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Honda recalls 870 000 minivans & SUVs

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By Tom Krisher

Honda is recalling more than 870 000 minivans and SUVs worldwide because they can roll away even though drivers have removed the keys from the ignition.

The recall affects older-model vehicles sold mainly in the United States. They were big sellers with families because of their ample space and reputation for quality.

The models include 347 000 Honda Odyssey minivans and 277 000 Pilot SUVs from the 2003 and 2004 model years, as well as 247 000 Acura MDX SUVs made between 2003 and 2006 period, all with automatic transmission.

The problem is that the mechanism that locks the key in the ignition while the vehicles are in gear can wear out. When that happens, drivers are able to remove keys without shifting the gear lever into park.

Accordingto Honda: “If the transmission is not in park and the parking brake is not set, the vehicle could roll away, and a crash could occur.”

US safety regulators began investigating the problem in October after owners filed 43 complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Owners reported 16 crashes due to the problem.

Two people were hurt in the crashes, according to the NHTSA database. In the most serious case, the driver reported a broken leg after being run over by a 2003 Odyssey.

The driver parked the van in a sloped driveway and after he got out it started to roll backward, and he tripped while trying to stop it.

“I had an open fracture of my fibula and crush injuries on my shin area,” he said.

Honda dealers will mail notices to owners in February and will repair the ignition interlock system free of charge.

Honda SA says, however, that no Odyssey vans have been sold in South Africa since the 2000 model year, so the recall will ot affect any South Africanc owners.

MORE PROBLEMS

The NHTSA also is investigating brake problems with the 2005 Pilot, affecting nearly 88 000 vehicles.

Apparently the brakes can come on without drivers stepping on the pedal. There's no fix yet, but investigators are looking at problems with a computer-controlled system that stops the vehicle as fast as possible in emergency situations.

Investigators will determine if the problem is bad enough for Honda to recall the SUVs.

The 2003 Pilot was also recalled in March because the low-beam headlights can fail. - Sapa-AP

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