Honda warns dealerships of liability as it widens airbag recall – Automotive News

Posted: Thursday, February 04, 2016

A recalled Takata airbag inflator after being removed from a Honda Pilot in Miami in June.

Photo credit: REUTERS

WASHINGTON — American Honda has sent a recall and stop-sale notice to its dealerships for 1.7 million new and used vehicles from the 2007-15 model years for Takata airbag inflators that could explode in a crash, and warned them they could face legal exposure for unrepaired vehicles if they violate the order.

The recall and stop-sale order covers the 2007-11 CR-V crossover, 2011-15 CR-Z coupe, 2009-13 Fit, 2013-14 Fit EV, 2010-14 Insight hybrid and the 2007-14 Ridgeline, according to a Jan. 30 memo from Honda to its U.S. dealers that was obtained by Automotive News.

Honda said the driver-side airbag inflators in these vehicles may experience “over-pressurization” due to exposure to high temperatures and high absolute humidity. Such a buildup can cause the inflators to rupture during deployment in an accident, spraying sharp particles toward the vehicle occupants.

That risk with Takata airbags has been at the center of a massive safety action that has led to the recall of tens of millions of vehicles worldwide and has continued to grow in recent weeks. The defective airbags have been linked to at least 10 deaths.

Honda said in its memo that it will recall the vehicles but that replacement parts are unavailable and won’t be on hand until late summer.

Dealerships responsible

The memo also included a warning: Dealerships would be responsible for any claims stemming from selling an unrepaired car from the affected population.

“Should an unrepaired vehicle result in any claim because of the required recall repair, the dealership will be solely responsible to the claimant, and will be required to defend and indemnify American Honda for any resulting claims,” Honda said in the memo.

Federal law bars the sale of new vehicles with pending recalls, but not that of used vehicles, and regulators have been stymied in their efforts to compel dealers to make recall repairs on used vehicles before sale.

Honda’s order would apply to its own dealerships only and not independent used-car dealers.

Honda informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the recall and stop-sale order Jan. 29, according to the memo. The recall is tied to Takata’s late-January declaration that another 5.1 million U.S. vehicles contained defective airbag inflators, according to a Honda spokesman.

A Honda spokesman said the order is based on preliminary information and the company is still determining which specific vehicles are affected by the recall. Until the vehicles are identified, customers won’t be able to use Honda’s and NHTSA’s online databases to check their vehicle identification numbers for the recall.

Honda plans to issue a statement later this week with additional information and a date when the affected VINs will be searchable, he said.

A spokesman for NHTSA was unavailable to comment this morning.

Neal Boudette contributed to this report.

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