U.S. auto safety investigators are investigating whether Honda Motor Co. should recall 320,000 minivans for air bag problems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is opening a preliminary investigation into whether 320,000 2003-04 Honda Odyssey minivans should be recalled.
NHTSA has received six consumer complaints on 2003-04 Honda Odyssey vehicles from owners alleging frontal air bags suddenly deployed without a crash. Three of the six owners also alleged they sustained injury from the incident. All six owners stated that their vehicles were on the roadway when the air bag deployment occurred. In addition, NHTSA has received an additional 41 consumer complaints alleging the vehicle’s air bag warning light illuminated.
The issue initially came up in 2011, when NHTSA was investigating inadvertent air bag deployments in Chrysler vehicles, the electronic air bag module supplier reported that some 2003-04 Honda Odyssey vehicles use the same application-specific integrated circuit component within the airbag control module. In February, Chrysler Group LLC said it was recalling 3,660 2003-04 Viper cars to fix airbags that could deploy without warning. In October, Chrysler recalled more than 920,000 vehicles worldwide over the issue after 215 reports of improper airbag deployments and 93 minor injuries — and nearly 750,000 in the United States. The earlier recall included the 2002-03 Jeep Liberty SUV and 2002-04 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Honda has been in talks with NHTSA for months but said the electronic circuits in its air bags are not faring the same as Chrysler vehicles.
“Since no accident or property damage caused by air bag deployment of the driver frontal air bag has been reported, and the occurrence rate is extremely low, Honda will continue to handle these claims on a case-by-case basis, per usual practice,” Honda said in a letter to NHTSA in December.
Toyota Motor Corp. in January agreed to recall nearly 900,000 vehicles —2003-2004 Corolla/Matrix and Pontiac Vibe cars — for similar air bag problems “and will utilize a similar remedy to that of Chrysler consisting of adding an in-line noise filter to its air bag wire harness,” NHTSA said.
Honda said it found 126 air bag deployments in non-crash situations for frontal, side impact and/or side curtain air bag deployments across four models and 800,000 vehicles, NHTSA said, but no more than 25 of those are from frontal air bags.
“The remaining involved less aggressive non-frontal ABIDs mainly stemming from side sensors that trigger side and/or side curtain air bags upon undercarriage debris strike or heavy door slams. The Honda rates are lower than those from the recalled Liberty and Toyota models, and with the exception of the MY 2002-2003 Odyssey, the other Honda models’ failure mode/trend was also less severe. ODI will continue to monitor the affected Honda models,” NHTSA said.
NHTSA will decide whether its investigation should be upgraded to an engineering analysis. Not all investigations result in recalls.
Source: Detroit News