Government Investigates Honda Odyssey Brake Issues

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm affirm that U.S. safety regulators recently commenced an investigation into Honda’s popular Odyssey minivans. The vehicles are able to brake without the driver ever pressing the pedal.

The specific model years affected by this investigation are from 2007-2008, totaling about 345,000 vans. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported nearly 25 complaints of unexpected breaking from Odyssey owners, some even occurring while drivers were trying to accelerate. This cut drivers’ speed by about 30 miles per hour.

Five other consumers filed complaints with the NHTSA citing trouble in the steering angle sensors in the electronic stability control system. Fortunately, there have not yet been any official reports of any crashes or injuries due to these defects.

The investigation’s main objective is to determine whether or not the problems happen frequently enough to spur a mass recall. In March 2013, Honda had to recall about 250,000 of its vehicles due to inadequate electronics and wiring in electronic stability control system. The system automatically applies brakes to individual wheels if the vehicle spins out of control.

The March recall extended to Honda’s Acura RL, Acura MDX, and Pilot SUV. The affected vehicles were manufactured between March 2004 and May 2006. It goes without saying that spontaneously applied brakes can lead to devastating and dangerous rear-ends collisions, which could turn particularly tragic if occurring on a highway or busy freeway.

Another far-reaching NHTSA investigation just recently hit the Honda Odyssey, this time affecting air bag defect issues. Chrysler, Toyota and General Motors have all already been forced to issue recalls due to the defective air bag controls, which were all supplied to the automakers by the same company, TRW. The affected Chryslers include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Liberty crossovers, and Dodge Viper. The Toyota vehicles include the Corolla and Matrix, and the GM vehicles include its Pontiac Vibe and Matrix.

NHTSA confirms that it has received numerous complaints over the Odyssey’s front air bag deployment systems, which have set off without warning. The agency has also received more than 40 complaints over the air bag warning lights illuminating, which may precede an unexpected deployment.

Auto safety advocates state that the TRW issues illuminate the negligence with which regulators have been overseeing suppliers. Large automakers often receive parts from the same suppliers, so if there is even a small problem with their manufacturing processes, millions of vehicles could be affected. The executive director of the Center for Auto Safety told reporters that the NHTSA needs to start regarding suppliers more proactively, and that this can be accomplished by adding more personnel the NHTSA staff who can identify safety defects and patterns.

The Chrysler and Toyota problems were eventually traced back to defective control chips, and both automakers were able to remedy the situation by having dealers install electronic filters to consumers’ vehicles. Honda states that it is currently monitoring the situation and working closely with the NHTSA. It affirms that it has received upwards of 130 complains in various vehicles over the TRW parts. It contends, however, that its application of the air bag system is different than that of Chrysler and Toyota.

Jaguar also reportedly received the air bag supplies from TRW, and the NHTSA has sent an inquiry to the automaker requesting comparative data on models manufactured between 2000 and 2004 that used the parts. A spokesperson for Jaguar asserted that it was determined the vehicles did not have any problems.

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on any recalls, investigations, and safety announcements from the NHTSA and automakers. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an auto accident caused by recalled or defective parts, you may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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