Honda is stepping up its effort to get some of the most dangerous recalled cars in the country repaired.
Tests have shown that the early-issue Takata airbags in these vehicles have up to a 50% chance of exploding in the face of the driver in a crash:
- 2001-2002 Honda Accord
- 2001-2002 Honda Civic
- 2002 Honda CR-V
- 2002 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 Honda Pilot
- 2003 Acura CL
- 2002-2003 Acura TL
Honda has sent notice after notice to the owners, but the automaker believes there are still about 120,000 of the cars on the road.
So, now, the company is going door to door. Honda has hired 500 people to go to the owner's home and ask -- in some cases convince -- her or him to have the airbag replaced. After all, it's free. Honda will tow the car to the dealer if necessary, and give the owner a loaner car in the meantime.
And it could save the owner's or front passenger's life.
In one instance, Honda employees found the owner at home, holding a garage sale.
"So they had his car towed to the dealership, repaired, and driven back home before the garage sale was over," says spokesman Chris Martin.
Martin says if you ask a hundred different owners why they haven't responded to the recall, they'll have a hundred different reasons. Some say they're too busy, or they're afraid the dealer will try to sell them all sorts of other repairs. Or they're too overwhelmed with all the bad news in the world to pay much attention to this particular piece of bad news.
"So it's sort of breaking through the clutter," says Martin, "and making sure they understand this is dangerous."
Some people have actually refused the free repair. Martin says Honda is not giving up on them and will continue to try to persuade them to get the car to the dealer.
Most of these old cars are likely being driven in southern states, where they've been able to avoid the threat of rust that has sent many of the cars in northern states to the scrapyard.
But the hot, humid conditions in those states is considered a factor causing the explosive chemicals to overinflate the airbag, which can send shards of metal into the driver's face, neck and upper body.
Twelve people have died as a result in the U.S. Eleven of them were driving Honda vehicles.