So you are thinking of buying a Honda Vezel? It is a good car, no doubt, but it has its share of problems and before you decide to buy one, here are some of the things that you should know. Some of these things also apply on Honda Fit so if you are buying that, keep reading.
Let’s talk a little bit about the car first. Vezel is a crossover SUV by Honda and comes with a 1500cc internal combustion engine combined with Honda’s hybrid technology. The engine is mated to Honda’s infamous 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Honda Vezel is an import; meaning it is not being offered officially by Honda Pakistan. And that means no local support by the company. And that leads to most of issues that Vezel owners have been facing since its import start back in 2015-2016.
The Vezel is a lovely car to drive, and that is mostly thanks to its dual clutch transmission. But that clutch comes with a whole host of troubles if you are not careful or don’t know how to maintain it. Let me explain the clutch a little before we move forward.
Basically you get two clutches in a single housing. One clutch is responsible for engaging odd number gears like 1,3, 5, and 7. And on the other hand the other clutch is responsible for even gears, like 2, 4, and 6. This allows the car to shift incredibly faster compared to a manual car or a car with a conventional automatic transmission. The gears are aligned and ready one after the other making shifting instantaneous and smooth.
Another important thing to know about Honda’s dual clutch is that it is a dry dual clutch unlike wet dual clutch that comes in various Chinese crossover SUVs now. Wet clutch, like you get in your 70 motorcycle. Clutch is basically submerged in fluid. Dry clutch shifts faster than a wet clutch.
This all sounds great so where is the problem, you might be thinking? Well the thing is this technology is relatively new. Although the concept of dual clutch has been around for a long time, like almost a century. But this implementation by Honda is relatively new. The Vezel and new dual clutch Honda Fit were introduced only 10-12 years ago making the dual clutch transmissions being in infancy. There is only so much bench and lab testing a company can do. The real life road usage is the true test and brings out the actual problems a component has.
There are still teething problems, from both the mechanical as well as software/electrical aspects.
The operating behaviour of the clutch changes drastically when the operating environment changes; from temperatures to stress to usage to general condition of the clutch and any software malfunctions. Any sensor code and your clutch can throw a fit.
How you drive the car can seriously affect the life of the clutch. Overheating it is the major reason for its demise. Overstressing it, especially when you are going to hilly areas, can overheat the clutch discs. Do not hold the car on inclines with the clutch and transmission. Instead use a brake hold feature for that. Do not try to launch the car by rev building. First of all, it is not a race car, you should not be launching it anyway. Secondly, cars that come with a launch control option have software to accommodate that. Building revs while holding the brake and engaging the clutch will ruin it badly. And just the fact it gets 50 degree Celsius in various regions of Pakistan can itself exponentially wear the clutch out due to excessive heat.
Then there is routine maintenance as well. The clutch actuator oil needs replacement every 10 to 15k kms. The actuators engage and disengage gears. And for that, dot 4 brake fluid is used. Some of you might already know that brake fluid is hygroscopic. It means it attracts and retains water. And water is not good for rubber seals. The actuators mostly need to be electronically calibrated by Honda’s proprietary software (HDS) after fluid change. And that service can cost like 10k depending on your service provider. Some people just use syringes to change the fluid but that is not recommended.
The transmission itself is kinda delicate and if the clutch decides to give up, it can severely damage the transmission unit itself. The transmission oil needs to be replaced every 40,000 km and Honda’s own DW-1 transmission fluid should be used. The DW-1 Ultra, can cost more than Rs 10,000 just for the 4-litre tin can.
The dual clutch itself is a seriously expensive part to replace. Brand new clutches can cost like 3 to 4 lacs depending on the market. Used clutches are somewhere around 200k. There are cheap alternatives where the internal bearings and seals are replaced locally by your friendly neighbourhood kharadia (machinist) but that is never a good option and it can leave you stranded.
Then there is suspension of the car. This is something that is related to almost all Japanese imported cars since the suspension of these cars are designed for the Japanese roads and not the “khadoun wali roads” we have in pakistan. Add bigger wheels with low profile tyres to the mix and you get a recipe for a worn out suspension. The suspension wears out relatively quickly on our roads and replacing shocks and bushing can be an expensive job. Depending on the parts you are using, it can cost you anywhere from 50k to 100k. So when buying a used Vezel, make sure you take it on a rough road and listen for all the thumps and jitters it makes. Too much noise means it needs suspension overhauling.
This is mostly due to the big alloys and low profile tyres that come standard on Vezel cars but it is also somewhat related to the suspension of the car as well. The impact of all the bumps and jumps transfers directly to the steering box and there is very little suppression that you otherwise get from bigger tyres on bad and rough roads. Steering box takes all the beating of rough terrain due to the unsprung weight of the wheels and tyres. The suspension of the Vezel is more sports orientated than comfort orientated. That also adds to the suspension wearing out quickly and the steering box taking all the abuse of the worn out suspension.
Replacing the steering rack is expensive. Anywhere from 30k to 50k depending on the replacement part you are getting.
This is something which we cannot do anything about. There have been a handful of recalls by Honda in Japan but since those recalls are only for Japanese markets, that means all the Vezels and Fits imported here in Pakistan won’t be able to benefit from them and we continue driving those vehicles with those faults. Honda Japan did a major recall in 2012 and subsequently many others since then addressing various issues including software that operates dual clutches, hybrid battery management and the hybrid drivetrain itself. And now since all those cars are here, no way we can get them fixed. There are third party service providers that offer software upgrades but it can be either expensive or simply not possible for everyone to get them due to the location. Also, there is no guarantee that those upgrades are in sequential order addressing each problem one by one or just cherry picked upgrades that won’t solve the problems from the root.
So there some of the notorious and known issues that have plagued Honda Vezel and its owners since the beginning. If you own a Vezel, and have experienced any of these or some other issue with your car, share it with us in the comments section below.