A History of Honda Airbag Problems

Honda Airbag Problems
The annoying tire pressure warning light that just won’t quit

SRS Lights, Excessive Pressure & Flying Metal Schrapnel … oh my!

Airbags are amazing technology. In the blink of an eye a sensor detects a crash, actives an inflator and shoots out a pillow of air that's meant to protect you from harm. Awesome, right? Yes! Well, except when the airbag inflates with too much force and sends more than just that pillow flying into the passenger cabin. Things like shards of metal, for example.

Excessive Pressure and Flying Shrapnel

Honda has been forced to recall millions of vehicles because of problems with their airbags. For a safety device, the airbags in these cars sure do seem dangerous. Let's take a stroll down ineptitude lane:

Back in 2008 Honda discovered a troubling fact about their airbag inflators: the chemicals used were generating too much internal pressure. This pressure was so great that it could actually cause the inflator to explode, sending out dangerous metal shrapnel towards the passengers.

So wait, you've just been in an accident, your air bag hit you in the face as hard as a Joe Frazier punch and you have the possibility of being ambushed by flying metal debris? Where do I sign up for that?

Driver's Airbag vs Front Passenger's Airbag

In 2012, Honda issued a massive recall to fix the driver's side airbag which they believed was the only airbag to suffer from the problem. Turns out they were very, very wrong. The recall was expanded in April of 2013 to address the same problem in the front passenger's airbag.

All the bags were produced by the same Japanese supplier, Takata Corporation, which also sold some of the defective products to Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, GM and BMW.

The 2013 Airbag Recall

The latest round of recalls covers the front passenger side airbag in 426,000 model year 2001-2003 Civic, 43,000 model year 2002-2003 CR-V, and 92,000 model year 2002 Odyssey vehicles.

Honda said it was not aware of any injuries related to this latest round of recalls, but that doesn't mean they won't happen. In fact, the previous bout of recalls came after reports of 18 injuries and 2 deaths linked to the excessively strong driver's side air bag.

Honda spokesman, Chris Martin, says you have nothing to worry about because unlike the driver's side airbag which sends metal fragments directly at the driver, the passenger air bag shoots them "upwards towards the windshield or downward towards the footwell."

So instead of a concentrated attack, it's more of a random spray pattern of shrapnel. Well, phew – now I feel better!

A History of Air Bag Problems

Here's the timeline of how things have broken down at Honda:

  • June 2013 — The 2003-2004 Odyssey is investigated for airbags that can deploy randomly and without warning, injuring drivers. This comes just months after the 2011-2013 Odyssey was investigated for airbags that failed to deploy during accidents. Find the happy medium, Honda.

  • April 2013Honda recalls over 1 million vehicles worldwide because an air bag deployment could cause shards of metal to fly around the cabin of the vehicle. This is part of a worldwide recall that involves 3.3 million vehicles.

  • Septmeber 2012Honda recalls certain 2012 Ridgeline trucks because an incorrect passenger air bag status indicator may have been installed on the vehicles which could prevent occupants from knowing if the air bag is switched off.

  • December 2011 — Honda has issued a stop sale on all used cars that are part of the airbag recall. That means Honda dealerships are being told not to sell any used Hondas, certified or not, until they have been inspected and fixed if necessary. This is a big move from Honda, but is certainly the right one now that there are reports on injuries and at least one death coming from their airbags.

  • December 29th, 2011 — Honda is adding 272,000 additional vehicles to its massive airbag recall list and has issued a stop sale to dealers of older used Hondas until they are checked out and any faulty parts are replaced.

    This recall now includes certain 2001 and 2002 Accord, 2001 to 2003 Civic, 2001 to 2003 Odyssey, 2002 and 2003 CR-V, 2003 Pilot, 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL and 2003 Acura 3.2 CL vehicles.

  • December 5th, 2011 — Today Honda announced they are recalling almost 1 million additional vehicles for big, bad airbag problems. At least 20 people have been hurt so far.

    This latest recall affects models primarily sold in North America, including 2001 and 2002 Accords, 2001 through 2003 Civics, 2001 through 2003 Odysseys, 2002 and 2003 CR-Vs and 2003 Pilots. Acura models listed in the recall include 2002 and 2003 3.2 TLs and 2003 3.2 CLs.

    The original recall dates back to 2008 and now includes 2.8 million vehicles worldwide.

  • May 3rd, 2011 — Honda has recalled hundreds of thousands of 2001-2003 Honda and Acura models for airbag issues since 2008, and now the Japanese automaker is re-recalling those vehicles. Honda is inspecting 833,000 vehicles for airbags that deploy with too much pressure, which could lead to metal fragments passing through the airbag cushion material. This defect has resulted in 12 injuries and one death since 2010.

    Among the 833,000 vehicles affected by the recalls are the 2001-2002 Accord and Civic, the 2002 Odyssey and 2002-2003 CR-V. Acura models affected are certain 2002-2003 TL sedans and 2003 CL coupes. This latest news brings the total to 1.6 million vehicles since 2008.

  • February 9th, 2010 — Honda announced today, that for the second time, it will expanding an airbag recall which dates back to the original recall in November, 2008.

    This newest round of recalls includes 378,758 additional vehicles – bringing the total to just under 820,000 vehicles in the running recall. The expanded list includes some 2001-2 Accords, Civics, Odysseys, CR-Vs and selected 2002 Acura TL vehicles.

  • July 2009 — Honda announced that it would recall 440,000 vehicles for the same problem, saying that the action was prompted by reports of “unusual” deployments.

    This applied to 2001 Accords and Civics, as well as some 2002 Accords and Acura 3.2 TLs.

  • March 6th, 2009 — Honda recalled nearly 4,000 model year 2001 Honda Civic and Honda Accord cars for a safety defect in its driver air bags. The chemicals inside the driver air bag inflator caused excessive internal pressure during deployment, which could cause the inflator to rupture. A ruptured inflator could cause metal chunks to slice through the fabric air bag and hit the consumer. Obviously, this defect would not only prevent the air bag from properly protecting you, but could also cause injuries, including injuries to your eyes and face.

  • September 2008 — Honda inspected a vehicle which showed signs of an unusual deployment, apparently confirming their prior suspicion of improperly manufactured air bag inflators. Honda finally notified the government in November 2008 that it would be conducting this recall on its Honda Civic and Honda Accord models.

What To Do if Your Honda Has Been Recalled

At this point, if you own a Honda from the last 20 years chances are it has been recalled. If Honda has your correct mailing address, you'll probably be receiving a notice soon. Better yet, you can call Honda at 1-800-999-1009 with your VIN & they will confirm whether your vehicle is covered. Dealers will be inspecting the airbag inflators & the replacement is free, if they determine it needs replacing, no doubt using their "Metal-Shrapnel-Possibility" detectors.

What to Do if Your SRS Light is On

When you see the SRS light illuminated on your dashboard it means your airbags are deactivated. Now you might think, aren't I better off not having shrapnel thrown at my face? But the SRS light is indicative of a bigger problem … one that you need to address immediately.

Simply clearing the light will not solve the problem.

Actions You Can Take

This step is crucial, don't just complain on forums! The sites below will actively manage your complaints and turn them into useful statistics. Both CarComplaints.com and the CAS will report dangerous trends to the authorities and are often called upon by law firms for help with Class Action lawsuits. Make sure to file your complaint on all three sites, we can't stress that enough.

  1. Step 1: File Your Complaint at CarComplaints.com

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases. Add a Complaint

  2. Step 2: Notify the Center for Auto Safety

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits. Notify the CAS

  3. Step 3: Report a Safety Concern to NHTSA

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues. Report to NHTSA

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Honda Consumer Affairs Department

1919 Torrance Blvd. Torrance CA 90501-2746