A coalition of 48 state attorneys general have settled with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Honda of America Mfg., Inc. (collectively “Honda”) over alleged concealed safety issues related to defects in the frontal airbag systems.
The airbag systems were in certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in Nebraska and throughout the United States, posing a significant risk of rupture, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said.
If the system ruptured, it could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments of vehicles. The ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and over 200 injuries in the U.S. alone. The airbag systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corporation, a long-time Honda supplier, and first installed in Honda vehicles in the 2001 model year.
“Product recalls have the power to save lives,” Peterson said. “In this case, Honda’s inaction endangered the public, and for that, they must be held accountable.”
The participating attorneys general alleged that Honda engineers suspected that the propellant, ammonium nitrate, in the airbags could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst.
Despite these concerns, Honda delayed warning consumers or automobile safety officials, even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008-2009. Further, despite these concerns, Honda continued to represent to consumers that its vehicles, including its airbags, were safe.
Since 2008, Honda has recalled approximately 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles nationwide – including 62,220 in Nebraska – equipped with the suspected faulty airbag systems. Of those 62,220 recalled Honda and Acura vehicles in Nebraska, 11,219 remain unrepaired.
Under the terms of the settlement, Honda has agreed to make several changes to ensure the safety of future airbag designs while making critical improvements to risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, and whistleblower protections.
Honda also will pay the attorneys general just over $85 million. Nebraska will receive $1,088,485 of that amount, Peterson said.
Joining Attorney General Peterson in this settlement are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Consumers who own a Honda or Acura vehicle are strongly encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at https://hondaairbaginfo.com, or call its Customer Service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138, to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall. Consumers may also check for open recalls by going to Safercar.gov.
All safety recall repairs are free at authorized Honda dealers, Peterson said.