Honda has announced the recall of its popular sports utility vehicle the Honda Pilot and its well-known minivan the Honda Odyssey for possible problems with the driver's side airbag.
Here is the official statement from Honda on the recall: "Honda will voluntarily recall approximately 748,000 model-year 2009-2013 Pilot and 2011-2013 Odyssey vehicles in the United States to inspect and, if necessary, replace the driver's-side airbag. Driver's-side airbags in these vehicles potentially were assembled without some of the rivets that secure the airbag's plastic cover. If the rivets are missing, the airbag may not deploy properly, increasing the risk of injury in a crash. No crashes or injuries have been reported related to this issue.
"Honda is announcing this recall to encourage owners of all affected vehicles to take their vehicles to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification of this recall from Honda. Mailed notification to customers will begin in mid-Feb., 2013. In addition to contacting customers by mail, in mid-Feb., owners of these vehicles will be able to determine if their vehicles require repair by going to www.recalls.honda.com or by calling (800) 999-1009, and selecting option 4."
The Honda Pilot is a generally, well-received SUV. It received the Cars.com"Family Car of the Year," award in 2012. The Pilot SUV received a wide range of upgrades for 2012, including a sleeker front-end design, enhanced interior features and improved fuel economy. The 2012 Pilot had already earned the top spot in the"USA Today, MotorWeek and Cars.com $37k and Under SUV Shootout,"with the editor-in-chief touting the Pilot as"the perfect SUV for buyers who want to comfortably haul the entire family and all of their gear."
The 2011 Honda Odyssey minivan achieved a historic safety milestone, becoming the first and only minivan to earn the highest possible safety ratings from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under their respective more-stringent testing guidelines. No other minivan this year has received both a 2011 Top Saety Pick award from IIHS and a "Overall Vehicle Score" of five stars from NHTSA.
That's what partly makes this recall potentially so disturbing. Both vehicles are known for being strong family vehicles. In addition both receive high marks from Consumer Reports. The 2011 Honda Pilot is pegged as a good bet. The 2011 Odyssey is given an average rating for reliability while the 2012 model appears to have worked out concerns about the electrical system and gets a strong report card.
So, does this mean one shouldn't buy a used Honda Pilot or used Honda Odyssey because of this recall? Not at all, but you need to make sure the work has been done on either vehicle before purchasing it. Normally, I advise that it's OK to buy a used car subject to recall even if the work hasn't been done. It can be a negotiating tactic to get a reduced price if the work hasn't been done (as in "Give me $100 off for getting the work done.")
In good conscience, I can't make that same recommendation when the airbag is involved because it's such a valuable piece of safety equipment. Basically, it makes no sense to drive a car that has the equipment but isn't working. Now, I know it's safe to drive a used car without an airbag. There are millions of them on the road but why pay for a used car with a working airbag if the airbag isn't working? Let the owner assume all the risks before completing the transaction.
While we're on the topic of buying a used car subject to a recall, here are some other things to keep in mind. Consult CarFax.com's vehicle recall list. It will tell you if the specific vehicle you are interested in is subject to a recall. You just need the vehicle identification number.
Also, keep in mind how long the recall has been out on the particular vehicle you are purchasing. Say, for example, you want to purchase a used Honda Odyssey or used Honda Pilot. If the owner has delayed getting the work done for more than two months (sometimes dealers get backed up when recalls are first announced), you might now want to purchase this particular used car.
Why's that? Folks who are sloppy about getting important recalls done typically are sloppy about doing other maintenance. Make sure you get a thorough pre-purchase vehicle inspection done for your own peace of mind.