NHTSA said more than 40 complaints have been filed regarding airbags on the 2003 and ’04 Odyssey models (Honda).
Those are two of at least six known spontaneously-deploying airbag incidents that have led NHTSA to open a preliminary investigation into whether 320,000 Honda Odysseys should be recalled. NHTSA announced the investigation Monday.
Three people were injured in those deployments. The agency said at least 41 other complaints have been filed regarding airbags on the 2003 and ’04 Odyssey models. One of the spontaneous deployments NHTSA cited occurred on an ’01 Odyssey. All six of the cars affected were at least seven years old at the time of their incident.
A Honda spokesperson said the company has been aware of the airbag problem since Chrysler recalled nearly 1 million cars in two separate recalls within the past nine months. The two companies use the same supplier, TRW Automotive.
“Honda has been monitoring this issue since responding to a NHTSA information request involving their investigation of another manufacturer last year,” spokesperson Chris Martin said in a written statement. “Honda will continue to cooperate with NHTSA through the investigation process, and will continue our own internal review.”
Chrysler recalled 744,822 vehicles that contained TRW Automotive parts last November after receiving 215 reports of inadvertent deployments, and followed with a recall of 3,660 cars in February. A spokesperson for the supplier deferred comment to the affected automakers Monday.
Should NHTSA press for a recall on the affected Odysseys, it would be the latest in a long line of airbag-related recalls. Automakers have issued 17 so far this year, and are on pace to eclipse the record 23 airbag-related recalls issued in 2012.
NHTSA announced last week it was investigating whether 400,000 General Motors vehicles needed to be recalled because of a separate airbag problem.
Airbags can be expensive to fix. The woman from Hattiesburg, Miss., said mechanics estimated her car would cost $2,331.22 to repair after its spontaneous deployments. A man who said his airbags spontaneously deployed while he was stopped at a light, said his local Honda dealership quoted him a price of $4,100 for repairs.
The owner, whose name was redacted in the NHTSA complaint, expressed frustration in his dealings with Honda. He said Honda had twice-inspected the car following the incident, but could not pinpoint a cause.
“We left the vehicle at the dealership, asking for more specific documentation on potential causes,” he wrote. “My wife and I believe the airbag deployment was the result of a safety defect, and Honda of America has refused to remedy the situation.”
Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at Peter.Bigelow@teamaol.com and followed @PeterCBigelow.
From all of us at Mobile Tune Up, Smile and Have a Wonderful Friday
Just as your gas mileage will vary depending on where and how you drive, so it goes with the life of brake pads (or linings), the friction material that gets pressed against a metal disc or drum to stop your vehicle.
If you drive only 8,000 miles a year but it’s mainly in a crowded urban area such as Chicago, Boston or Washington, D.C., you will need to replace brake pads more often than someone who drives 28,000 miles a year across the flatlands of Nebraska. You use your brakes a lot more in urban driving than on a rural highway.
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut schedule that tells you when it’s time to replace the brakes, so you need to rely on your ears and the advice of an experienced automotive technician. Most vehicles should have their tires rotated at least every six months, and that is a good time to have the brakes inspected, as well. A mechanic can check the thickness of the pads and the condition of the brake hardware to spot wear.
Many cars have built-in wear sensors that scrape against a brake disc when the linings needed replacing. The driver will hear an annoying screeching sound when they apply the brakes (or when the brakes are released on some vehicles).
Those sensors aren’t on every vehicle, so drivers should listen for squeaks, squeals, grinding (often a sign that brake pads are entirely gone) and other noises that indicate wear. Some minor noises can be eliminated by cleaning the brakes, but persistent, prominent noises usually mean parts are worn. Other signs are pulsations through the brake pedal, longer stopping distances, or when you apply the brakes your foot goes down further, closer to the floor. Because brake linings wear gradually, you may not notice the demise in performance, so that’s where the experienced eye of a mechanic can help.
All cars have a brake warning light that comes on for a few seconds every time you start your car. If it comes on while driving, that probably means your brake system is low on fluid because of a leak or a problem with the brake master cylinder. Note that this is not the same warning light that comes on when you apply the hand- or foot-operated parking brake.
All cars and light trucks also have front disc brakes. Most have rear discs, as well, though some lower-priced cars still come with rear drum brakes. With discs, it has been common practice to just replace the brake pads and resurface the rotors on a lathe if needed so the surface is even and smooth.
In recent years, however, more automakers have switched to rotors that are lighter and thinner to reduce weight and save money. Discs used to last through two or three resurfacings, but don’t be surprised if when it’s time to replace the pads you’re told you also need new rotors. The current ones may not have enough material to be shaved off in resurfacing and may not be as durable as those from, say, 10 or more years ago.
By Rick P.
According to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an important safety feature for child seats is being overlooked by parents and caregivers. All vehicles and car seats made from 2002 onward come with an anchor and strap to keep a car seat from tipping forward, and according to the report, the safety feature is being used just a little more than half the time. In the survey, IIHS examined 479 vehicles that have a forward-facing child restraint installed. The institute found that the top tether and anchor was only used in 56 percent of the vehicles. According to the parents that didn’t use the top tether or anchor, 22 percent weren’t even aware that it was there, 15 percent didn’t know how to use it while 13 percent didn’t have enough time to connect it. Ten percent believed that it wasn’t important or necessary and 9 percent were unsure of where to attach it. Lastly, 8 percent of those surveyed didn’t know they even had an anchor. The top tether is part of the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. The lower anchors are typically used more often while the top anchor is often ignored as evident in the study. Perhaps what’s even worse, in 31 percent of the instances that the top anchor was used, the child seat was improperly installed.[Source: Consumer Reports]