Honda has made headlines in recent weeks, but the publicity hasn't all been good. The automaker has been accused of shady business practices, and to counter those suggestions, Honda is now adding thousands of vehicles -- potentially hundreds of thousands -- to a more aggressive recall list in the hopes of replacing faulty airbag systems manufactured by Takata.
For years, Honda has been Takata's biggest client. Their close relationship led the Center for Auto Safety to suggest that Honda might be trying to protect its partner by under-reporting airbag failures in its vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration subsequently demanded sworn statements from both Honda and Takata about their relationship and incidents that might not have been reported to the agency.
In light of all that criticism, Honda has agreed to beef up airbag-related repairs. Until now, many of the vehicles equipped with Takata's fatally flawed airbags were being fixed as part of a "safety improvement campaign", which Honda has supervised directly. In a statement to the press, Honda says that it will now shift those vehicles to a full recall campaign, giving NHTSA more oversight.
The vehicles included in the full recall are as follows:
- 2003-2005 Honda Accord
- 2001-2005 Honda Civic
- 2002-2005 Honda CR-V
- 2003-2004 Honda Element
- 2002-2004 Honda Odyssey
- 2003-2005 Honda Pilot
- 2006 Honda Ridgeline
- 2003-2005 Acura MDX
- 2005 Acura RL
Honda doesn't know exactly how many U.S. owners the shift will affect, but given the popularity of some of those models, the number could easily reach the six digits, if not higher.
As before, the recall only affects vehicles that have been sold or registered in areas with persistent, high humidity -- namely, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saipan, Guam, and American Samoa. It is believed that high humidity can affect the ammonium nitrate propellant in Takata's airbag systems, causing the bags to rip upon deployment and shower occupants with shrapnel. The airbags have caused numerous injuries and at least three deaths in the U.S. alone.
Vehicles that have already been repaired under Honda's safety improvement campaign won't be affected, because the fix for the recall is the same: complete replacement of the passenger-side airbag system.
Honda says that it will begin mailing new recall notices to owners in early December. If you believe that you own one of the vehicles affected by this recall and have questions in the meantime, you're encouraged to visit Recalls.Honda.com or Recalls.Acura.com. You can also call Honda customer service at 800-999-1009 or Acura customer service at 800-382-2238 and select option 4.