USA TODAY US Edition
NHTSA: Airbags in older Hondas make cars too dangerous to drive
The U.S. government and Honda are taking the unusual step of telling owners of certain older model Honda cars and SUVS to stop driving them and immediately have them repaired because defective airbags make them dangerous.
“We want to get them off the road,” Honda spokesman Marcos Frommer says. “We want them to drive them right to the dealer and get them repaired,”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the warning Thursday covering about 313,000 vehicles from model years 2001 to 2003 that have airbag inflators made by Takata, the Japanese auto supplier whose airbags already are the subject of the largest recall in history.
The urgent warning issued by NHTSA on Thursday relates to the 2001 to 2002 Honda Civic and Accord; the 2002 to 2003 Acura TL; the 2002 CR-V and Odyssey; and 2003 Pilot and Acura CL
The air bag inflators in the ve- hicles “contain a manufacturing defect which greatly increases the potential for dangerous rupture,” NHTSA said in a statement.
The agency said new testing data revealed rupture rates as high as 50%. Ruptures are far more likely in inflators in vehicles that spent significant periods of time in areas of high absolute humidity, particularly Florida, Texas and other parts of the Gulf Coast.
Frommer said about 70% of the most critical vehicles, the ones with inflators most likely to rupture, have been repaired. He says there are hundreds of thousands, however, that need to be brought in.
After blanketing owners with mailers, texts, ads and other means to try to reach them, he says Honda has gone as far as hiring private detectives to try to find stray cars and their owners.
“It’s challenging,” Frommer says. “It’s one by one now.”
Jeff Conrad, general manager of the Honda division, says the brand is now ahead of other automakers getting repairs done on cars with Takata air bags. “One of the first considerations we have on anything on air bags is taking care of the customer,” he says.
Drivers of these vehicles should immediately visit www.SaferCar.gov to check whether their vehicle has any outstanding safety recalls. Those that do should contact their nearest dealer to schedule a no-cost immediate repair.
“The air bag inflators in this particular group of vehicles pose a grave danger to drivers and passengers that must be fixed right away.” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind