As part of the ongoing problems with faulty and extremely dangerous Takata airbags, on Monday, the Honda Motor Company issued a voluntary recall of an additional 1.4 million vehicles to fix those faulty safety features.
In a recall that has now gone on for more than four years now and targeted more than 50 million airbags in about 40 million vehicles from 19 different manufacturers, including cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. As of now, there have been 16 reported deaths and 250 reported injuries due to explosions in these airbags in the United States, with 23 deaths and more than 300 injuries worldwide.
What Causes Takata Airbag Explosions?
The airbags in question have inflators that use ammonium nitrate to inflate the airbag in an accident. Sometimes, the ammonium nitrate can cause the inflator to explode and send metal shrapnel through the cab at high speed and right at the driver and passengers. As a result, the shrapnel has the potential to cause serious injury or even death.
This latest recall covers both Honda and Acura vehicles and is the fourth in a series of five recalls mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in 2016 as a way to get as many of these vehicles as possible off the road as quickly as possible. This recall represents an attempt by Honda to get ahead of the curve on the recall schedule.
The inflators seem to be degrading and the degradation is causing the inflators to explode. The inflators seem to degrade most in hot, humid climates and this recall is part of an effort by Honda and the NHTSA to spread out the effort to replace Takata airbag inflators and to focus on those regions of the country with the hottest, most humid weather, as a way to eliminate the greatest risk to drivers and passengers.
Which Vehicles Are Involved?
The vehicles included in this phase of the recall include the following:
- 2010-2012 Acura RL cars
- 2011-2014 Acura TSX cars and TSX station wagons
- 2011-2013 Acura ZDX hatchbacks
- 2010-2012 Honda Accord cars
- 2011 Honda Civic cars
- 2010-2015 Honda Crosstour hatchbacks
- 2010-2011 Honda CR-V SUVs
- 2010-2011 Honda Element SUVs
- 2014 Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell cars
- 2011-2014 Honda Fit and Fit electric vehicles
- 2010-2015 Honda Pilot SUVs
- 2010-2014 Honda Insight hybrid cars
- 2010-2013 Honda Ridgeline pickup trucks
In their recall announcement, Honda noted they decided to take this action in advance of the NHTSA’s planned expansion date in late Dec. 2018. They did so because the company feels it has made significant progress with existing recall repairs, touting a 77.7 percent recall completion rate as of Sept. 14, 2018. Honda claimed there was now a “sufficient supply” of replacement parts to address the recalls now. Honda noted that the current airbag recall only involves front passenger airbags and does not include drivers-side airbags at this time.
A Second Honda Recall and What to Do Next
The timing of the recall is also likely related to a second recall the company issued at the same time. On the same day, the Honda Motor Company recalled more than 232,000 vehicles, including 2018 Accord sedans and 2019 Insight hybrid vehicles because of a software glitch that could result in the backup camera becoming disabled.
According to the statement released by Honda, “Due to incorrect software programming, the center screen that normally displays the rear-view image may not provide the image during backing events following certain usage scenarios, even after the vehicle is restarted.” They noted there have been no accidents or injury related to the camera software problem as yet, but they decided to issue the recall out of “an abundance of caution.”
For the Takata recall. Honda will notify the owners of affected vehicles and consumers will be instructed to go to the closest Honda dealer, who will replace the front passenger side airbag inflator free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on or around Nov. 13, 2018. Again, the cars in the recall were determined based on manufacturing records, combined with the region of the country where the vehicle is located.
As for the rearview camera recall, because rearview camera systems are mandatory on all vehicles built after May 2018, they are considered vehicle safety devices and owners of affected vehicles should schedule an appointment with a Honda dealer to have the software reprogrammed as soon as possible.