Honda’s New Headache: Accidental Airbag Deployment

Honda Odyssey 2013 van

Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) is recalling 374,000 Honda Odyssey and Acura MDX vehicles in the U.S. due to a glitch in the Supplemental Restraint System that caused airbags in the vehicles to go off accidentally, the company said in a statement Thursday morning.

The company is recalling 318,000 Odyssey vehicles from the 2003 and 2004 model years, and 56,000 Acura MDX vehicles from the 2003 model year. Honda said the malfunction is being caused by a problem in the vehicles’ electrical systems, and it will fix the issue by installing an electrical noise filter next to the SRS control unit at no charge.

Honda said the SRS airbag systems in those vehicles use computer chips similar to ones in other companies’ vehicles that have been recalled in the past year. The company noted in its statement that there have been no accidents reported. Owners of the affected vehicles will by contacted by mail and are encouraged to take their vehicles to a licensed dealer for the free repair.

The figures given in Honda’s statement only cover the vehicles affected in the United States. A report from Reuters said that the global recall total is 405,000 vehicles for the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Australia. Reuters reports that 342,000 Odysseys and 63,400 Acura MDXs are covered by the recall globally.

According to the publication, Honda spokesman Tsuyoshi Hojo said there have been some minor injuries reported from accidental airbag deployment, including “abrasions on the hands and fingers.”

At the end of last month, Honda was forced to recall 408,000 of its popular CR-Vs in China due to defective piston rods. Small SUVs like the CR-V have been popular with the country’s growing middle class there. That recall was a blow to the company’s already struggling operations in China, as Chinese consumers have been spurning Japanese-made products due to political tension over islands in the East China Sea.

Honda’s 2014 Odyssey was recently named the safest minivan on the road – and, in fact, the safest minivan ever tested — by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Honda likely doesn’t want the reputation of its Odyssey fleet tarnished by injuries, even minor ones, caused by accidental airbag deployment.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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