Car Doctor Q&A: Honda CR-V Engine Rattles

Posted by

Nothing fills a car owner with greater dread than a noisy valvetrain, and the dollar signs required to fix it. AAA’s John Paul provides some solutions.

Q. I have a 2014 Honda CR-V EX which I bought new and now have 46,000 miles on it. Recently when starting the vehicle on cold mornings I hear a grinding noise that last for a few seconds then goes away. In short the motor starts fine, runs for a few seconds then this loud grinding noise appears for a few seconds then goes away.

Find a New Honda CR-V at


The noise is like a metal-on-metal grinding until I assume the oil lubricates it? This noise did not occur when the car was new or during warmer months. I have seen this duplicated on YouTube by CR-V owners, with the same problem but no answers.

My research shows that Honda is aware of this and has told owners that this is normal. I have not gone to the dealer since the vehicle is out of warranty. Have you heard of this? Is it a problem, and will it get worse?

A. The problem is from a faulty variable valve timing control actuator. Variable valve timing is used in your Honda and other engines to limit vehicle emissions, improve engine performance and boost fuel economy.

Honda did issue a technical service bulletin 16-012 with a title that describes your vehicle perfectly–engine rattles loudly at temperatures below 40 degrees. Although the engine doesn’t need to be completely disassembled, the repair will take about half a day. Depending on the mileage of your Honda, the repair could be under warranty.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.