Although no deaths have been reported from the defect, one of the 19 complaints involved a single-car, front-end collision with injuries. In that incident, a Belleview, Florida driver crashed into a concrete wall head-on at 50 MPH, with the front airbag failing to deploy.
Some 2008 Honda Accord owners who were able to dodge the massive 30 to 50 million-vehicle Takata airbag recall may need to hold their collective breaths again. The U.S.’s leading auto regulator announced that it is investigating the vehicles for another airbag issue. Unlike the Takata recall however, which includes 2001-2007 model-year Accords due to aggressive inflation of the airbags upon deployment, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into 19 complaints involving airbags that failed to deploy during collisions. The investigation involves about 384,000 Accord sedans sold in the U.S., with the airbag control computer modules being the target of the error. According to documents that the NHTSA released on Friday, the defective modules cause the dashboard indicator light to come on for the supplemental restraint system, disabling the airbag and preventing the component from communicating trouble codes to mechanics. The agency wrote that “An inability of the SRS unit to communicate raises concern about the readiness of the entire supplemental restraints system.”
Although no deaths have been reported from the defect, one of the 19 complaints involved a single-car, front-end collision with injuries. In that incident, a Belleview, Florida driver crashed into a concrete wall head-on at 50 MPH, with the front airbag failing to deploy. A Long Beach driver who purchased a 2008 Accord new had owned the vehicle for less than four years, driving it less than 60,000 miles when the indicator light began illuminating. A Honda dealer told the owner that it would cost $455 to repair. Other complaints also involve a Maryland Accord owner whose dealer quoted a repair cost of $700. Another Illinois driver complained to the NHTSA that his dealer wanted to charge $500 to replace the malfunction, which the driver told the agency that having to pay for the repair out of pocket “seems silly as this is a safety-related service”. Responding to news of the investigation, American Honda Motor Co. released a statement saying, “Honda will cooperate with the NHTSA through the investigation process, and we will continue our own internal review of the available information.”
According to the NHTSA’s web site, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) “is opening this investigation to further evaluate the scope, frequency, and consequence of the alleged SRS module failures.” From there, the agency will determine if a recall is warranted. Last month, Honda announced recalls of an additional 4.5 million vehicles containing Takata airbags. The Takata recall has been called the most complex in U.S. auto history by both Michael Rosekind, the head of the NHTSA, and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. The latest investigation adds to the NHTSA’s workload in what has been a record amount of vehicular defects over the past two years, including a criminal investigation into General Motors executives’ knowledge of a major ignition switch defect. It also comes after the NHTSA fined Fiat-Chrysler $105 million last month due to incompetence and lax repair efforts involving 23 separate recalls in recent years.
Automotive News – Ryan Beene
Benchmark Reporter – Adip Xion
Los Angeles Times –Samantha Masunaga