Honda to Recall Nearly 400,000 Cars for Ignition Problems

Honda Motor (HMC) is recalling some 384,000 vehicles for problems related to the ignition interlock, which could fail and possibly allow the vehicles to roll away even if drivers feel their cars are safely parked.

The recall involves 2003 Honda Accord and Civic models and 2003-04 Element vehicles. The recall was disclosed Monday in a notice posted on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website. It follows a nearly two-year investigation by the agency. NHTSA opened an investigation in September 2008 after getting 15 complaints about Accord models, alleging 10 crashes.

In a statement, Honda said the ignition interlock mechanism can be damaged or worn during use. "If this happens, it may become possible to remove the ignition key when the shift lever is not in Park. If the transmission is not in Park and the parking brake is not set, the vehicle could roll away, and a crash could occur."

The recall isn't the first of its type for Honda. Since 2003, Japan's second-largest automaker has now recalled more than 1.4 million vehicles for problems related to the ignition interlock, The Detroit News reported.

Though the source seems similar, a Honda spokesman told the newspaper different problems are to blame for the recalls. "They are different issues that are causing this same sort of symptom," said spokesman Chris Martin.

Last month, officials from Honda and NHTSA met to discuss the problem, but the carmaker didn't think the problem serious enough to warrant a recall, according to the News report. On July 29, Honda relented and agreed to recall the vehicles because the agency felt "it was a serious enough issue," Martin said.

Owners of affected vehicles will begin receiving notices in September with instructions for dealer repair, Honda said.
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