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2005 Honda CR-V EX currently with 227,000 miles on it. I'm presently having an issue where my check engine light comes on, and if I drive for another 15 or 20 minutes, the VSA light and the triangle light (with the exclamation point) will come on, and once they come on, the motor will start to sputter (? for lack of a better term) when it gets up to around 2800 RPM. When it does that, I let off the gas and then gradually accelerate trying to keep the RPMs under 2800, and eventually I can get up to highway speed. Beyond those lights coming on and the sputtering, the car feels and sounds OK. It's not making any weird noises or vibrations during operation. I first started having this issue in the spring of 2013 when I had probably around 180,000 miles on it and my local auto shop diagnosed the problem with the VTEC solenoid, so they replaced it. It would happen off and on very infrequently after that and after doing some research, I found that if the motor was low on oil that this issue could arise. Being a typical car owner, I'm never great about consistently checking my oil level, so when the 3 lights would come on I would add a quart or two of oil (I also was having a slow oil leak from the gasket for the timing chain), and when I would turn the car on after adding oil none of the lights would come on and usually within 2 or 3 weeks of adding oil I would get an oil change because it would be due at that point (I usually get an oil change around 4000 to 5000 miles). Fast forward to June 2015 (approximately 220,000 miles at this point), I finally have the oil leak addressed and it was found that my timing chain needed to be replaced because it was worn and the 3 lights were coming on again even after adding oil, so the VTEC solenoid was replaced again. Car felt a lot better after the new timing chain was installed, but within a couple of weeks the 3 lights started coming on again. Finally get it back in to the shop (not a Honda shop), I ask that they keep my car and drive it as much as needed to reproduce the problem (they gave me a loaner at no cost so I had something to drive), which they did, and since the VTEC solenoid was replaced in June, they replaced the rocker arm oil control solenoid. They did some road testing and it seemed to be OK to them (I've been going to this place for 4 years and I trust them, I don't feel like I'm being ripped off, they're reputation is very good), so I took it home and on my way home all 3 lights came on. It took me a few days before I could bring it back to them, and the day that I did I started my car in the morning to go to work and the check engine light came on, which was typical (although every now and then it would not come on), and I knew that since it came on right away that the other 2 lights would come on, and they did as I was driving to work (about a 40 minute commute, mostly highway), all 3 lights were on about 20 minutes into my drive. Got to work, turned the car off, didn't drive it again until I went out to lunch, check engine light came on, only drove it about 3 miles total, back to work, turned it off, left my office at 4pm to head to one of our schools (I work for a school district) which was only 4 miles away, check engine light came on but not the other lights. Got to the school, turned the car off, I was in the school for about 30 minutes, left the school, turned the car on, none of the lights were on. Drove straight to my auto shop (approx. 12 miles, took a good 25 minutes to get there because of rush hour), and none of the lights came on during the drive. They ended up contacting a Honda specialist at Identifix. After doing some road testing and talking with the Honda specialist, this is what my rep at the auto shop emailed me:

I got in touch with the Honda guy at Identifix . Before I called them I had Dave do a “real world’ oil pressure test (driving down the road with the oil pressure gauge hooked up). The Honda spec for oil pressure is: 10 psi at idle and 44 psi at 3000 rpm with engine at operating temperature. The readings from your engine are 5.5 psi at idle and 37 psi at 3000 rpm. The VTEC solenoid is designed to activate at roughly 35 psi (it’s not really an exact number according to the Honda guy). So, what is happening is the VTEC is happy when it sees the proper oil pressure, but kicks out when the pressure drops just below the threshold. The oil pressure is riding in this grey zone all the time after the engine reaches operating temp. This results in the check engine light and the other associated lights coming on sometimes and not coming on at other times.
Unfortunately, the only “real” fix for this condition would be to replace the engine since yours has so many miles on it. However, I can try putting 10w-40 motor oil in it (that would raise the oil pressure somewhat) and see if that buys us some time. I wish I had a better solution for you, but with the number of miles the engine has on it I think it’s tired and worn down. It’s too bad this car has the VTEC system, if it were the standard 2.4L engine we wouldn’t be having this problem."

So this is where I stand with my CR-V and this issue. After reading the email, I called my rep and we talked, and I asked what would happen if I just let it be because even though the lights come on and it sputters when it gets up to 2800 RPM while accelerating, I can still drive the car and I can still get it up to highway speed, I just need to make sure that I don't accelerate too fast (keep the RPMs down). He didn't think it would cause damage to the motor to the point where it would make things worse and he suggested that because it's summer time and it's been hot (I live in Delaware, temps have typically been above 85), that he said if I wanted to he could put 10W-40 oil in it to see if that might help, and he admitted it may not, and that as we get into fall and the temps start to go down, the problem may go away over the fall and winter but may pop up again towards the end of spring and into the summer. I've read numerous posts about these 3 lights coming on and saw quite a few that referenced the oil pressure, but I haven't read any posts about needing the motor replaced. If you've read this far, THANK YOU!!!! I'm not in a situation where I can afford a new motor or replace the car, unless I get a really cheap used car, but if anyone can shed any light on this situation, agree with anything that's been said/recommended, disagree with anything that's been said/recommended, I would greatly appreciate it. I was hoping to get 300,000 miles out of it before having to look for a replacement. Thank you for your time in reading this and for any and all responses!

Rob Pritchard
Middletown, DE
 

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Hey, heyrob,

I'm having the exact same issue with an '08 Honda Element. Same three lights in the same order (CEL, then triangle and VSA) and the mechanic did an oil flush, solenoid replacement, and timing chain assembly replacement. The Element has 117,000 miles on it and though I'm not the original owner it seems from repair records that it was regularly maintained with oil changes, etc. Acceleration is good, no overheating, idle RPMs around 1100 and engine compression levels are good, apparently. I've always thought the engine knocked a bit much, but people say that's not unusual for a vtech. I had Honda's 100k mile service performed a year ago and have had a clean bill of health until all three lights went on one week ago.

Have you had any luck with your CRV? Did you ever receive any error codes? This is a pretty awful problem and I hope you found some answers.

Thanks
 

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Why can't they just replace the oil pump? Also, has the VTEC solenoid been an OEM part of aftermarket? I know my old Jeep didn't like anything except OEM.
 

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Thanks, Coastie. I know the timing chain (guides, tensioners, etc.) is OEM but I'll ask about the valve. Also, the pump is a good idea. Last year I had the oil changed and apparently the oil pan plug wasn't a stock Honda plug and didn't use the correct threading. Not sure if that could be related, but maybe?

I will try to get codes and post here, too.
 

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I should have been more specific about OEM. I meant OEM sensors. Sorry for the confusion.
 

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Update: it took a couple weeks for me to believe it, but the timing chain did the trick after all. It took a couple of short drives to get the lights to stay off. Apparently it takes the computer a minute to get used to the new timing once the chain is replaced.

Lights have been off for over 300 miles now and the engine sounds much better.
 

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I am also starting to have this same exact problem with my 2006. It has 171000 miles on it, but it has been kept up with. If anything comes up and someone finds the solution to this problem please let me know. I am in my senior year at my college completing my student teaching and so a problem like this is a great concern to me because I need my car to get back and forth to my school.
 

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I had this same problem with my 2009 Pilot, diagnosed by the dealer as a bad spark plug, replaced it and all the lights went off and never came back.
 

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This is years late but new to the site. I have a 2005 CRV, 260,000 mikes and had the same problem. Vtec switch replaced a couple of times. Over past 5 yrs I've replaced pumps and belts and radiator, internal oil leaks which finally were found, cracked head gasket, and 2018 had to do the transmission. Now for the 3rd yime I'm told the catalytic converter is bad (horrible noise when driving and low power). Minor problems: dashboard , speedometer and gas gauge not working and CDs stuck in 6 changer. I love my car but at this point I feel it's a money pit. Mechanic says catalytic converter will cost $350. Last year a different mechanic said "engine teouble" not worth fixing, drive it til it dies. Got an offer of $1,000 from mechanic. Anybody think that's an decent deal? Or better to fix and keep?
 

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Years later, thank you all for your posts. Now I have a better idea of what is going on my with 2005 CRV -EX. (180,000 miles) I've been able to drive slowly, and then pull over and shut the car off. I wait a few seconds and restart and the VSA lights go off. Sometimes it takes a few days for the maintenance light to go out, but an oil change might do the trick!
 

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I have a 2005 CRV that just hit 290,000 miles and it has had this issue intermittently throughout its life. The previous owner, my mom, would regularly let it run low on oil and this, of course, got worse once it started burning oil. If the level became low enough, it would sputter, show a check engine light with VTEC solenoid code, and the VSA light/triangle. I would top it off with oil and everything would be fine.

When it became my car, I replaced the engine, eliminating the leaks/burning oil issues, and it hasn't run low on oil since. The issue did not come back until I had a serious power steering leak (adding a bottle a week until I replaced the pump). One day, the reservoir got very low and it did the same exact thing again: sputtering, VTEC solenoid code, VSA light, and triangle. I was not very far from home, so I drove back and filled up the PS fluid. All was good again.

Of course, low fluid level is a symptom of a greater problem and not the solution, but it did seem to fix the issue both times.
 
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