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Old 11-15-2009, 06:24 PM   #1
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Honda "Black Death": Catastrophic Air Conditioner Failure

Hello All,

We have been towing a 2004 Honda CRV since 2003 and it's been a great toad. Up until last month. With about 104,000 miles on it, the air conditioner compressor failed. Normally, you think "no big deal", get a new compressor. Well, from what I've seen on the Internet, it seems that something in the way Honda designed the A/C system in 2004 through 2008 cars (many models besides the CRV) causes the compressor fluid and metal shards from the compressor to fly throughout the entire closed A/C system. This contaminates every part of the system and every part must be replaced.

Repair costs seem to run in the range of $3,000.00 to $3,600.00..

Some people have gotten lucky by complaining to Honda and getting Honda to pay for part of the repair. Other people are writing into varous forums saying that Honda has done nothing for them. We called Honda, starting at the dealer and ending up at Corporate, and they refused to assist us.

There is a class action lawsuit for this (see Google).

If you've got a Honda in that year range, you should educate yourself. Try Googling Honda Black Death and you'll get many hits on the first page of results.

So, what are we going to do? Well, we had it fixed at a local shop that works on imports. They used non-Honda parts which they told us would be better in this case (wouldn't fail again). We'll tow the CRV until it has another serious failure, or until we can fit a new toad into the budget.

What will we buy next time? NOT A HONDA ! ! !


Mike and Mike (Michele)

2004 Alpine 34 FDDS
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:21 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your Honda air conditioner problem. I have owned five Hondas and towed the last two over 100,000 miles and I had never heard of the problem. I am an active member of a Honda forum and I have never read about the problem.

I did as you said and did an internet search on Honda Black Death and found a lot of postings. Then I searched on Ford Black Death, GM Black Death, Chevrolet Black Death and Chrysler Black Death. Wow, they are all having more problems than Honda.

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Old 11-15-2009, 08:02 PM   #3
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Hi, my first post on this forum.
Sorry you had problems with the a/c on your Honda. Unfortunately this is not limited to just Hondas. In my experience as a Shop Foreman with a city here in Az., pretty much all brands suffer from the same condition.
Once the car manufacturers went away from the old piston type a/c compressors to the rotory style this has occurred.
Sometimes you can get lucky and flush the gunk from the system, but this is taking a chance on a second compressor going bad. This is why it is best to replace all the components the first time.
I think you chose the correct repair path to help reduce the cost and you should get good service as long as new components were used.
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Old 11-16-2009, 11:20 AM   #4
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Norm4015 & leadman,

Well, I'm glad I posted because I learned something from each of you! I hadn't even thought of Googling 'Ford Black death', or any other brand. I did it just now and there are indeed many hits. Nor did I realize that this might be more specific to "rotary type compressors" than to any particular brand of car.

Thanks for educating me!

Mike and Mike (Michele)

2004 Alpine 34 FDDS
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Old 11-20-2009, 01:47 PM   #5
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We've been towing a 2003 Honda CRV for the last several years. Overall the SUV is great. It's Shelly's around town car, and serves as a great toad with the storage in back.

The only issue I've had with it is that the A/C compressor started getting noisy about 6 months ago and upon doing research I found the same as you did that there was a certain vintage CRV with the compressor failures. Typically when the compressor failed, it does contaminate the entire A/C system requiring replacment of the compressor, flushing of the condensor and evaporator and replacing all of the rubber lines in the system.

I took a proactive approach about 2 months ago and replaced the compressor before it failed with an aftermarket compressor kit which included the compressor, drier filter and accumulator valve I purchased for $ 198.00. Clearly when I removed the filter from the condensor, it had metal particles in it so I feel the compressor was soon to fail. So far, the replacement unit sounds good and I'm keeping my fingers crossed it lasts.

It does seem if you are able to replace the unit before total failure and avoid the contamination, you can get off much cheaper than having the total system replaced.
Joe & Shelly, Justin, Tyler, Alyssa | Butler PA
2008 Tiffin Allegro Bus 43QRP|Cummins 425|Honda CRV
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:15 PM   #6
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Basically any A/C system will spread the destruction through the system depending on how bad the compressor wrecks. The dealer is probably protecting him self and doing it the easy way by replacing everything when everything does not need to be replaced.

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Old 11-20-2009, 06:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TXiceman View Post
Basically any A/C system will spread the destruction through the system depending on how bad the compressor wrecks. The dealer is probably protecting him self and doing it the easy way by replacing everything when everything does not need to be replaced.

It doesn't take long for it to go everywhere, and it will. By the time you notice the a/c not cooling, the time for shutting it off to save it is long past.
Now, there are filters you can put on the a/c lines to halt the spread of decimated compressor parts. Depending on which filter you get, it would either go on the low side (before the compressor) or the high side (just after the compressor). They're pretty inexpensive, considering. Usually about $75 for one.

Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.

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