AmericanMotor Co. Inc. for the second time is expanding a recall for potentially faulty driver-side airbag inflators, implicating 378,578 additional ’01 and ’02 Honda and Acura vehicles.
Eleven reports of injuries and one death have been associated with the problem.
“One fatality unfortunately (occurred), and that was announced in the original extension of the recall,” John Mendel, executive vice president-American, says in a media conference call Tuesday night.
The original recall was issued by Honda in November 2008, affecting just under 4,000 ’01 and ’02 Accord and Civic models.
Following the fatality, Honda in July expanded the recall to about 440,000 units, including additional ’01 and ’02 Accords and Civics, as well as certain ’02 Acura TLs.
Mendel says he knows of no additional reports of injuries or deaths since the July expansion.
Tuesday’s action adds 378,578 ’01 and ’02 Accord and Civic models to the recall, as well as ’02 Acura TLs, and one unit each of the Honda Pilot and Acura CL built in late 2002.
In total, Mendel says 826,424 vehicles in the U.S. have been recalled by Honda for the issue.
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. in Japan is expected to announce separate actions it will take in overseas markets regarding the airbag-inflator issue.
American Honda spokesman Chris Martin tells Ward's the recall affects 91,355 units in Canada.
Mendel says dual-stage airbags manufactured by supplier TK Holdings Inc., a unit of Takata Corp., could have excessive internal pressure, leading the airbag-inflator casing to rupture and metal fragments to be expelled. He says the excess internal pressure is the result of a propellant issue.
Martin says there were two different manufacturing processes to stamp the propellant into the inflator.
In a release, Honda says one manufacturing process allowed “us to verify that all of the propellant was within specification, but we cannot validate the other process to our satisfaction at this time.”
Martin isn’t sure why two different manufacturing processes were used. He believes all recalled inflators were made at TK Holdings plants in the U.S.
Honda will begin notifying owners of the newly recalled vehicles by mail this month and follow up with a phone call.
Martin says the fix includes replacing only the airbag inflator. The replacement inflator is manufactured by TK Holdings, as well.
Honda notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. of its intention to recall the additional 378,578 units just before the Tuesday evening conference call.
Mendel says he knows NHTSA contacted the auto maker, as well as Takata, last August to get more information on the recall.
Honda normally would not hold a conference call on such a matter, says Mendel. But the current “heightened sensitivity” to recalls, and the late-in-the-day timing of the expanded recall filings with both the U.S. and Japanese governments, prompted the phone-in.
“We were particularly concerned this not look like we were trying to duck under the screen,” by making public a recall during the evening hours, he says.