I just put my car away in a local dealership corral because Honda sent me a letter saying it could kill me.
Long story short — the driver’s front airbag inflator in my 2008 Honda CR-V “could produce excessive internal pressure upon deployment. If an affected airbag deploys, the increased internal pressure may cause the inflator to rupture and deploy abnormally. In the event of an inflator rupture, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material, possibly causing serious injury or fatality to you or others in the vehicle. Past ruptures like this have killed and injured vehicle drivers.”
I’ve been hearing about a problem with airbags manufactured by Takata and installed on Japanese, European and American cars for years. I have even called about my Honda and my 2003 Subaru Legacy in the past. The first reports surfaced a decade ago. Since then, according to a New York Times report and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there have been 10 fatalities, the most recent involving a Ford Ranger just last December.
The other day I went to the website safercar.gov, where I learned that the latest tally of affected vehicles is at 28 million from 14 different auto manufacturers — mostly model years from 2002 to 2015. Granted, more than 7.5 million affected vehicles have been repaired, according to the NHTSA, but there are another 20 million out there which, conceivably, could kill.
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Because the scope of the recall has been expanding for years, I urge you to call your dealer or consult safercar.gov to see whether the car you drive is on the list. Some makes and models have been added to the list as recently as March 22. If you haven’t heard about the recall and you own one of these vehicles — or are considering buying one — you can enter the vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) and see whether this airbag recall or any other recall affects your car or truck.
What I learned from Honda is that the faulty airbag on the driver’s side could deploy someday after a crash or impact and send shrapnel into my body. I have taken steps to make sure that won’t happen, and you can, too.
Over the last several months NHTSA has amped up the pressure on auto manufacturers to redouble efforts to locate the owners of cars with the deadly airbags, and assessed a $200 million fine on Takata. Though it is frightening to consider how many people have been driving around with these time-bomb airbags for nearly a decade — and many of these cars are up for sale on used car lots and over online venues — I have been impressed with my experience with American Honda and its Boise dealership, Larry Miller Honda.
The recall letter makes it clear that owners of these cars can seek “temporary alternative transportation.” The parts to fix my 2008 Honda CR-V airbag are not available right now, and may not become available until the end of the summer. Though the repair takes only about an hour or two, my car is in limbo until the parts come in while I drive a rental vehicle at Honda’s expense.
In order to be provided with a rental car, I had to agree to not drive my Honda. I have turned it over for storage to the local dealership. The not-so-good news is that I was considering selling it, or trading it in — something I won’t do now until that airbag is fixed. In addition, I may run into an insurance coverage glitch. My insurer allows me to transfer my coverage to a rental car for up to a 30-day period — and the parts to fix my vehicle may not be in until May, June or even late August.
Obviously my family, and the previous owner, have been driving this car around with no ill effects since 2008. What we know about these fickle airbags is that the propellant used to inflate them is suspect. Many of the incidents involving death and injury have occurred in parts of the country where it is especially hot and humid — conditions that could bring on the unwanted or unsafe deployment. But trusting fate or the odds when there is a remedy is not my style.
Back in January somebody ran a red light and T-boned me in my 2003 Subaru (a model car not affected by the recall). Though the airbag did not deploy and I had my seat belt on, I have had to seek out some physical therapy for neck pain — I could have just as easily been in my Honda that day.
Rather than go down that “What If” road, I sleep better knowing I have taken an exit that allows me to avoid one of the known hazards in this life. I hope you decide to do the same.
Honda Airbag Recall
Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling certain model year vehicles: 2007-2011 Honda CR-V, 2011-2015 CR-Z, 2010-2014 FCX, and Insight, 2009-2013 Fit, 2013-2014 Fit EV, 2007-2014 Ridgeline, 2013-2016 Acura ILX, 2013-2014 Acura ILX Hybrid, 2007-2016 RDX, 2005-2012 Acura RL, 2009-2014 Acura TL, and 2010-2013 Acura ZDX. The affected vehicles are equipped with a dual-stage driver frontal air bag that may be susceptible to moisture intrusion which, over time, could cause the inflator to rupture.
In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver’s frontal air bag, the inflator could rupture, with metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.
Honda will notify owners and dealers will replace the inflator, free of charge. Remedy parts are expected to be available in summer 2016. Interim notices will be mailed to owners during March 2016. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available. Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda’s numbers for this recall are JY0, JY1 and JY2.
Owners also may contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
The following auto manufacturers have issued recalls for models with faulty Takata airbags: Acura, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GM (including Pontiac and Saab), Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota.
The following auto manufacturers have issued recalls for models with faulty Takata airbags:
- General Motors (including Pontiac and Saab)