By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Honda Motor Co on Friday issued a “Do Not Drive” warning for 8,200 Acura and Honda vehicles with unrepaired Takata air bag inflators in the United States.
The urgent warning covers various 2001-2003 model year Honda Accord, Civic CR-V and Odyssey, Pilot and Acura 3.2CL and 3.2 TL vehicles with so-called “Alpha” inflators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said owners of those vehicles should not drive them until they get repairs, warning “the risk to vehicle occupants is dire.”
More than 30 deaths worldwide – including at least 23 U.S. fatalities – and hundreds of injuries in various automakers’ vehicles since 2009 are linked to Takata air bag inflators that can explode, unleashing potentially deadly metal shrapnel inside vehicles.
NHTSA said last month a February death of the driver of a 2002 Accord in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was due to a faulty air bag inflator. Honda has reported 17 U.S. deaths and more than 200 injuries in the United States related to Takata inflator ruptures.
Over the last decade, more than 67 million Takata air bag inflators have been recalled in the United States by more than 20 automakers and more than 100 million inflators worldwide, in the biggest auto safety callback in history.
NHTSA says 8.5 million vehicles remained unrepaired, including 3.6 million General Motors vehicles and 1.2 million Honda vehicles.
“Don’t gamble with your life or the life of someone you love – schedule your free repair today before it’s too late,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson.
Honda said on Friday it has attempted to reach owners more than 18.3 million times including mailed notifications, emails, phone calls and door-to-door visits. The Japanese automaker emphasized it is offering free towing and loaner vehicles for the free recall repair. Honda has to date replaced or accounted for more than 99% of the “Alpha” inflators.
Honda said “we’re concerned for the safety of those who have not responded and are now adopting the new Stop Driving messaging to spur them to act.”
In November, Chrysler parent Stellantis urged owners of 276,000 older U.S. vehicles to immediately stop driving after three crash deaths tied to faulty Takata air bag inflators were reported.
NHTSA said the Takata recalls were spurred by propellant that could break down after long-term exposure to high-temperature fluctuations and humidity.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)