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Car airbags following an accident. Photo by Ivan Radic. 

Harrisburg, Pa. -- Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced on Tuesday that multiple states have reached a settlement with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. Honda allegedly concealed safety issues related to Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S. with defective frontal airbag systems. The systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corporation, a long-time Honda supplier, and were installed in Honda vehicles beginning in the 2001 model year.

The settlement was reached between 48 Attorneys General and Honda after an investigation into Honda's alleged failure to inform regulators and customers about the risk of airbag rupture, which could cause metal fragments to fly into the passenger compartments of many Honda and Acura vehicles. Said ruptures have resulted in at least 14 deaths and 200 injuries in the U.S.

“Honda repeatedly and knowingly put Pennsylvanians in danger, and failed to take the steps necessary to prevent the injuries their airbags caused,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Despite multiple indications to Honda that the airbags were a safety risk, we contend that the company plainly failed to warn consumers of the dangers of these airbags.”

The states have alleged that Honda engineers suspected that the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, could burn aggressively and cause the inflator to burst. Despite these concerns, Honda delayed warning consumers or automobile safety officials even as it began partial recalls of affected vehicles in 2008 and 2009. Further, despite these concerns, Honda continued to represent to consumers that its vehicles, including its airbags, were safe. Since 2008, Honda has recalled approximately 12.9 million Honda and Acura vehicles equipped with the suspect inflators.

The states have alleged that Honda’s failure to act, as well as its misrepresentations about the safety of its vehicles, were unfair and deceptive, and that Honda’s conduct violated state consumer protection laws, including Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

“I’m grateful for the 48 bipartisan Attorneys General who have held Honda accountable and put in place measures to ensure this type of misconduct does not occur in the future,” Shapiro said.

Under the terms of the Consent Petition, which requires court approval and which will be filed with the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, Honda has agreed to strong injunctive relief, which, among other things, require it to:

  • Take steps to ensure that future airbag designs include "fail-safe" features in the event of inflator rupture
  • Adopt changes to procurement processes for new airbags, ensuring that suppliers have appropriate certifications and satisfy key performance standards
  • Improve record-keeping and parts tracking
  • Implement procedures to prevent errors like this from happening again
  • Abide by prohibitions on misleading advertisements and point-of-sale claims about safety features
  • Make improvements in critical areas like risk management, quality control, supplier oversight, training and certifications, and implementing mandatory whistleblower protections

Honda also agreed to pay the participating Attorneys General a total of $85,151,210.15, of which Pennsylvania’s share is $2,513,659.04.

In addition to Pennsylvania, the multi-state group – led by South Carolina, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, and Texas – includes Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Owners of Honda or Acura vehicles are strongly encouraged to visit Honda’s airbag recall website at www.hondaairbaginfo.com, or call its Customer Service toll-free number at (888) 234-2138, to see if their vehicle is subject to a recall. Consumers may also check for open recalls by going to Safercar.gov.

All safety recall repairs are FREE at authorized Honda dealers. Consumers can also contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at scams@attorneygeneral.gov or call 1-800-441-2555 with any questions about this settlement.

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.