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Honda recall: 870,000 minvans and SUVs for ignition defect

Honda recall of more than 800,000 Odyssey minivans and Pilot SUVs is the latest in what has been a recall-filled year for the automaker. The latest Honda recall involves ignitions that can release the key even when the car is not in park, allowing the vehicles to roll away. 

By Schuyler VelascoStaff writer / December 12, 2012

A Honda logo is seen on a steering wheel of a car at the company showroom in Tokyo in this April 2012 file photo. Honda is one car company that has released blueprints for some of its concept cars, alluding to the possibility of 3D printing.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters/File

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Honda will recall approximately 807,000 vehicles in the United States and approximately 63,000 in other countries due to a problem with the key ignition.

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Staff writer/editor

Schuyler Velasco is a writer and editor for the Monitor's business desk.  She writes about consumer issues, sports, and the occasional sandwich.

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The recall involves about 318,000 Honda Odyssey minivans and 259,000 Pilot SUVs from the 2003 and 2004 model years, as well as approximately 230,000 Acura MDX vehicles from the 2003-2006 model years.

The problem is a potential malfunction with the ignition interlock feature, which keep keys locked into the ignition when a car is not in park. Without it, a key can be removed when the vehicle is in drive, neutral, or reverse, and the car could move when it shouldn’t. 

“The ignition interlock mechanism can be damaged or worn during use,”  Honda America’s statement on the recall reads. “If this happens, it may become possible to remove the ignition key when the automatic transmission shift lever is not in Park. If the transmission is not in Park and the parking brake is not set, the vehicle could roll away, and a crash could occur.”

Honda has received several customer complaints about the problem, and says in its statement that it knows of two incidents that may have resulted in minor injuries.

Honda will notify vehicle owners by mail this coming February. At that time, customers affected by the recall can take their vehicles to Honda dealerships for a repair at no charge.

Also in early February, Honda owners will be able to determine if their vehicles need a repair by visiting the Honda and Acura recall websites, www.recalls.honda.com  and www.recalls.acura.com, or by calling (800) 999-1009 for Honda owners or (800) 382-2238 for Acura owners, and selecting option 4.

This isn’t the first recall for Honda involving the ignition interlock issue. Some 384,000 Honda Accords from the 2003 model year were recalled for the same problem in August 2010. In 2003, Honda recalled 583,000 Hondas and Acuras for the ignition defect, and another 483,000 in 2005. In an investigation of the problem, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration received 42 complaints from drivers whose vehicles had rolled away. Sixteen vehicles came to a stop only after hitting something.

Aside from the ignition interlock issue, Honda has wrestled with other recalls this year. The company has had to issue major recalls on things ranging from faulty overhead electrical wiring to leaky power steering to power window switches that pose a fire risk, as the Monitor reported in October.

According to Honda, the current recall is unrelated to the previous ones. 

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