In the latest in a troubling series of automotive recalls, last week Honda Motor Company announced a recall affecting nearly 400,000 vehicles nationwide. The recall covers the widely popular Accord and Civic models in the 2003 and 2004 model years, as well as the Element model. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys urge those who own these models to get the details of the recall and ensure that their vehicles are safe.
This latest recall was issued to address a defect in the ignition switch. These vehicles’ ignition interlock can either be worn down from use, or damaged during use. If this occurs, the defect could allow drivers to remove their keys from the ignition even though the transmission is not shifted into park. There is thus the risk that a car could begin to roll away if the parking brake is not engaged, causing accidents and serious injuries or wrongful death.
Honda acknowledged that it has received several complaints about the issue, and is aware of at least one resulting injury. The NHTSA, however, states that prior to opening an investigation into this issue in January 2009, it had already received sixteen complaints about the problem – eleven of which had resulted in crashes.
This recall is particularly troubling because it is the third recall from Honda to address this same problem. The company has issued two prior recalls regarding the same problem since 2003. In October 2003, Honda recalled over 500,000 minivans and sedans due to the ignition interlock issue, including earlier models of the Accord (1998-99). Then, in January 2005, the company issued a second recall, of multiple models of passenger cars, affecting nearly 500,000 vehicles. Again, the Accord was implicated, this time certain of the 1999-2002 Accords. The three recalls together have involved a total of nearly 1.5 million vehicles.
The recalls do technically each address a separate issue with the ignition interlock. In 2003, the vehicles recalled had a casting failure that could cause the ignition interlock to wear down, thus leading to the problem described above. Then, in 2005, the recalled vehicles had an ignition interlock lever that could slip out of position, leading to the exact same problem. This time, an interlock pin and lever must be replaced, but the possible result is the same.
Still, the fact remains that after each of the previous recalls, Honda failed to adequately correct the problem and put a correct ignition interlock in place. Honda was clearly aware of the problems with its interlock, yet it took an additional five and a half years for the company to realize that it had still failed to fix these issues.
It seems that Honda, like Toyota and others in the automobile industry, simply cannot be trusted to prioritize public safety over its own convenience and profit – nor can the U.S. authorities force these automakers to do so. It is thus essential that those harmed by these dangerous automotive defects bring suit for their losses. Only through civil judgments, or at least the realistic expectation of such judgments, can we hope to see real change. If you or someone you love has been injured, sustained serious financial loss, or even lost their life due to a defective product (whether a Honda or not), your bravery and action may help to save others from future misery. Our Chicago product liability attorneys urge you to come forward, and make these companies reconsider their indifference to safety.
If you have not been injured, but have a vehicle that may be involved in the recall, you can visit the Honda website at http://www.recalls.honda.com or you can get information by phone by calling (800) 999-1009 and selecting option 4.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.