Honda Fit: Common Issues & Diagnosis

Overview of the Honda Fit

The Honda Fit, also known as the Honda Jazz in some markets, is a subcompact car that has been manufactured and sold by Honda since 2001. First introduced in Japan in 2001, it went on sale in North America for the 2007 model year. The Fit has had four generations so far:

  • First generation (2001–2008)
  • Second generation (2009–2014)
  • Third generation (2015–2020)
  • Fourth generation (2020–present)

As of 2021, Honda has sold over 6 million Fit/Jazz models worldwide since its launch. In the United States, it was the second best selling subcompact car in 2019 with over 36,000 units sold. The Fit is known for its excellent fuel economy, interior space utilization and flexibility. Key features include:

  • 1.3L and 1.5L 4-cylinder engines available
  • 5-speed manual or CVT automatic transmissions offered
  • EPA estimated 30-36 mpg combined fuel economy
  • “Magic Seat” rear seats fold flat for maximum cargo space
  • Roomy interior despite small overall size

The Honda Fit has proven a versatile and practical small car choice for many buyers looking for good gas mileage and interior flexibility over its production history.

Most Common Honda Fit Problems

The Honda Fit is generally a reliable vehicle, but like any car, it has had its share of common issues. Three areas where problems often arise on the Honda Fit are the engine, transmission, and suspension/steering.

On the engine side, some of the most reported issues include:1

  • Misfiring and ignition coil failure, often causing the check engine light to come on
  • Oil leaks from various points like the valve cover gasket or oil pump
  • Engine stalling and failure typically from lack of maintenance

The automatic transmission on Fits is another common trouble spot. Problems include:2

  • Hard shifting between gears and jerky acceleration
  • Transmission fluid leaks
  • Complete transmission failure in severe cases

Finally, the suspension and steering components can wear out prematurely. Some of the issues are:2

  • Worn tie rod ends causing steering wander and looseness
  • Faulty wheel bearings leading to noise when turning
  • Alignment issues from failing suspension parts

Paying attention to these common problem areas, addressing issues early, and regular maintenance can help minimize headaches with a Honda Fit.

Check Engine Light

One of the most common issues with the Honda Fit is the dreaded check engine light coming on. This indicator light can alert you to many different problems under the hood.

Potential causes for the check engine light include faulty oxygen sensors, a loose gas cap, bad spark plugs, issues with the emissions system, and more. Often the light comes on due to a minor problem, but the only way to know for sure is to scan for trouble codes.

To diagnose the issue, you’ll want to connect an OBD-II scanner to pull any diagnostic trouble codes. This will point you in the direction of the system or component that is causing the problem. From there, you can inspect those parts and make any necessary repairs.

Some of the most common Honda Fit trouble codes are P0141 (oxygen sensor issue), P0420 (catalytic converter problem), P0301 (cylinder 1 misfire), P0302 (cylinder 2 misfire), and P0303 (cylinder 3 misfire). Refer to repair guides to understand the meaning of the code and proper repair procedures.

Overheating Issues

Overheating is a common issue in the Honda Fit, often caused by a failing cooling system. Some common causes include:

Faulty radiator – Radiators can develop leaks over time which reduces coolant levels leading to overheating. Replacing the radiator is recommended if it is cracked or has visible leaks. According to this FitFreak forum post, overheating can also be caused by a stuck closed thermostat that prevents coolant from circulating.

Failing water pump – The water pump circulates engine coolant through the cooling system. A worn pump impeller or leaking seals can reduce flow leading to overheating. Replacement of the water pump is advised if it is making noise or leaking.

Bad radiator cap – If the radiator cap fails to hold pressure, it will cause coolant loss and overheating. Replacing the cap is recommended if it does not seal properly.

To diagnose overheating, check the coolant level, look for leaks, and monitor operating temperature. If temperature rises above normal, visually inspect components like the radiator, water pump, hoses and thermostat. Pressure test the cooling system and radiator cap to check for leaks. Replace any failing components that are allowing coolant loss or lack of circulation.

Transmission Problems

The Honda Fit’s CVT (continuously variable transmission) is one of the most common sources of problems for this model. Transmission issues typically start appearing around 60,000 miles, with many owners reporting complete transmission failure between 80,000-100,000 miles [1]. Symptoms of a failing CVT transmission include shuddering, slipping, hesitation, and trouble accelerating [2].

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to have the transmission inspected and diagnosed by a professional mechanic. They can hook the Fit up to a diagnostic scanner to pull any trouble codes and assess the health of the transmission. A transmission fluid flush and filter change may help prolong the life of a deteriorating transmission, but often a complete rebuild or replacement is necessary.

The typical cost to replace a Honda Fit’s CVT transmission ranges from $1800-$3000 for parts and labor. It’s recommended to replace your Fit’s transmission fluid every 30,000 miles as preventative maintenance. But once you notice signs of transmission problems, it’s usually too late to simply flush the old fluid. At that point replacement is needed to get your Honda Fit reliably back on the road.

Suspension and Steering Issues

Some common suspension and steering issues on the Honda Fit involve worn tie rod ends, ball joints, and bushings. As these components wear out, it can lead to loose steering, uneven tire wear, wheel alignment issues, and steering wander or pulling to one side [1].

To inspect the suspension system, have a technician put the Fit on a lift and check for any looseness or play in the tie rods, ball joints, control arm bushings, and struts. Visually inspecting the tires for uneven wear can also indicate worn suspension components. Any steering wander, vibration, or pulling should be addressed promptly to avoid further wear on tires and other steering components.

Getting a wheel alignment and balancing the tires are important maintenance items, especially after hitting potholes or curbs which can knock the wheels out of alignment. Aligning the wheels ensures proper tracking and handling, while balancing distributes weight evenly across the tires for a smooth ride and reduced vibrations [2].

Electrical Issues

Electrical issues are common in Honda Fits, especially as they age.

Some of the most common electrical problems are related to the battery, alternator, and starter. Issues include the battery not holding a charge, the alternator failing to charge the battery, and difficulty starting due to a bad starter or faulty relay. Checking the charging system with a voltmeter and replacing parts as needed can often resolve these issues. Periodically testing the battery with a load tester can identify a weak battery before it leaves you stranded.

Faulty dashboard lights and gauges are another common electrical complaint in Honda Fits. Burned out bulbs, faulty sensors, wiring issues, and failed printed circuit boards can all cause various warning lights, gauges, and infotainment screens to malfunction. Careful diagnosis is key to pinpointing the root cause before replacing parts. Using a scan tool to check for diagnostic trouble codes can provide a starting point.

Intermittent electrical faults and shorts can also cause a variety of electrical gremlins. These issues may cause the check engine light to illuminate, features like power windows or locks to stop working, or even lead to complete electrical system failure. Methodically checking fuses, wiring harnesses, switches, and connectors can often identify the short. Forums like FitFreak contain many reports of Honda Fit owners tracking down difficult-to-diagnose electrical shorts.

Noisy Operation

A common complaint among Honda Fit owners is noisy operation, including loud engine noises, wheel bearing issues, and interior rattles. Analyzing the type of noise can help diagnose the root cause.

The Honda Fit’s 1.5L 4-cylinder engine is known to develop a loud ticking noise from the valve train that is especially noticeable on cold starts. This can be caused by low oil pressure or problems with the VTEC system and should be inspected by a mechanic. Fits may also exhibit noisy timing chains and tensioners, especially as they accumulate mileage. Refer to this Reddit thread for more on diagnosing engine noises:

Noisy wheel bearings are another common problem on the Fit. Listen for rumbling, roaring and grinding noises that get louder with speed, especially when turning. Replacements may be needed, as discussed on the FitFreak forums:

Interior rattles and squeaks can also annoy Fit owners. The hatchback body is prone to rattling from the rear cargo area. Inspect for loose items, and use insulation pads or foam tape on plastic trim pieces to eliminate noises. Headliners may also sag and buzz; use adhesive strips to re-secure loose sections.

Brake Issues

The brake system is one of the most important systems in your Honda Fit, so it’s crucial to watch for any signs of problems and address them promptly. Here are some of the most common brake issues in the Honda Fit:

Warning Signs of Brake Problems

Some warning signs that your Honda Fit’s brakes may need attention include:

  • Squealing, grinding or groaning noises when braking – this often indicates worn brake pads
  • Vibrations through the brake pedal or steering wheel when braking – can point to warped rotors
  • Longer stopping distances – if you have to press the brake pedal closer to the floor to stop, your brakes may be failing
  • Brake fluid leaks – look under your Honda Fit for any puddles or dripping from the brake lines

Inspecting Brake Pads and Rotors

The brake pads and rotors should be visually inspected approximately every 10,000 miles or 12 months for signs of excessive wear according to Honda Fit forums. Look through the wheels for the thickness of the brake pads. If they are getting thin or you see metal, it’s time to replace them. Rotors should be replaced when deeply scored or warped.

Bleeding the Brake System

Air trapped in the brake lines can cause a soft, spongy brake pedal feel. Bleeding the brake system according to Honda’s procedures pushes the old brake fluid and any air bubbles out. It’s recommended to replace brake fluid every 3 years.

Checking for warning signs, inspecting the brake components, and bleeding the system regularly helps avoid many common Honda Fit brake problems.

Preventative Maintenance

Regular preventative maintenance can help extend the life of your Honda Fit. Following the factory maintenance schedule outlined in your owner’s manual is crucial for optimal performance and reliability.

Some of the most important services include:

  • Oil and filter changes every 5,000-7,500 miles (source)
  • Inspecting brake pads/rotors, tires, and replacing fluid like coolant and transmission fluid at recommended intervals (source)
  • Checking suspension components, hoses, and belts for wear
  • Replacing the spark plugs around 100,000 miles
  • Flushing automatic transmission fluid every 60,000-100,000 miles

Following the factory maintenance schedule for your Honda Fit will help identify issues early and ensure optimal engine, transmission and brake performance. This preventative approach can help avoid costly repairs down the road.

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