When people think about accidents caused by faulty brakes, they imagine the terror of pressing on an unresponsive brake pedal and being unable to stop as their vehicle careens into a dangerous situation. However, unexpected braking can also be extremely dangerous. Defective brakes that engage without warning can lead to single- or multi-vehicle accidents, with a particularly heightened risk of a rear-end crash. It is a threat of particular concern to our Panama City defective brakes law firm as we learn that Honda is recalling vehicles based on unexpected braking for the second time this year.
As detailed on Edmunds.com, a leading resource for information on the automotive industry, Honda recently announced the recall of 2007 and 2008 Honda Odyssey minivans. The recall involves 344,187 vehicles built between August 8, 2006 and September 8, 2008. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), the Vehicle Safety Assist System ("VSA") may apply the brakes without warning and without illuminating the minivan's brake lights.
The NHTSA investigation began when Honda informed the agency that, as of June 30, 2013, the carmaker had received over 100 warranty claims and more than 200 field reports related to the braking issue. After the NHTSA began its own, it received 22 complaints of unexpected braking by the minivans. In some cases, the vehicle applied the brakes while the driver was applying the accelerator, causing an unexpected and rapid drop in speed by as much as 30 miles per hour.
The NHTSA warns that the defect leads to an increased risk of a rear-end collision, although no crashes have been linked to the problem thus far. In order to fix the problem in the VSA software and repair the defect, Honda must install an updated yaw sensor in the vehicles. However, a parts shortage means that the recall cannot begin until March 2014. In the interim, Honda is sending owners a letter with information on how to prevent unexpected braking and ensure proper calibration of the VSA system.
This is not the first issue with unexpected braking involving Honda this year. In March, Edmunds reported on the recall of 182,000 Honda vehicles including the 2005 Honda Pilot, 2005-2006 Acura MDX, and 2005 Acura RL. In that recall, which appears to be unrelated to the current problem, the culprit was the Vehicle Stability Assist system ("VSA"). Honda noted that a problem during manufacture could cause the VSA to malfunction and briefly apply brake force independently or, if the driver is applying the brake when the malfunction occurs, it can cause the brake force to exceed the intended result.
In a statement about the recall, Honda said that the unexpected braking could lead to an increased crash risk. Some of the recalled vehicles also required inspection to ensure a ground bolt in the VSA system was tightened properly, as a loose bolt could also lead to unexpected braking and heightened risk of a crash. Notably, this recall also had a month-long delay in order to obtain needed parts.
Unexpected braking is a true threat. If you were injured as a result of unexpected braking caused by a manufacturing or other product defect, call our Panama City defective vehicle lawyer. Attorney Pittman can help you pursue a product liability or other civil claim seeking monetary compensation and sending a clear message that defective vehicles will not be tolerated.