Honda Canada has been at the epicentre of the Takata airbag recall, the largest safety recall in automotive history. Its products have accounted for fatalities — mainly in the United States — from malfunctioning inflators that can explode and spray occupants with metal fragments.
No deaths or injuries have been reported in Canada, but Honda’s Canadian unit is going to great lengths to track down and replace the defective safety devices beyond the single legally required letter, said Dick.
Other automakers, such as Toyota Canada, have stepped up efforts to find and fix their affected vehicles, but Honda’s might be the most extensive. They include monthly letters to highest-risk owners, emails, phone calls and teams from dealers visiting homes to leave door-hanger notices and slide plastic cards on windshields. Roving technicians offer to replace the units on-site. In remote areas, Honda pays for vehicles to be transported to the nearest repair facility.
Automotive News Canada got an exclusive look at the company’s campaign to deal with 117,000 Honda and Acura models equipped with the highest-risk defective airbags. Most have been repaired now but many older models, often having changed hands, have been harder to trace.
And when they’re found, many owners inexplicably decline the repair, “even though it’s free,” said Dick.
One woman was approached by a recall mobile team from a local dealership as she was unloading groceries outside her home, Dick recounted. An unopened notification letter, highlighted in red and with a pictograph of an airbag exploding in an occupant’s face, lay unopened on her 2001 Civic’s parcel shelf.
She was unfazed by the possible danger, but struck a bargain.
“I have this bag of onions with me,” she told the Honda rep, according to Dick. “If you carry it to the house, I’ll let you fix the car.”
A MATTER OF TIME