We were kinda hoping that 2010 would be the year of auto industry recovery, but instead it's becoming increasingly obvious that it is turning into Year Of The Recall. This time, Honda is up to bat with another 378,758 recalls for an apparent airbag inflator issue. The nearly 400,000 units have been added to the already announced 440,000 vehicles red tagged back in August. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that certain airbags in the affected vehicles can deploy so violently that the inflator will rupture. When the bag is deployed, NHTSA reports that metal shards from the excessive explosion could act like shrapnel, shoot through the bag and possibly injure vehicle occupants. Ouchie.

Honda said in a statement on the automaker's website that there were 12 reported incidents of this happening, with one fatality. The original recall back in November, 2008 was for only 4,000 2001 Accords and Civics but in July, 2009 Honda added more makes of the 2001 and 2002 Accord, Civic and some 2002 Acura TL models. The newly updated list includes 2001 and 2002 Accord, Civic, Odyssey, CR-V, and selected 2002 Acura TL vehicles.

NHTSA announced that it was investigating the timing of the Honda airbag recall back in November. The government agency was curious as to why the Japanese automaker needed eight months to add an additional 440,000 vehicles. Hit the jump to read over the Honda press release, which includes directions for owners of affected vehicles.

[Source: Honda]



PRESS RELEASE

Honda has expanded a previously announced recall of certain 2001 and 2002 model-year vehicles to replace the driver's airbag inflator in an additional 378,758 vehicles in the U.S. The driver's airbag inflators in these vehicles may deploy with too much pressure, which can cause the inflator casing to rupture and could result in injury or fatality.
In total, Honda is aware of 12 incidents related to this issue as of February 2010. While Honda was aware of two additional events when the decision to first expand the recall was made in July 2009, we are not aware of any new events that have occurred after July 2009. However, we have concluded that we cannot be completely certain that the driver's airbag inflator in the vehicles being added to this recall at this time will perform as designed. Therefore, we have decided to add certain 2001 and 2002 Accord, Civic, Odyssey, CR-V, and selected 2002 Acura TL vehicles to this recall.*
Honda is announcing this recall expansion to encourage all owners of these vehicles to take their vehicle to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification from Honda that their vehicle is affected. Notification to customers will start within this month.

As with nearly all Honda and Acura safety recalls, Honda originally brought this matter to the attention of NHTSA and has kept NHTSA apprised of our decision to include additional vehicles in the expanded recall.
When Honda identifies concerns of this nature, nothing is more important to the company than fulfilling our obligation and responsibility to alert our customers. To this end, as with the July 2009 recall expansion, in addition to contacting customers by mail, owners of these vehicles will be able to determine if their vehicle requires repair by going on-line or calling. Honda owners can go to
http://owners.honda.com recalls or call (800) 999-1009; Acura owners can go to http://owners.acura.com/recalls or call (800) 382-2238. When owners of these vehicles receive written notification of this recall from Honda, they should contact their authorized Honda or Acura dealer to schedule an appointment for repair. Honda will also follow the mailed notifications with telephone contact to each customer.

BACKGROUND:
As background, sixteen months ago Honda announced to NHTSA a plan to conduct a recall on fewer than 4,000 model year 2001 Accord and Civic vehicles to replace the driver's airbag inflator, based on our analysis of four instances attributed to the cause of airbag deployments that resulted in rupture of the driver's airbag inflator.
After the original recall in November, 2008, two additional incidents were reported, including one fatality from a vehicle not included in that recall. Our ongoing analysis led us to recognize the potential for additional vehicles to exhibit this symptom, and in July, 2009 Honda expanded that recall to include approximately 440,000 model year 2001 and 2002 Accord, Civic and certain 2002 Acura TL vehicles. To date, Honda is aware of a total of twelve incidents.
If the driver's airbag deploys in an affected vehicle, the driver's airbag inflator could produce excessive internal pressure which may cause the airbag inflator casing to rupture, resulting in metal fragments passing through the airbag cushion material and possibly causing injury or fatality to vehicle occupants.

There were two types manufacturing machines used in pressing the inflator propellant. One propellant manufacturing process allowed us to verify that all of the propellant was within specification, but we cannot validate the other process to our satisfaction at this time. We have decided to recall all inflator assemblies that were not confirmed by 100-percent automatic inspection during production because we cannot be absolutely certain they will all perform as designed, even though recent testing of units from this production process performed correctly.
* We are also adding one (1) Honda Pilot and one (1) Acura CL vehicle, each produced in late 2002, to this recall.