Honda minivans, SUVs recalled over possible faulty air bags

FILE - A 2003 Honda Odyssey is shown in an undated Honda Motor Company file photo. U.S. safety regulators have added about 320,000 older model Honda O...
A 2003 Honda Odyssey in an undated Honda Motor Co file photo. On Thursday, Honda recalled the 2003 and 2004 models over possibly faulty air bags that might inflate without a crash Anonymous

Problems with airbag units that can deploy inadvertently has triggered the recall of nearly 400,000 Honda minivans and SUVs sold in North America.

It’s the latest in a series of airbag-related problems the Japanese maker has experienced in recent years. However, the automaker said it knows of no crashes related to the latest defect.

The auto industry, on the whole, has been experiencing a number of airbag-related issues, including the widespread distribution of counterfeit -- and potentially dysfunctional – versions of the safety devices.

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The Honda problem, however, involves legitimate airbag system that nonetheless can be triggered by electrical interference when there has been no vehicle crash. The problem has been experienced by other vehicle manufacturers and forced similar recalls over the last year.

Following what Honda describes as a “a small but increasing number of complaints in recent months of inadvertent airbag deployment,” it is issuing a recall notice for 318,000 Odyssey minivans sold in the U.S., along with 56,000 Acura MDX sport-utility vehicles. Both of the affected products were sold during the 2003 and 2004 model-years.

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Another 23,300 of the Odyssey models and 4,800 of the Acura sport-utes sold in Canada also will be covered. Additional recalls will cover vehicles sold in Japan and Australia.

The maker plans to notify owners in the coming weeks and says it will correct the problem by installing an electrical noise filter in the Supplemental Restraint System to block interference. Repairs will be made free of charge.

Honda has had a number of airbag-related issues in recent years, including one that triggered the recall of 750,000 at the beginning of this year. That problem involved missing rivets that could cause the driver’s side airbags to fail to properly deploy in the event of a crash. That recall also involved the Odyssey minivan as well as the Honda Pilot crossover vehicle.

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Honda had the second-largest number of vehicles covered by recalls in the U.S. in 2012, the fifth year in a row it was either first or second on that list. It is again near the top of the recall charts for 2013 due to airbag and other issues that included a recent service action to re-repair defective power window master switches that could short out and inadvertently cause a vehicle fire.