Honda 1.5 Turbo Engine

What Are The Most Common Honda 1.5 Turbo Engine Problems?

Honda’s popular and ubiquitous 1.5 turbo engines are a family of small, 4-cylinder powertrains that were produced by Honda from 2016 to this day. Featuring a tiny but potent turbocharger, an all-aluminum construction, and dual overhead cams, it’s a pretty fantastic, punchy, fuel-efficient little motor. That said, there are Honda 1.5 turbo engine problems to be wary of.

Used in most of Honda’s current line-up, including the Civic, CR-V, and Accord, some of the most common problems you might encounter are carbon buildup, as well as motor oil dilution. Still, while these issues might seem severe, Honda’s 1.5 turbocharged engines are generally pretty reliable. Nonetheless, like every other car out there, not everything is perfect.

Known for its impressive performance and fuel efficiency, here are some of the most common issues with Honda’s 1.5 turbo engine (specifically, the L15B7 engine, and this also extends far into the rest of the L15XX family, including the L15BA and L15BE):

1. Oil Dilution

Oil dilution is a common issue with turbocharged and direct injection engines, of which Honda’s 1.5 engines feature both. This issue occurs when gasoline mixes with the engine oil, reducing its viscosity and lubricating properties. This can lead to increased wear and tear on the engine components, affecting its longevity and performance.

Now, most folks do agree that a bit of oil dilution is pretty normal. But, too much of it can be an issue. Honda has acknowledged this issue and implemented a fix in the form of a software update. However, it is essential to monitor the oil levels regularly and get the oil changed at the recommended intervals (around 5,000 miles) to prevent this problem from occurring.

In addition, when it comes to Honda’s 1.5 turbo engines, most oil dilution problems were caused by cold weather. This is because Honda’s 1.5 turbo engines are too slow to get up to their normal operating temperatures. This causes some fuel to stick to the cylinder walls, which is then picked up by the piston rings, before then mixing with the oil.

Consequently, this gasoline dilutes the motor oil. Additionally, most of the Honda vehicles affected by this are cars that were driven short distances in cold climates. One symptom you might notice is the smell of gasoline when checking your oil. On top of that, you might notice unexpectedly increased oil levels, engine stalling, and misfires, in addition to random power loss.

2. Carbon Buildup

Like other direct injection engines, the Honda 1.5L turbo engine is prone to carbon buildup on the intake valves. This leads to a variety of issues such as poor performance, reduced fuel efficiency, and engine misfires. You might additionally experience other symptoms, like rough idling, hesitation under acceleration, power loss, and even damaged spark plugs.

Regular maintenance and the use of high-quality fuel can help prevent this issue. Additionally, getting a carbon cleaning service at the recommended intervals can also help keep the engine running smoothly. Walnut blasting is an effective way of clearing carbon buildup from your engine, but it’s a costly service. Usually, it’s somewhere around $500 to $600.

Specifically, with the Honda 1.5 turbo engine, carbon buildup is one of the more frequently reported problems with it. At times, the carbon buildup is so excessive, that it clogs up the intake ports completely and causes them to not seal properly, requiring a clean-up. Unlike port injection, direct injection sprays fuel at high pressure, atomizing the fuel massively.

This isn’t ideal, since motor oil that goes past the piston rings doesn’t have the time to be washed out from the cylinder walls. The end result is carbon buildup. It’s no coincidence that these carbon buildup problems mostly appear once the piston rings gradually wear out. Oftentimes, you’ll experience this at around the 60,000-mile mark, but some last until 100,000 miles.

3. Spark Plug Failure

Another one of the more common Honda 1.5 turbo engine problems is spark plug failure. As mentioned, this is partly caused by the excessive carbon buildup that some of these engines suffer. On top of that, it’s well-known that turbocharged engines put additional wear on spark plugs, so it might be necessary to check and replace your spark plugs more frequently.

For Honda’s 1.5 turbo engines, it’s recommended to replace these spark plugs once every 30,000 miles. This shouldn’t be too expensive; you can buy a pack of 4 spark plugs for just $10. And, you could even replace these yourself to save on labor charges. Some of the symptoms you’ll notice due to poor spark plugs include misfires, hesitation, rough idle, and power loss.

As a whole, though, Honda and their 1.5 turbo engines are generally pretty reliable, despite these issues. They’re not too scary, especially if it’s properly maintained. In particular, that walnut blasting from earlier and cleaning the intake ports on the heads to clear up the carbon buildup. Plus, you’ll likely need to replace the spark plugs a bit more frequently than usual.

For the most part, owners of Honda cars fitted with these 1.5 turbo engines can typically expect headache-free ownership. The core of the engine is dependable and robust, and the Honda 1.5 turbo engine life expectancy is fairly good. You can expect at least 150,000 miles before major issues start to appear. But, with good maintenance, you can easily expect way more.

Other Honda 1.5 Turbo Engine Problems To Look Out For

Honda 1.5 Turbo Engine

Really, those 3 aforementioned issues are the most common problems you’ll see on Honda 1.5 turbo engines. However, there are some other random and sporadic (not systemic, which is good) faults you might encounter, including (but not limited to):

  • Overheating, which is likely caused by a faulty radiator, thermostat, or water pump. Or, it could also be caused by coolant leaks, sometimes into the motor oil.
  • Turbocharger failure, which can at times be prone to failure. Symptoms include loss of power, increased exhaust smoke, and a loud whining noise from the engine.
  • Fuel injector failure, and this happens over time (mostly due to neglect). This leads to problems like poor fuel economy, rough idling, and misfires.
  • Timing chain problems, as this wears out over time. That can lead to other problems like hearing a rattling noise from the engine, poor performance, and even engine failure.
  • EGR valve failure, which is usually caused by regular wear and tear, or clogging. Signs include increased emissions and poor performance. Regular cleaning is easy enough to do.
  • Excessive vibrations at idle, but the cause can be varied. This includes engine mount failure, unbalanced tires, or alignment issues. A thorough inspection is recommended.
  • CVT transmission problems, which is a noteworthy problem on some Honda vehicles. Though not directly related to the 1.5 turbo engine it’s fitted to, you’ll notice symptoms like shuddering, jerking, and even outright transmission failure.

Honda 1.5 Turbo Engine


  • Paul Arendes Says

    O rings are not piston rings.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Paul Arendes!

      Good spot, we’ve fixed this error now, thanks.

  • barry lever Says

    2021 honda civic 175hp with turbo, reading some bad reviews, could you give me all bad reviews! thanks

  • Kurtis Wiesjahn Says

    Had a 2017 honda civic turbo not O e problem just traded with 99000 miles just kept oil changed and alternator went out the only thing still ran like new but was a little worried once it hit 100000,and trade gave me 13500 for it and upgraded to an 2022 accord, Hondas are safe and all ones I’ve had been good never had a car go 99000 and not put brakes on crazy good cars in my book.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Kurtis Wiesjahn!

      Indeed, Honda’s are rock-solid reliable cars. Glad to hear about your experiences 🙂

  • Thomas b. Says

    Does the normal 1.5 earth dreams without turbo has the same probles?
    The one is in 2018-19 honda jazz/fit.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Thomas b.!

      From what I’ve been able to find, yes, it looks like some non-turbo 1.5 engines have similar oil dilution issues too (noted for the smell of gasoline in the oil reservoir, and the oil level going above the MAX mark on the dipstick), including in the Jazz/Fit. Not too bad though, from what I’ve read ( when compared to the turbo ones. This is likely due to Honda’s inclusion of direct injection systems in the engine.

  • Marlene Says

    Hello I’m new to the Honda world I’ve been hearing bad things about 1.5 on the head gaskets being blown. Due to the fact of coolant and oil mixing I just purchased a Honda accord 2022 1.5 does this happen to all 1.5 or no

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Marlene!

      From what I’ve been able to find, these head gasket failures on 1.5 Hondas are pretty rare ( The most common causes of these blown head gaskets that you might’ve read beforehand either come from folks tuning their Hondas (which puts more strain on the motor), or perhaps they didn’t properly service and maintain their engines all too well, I believe.

  • Tony Says

    Since I own a honda civic sport touring 1.5L turbo engine model and have 51000 thousand miles on it and I have been very mechanically inclined all through my 56 years of life i figured I would chime in and tell people the facts about this vehicle and the real reason for the oil dilution issue!And the reason why it gets worse when it is cold out is because of all the things that get turned on when its cold. These cars have more electronics than the battery can handle!From what I have heard is that the battery in a honda that is sold in Canada or cold areas are thirteen pounds heavier than the cars sold in America! And if you know anything about battery’s you have cold cranking amps and you have reserve compassady, and reserve compassady is how much electricity will the battery store and how long it will take to drain the electricity!So if you have ever seen the size of the battery in a newer civic it’s not very big at all! So now you remove thirteen pounds(And I’m sure that was not the plastic case that they trimmed that weight from! It was the lead plates inside the battery that store the power!) And the reason was to shave as much weight as possible anywhere it was possible for fuel mileage reasons. But when it’s cold out, the first thing you do is start turning on heater, headlights, wipers, heated seats, stereo system, traction system, Ect…Now you’re taking away from the coil packs electricity supply and it doesn’t have enough power to make an efficient amount of fire to burn all the fuel efficiently and when it squeezes the gas inside the cylinder and not enough fire to burn all of the gas it gets compressed and some of the unburned fuel gets pushed past the piston rings! At 24000 thousand miles my civics battery took a crap on me!noticed the car was loosing power and I was reading a post in a forum on 2017 civics and someone said to check the positive battery cable because his was loose and he had never touched it before so it was that way from the factory! I go out and check my positive battery cable and guess what? Loose!So I decided to take the battery hold down strap out of the way and removed the sticker from the top of the battery so I could open the six cap plugs and check the water level in the battery and when I opened them I found that the battery was only half full and the lead plates were exposed and only half of the lead plates were submerged in liquid! And I knew that was a throw away battery!And the box that the battery was in was full of the acid/water mixture and that was real fun cleaning that up! I bought the best battery I could get for it and still don’t seem to have the power it needs for everything to function in the car but way better than it was. Now here is another thing that I think can contribute to the fuel in the oil factor,And that is the way i see the kids driving cars around these days! We got are civic used with 1600 miles on it and I have no idea who put those miles on it and if they drove it the way they tell you to for the first 500 miles of break in.I don’t think most people understand the importance of being easy on it so that the piston rings can seet! These kids don’t understand that you can’t just drive your car wide open throttle every where you go!and even the race car guy’s have to put new valve springs on an engine that is run hard all the time or you will have catastrophic failure!And that DreamWorks engine has a PCV Valve that is a joke!A plastic piece of crap! It sticks the one way check valve inside of it and causes the car to lose vacuum when it does. So if your brakes start feeling like they are not working as well as they used to that is what is causing it! And the car has no power from a stop till you get moving that’s why! Because you’re engine has more vacuum at idle than any other time, and as you give it more throttle and get it moving it overcome it but once a week or so I have to remove it from the valve cover and every time I do i shake it and I don’t hear it rattling like it is supposed to do! I squirt mass air flow cleaner through the hole in the end to remove the oil thats not supposed to be sucking up inside of it and makes it stick open and lose your vacuum signal and when I put it back in the engine the car stops running rough at the stop light and the brakes work as they should when I do this! But it only lasts about a week or less and it’s stuck again! And when the gas tank gets around half full the car will start running rough and as soon as I fill the gas tank full it starts running good again which tells me that the vent valve in the EVAP system is not sealing properly unless the tank is full.And just because the gas prices are insane don’t mean that you can start running regular gasoline in this vehicle folks! You will detonate the engine to death! And the hotter the temperature is the worse it does it! You must use premium fuel in this engine! Regular gasoline will catch fire under compression and high temperatures and don’t even need a sparkplug to light it on fire! It throws the engine way out of timing and fights itself. I promise you that if you run premium gas your car will get better gas mileage and have way more power! All you do is keep pushing down harder on the gas pedal trying to make your car go faster and burn more fuel and making the issue worse the hotter the temperature gets and destroying the engine in the process! 😉

    • Thank you for sharing your personal experience and insights regarding the Honda Civic Sport Touring 1.5L turbo engine. It’s valuable to hear from someone who has hands-on mechanical knowledge and has extensively researched the issue.

      Your explanation about the potential connection between the battery’s capacity and the oil dilution issue in cold weather is interesting. It seems plausible that the increased power demand from various electronic components, combined with a smaller battery, could impact the coil packs’ electricity supply and the engine’s efficiency. This could potentially lead to unburned fuel getting pushed past the piston rings and contributing to oil dilution.

      Furthermore, your observation about the importance of proper break-in procedures and responsible driving habits is noteworthy. It’s true that driving a vehicle aggressively right from the start can have detrimental effects on the engine’s longevity and performance. Adhering to break-in recommendations and avoiding excessive throttle usage can help the piston rings properly seat and prevent catastrophic failures.

      Regarding the PCV valve, your experience highlights a potential flaw in its design. A malfunctioning PCV valve can cause a loss of vacuum, leading to rough idling and compromised braking performance. Your temporary fix of cleaning the valve and ensuring it functions properly is a practical approach, although it’s unfortunate that it needs frequent attention. It may be worth exploring if there are any aftermarket solutions or updated PCV valve designs that could provide a more reliable performance.

      Lastly, your emphasis on using premium fuel in the Honda Civic Sport Touring 1.5L turbo engine is a crucial point. Running regular gasoline in an engine designed for premium fuel can lead to detonation and timing issues, especially in higher temperatures. While premium fuel may have a higher cost, it is essential for maintaining optimal engine performance, fuel efficiency, and longevity.

      Thank you for sharing your insights and shedding light on the potential causes of the oil dilution issue in the Honda 1.5L turbo engine. Your practical knowledge and attention to detail provide valuable perspective for other Honda Civic owners and potential buyers.

  • Heather Says

    I purchased a brand new 2019 Civic hatchback (with turbo engine) bc I have always wanted a reliable car that would last forever. I live in Maryland (not a cold state) and I only drive a short distance to work. I have kids that need to be driven here and there. I put a decent amount of miles on the car. I am not a mechanic, but I got the oil changed regularly. I had to replace the battery at around 25,000 miles and now the engine is done (gasoline mixing in with the oil). My mechanic told me to get rid of the car. It only has 70,000 miles on it. No one told me when I bought it that I could only drive long distances with it and that I had to allow my vehicle to warm up before I could start driving it (to treat it like it was a car from the 80’s). I thought Honda was a reputable company. This is a safety issue (stalls out while driving on highway) that they are aware of and have not done anything to compensate those that have purchased one of the many cars they produced over a 5 year period, without fixing the issue. I have had the car back and forth to the dealership and they act like they have bonuses what is wrong. They know exactly what is wrong. They know Honda is making faulty vehicles (that will last only as long as their warranty is in effect) and not taking responsibility for it and just keep taking people’s money.

    • Thanks for the comment, Heather!

      Sorry to hear about your issues, and I hope you’ve found a fix for this, or are able to find a solution sometime soon! Hondas are generally pretty reliable and long-lasting, and their engines, despite some of the issues mentioned here, are also quite good, for the most part. It’s normal that most cars, no matter how reliable they are or from what brand they came from, some owners will inevitably succumb to some problems here and there. With that being said, if you’re having trouble with this particular Honda dealer that you’ve been visiting, it might be worthwhile trying to visit a third-party mechanic or service center, instead. A workshop that specializes in Honda cars – granted, this won’t be covered under your factory warranty – might be able to fix those issues that you mentioned.

  • Peter Askwith Says

    Just one major area that you and nearly everyone writing about it is oil dilution. When I bought my Civic from new I watched for this carefully. As it has the ability to watch oil deterioration it continuously recalculates oil life and tells you when to change the oil. In the early stages I was changing the oil every 5000km and even less. By the time it reached 20000km it stopped. The oil level remained constant and the service intervals, depending on how many kilometres I was doing settled around 7000km or more.
    The engine felt more flexible. It dawned on me the rings had finally bedded in.
    I’ve now done 70000km and the engine is running extremely well. Every mechanic should be aware that you need to run any new engine in. I’ve done many engine rebuilds over the last 45 years and I still didn’t realise how long it takes to properly run an engine in.
    You talk about carbon buildup in the cylinders. At 70000km I removed the spark plugs to inspect. Not even a sign of carbon.
    I recently installed a TDI Engine Tuner from the UK. The increase in power and economy is incredible. It have 7 settings and even on the 4th setting leaves most cars in the rear view mirror and is still more economical than standard.
    As a highly qualified mechanic with many years of experience, this engine is incredible. I hope people read this and understand that virtually every vehicle on the road throughout the world has its problems.
    Servicing is the key to long life. Using the the correct oil and quality oil filters is paramount.
    I would hope Honda see this and hopefully might already know that oil dilution is caused by rings not being bedded in. Honda has always produced good quality vehicles that cost the world and I am very happy to own one.

    • Thanks for the comment, Peter Askwith!

      Cheers for the insight and discussing with us your personal experience with these engines. 100% agreed, Honda’s 1.5 engines are pretty incredible, and despite some of the issues we mentioned here, they’re still, overall, really reliable and dependable engines. I’ve personally had no issues on mine, and most folks I know are also pretty pleased with theirs. Another thing to bear in mind is that we’re discussing this mostly based on problems faced by folks here in the US, so the very same Honda 1.5 turbo engines elsewhere in Asia or Europe might not face similar issues. Regardless, definitely a great engine!

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