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NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2005 Honda Pilot

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2005 Honda Pilot, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Air Bag Inflator Rupture

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA15001

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: February 24, 2015
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags:Frontal

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE14-016 in June 2014 based on six inflator rupture incidents involving consumer owned vehicles produced by five vehicle manufacturers.All six vehicles were operated in Florida or Puerto Rico at the time of the rupture and for the majority of their service life, and were equipped with inflators produced by Takata, a tier-one supplier of automotive air bag systems.During the course of PE14-016, ODI determined that five additional vehicle manufacturers used inflators of a similar design and vintage also supplied by Takata. No evidence of field failures was found in vehicles produced by these five additional manufacturers.Nonetheless, at ODI's insistence, all 10 vehicle manufacturers initiated a regional recall within approximately two weeks of the opening of the investigation.The regions recalled initially included Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, areas with high absolute humidity and climatic conditions believed to be a significant factor in the inflator ruptures.As part of the recall actions, inflators removed from remedied vehicles are to be returned to Takata for testing.Takata's initial test results on passenger inflators from remedied vehicles indicated a much higher than anticipated rupture frequency for inflators returned from Florida.Accordingly ODI requested all 10 manufacturers expand the regional recalls for passenger inflators to include other geographic areas where high absolute humidity conditions exist, including the Gulf States and other coastal areas.Takata's testing of the passenger inflators to date continues to indicate this geographic area as having the highest risk, with no ruptures occurring from inflators returned from outside the expanded recall regions.During PE14-016 four additional passenger inflator field events occurred, all in vehicles from the same expanded geographic region.Also during PE14-016 four additional driver inflator field events occurred including two in vehicles from regions not known for high absolute humidity, specifically California and North Carolina.Accordingly, ODI requested all five of the affected vehicle manufacturers currently using the subject Takata driver inflators expand to nationwide recalls.Significantly, neither of the affected vehicle manufacturers or Takata provided any explanation to account for these two driver air bag inflator ruptures outside the area of high absolute humidity.Takata testing of returned driver inflators indicates a lower rupture frequency as compared to passenger inflator testing.All test ruptures reported by Takata to date have occurred on inflators returned from high absolute humidity areas.The investigation now includes all manufacturers and vehicles known to be affected at this time.ODI's investigation will focus on, among other things, root cause analysis, other potential defect consequences, identification of affected vehicles scope, and adequacy of the remedy.The five ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers: 10537899, 10568848, 10585224, 10605877, 10651492

  2. INVESTIGATION: Air Bag Inflator Rupture

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE14016

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags:Frontal

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE14-016 in June 2014 based on six inflator rupture incidents involving consumer owned vehicles produced by five vehicle manufacturers.All six vehicles were operated in Florida or Puerto Rico at the time of the rupture and for the majority of their service life, and were equipped with inflators produced by Takata, a tier-one supplier of automotive air bag systems.During the course of PE14-016, ODI determined that five additional vehicle manufacturers used inflators of a similar design and vintage also supplied by Takata. No evidence of field failures was found in vehicles produced by these five additional manufacturers.Nonetheless, at ODI's insistence, all 10 vehicle manufacturers initiated a regional recall within approximately two weeks of the opening of the investigation.The regions recalled initially included Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, areas with consistently high absolute humidity and climatic conditions believed to be a significant factor in the inflator ruptures.As part of the recall actions, inflators removed from remedied vehicles are to be returned to Takata for testing.Takata's initial test results on passenger inflators from remedied vehicles indicated a much higher than anticipated rupture frequency for inflators returned from Florida.Accordingly, ODI requested all 10 manufacturers expand the regional recalls for passenger inflators to include other geographic areas where high absolute humidity conditions exist, including the Gulf States and other coastal areas.Takata's testing of the passenger inflators to date continues to indicate this geographic area as having the highest risk, with no ruptures occurring from inflators returned from outside the expanded recall regions.During PE14-016, four additional passenger inflator field events occurred, all in vehicles from the same expanded geographic region.Also during PE14-016, four additional driver inflator field events occurred including two in vehicles from regions not known for high absolute humidity, specifically California and North Carolina.Accordingly, ODI requested all five of the affected vehicle manufacturers currently using the subject Takata driver inflators expand to nationwide recalls.Significantly, neither of the affected vehicle manufacturers or Takata provided any explanation to account for these two driver air bag inflator ruptures outside the area of high absolute humidity.Takata testing of returned driver inflators indicates a lower rupture frequency as compared to passenger inflator testing.All test ruptures reported by Takata to date have occurred on inflators returned from high absolute humidity areas.The PE is now closed/upgraded to an Engineering Evaluation (EA15-001) to include all manufacturersand vehicles known to be affected at this time.ODI's EA investigation will focus on, among other things, root cause analysis, other potential defect consequences, identification of affected vehicles scope, and adequacy of the remedy.The recalls related to this PE are: 14V343, 14V344, 14V348, 14V351, 14V353, 14V655, 14V700, 14V701, 14V752, 14V763, 14V770, 14V773, 14V787, 14V802 and 14V817.The number of vehicles affected are an estimate since some vehicles may have both the driver and passenger side inflators recalled. The five ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers: 10537899, 10568848, 10585224, 10605877, 10651492

  3. INVESTIGATION: Low Beam Headlights Stop Illuminating

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA11012

    Component(s): Electrical System:Wiring:Interior/Under Dash
    Exterior Lighting:Headlights
    Exterior Lighting:Headlights:High/Low Beam Dimmer Switch
    Exterior Lighting:Headlights:Switch

    Summary: This investigation was prompted by Preliminary Evaluation (PE) 11-017, and was based on reports from consumers alleging that both low beam headlights stopped illuminating simultaneously.Some complainants also reported that the combination switch (switch) that controls the headlights and turn signals, and/or its electrical wiring harness connector were damaged by overheating.ODI's PE information request letter asked Honda for certain data on model years (MY) 2002-2006 CR-V, 2003-2008 Pilot, 2003-2008 Element, 2001-2005 Civic, and 2000-2001 S 2000 vehicles.Analysis of complaint and Honda data show that a complete low beam headlight circuit failure occurs in models with 2-bulb headlight systems (i.e., a single bulb on each side for high and low beam).Models with 2-bulb systems include MY 2002-2004 CR-V, 2003-2005 Pilot, 2001-2003 Civic, and 2003-2008 Element.Models with 4-bulb headlight systems (i.e., two bulbs on each side, one for high and one for low beam) have different electrical circuits for the headlights and do not experience the same failure mechanism as the 2-bulb system.MY 2000-2001 S 2000 models with 2-bulb high intensity discharge headlights also have different electrical circuits for the headlights and do not experience the same failure mechanism.Honda introduced the 4-bulb headlight system in CR-V in MY 2005, in Pilot in MY 2006, and in Civic in MY 2004.On March 29, 2012 Honda submitted a defect information report (DIR) to recall 554,428 vehicles, including MY 2002-2004 CR-V and MY 2003 Pilot.In the DIR, Honda stated that tension from the combination switch wiring harness to the electrical terminal for the low beam headlight circuit could cause a small amount of motion as the combination switch was operated.This motion, over time, can wear the surface of the terminal creating copper oxide, increasing electrical resistance, which may cause the terminal to melt within the harness connector.ODI continued its investigation, and on August 31, 2012 Honda submitted another DIR to recall an additional 820,789 vehicles.This report included the MY 2002 Civic vehicles which were not subject to a prior safety recall (04V-086) for headlights, all of MY 2003 Civic, and MY 2004-2005 Pilot.Honda's DIR advised that operation of the turn signal switch lever at high speed and/or with heavy force can cause movement between the combination switch body and the sub-harness wiring connector.This can cause wear and continued movement can create copper oxide, increasing electrical resistance, and potentially causing the terminal to melt within the harness connector. Please see both DIRs at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/ under safety recall 12V-136 for complete details.Honda also provided additional information on the Element model, stating that it was not recalled due to it's very low failure rate.Honda sold 301,497 Element vehicles in the United States and received 17 reports, while ODI received one report (see VOQ 10395219).Honda's technical explanation for the low rate, which was submitted under request for confidentiality, is that the headlight switch, as installed in the Element, reacts differently to the forces applied to it as compared to the recalled models.See attachment for additional information.

  4. INVESTIGATION: Vehicle Stability Assist Malfunction

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA13002

    Component(s): Electronic Stability Control

    Summary: On March 14, 2013, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (Honda) submitted a Defect Information Report to NHTSA identifying a defect in the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system in approximately 183,576 model year (MY) 2005 Honda Pilot, Acura RL and MY 2005-2006 Acura MDX vehicles (NHTSA Recall No 13V-092).The population and failure counts provided pertain only to the MY 2005 Honda Pilots that were the subject of this investigation.Honda's recall addresses two conditions in the VSA system that could result in inappropriate brake activation.The first condition is related to a manufacturing concern with a capacitor in the VSA electronic control unit (ECU) circuit board.According to Honda, VSA systems with damaged capacitors may apply a small amount of braking force for a fraction of a second, when the brake pedal is not applied by the driver.If the driver does apply the brake pedal during a malfunction, the VSA system may employ the brake assist feature rapidly increasing braking force independent of the amount of pressure the driver applies to the brake pedal (releasing the brake pedal would end the brake assist activation in such events).The second condition applied to a portion of the MY 2005 Pilot vehicles manufactured at the Alabama assembly plant that may havebeen assembled without tightening one of the VSA system electrical ground connector fasteners to the proper torque.According to Honda, an improperly torqued fastener can result in increased electrical resistance in the VSA system, causing an incorrect signal to be sent to the VSA ECU, which may result in inappropriate braking while driving with no pedal application by the driver.The owners of all affected vehicles will be contacted by mail and asked to take their vehicle to a Honda or Acura dealer who will install a partial wiring harness containing a capacitor for the VSA modulator and, if necessary, inspect and tighten the affected electrical ground fastener.All work will be performed at no charge to the owner.ODI identified 106 incidents of inappropriate brake activation by the VSA system that appear to be related to the defect conditions addressed by Honda's recall.While many of the incidents reported experiencing significant unexpected braking while driving, none resulted in crashes or injuries.ODI reviewed a VOQ reporting a crash resulting in two fatalities that allegedly may have been related to the VSA conditions investigated in PE12-028 and EA13-002 (VOQ 10492170).After interviewing thecomplainant and reviewing evidence regarding the crash (e.g., police report and witness statements), ODI did not find sufficient evidence to determine that the crash was related to the VSA system.Regarding the 25 incidents of brake activations of short duration due to a yaw rate sensor malfunction, complainants indicate that typically the events are very brief and that the puling effect is mild.This investigation is closed.

  5. INVESTIGATION: Vehicle Stability Assist Malfunction

    NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP12002

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: June 04, 2012
    • Date Closed: October 11, 2012
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Electronic Stability Control

    Summary: In a letter dated April 9, 2012, a consumer petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a defect investigation of alleged stability control failures in model year (MY) 2005 Honda Pilot vehicles. The petitioner alleged that, "in the malfunctioning of these systems, steering failures occur and the brakes apply involuntarily." On June 4, 2012 the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened Defect Petition DP12-002 to evaluate whether to grant or deny the petition. The petition is hereby granted. The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system in the MY 2005 Honda Pilot vehicles integrates braking control strategies for anti-lock braking, traction control, electronic stability control and brake assist functions. The system consists of a VSA modulator (an electronic control unit and electronic/hydraulic actuator) that receives data from an integral brake pressure sensor and from wheel speed sensors (four wheels), the steering wheel angle sensor and a combination yaw rate and lateral acceleration sensor. Allegations of unexpected braking appear to be related to inappropriate activation of the brake assist (BA) function.The BA system is designed to minimize stopping distances in emergency braking maneuvers by rapidly applying maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected. ODI's analysis of complaints and information provided by Honda in its response to the DP12-002 information request letter have identified fault conditions that may result in false detection of a panic stop by the BA system, resulting in unexpected, severe brake application. ODI's analysis of consumer complaints has identified 185 incidents of unexpected braking of varying duration, including several allegations of rapid decelerations from highway speeds to near stops in highway travel lanes (VOQs 10450564, 10467571, 10427031, 10257672, 10453607). Honda implemented countermeasures in the control and fault detection algorithm in the MY 2006 Pilot VSA modulators, which are not interchangeable with the MY 2005 parts. Allegations of steering anomalies appear to be related to inappropriate activation of the VSA stability assist function. The VSA system uses information from the wheel speed, steering wheel angle, yaw rate and lateral acceleration sensors to calculate the rate of change in vehicle side slip with respect to time. If excessive side slip is calculated, the system modulates brake force pulses to individual or combinations of wheels to maintain stability.Honda identified a problem with faulty yaw rate sensors sending an incorrect yaw rate signal to the VSA modulator.This may result in inappropriate VSA system activation, which is perceived by the driver as a momentary steering pull.The VSA control logic is designed to detect the yaw rate sensor faults in less than one second and place the system in failsafe mode, disabling all VSA functions. ODI has identified a total of 20 complaints that appear to be related to inappropriate VSA activation.The petition is granted.Preliminary Evaluation PE12-028 has been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect.

  6. INVESTIGATION: Vehicle Stability Assist Malfunction

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE12028

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: October 09, 2012
    • Date Closed: March 15, 2013
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Service Brakes, Hydraulic:Antilock
    Service Brakes, Hydraulic:Antilock:Control Unit/Module

    Summary: The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system in the model year (MY) 2005 Honda Pilot vehicles integrates braking control strategies for anti-lock braking, traction control, electronic stability control and brake assist functions. The system consists of a VSA modulator (an electronic control unit and electronic/hydraulic actuator) that receives data from an integral brake pressure sensor and from wheel speed sensors (four wheels), the steering wheel angle sensor and a combination yaw rate and lateral acceleration sensor.Allegations of unexpected braking appear to be related to inappropriate activation of the brake assist (BA) function.The BA system is designed to minimize stopping distances in emergency braking maneuvers by rapidly applying maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected. ODI's analysis of complaints and information provided by Honda in its response to DP12-002 and PE12-028 identified fault conditions that may result in false detection of a panic stop by the BA system, resulting in unexpected, severe brake application. The VSA control algorithm should detect inappropriate BA activation in less than 1 second and turn the system off. However, some complaints allege longer duration incidents of severe braking with no brake pedal application. Honda implemented countermeasures in the control and fault detection algorithm in the MY 2006 Pilot VSA modulators, which are not interchangeable with the MY 2005 parts.Allegations of steering anomalies appear to be related to inappropriate activation of the VSA stability assist function.The VSA system uses information from the wheel speed, steering wheel angle, yaw rate and lateral acceleration sensors to calculate the rate of change in vehicle side slip with respect to time. If excessive side slip is calculated, the system modulates brake force pulses to individual or combinations of wheels to maintain stability. ODI has identified 22 VOQs and 18 Honda reports that appear to be incidents caused by a faulty yaw rate sensor. As judged by the complainants these incidents typically last two or less seconds.Honda identified a problem with faulty yaw rate sensors sending an incorrect yaw rate signal to the VSA modulator.This may result in inappropriate VSA system activation, which is perceived by the driver as a momentary steering pull.The VSA control logic is designed to detect the yaw rate sensor faults in less than one second and place the system in fail-safe mode, disabling all VSA functions.This Preliminary Evaluation has been upgraded to Engineering Analysis (EA13-002) to further assess the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect.The VOQs associated with the opening of this investigation are: Brake Assist: 10158094, 10160741, 10213049, 10247329, 10248833, 10257672, 10257728, 10260943, 10270110, 10279468, 10282189, 10321302, 10334571, 10360371, 10366406, 10367757, 10381501, 10382911, 10399198, 10407070, 10410421, 10427031, 10443505, 10447413, 10448010, 10450564, 10451781, 10453607, 10459818, 10464695, 10466790, 10472620, 10472803, 10479999, 10480852, 10481312, 10481341, 10481372, 10483238, 10486558, 10487248, 10487492, 10487554, 10487784, 10489358, 10492006, 10493019, 10494637.Yaw Rate Sensor: 10481310, 10492846, 10467571, 10368257, 10491748, 10307606, 10493497, 10194731, 10351927, 10492007, 10485841, 10462811, 10476925, 10482439, 10429988, 10487141, 10482567, 10359591, 10486281, 10486397, 10380979, 10486651.

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