If you are an owner of one of 35 different Honda or Acura models built between 2020 and 2022 you might want to read further, as there’s a non-zero chance that your vehicle’s airbag might explode in a crash when it’s really not supposed to, and a non-zero chance the issue might partially have been affected by global warming.
It’s recall Tuesday here at The Morning Dump because there are just so many of them. In addition to Honda’s big recall, we’ve got 300,000+ trucks from GM in need of evaluation due to a tailgate that might open while driving.
The Mazda CX-90 seems like a great new vehicle and it’s just out on the market but, uh, Mazda is already recalling it. And, finally, even VinFast is getting in on the action with its own super weird recall.
Honda Issues Yet Another Airbag Recall, This Time For Airbags Going Off When They Shouldn’t
This is not the Takata airbag recall so don’t let your eyes roll back in your head out of boredom, which, for whatever reason (probably the fact that it’s been covered to death), is now the response when we talk about the Takata airbag recall.
This recall from Honda is a whole new thing involving almost every Honda or Acura model made between 2020 and 2022, though the affected years vary based on the vehicle.
Here’s a super long, but useful graphic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with the full list:
Are we missing anything? I can’t see any vehicles we’re missing. Given the timing, it seems like this is indeed almost every Honda and Acura vehicle sold in the United States between some point in 2020 and some point in 2022, but it’s going to be one of those recalls where the specific VIN/build date of a specific vehicle is going to matter.
Why are all these cars being recalled? Quite simply, vehicles have weight sensors in seats to determine if an airbag should or should not go off in an accident. For children or small people, the impact of an airbag can be so strong that it’s more damaging than the accident itself, depending upon the crash. This weight sensor thing is a common technology that’s been in vehicles for most of the airbag era.
The issue here is a curious one, and the cause is quite interesting:
Due to a natural disaster at the manufacturing plant of a tier-2 supplier, the tier-1 supplier temporarily changed the base material in the printed circuit board of the seat weight sensor, which was not sufficiently verified for its intended use. The alternative base material could allow additional strain to the printed circuit board that can lead to a capacitor cracking and an internal short circuit.
Quick terminology check here. A Tier 1 supplier is the person who delivers the final part/manufactured good you’re getting. Your Marc Levinson radio in your Lexus is supplied by Marc Levinson, the Tier 1 supplier. But, that radio has a microchip and many other individual parts that might be made by someone else — those are Tier 2 suppliers. All the raw materials (the silicon in one of those microchips) come from Tier 3 suppliers.
In this case, the Tier 1 supplier appears to be Aisin Electronics of Illinois, which is a subsidiary of mega Japanese supplier Aisin and the one listed on the recall notice. If that’s the case, then the company swapped a printed circuit board part because it wasn’t available from its unnamed Tier 2 supplier. This part wasn’t up to snuff, which has caused this issue.
It seems like an easy fix, and Honda/Acura will soon be contacting owners to bring their cars back in to swap the sensor back to the original part.
I’ve reached out to both Honda and Aisin Electronics to determine who that Tier 2 supplier is, and I’ll update this post when I get that info, but there’s an interesting potential twist here.
What was the natural disaster? Given the timing, there’s a decent chance the supplier was a Chinese company that was impacted by the massive and historic floods of 2020, which would explain why the part was unavailable for such a long period (there were massive floods in Japan but none that seemed to be linked to long-term supply issues).
Here’s an interesting quote from The South China Morning Post that might point us in the right direction of why those floods occurred:
The subtropical high pressure system over the western North Pacific was strong this year,” said Song Lianchun, a meteorologist with the National Climate Centre. “Its intersection with cold air has led to continuous heavy rainfall in the Yangtze River basin.”
Another reason was global warming, he said.
“We cannot say a single extreme weather event is directly caused by climate change, but seeing it over the long term, global warming has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” Song said
Of course, the floods happened simultaneously with the worst of COVID-19 in China, which certainly didn’t help. Was COVID-19 itself a natural disaster?
I might be wrong here, and it might have been an earthquake or something else, but we know that the interconnectedness of the world means a natural disaster somewhere like China can potentially lead to an airbag improperly deploying in California because of a part assembled in Illinois.
GMC/Chevy Recall 300,000 Trucks Over Tailgates
Here’s a not-so-fun, Spy Hunter-esque recall from General Motors for certain 2020-2024 Chevrolet Silverado 2500, 3500, GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 trucks with the power-unlatching taillgate.
The power unlatching tailgate is a great feature until, as in this case, the “tailgate’s electronic gate-release switch may short circuit due to water intrusion, which can result in the tailgate inadvertently unlatching while the vehicle is in park.”
You can imagine what happens next if an owner fills up their truck with loose bowling balls and then gets on the highway. Or, as described in a FAQ from GM:
If the driver does not manually close the gate before beginning a drive, cargo in the bed of the truck may exit the vehicle and become a road hazard, increasing the risk of a crash. Until the recall is completed, owners should check that the tailgate closed and latched before driving.
The Mazda CX-90 Is Already Being Recalled
I’m excited to borrow the new Mazda CX-90, and jealous that Thomas got to review it before I did. Though, you know, maybe I’ll wait for the fix to its latest issue.
According to NHTSA, about 43,000 vehicles need to be recalled because the power steering might fail. Specifically:
A worm gear is incorporated in the steering gear assembly, which transmits the power assist generated by the power steering motor. The worm gear friction force may be excessive which results in increased force required to turn the steering wheel.
Cars are complicated and this is a new car/platform, so, unfortunately, things like this do happen.
VinFast Has A Very Specific Recall In Vietnam For A Very Specific Reason
Stumbling Vietnamese automaker VinFast already had to recall all of its cars in the United States at launch to fix some electrical gremlins.
Those gremlins are still active in Vietnam, this time impacting its VF 5 vehicles, according to Vietnam Plus. Here’s the extremely specific reason why:
The automobile maker found that the head lights on several VF 5 Plus cars turn off inadvertently when drivers push the combination switch for the left turn signal while running at the speed of 50-55 kilometres per hour, with auto-on headlight mode on. This could reduce driver vision and visibility at night.
The problem was with a control circuit board design error from the component supplier, it said.
That’s an annoying problem because it only happens at certain speeds so you can see the issue one day and not see it the other day. I’m sure this was annoying for local VinFast dealer technicians.
What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD
I feel like I’ve been waiting for this album for roughly nine years, but I suppose I first heard The Last Dinner Party’s “Nothing Matters” about nine months ago. That’s the big single the album “Prelude to Ecstasy” has to live up to and, mostly, it does. I don’t think the album is about the Honda Prelude, but… maybe? This is my favorite track, though.
The Big Question
When was the last time you had a vehicle recalled? What was it for? Did you get it fixed? Was it an easy or difficult experience?