On January 31, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation of the 2008 Honda Accord sedan. At the time, the agency had received a total of 28 complaints from consumers who claimed that the Accord's side curtain and/or torso air bags had deployed when they'd shut the car doors.
Apparently, NHTSA's Preliminary Investigation turned up enough evidence to warrant further study of the Accord, because a bulletin posted to NHTSA's website (PDF) indicates that the probe has been upgraded to an Engineering Analysis.
NHTSA's preliminary findings suggest that the Accord sedan's problem may stem from the software governing the electronic control module. For the first several months during which the 2008 model was produced, the software may have used a flawed crash parameter, rendering the airbags more prone to inadvertent deployment. The software was updated in June 2008, and afterward, incidents of accidental airbag deployments dropped significantly. (NHTSA points out that the two-door Accord coupe uses a different crash parameter, which has prevented similar problems.)
Accord sedans manufactured during the first part of the 2008 model year, however, continue to report flaws. NHTSA has logged 37 complaints about the problem, and Honda has received 237, plus 133 warranty claims. Fourteen of those deployments resulted in injuries to passengers.
If NHTSA's Engineering Analysis proves that there is, indeed, a problem with the software on the 2008 Accord, it will likely mean a recall for vehicles manufactured before June 5, 2008 (which is when software on U.S. vehicles was upgraded). Stay tuned.