Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Honda extends airbag recall by 437,000 cars

Honda car in Japan
Honda has been dealing with the airbag problem since 2008

Honda has added 437,700 cars, mainly in North America, to its existing global safety recall over airbag inflation problems.

It broadens a recall announced in late 2008 for less than 4,000 Accord and Civic sedans, then expanded in mid-2009 to cover another 510,000 vehicles.

The latest announcement also covers Japan, Mexico, Taiwan and Australia.

The fresh blow to Japanese carmakers came as Toyota recalled nearly half a million hybrid cars over faulty brakes.

Toyota has already had to bring millions of other vehicles back to dealerships amid accelerator and floormat problems.

We cannot be completely certain the airbag inflator will perform as designed
Honda statement

The scale of Toyota's recalls will be of particular interest to other car manufacturers, according to David Leggett, editor of the website

"Toyota have been keen to cut costs by increasingly using common parts in different models. If a part goes wrong in one model then other models will need to be recalled," he said.

"I'm sure lots of other car manufacturers will be keeping a very close eye on what's happening with Toyota."

Recalls within the car industry, however, are not uncommon.

"They happen pretty regularly," said Jay Nagley, an industry analyst with Redspy Automotive.

"At the moment they are in the news because of what's happening with Toyota, but if Honda had done its recall months ago no would have heard about it.

"Everyone's looking for the next recall, but it's business as usual for carmakers despite what's in the news."

Airbag inflator

Honda - Japan's second-biggest carmaker - said the defective airbags can overinflate and burst, spraying potentially deadly metal shards.

The carmaker said the inflators were at risk of rupturing, "resulting in metal fragments passing through the airbag cushion material and possibly causing injury or fatality to vehicle occupants".

The fault has already been linked to 11 injuries and one fatality.

Honda said in a statement: "We cannot be completely certain that the driver's airbag inflator in the vehicles being added to this recall at this time will perform as designed."

Its shares fell in Japan after the announcement.

The recall will apply to 2001 and 2002 model-year Accord, Civic, Odyssey, Pilot, CL, CR-V and 2002 Acura TL vehicles, the firm said.

The company says owners should take their vehicle to an authorised dealer as soon as they receive notification from Honda.

The carmaker's latest recall affects 378,000 cars in the US and 41,000 in Canada.

It extends to 4,000 vehicles in Japan and 13,000 from other countries, including Mexico (9,000), Taiwan (1,300) and Australia (700).

Nov 2008: Airbag propellant problem reported in US. Recall of 4,200 cars
June 2009: Similar airbag problem reported, recall widened to 508,000 cars mainly in US
July 2009: Japan recalls 1,532 cars
Feb 2010: 419,000 recalled in US and Canada; 17,000 in Japan and other countries

The Japanese-only models are Inspire, Saber and Lagreat.

Just last month, Honda had to recall 650,000 Fit hatchbacks worldwide to fix a switch defect that could cause a fire.

It said the fault could allow water to enter the power window mechanism, making components overheat.

The Fit is sold as the Jazz and City in other countries. That recall affects Asia, Latin America, Europe, South Africa and North America.

For Toyota, the problems continued as a US Congressional committee cast doubts on its plans to fix accelerator problems.

A memo to lawmakers cited "substantial evidence" of redesigned floormats failing to stop the pedals sticking.

On Tuesday, Toyota recalled 436,000 hybrid vehicles worldwide, including its latest Prius, to fix brake faults.

That comes on top of more than 8 million Toyotas recalled since last October for problems with slipping floormats and sticking accelerator pedals, linked to crashes that have killed at least 19 people.

Toyota's UK centres begin repairing the accelerator pedals on 180,000 vehicles on Wednesday.

They have the capacity to fix 6,000 cars a day, meaning it will be a month before the process is complete.

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