All the Issues With the Civic Type R and How Honda Is Fixing (One of) Them

Bozi Tatarevic
by Bozi Tatarevic

The Honda Civic Type R finally showed up on our shores this year, packing polarizing styling and over 300 horsepower going to its front wheels. Demand has been high and dealers have taken advantage by adding ADM on top of the model’s MSRP. Many customers are happy to pay the premium.

We’ve had the Type R on the road and on the track and, while the opinions on styling vary, everyone seems to be impressed with the performance. However, while it keeps up with much more powerful cars on track, it hasn’t escaped the struggles of a first-year model.

Issues such as overheating, rev-match errors, and gear grinds have been reported by owners and journalists alike. Our own Bark M. experienced a few of these issues while taking the Type R from track to track across the Southeast, and I was there to see some of them and evaluate their impact.

I met up with Mark at Charlotte Motor Speedway on a hot August afternoon and hopped into the passenger seat of the Civic for a few laps around the Speedway. From my view, the car got around the track without a hitch and Mark appeared to be able to push it hard even in the complicated turns of the infield.

His skills played a huge role in how the car got around the track, but the rev-matching system surely played a big part as well — at least, until it broke. After my session, Mark took a few more passengers out for ride-alongs, but a few minutes later I saw him pulling in with the all-too-familiar “race car is broken” look on his face.

I joined Leo the Honda tech and driver and technician Jason Owens to find out why the Civic now showed “rev-match disabled” and “emission error” on the gauge cluster. After grabbing my portable code reader, we were able to deduce that the car had gone into a limp mode due to fuel starvation and a turbocharger underboost condition. The fuel starvation issue was quickly solved (we noticed there was less than a quarter tank of fuel left, and fuel had likely sloshed away from the pump as the car was on the banks of the Speedway).

The underboost condition was a mystery until Jason mentioned he had seen issues with the wiring for the boost control solenoid, which required harness replacement. We checked the plug for the solenoid and it appeared to have been repaired or replaced. The plug was pulled and reseated as Leo went off to refuel the car. The remaining sessions of the day didn’t present any issues.

After looking up the codes and checking the forums, the issue appeared to be pretty common for owners. According to a recently discovered Technical Service Bulletin, Honda has released a fix in the form of an updated engine harness. The TSB states that the original issue stems from the frequency of the engine, which causes the wires in the connector for the boost control solenoid to vibrate and break. The updated harness fixes this by doubling back on the harness and wrapping it in shrink wrap (along with two zip ties on top).

The updated part looks more like a quick fix that we would do at the race track than a factory part, but it may be the result of Honda trying to get the fix out as quickly as possible. The rev-match and emission errors were a direct result of this sensor losing signal, as both systems appear to use it as part of their functionality.

Mark made it down to Atlanta Motorsports Park the next morning and, although the earlier issues were gone, the car started to overheat after about 10 minutes on track. The Georgia summer temperatures surely didn’t help, but it appears that the car wasn’t getting enough cooling. They were able to do a few cool-down laps and get back on track for a few more sessions.

The same issue presented itself in another Type R loaned out by Honda when Matt Farah went out on track at Road Atlanta during a Gridlife event a few weeks later. Ambient temperatures were once again high and Matt told me he was able to make about two laps around the track before the temperature started creeping up. After the temperature spiked, he decided to turn on the heat in the cabin to bleed some of it off and was able to successfully run the car until it was almost out of fuel (with the gauge sitting at about 3/4 of the way to “hot”).

Honda hasn’t commented on the overheating issue, but aftermarket suppliers are already testing and coming up with solutions. The consensus seems to be that the radiator is large enough for the car but doesn’t get enough flow. Because oil temperatures stay hot, most are looking towards adding better oil cooling in order to bring overall engine temperatures down. A few owners have also taken matters into their own hands and figured out that temperatures will stay down if they remove the emblem and some of the plastic grille cover to get more airflow to the radiator.

The last issue that commonly pops up is a grind from the transmission when shifting from first to second gear. Jalopnik has noted a few cases where owners have complained, but Honda told them “there is no indication at this time of a specific mechanical problem within those transmissions.”

Even though Honda denies the issue is widespread, multiple owners on the CivicX forums have received replacement transmission and at least one noted that Honda plans to send his grinding transmission back to engineering for investigation.

The wiring fix was a good first step to making the Civic Type R reliable on the road and on track, but Honda will need to address the overheating and gear grinding issues if they expect the car to live up to its aggressive looks.

[Image: Honda]

Bozi Tatarevic
Bozi Tatarevic

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  • JimC2 JimC2 on Dec 01, 2017

    "Over time, this can cause one or both of the connector wires to break, causing a short." Technical writer isn't very technical. That's an open circuit, not a short. It's an important distinction.

  • Keit Keit on Dec 22, 2018

    I have the FK2. It has been absolutely the worst experience I have ever made with a car and I have over 30years of driving fast experience on anything with wheels. I started with under 4000km on the clock. They have replaced all shocks... Essentially all of the driver rain and it still creaks and more scarily the front wheel clunk and creak all the time now. Tight bends in the Alps slow and the whole chassis creaks as it twists. All tires wear asymmetrically. It has never seen a track nor kissed a curb. The air con is already rotting. The sat nav crashes every time I try and use it. The audio player randomly looses USB and then after days finds it. The panel gaps actually move; kept measurements. The Championship White has yellowed differently on the panels in one summer. After the first 7000km I stopped driving it fast as it had been for repair for more than three months in the year I had owned it at the time. The last Honda dealer I took it took it said all the creaks clunk's and groans are due to the asymmetrically worn out tires. Official Honda Germany answer. I have approached Honda directly and I received a letter, and injunction that I can only go via partners. Each time I take it to get fixed they break something else. It is without a doubt the absolute worst experience I have ever had with a car, the manufacturer and the dealer network. And I have had everything from a Golf 2 GTI to a BMW M235i Mperformance full tune Xdive and a Porsche. I know what PROBLEM cars are. This is your worst nightmare. Essentially the chassis is off. And they won't take it back. And in Germany, if I sell it and someone else kisses a tree I am liable even after going to court, my lawyer informs me. What else can I say than never ever ever.... Ever buy Honda. Merry Christmas.

  • Grg I am not sure that this would hold up in snow country. It used to be that people in snow country would not be caught dead in a white car. Now that white cars have become popular in the north, I can't tell you how many times I have seen white cars driving in the snow without lights. Almost all cars are less visible in a snow storm, or for that matter, rain storm, without lights. White ones become nearly invisible.
  • Douglas I have a 2018 BMW 740e PHEV, and love it. It has a modest electric only range compared to newer PHEV's (about 18 miles), but that gets me to the office and back each day. It has a small gas tank to make room for the battery, so only holds about 11 gallons. I easily go 600 or more miles per tank. I love it, and being able to take long road trips without having to plug in (it just operates like a regular Hybrid if you never plug it in). It charges in 75 minutes in my garage from a Level 2 charger I bought on Amazon for $350. Had an electrician add a dryer outlet beside the breaker box. It's the best of both worlds and I would definitely want a PHEV for my next car. 104,000 miles and ZERO problems with the powertrain components (so far).
  • Panther Platform I had a 98 Lincoln Mark VIII so I have a soft spot for this. The Mark VIII styling was not appreciated by all.
  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...