The long-running and widely reported problems with Takata air bags in a variety of Japanese vehicles has be on-going for a long time now and as owners of 2 Honda vehicles, we have been dealing with it for over a year. We were lucky enough to get replacement air bags for our 2004 Honda Element, although to took several trips to the service department, over several months, to get them all replaced.
We recently traded in a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid, which didn’t have any air bag recalls with a 2014 Honda Insight Hybrid. Unfortunately, we recently received a recall notice for this new vehicle and tried to get it into service. What has happened, though, would seem ludicrous if it didn’t involve injury or death from a malfunctioning Takata airbag.
Our service department was unable to get any replacement air bags for our vehicle and recently offered us an option. First, they would take the vehicle into their storage lot and offer us a full paid rental car for the full time required to receive and install new air bags. Unfortunately, the dealer’s service storage lot was completely full with other vehicles awaiting air bag replacements. Instead, the dealer agreed to provide the free rental and told us to simply park the car at home and not drive it.
We waffled a bit on doing this, as it seemed odd to just have a car sitting around, even if we would get a replacement vehicle. I had heard how dangerous the air bags could be, though, so my wife and I finally relented and picked up a rental car about 2 weeks ago. It still seemed silly, but better safe than sorry, we thought.
It looks like it was a good idea, though, as today the US Department of Transportation has issued a press release that “…urged owners to stop driving the “unsafe” cars until they have been fixed.” (U.S. Warns Honda and Acura Owners to Replace Airbags, New York Times, June 30, 2016) I had seen previous stern warnings like this for other affected vehicles, but this was first one I had seen specifically for Honda. What’s interesting, though, is that these recall warnings only seem to address 2001-2003 vehicles, but ours is much newer, so there must still be large issues involving vehicles made up to the 2015 model year. You should check this article (Takata Airbag Recall: A Complete List of Affected Vehicles, Daily News, June 3, 2016 ) and with your dealer to see if your newer vehicle is affected.
Based on this new warning, I would urge you to immediately call or visit your dealer’s service department, confirm that your vehicle is under recall, and then take advantage of whatever programs they provide for replacing your vehicle until it can be repaired. This situation has clearly reached a crisis point where car dealers realize that the potential legal exposure of not replacing the vehicles far outweighs the cost of providing rentals to affected vehicle owners. As several of the related articles said, the very next trip of your vehicle should be to your dealer for repair and nowhere else.