Honda Motor Company recently announced it is recalling more than 870,000 Minivans and SUVs worldwide, because the vehicles can roll away even though drivers have removed the keys from the ignition. The recalls includes 807,000 vehicles in the United States and another 63,000 vehicles in other countries. The United States recall will include about 318,000 2003-2004 model Honda Odysseys, 259,000 Honda Pilots, and about 230,000 2003-2008 Acura MDX vehicles, all with automatic transmissions. The recall primarily affects older-model vehicles sold in the United States. These vehicles had become major sellers with families due to their generous space and reputation for quality.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary investigation into the 2003-2004 Honda Pilot and Odyssey After receiving 42 complaints alleging mechanical failures and 26 rollaway vehicles. Complaints indicated that ignition interlock failures caused the rollaway vehicles. The ignition cylinder park-shift interlock is supposed to prevent the key from being removed from the vehicle until the transmission is shifted to park. This mechanism can wear out or become damaged during use, resulting in drivers being able to remove the keys without the automatic transmission shift lever being put in park. There have been 16 allegations of vehicles only coming to a stop when the vehicle finally struck an object. Objects included fences, trees, mailboxes, a pole, a landscape retaining wall 600 feet away, and a brick mailbox two blocks away. Other reports stated some vehicles only came to a rest after hitting multiple parked cars.
The most serious injury reported occurred in California, when an owner tripped while trying to stop a 2003 Odyssey that began rolling backwards after being parked on a sloped driveway. The driver’s left leg was run over by the front tire, resulting in a broken leg and crush injuries on the shin area. Another owner said she was knocked down while trying to get in the moving vehicle to stop it.
As we have reported, problems with ignition switches have plagued Honda for several years. Honda has stated that the current recall is not related to the prior series of recalls for rollaway vehicles. However, prior recalls were due to similar interlock failures as the current recall. In 2003, Honda recalled 563,000 vehicles due to ignition interlock defects, which included the 1999 Odyssey, 1997-1999 Acura TL, and the 1999-2001 Accord vehicles.
In 2005, Honda recalled another 483,000 vehicles over the same issue. Honda said in 2005 it was redesigning the interlock system because the vehicles allowed drivers to remove the key from the ignition without first shifting to park. In September 2008, NHTSA received 15 complaints alleging 10 crashes regarding the Accord. In August 2010, Honda recalled another 384,000 vehicles due to ignition interlock failures.
Owners of the recalled vehicles are to be notified in February. Honda dealers will repair the ignition interlock systems free of charge. Owners of the affected model year vehicles can find out if their vehicles need repair by visiting the online website www.recalls.honda.com and www.recalls.acura.com. Honda owners can also call (800) 999-1009, and Acura owners can call (8008) 382-2238. The recalls mentioned above will be mentioned in the Recall Section of this issue.
Sources: Shepardson, David. Honda Recalls 870,000 Vehicles for Rollaway Problem. The Detroit News. (Dec. 12, 2012) available at http://www.detroitnews.com/article/ 20121213/AUTO01/212130341/1121/auto01/Honda–870K-SUVs-recalled-for-rolling-issue (last visited Dec. 13, 2012).; Krisher, Tom. Honda Recalls More than 870,000 Minivans and SUVs; and The Associated Press.
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