An existing safety recall of the driver’s side airbag in 2001 Honda Accord and Civic models is now being expanded to include more vehicles from American Honda Motor Company. The failure is a defect in the airbag’s inflation system that, potentially, could send pieces of metal into the driver.
At least one person has been killed by the defect.
The Honda recall was originally started in November 2008 and covered about 285,000 Civic and Accord models. Now, another 440,000 additional vehicles are included in the expanded recall, which requires the replacement of the driver’s side steering wheel airbag inflator made by Takata.
Automakers typically try to limit the number of vehicles covered in recalls or service actions to cut down on the expense and limit the damage to their reputation. However, as investigations proceed the population of affected vehicles sometimes expands due to uncertainties around the root cause or inability to identify exactly how many parts are affected. Increasing commonization of parts across model lines contributes to large recalls.
In this case the Honda and Acura inflators are apparently too powerful. When they explode to inflate the airbag, metal shrapnel from the casing is ejected through the airbag itself, possibly “causing an injury or fatality to vehicle occupants.”
Takata, one of the world’ largest makers of airbag components, said the parts it supplies to other automakers are made differently and do not suffer from the same problem.