American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. have reached an $85 million, multistate settlement over allegations Honda concealed defects in airbag systems.
South Carolina’s share of the $85,151,210 paid to the attorneys general of 48 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia is $3.63 million, according to a news release from S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office. Under terms of the consent judgment, to be filed with the Richland County Court of Common Pleas, Honda also agreed to improve quality control and risk management, implement mandatory whistleblower protections, and to improve record-keeping and parts tracking, among other stipulations.
The frontal airbag systems, designed and manufactured by Takata Corp., were first installed in certain Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S. in the 2001 model year. A multistate investigation found Honda failed to inform regulators and consumers that the airbags posed a significant risk of rupture, which could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments of vehicles.
The ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and more than 200 injuries nationwide, according to Wilson’s office.
“My office led this investigation because of our concern that Honda turned a blind eye to airbag safety with deadly consequences,” Wilson said in the release. “This settlement holds Honda accountable for its conduct and requires Honda to take needed action to ensure that its airbags do their job of protecting South Carolina drivers from serious harm.”
The investigation alleged that Honda engineers suspected that the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, could burn aggressively and cause ruptures but delayed warning consumers or automobile safety officials, even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009. Since 2008, Honda has recalled approximately 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles equipped with the suspect inflators, according to the release.
Consumers who own a Honda or Acura are encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at https://hondaairbaginfo.com or call its customer service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138 to see if the vehicle is subject to a recall. Consumers may also check for open recalls by going at safercar.gov. All safety recall repairs are free at authorized Honda dealers.o