Honda Defective Airbag Recall + Deployment Failure

Michael Bennett
September 6, 2016 - 1799 Views

With the latest recalls issued for vehicles that were built with standard equipment Takata airbags, American Honda Motor Company now has targeted about 10.7 million Honda and Acura automobiles for replacement of certain airbag inflator parts. In addition, recalls have been issued for approximately 2,700 Honda Gold Wing motorcycles that contain optional Takata airbags. This number includes about 2 million Honda vehicles that are in the United States.

A special effort has been made by Honda to reach customers in Florida, where high humidity and hot temperatures have an added impact upon the inflator failure problem. The inflators contain a mix of chemicals that normally combine upon activation from a sensor to form hot hydrogen gas, which then inflates the airbag. In certain atmospheric conditions, these chemicals may react without cause, creating faulty or premature deployment of the airbag. The chemicals also deteriorate with age, especially after 15 to 16 years time.

Honda Recalls – Takata Airbags

Honda joins other vehicle manufacturers in pursing recalls for American made Honda vehicles that are outfitted with Takata airbags. The Takata airbags contain an inflator part that is blamed for multiple types of deployment failures. The most serious accidents related to these airbags include around a dozen passenger deaths and hundreds of passenger injuries.

The Takata airbag system includes use of two chemicals, sodium azide and potassium nitrate, which are contained inside an inflator mechanism that is activated by a special sensor. When activated, the chemicals are allowed to mix, which creates a chemical reaction that produces hot hydrogen gas to inflate the airbag. This inflation process happens very quickly, at speeds of 100 mph or higher. The filled bag then helps to protect vehicle occupants in a collision situation

Airbag Deployment Failures

The government has demanded recalls of Takata airbags that have been installed on American made vehicles because of serious accidents related to these products. The problems were noticed in the early 2000’s, although airbags have been installed on vehicles here since 1973. Legislation called the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act was enacted in 1991, but it was not in full effect until September 1, 1998. This requires the use of front seat airbags as standard equipment on cars and trucks made in America.

When an airbag fails to do its job, the results can be deadly. In Texas, a young 17-year old girl died when the airbag in the Honda car she was driving exploded following a slow-speed accident, sending metal shards into her neck. There is a metal frame encasing the inflator device, and this can fracture, along with the inflator, and be projected outwards through the nylon airbag at extremely high speeds.

Other airbag deployment failures include airbags that do not work at all, and airbags that inflate without cause, even when the vehicle is not operational. If there is a collision and the airbag does not deploy, the passenger is subject to being injured by hitting the steering wheel or other hard objects within the passenger compartment. Likewise, if the car is not turned on or moving and the airbag deploys suddenly, that also can cause harm to surprised occupants. Some airbags have activated when a passenger leaned against a side panel or when a vehicle received some type of minimal side impact.

Airbag Failure Injuries

There have been several deaths attributed to Takata airbag failures, and hundreds of injury cases. Typical wounds are either from impact forces or damage caused by metal projectiles. In addition, the loud noise of an airbag explosion within a confined area like a vehicle interior may damage the ears and hearing. Eye injuries may occur if a passenger is struck in the face by an expanding airbag.

  • Head & Face Injury

    – NHTSA recommends being at least 10 inches away from the airbag container. Injuries occur when the passenger is stuck by metal fragments or being struck by the expanding airbag.

  • Chest & Cardiac Injury

    – Damage occurs when people are too close to the airbag or if the venting system fails or the airbag remains stiff and hard.

  • Ear & Hearing Injury

    – Excessive decibels of noise can harm the ear or puncture eardrums.

  • Eye Injury

    – Chemicals or metal fragments may injure eyes, as can colliding with an expanding airbag.

  • Lung Injury

    – Inhaling chemicals used to inflate airbags may cause asthma or inhalational chemical pneumonitis.

  • Chemical Burns

    – Alkaline chemicals used in airbags can cause burns.

  • Lacerations & Puncture Wounds

    – If the metal parts in an airbag fracture and are projected into the vehicle interior, hitting passengers, it can cause serious injuries.

  • Death

    – Inflator ruptures can send metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment; if inserted into critical veins, arteries or organs, this can lead to death.

Honda Vehicle Recalls

Honda has been extremely pro-active in trying to warn consumers about potential problems with Takata airbags in certain Honda models and trying to get recalls issued. They have used multiple methods for communicating with vehicle owners about potential dangers from Takata airbags over the past years. They continue to urge owners of any affected Honda vehicles to bring those vehicles in to authorized dealers for repairs as soon as possible.

Honda has taken extra steps to reach owners in Florida, who are most susceptible to the effects of hot and humid weather on chemicals in the inflators. The company attempts to contact owners many ways, including first class mail in English and Spanish, post cards, live and automated phone calls, E-mails, text messages, radio, newspaper and social media advertising, targeted social media advertising and, in some cases, they have used private investigators to locate hard-to-reach owners of affected vehicles.

Replacement parts are not expected to become available until late summer of 2016. Honda offers free recall repairs starting in late summer of 2016 for automobiles and late fall 2016 for motorcycles.

Honda vehicles subject to current airbag recalls includes the following models:

  • 2001-2011 Accord
  • 2001-2011 Civic
  • 2002-2011 CR-V
  • 2003-2011 Element
  • 2010-2014 FCX Clarity
  • 2007-2014 Fit
  • 2010-2014 Insight
  • 2002-2004 Odyssey
  • 2003-2011 Pilot
  • 2006-2014 Ridgeline
  • 2010-2011 Crosstour
  • 2006-2010 Honda Gold Wing (motorcycles)

Research – VIN Number

Owners of Honda vehicles affected by the Takata airbag inflator recalls are encouraged by American Honda to get their vehicles repaired at authorized dealers quickly. Vehicle owners can check their vehicles’ recall status at www.recalls.honda.com, or by calling their authorized dealer.

Additional online websites where you can check your VIN Number include: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or these government websites: http://www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/index.html or https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.

Airbag Recall Honda Vehicles

Honda recently issued an airbag recall for some of these models made from 2001-2014: Accord, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CRV, Element, CR-Z, Fit, Insight, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline.

References

Michael Bennett

About Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Protect.com. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more. If you find his articles helpful please share them with your readers.