a wheel bearing had failed in the front.  The rotor had rusted so badly, it was stuck to the hub, and the same went for the axle, which had also seized to the hub.  It took a few hours, a press, and lots of heat to disassemble.  The other side starting to get noisy sealed the deal.  I cleaned it up, put it up for sale, and it sold quickly.

A final goodbye.

Was it stone-reliable?  No – but it wasn’t new, either.  The front end appeared to be all original in it aside from sway bar links, and the body was still in good shape 10 years after it was built.  My wife’s Mazda was rusting badly after 5 years.  This version of the CR-V couldn’t have been too bad overall – I still see them regularly, with the newest one being 17 years old.