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Feds urge owners of older Hondas to get air bags fixed

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an urgent warning on Thursday to drivers of multiple 2001 through 2003 Honda and Acura models with faulty air-bag inflators to stop driving their vehicles and have them repaired immediately.

The agency said testing shows that the air bags, which were made by Japanese supplier Takata, are much more likely to rupture during accidents than air bags in other vehicles that were in the widespread recall of the faulty parts. The dire warning affects 313,000 older Honda and Acura models, according to the agency.

“With as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous air bag inflator rupture in a crash, these vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”

NHTSA has recalled nearly 70 million Takata air bags after the safety agency confirmed the cause behind the inflators’ propensity to rupture, especially in humid climates. Flying shrapnel from exploding Takata inflators has been tied to 11 deaths — possibly 13 deaths — and more than 100 injuries worldwide.

Takata has been ordered to recall all of the faulty air bags by the end of 2019. The recall is being implemented in a phased approach that prioritizes cars that were sold in states with high temperature and humidity. Michigan is among the lowest-priority states in the recall.

The vehicles that were identified by the highway safety agency for having a higher risk of exploding air bags include: 2001-02 Honda Civic; 2001-02 Honda Accord; 2002-03 Acura TL; 2002 Honda CR-V; 2002 Honda Odyssey; 2003 Acura CL; and 2003 Honda Pilot.

NHTSA said all of the vehicles it was identifying on Thursday were recalled between 2008 and 2011, but the agency said only 70,000 of them have been repaired, leaving 313,000 at-risk vehicles on the nation’s roadways.

“The air bag inflators in this particular group of vehicles pose a grave danger to drivers and passengers that must be fixed right away,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. “Drivers should visit SaferCar.gov or contact their local dealer to check whether their vehicle is affected. If it is, they should have the vehicle repaired immediately for free by an authorized dealer. We commend Honda for taking additional actions to get these vehicles repaired.”

Honda said in a statement it has replacement parts available from companies other than Takata to fix cars immediately.

“Ultimately, it is up to each vehicle owner to take action to complete the vehicle repair and Honda urges every owner of a 2001-2003 vehicle affected by the Takata inflator recall to contact a dealer immediately to complete the repair,” the automaker said in a statement.

The company urged Honda and Acura vehicle owners to immediately check for open recalls at www.recalls.honda.com and www.recalls.acura.com and contact an authorized dealer as soon as possible to schedule the free repair. Customers can also contact Honda at (888) 234-2138.

klaing@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing