Feds Tell Honda to Expand Recall; Disclose Information

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Honda has expanded its recall of vehicles equipped with Takata-made airbags as it faced a new round of questions.

Honda, Japan’s third-largest automaker, has expanded the scope of its recall of vehicles equipped with suspect Takata airbags to include 2001-2006 products. No specific number of vehicles was recalled at the time by the manufacturer.

According to Reuters, the automaker’s action, upgrading its “safety campaign” to a formal recall, comes in the wake of Honda’s second appearance before highway safety regulators who are seeking more information on Honda’s airbag program. Regulators have questioned the automaker’s representatives under oath asking for information regarding the faulty airbags.

Honda, Takata’s largest airbag customer, in announcing the expansion of the program, noted it was “not aware of any claimed injuries or fatalities that have been confirmed” related to this issue. However, while the automaker was not aware of fatalities or injuries other sources have noted the four fatalities have been attributed to Hondas equipped with Takata-made airbags. And, at least 10 injuries have also been attributed to the airbags.

Honda, in expanding its recall program, targeted vehicles in high-humidity areas. The airbag fault occurs primarily in vehicles that were sold in warm and humid areas such as the Gulf Coast, South Florida, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and other Pacific territories. The fault involves deterioration of the airbag inflator. Over time, the inflator deteriorates so that when deployment occurs, the blast used to inflate the airbags also blasts the inflator housing apart. In turn, the pieces of the inflator housing scythe through the passenger compartment causing serious injury or death to those in the way.

The latest expansion of Honda’s recall program affects vehicles that have previous been involved in three other recall programs. In at least two of those recalls, a total of 1.5 million Hondas were recalled. In June, the automaker recalled about 1 million vehicles and last year the automaker recalled about half-a-million vehicles for the same fault.

Models in Honda’s latest recall include the 2003-05 Honda Accord, 2001-05 Civic, 2002-05 CR-V, 2003-04 Element, 2002-04 Odyssey, 2003-05 Pilot, 2006 Ridgeline, 2003-05 Acura MDX and 2005 Acura RL. Honda dealers will fix the problem for free.

Honda has recalled 7.6 million vehicles for this problem since 2008 nationally. During the same period, the automaker has recalled 9.7 million vehicles. The industry total for this recall has now climbed to 11 million vehicles.

Honda and Takata both indicated that they are cooperating with federal safety officials in this problem, Reuters indicated.

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Marc Stern has spent more than 40 years in and around cars. His work has included answering motorist questions, motor vehicle reviews and evaluation and writing dealers, consumer and industry news pieces. In addition, Mr. Stern has contributed to well-known automotive publications including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek and Old Cars Weekly, among others.

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