Honda Odyssey Under Investigation For Airbags That Spontaneously Deploy

NHTSA examining whether 320,000 cars need to be recalled

20130610_honda-odyssey_NHTSA said more than 40 complaints have been filed regarding airbags on the 2003 and ’04 Odyssey models (Honda).

A grandmother sat in a parked Honda Odyssey waiting for her granddaughter to come out of a tutoring class in Hattiesburg, Miss., when an airbag in the vehicle spontaneously deployed.No accident. No impact. But the random deployment on May 8, 2012 sent her to the hospital, where doctors stitched her upper lip and dentists repaired several chipped teeth.Four months later, another Honda Odyssey driver endured a similar incident. She had just placed the gearshift in ‘drive’ and the driver’s-side and passenger-side frontal airbags spontaneously deployed. There had been no accident, nor impact.An off-duty police officer witnessed the spontaneous deployment and helped the victim, who had suffered minor powder burns. He noted the airbag-firing mechanisms were still in motion.”I’ve seen a lot of wrecks, but I’ve never seen the airbags continue to fire,” he said of the Sept. 8, 2012 incident, according to a complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The horn continued to beep.”

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.

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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.

Filed under: Auto RecallsHonda News
By John Hoffner • June 11, 2013 • 7:33 pm • Leave a comment

Knowing When To Replace Your Brake Pads

brake descriptionJust 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.

cars.com

 

 

 

By John Hoffner • May 2, 2013 • 4:31 pm • Leave a comment

Child Seat Anchors Overlooked by Parents

Baby Seat Belt

Baby Seat Belt

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]
By John Hoffner • • 11:27 am • Leave a comment

Trip Inspection

North Americans love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than the road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it’s great! But there’s nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.

Now you can’t always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle’s perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding byways or super-highways? Mountains or plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How many miles will you travel? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Lugging a trailer or roof top carrier? Will it be dusty?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you can start a trip inspection to help you prepare your Houston vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Houston customers prefer to go through this exercise with an automotive service advisor at Mobile Tune Up and Repair to get their input and make sure they haven’t left anything out.

A great place to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job – you wouldn’t want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure.

Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you’ll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that’s pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous.

And don’t forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection before you leave.

Moving under the hood, have your belts and hoses inspected. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Your engine air filter will be important. For every gallon of gas you burn, your car will filter and use 12,000 gallons of air. If the filter needs to be changed, you’ll notice the fuel savings on your trip.

How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it’s due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don’t need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.

Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it’s an exhaust leak it could be fatal on a long trip. Of course you’ll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren’t getting the cold air you used to.

Are you wiper blades still working well? If not, that is quick and inexpensive to fix. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven’t changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip.

All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip.

They will always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss the world’s largest ball of string, would you?

By Amanda Cox • February 26, 2013 • 7:27 pm • Leave a comment

Defensive Driving In Houston TX

here was a man in Houston who learned that most car accidents occur within a mile of home – so he moved. (Just Kidding!)

When we think of defensive driving, we often focus on our local TX highway situations. The fact of the matter is we need to be just as careful close to home in Houston, because that’s where we do most of our driving. We can’t let our familiar surroundings keep us from driving defensively.

Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won’t let anyone take your safety away from you. You’ll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.

Don’t leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.

Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.

Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.

Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you’re not paying enough attention.

Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.

Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.

Always use your turn signals while driving around Houston TX. Avoid other vehicles’ blind spots.

Don’t drive faster than your headlights – if you can’t stop within the distance you can see, you’re going too fast.

Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.

Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an Houston TX intersection. That way if you’re hit from behind, your car won’t be pushed into on-coming traffic.

My daddy always said that when you drive, you’re actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can’t trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you’ve got to be aware of what they’re doing at all times.

If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you’re downtown Houston, or take the next exit on the TX highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Houston community.

Never follow too close. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: ‘one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand’. If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you’re following too close.

Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you’re alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it’s foggy or rainy.

Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.

If someone follows you too closely, just move over.

Don’t play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don’t want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.

Mobile Tune Up and Repair
17807 Kieth Harrow Blvd
Houston, TX 77084
281-463-4211

By Amanda Cox • • 7:03 pm • Leave a comment
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