This consumer class action arises from a latent defect found in model year 2015 – through 2018 Honda Civic, CR-V, and Accord vehicles with 1.5-liter direct injection turbocharged engines.
As alleged, the engines in these vehicles suffer from an inherent latent defect that results in the engine oil becoming diluted with gasoline, which is known as fuel dilution. Due to the defect, gasoline gets into the crankcase, diluting the oil and reducing the oil’s ability to protect and lubricate the engine, leading to premature engine wear, potential engine damage and ultimately potential engine failure. In addition, fuel dilution can lead to gasoline fumes seeping in to the passenger compartment.
According to the complaint, under normal circumstances, un-combusted gasoline accumulates in the lubricant oil pan and evaporates under heat from the engine that then ends up back in the engine combustion chamber as fuel. In the vehicles at issue, however, owners are reporting that un-combusted gasoline is diluting the engine oil which manifests in a strong smell of gasoline inside the cabin, in the short term, and gasoline in the oil that may lead to engine damage in the long term. Some drivers have reported that the car’s check-engine light has switched on as result.
Despite notice and knowledge of the defect from the numerous complaints it has received, information received from dealers, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) complaints, and their own internal records, including pre-sale durability testing, Honda has not recalled and/or offered an adequate engine repair to the Class Vehicles, offered their customers suitable repairs or replacements free of charge, or offered to reimburse their customers who have incurred out-of-pocket expenses to repair the defect.
This is a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of current and former Honda vehicle owners and lessees with defective engine starting systems in model years (“MY”) 2013-15 Honda Accord and 2013-15 Honda Crosstour vehicles (the “Class Vehicles” or “Vehicles”).
The engine starter (or “starter motor”) is an essential component of a vehicle that spins the engine when the start position is engaged by the ignition system. This allows the vehicle’s engine to “start” and begin running. This action arises from Defendants’ failure, despite their longstanding knowledge of this material and manufacturing defect, to disclose to Plaintiff and other consumers that the Class Vehicles are predisposed to a starter system defect (collectively, the “Starter Defect”). This defect – which typically manifests during and shortly after the limited warranty period has expired – will inevitably cause the starter motors and batteries in the Class Vehicles to prematurely fail. Once the starter motors and batteries fail to operate correctly, the engines in the Class Vehicles will not start, leaving operators and passengers stranded.
Vehicles are rendered inoperable when the Starter Defect manifests. As alleged herein, the Class Members’ vehicles completely fail to start due to the Starter Defect since the vehicle’s engine cannot properly turn over in a manner as required to start the vehicle. This causes the operator and passengers to become stranded and often requires the vehicle to be towed to the nearest service provider, all at the consumer’s expense.
The complaint further claims that not only did Honda actively conceal the fact that particular components within the starter system were not assembled and manufactured correctly (and require costly repairs to fix), they did not reveal that the existence of this defect would diminish the intrinsic and resale value of the Class Vehicles.
Honda introduced the Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink™ system in its 2004 model year Acura vehicles. Honda promotes Acura as its luxury brand, offering advanced technology and high performance. The HandsFreeLink™ system was initially offered as a luxury add-on but soon became a standard feature of Acura models. The hands-free interface of the HandsFreeLink™ allows drivers to use their phones without using their hands. Drivers “pair” a smartphone with the car, allowing calls to be made using a microphone and the speakers in the car, and enabling the phone to receive voice commands such as “call home” or “call my office” through the car’s system to dial certain numbers or places.
As alleged, the HandsFreeLink™ system is defective. It becomes locked into the “on” position even if not in use and remains “on” even after the car’s ignition switch is turned off. Once locked “on,” the HandsFreeLink™ unit exerts a continuous, substantial, and (in Honda’s words) “parasitic” electric drain on the vehicle’s electric system. This drain depletes and consumes batteries, and leads to premature failure of other essential electric components—such as alternators, which are forced to compensate for the failing batteries. Acura owners are left with cars that will not reliably start, electrical systems prone to fail even while the car is being driven, and essential electrical parts such as batteries and alternators that must be serviced and replaced.
The complaint contends that Honda has known about this defect in the HandsFreeLink™ system since at least June 2005 but has not warned its customers. As a result, Plaintiff and class members have had to pay out of pocket to replace drained batteries and other electrical components, unaware that the real problem is the HandsFreeLink™ system. By the time customers discover the defect resides in the HandsFreeLink™ system (if they ever do), the warranty period is typically expired. Thus, Plaintiff and class members are left to choose between replacing the costly HandsFreeLink™ unit—with no guarantee that the replacement HandsFreeLink™ unit will not also be defective— or paying to disconnect their HandsFreeLink™ system and losing the use of this feature entirely.
Honda continues to sell and lease vehicles with HandsFreeLink™ without disclosing the defect to consumers. 5. Plaintiff seeks relief for himself and a class of all other consumers who purchased or leased Acura vehicles equipped with a HandsFreeLink™ system under California law or, in the alternative, a class of Acura owners in Washington, to redress the harm they have suffered as a result of this defective technology. Plaintiff requests an award of damages and appropriate equitable relief, including an order enjoining Honda from continuing to sell vehicles with the defective HandsFreeLink™ system and requiring Honda to disclose the defect to current Acura owners and repair their vehicles.
Plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against American Honda Motor Company, Inc. (“Honda” or “Defendant”) on behalf of owners of 2012-2015 model year Honda vehicles (“Class Vehicles”) claiming the Class Vehicles are defective in material or workmanship in that their electrical wiring is coated with soy-based insulation–a type of insulation that Honda implemented relatively recently that is purportedly more environmentally friendly and less expensive than traditional electrical insulation.
Unbeknownst to Plaintiffs, however, a real and continuous unintended and undesired consequence of this soy-based insulation material is that it attracts rodents and other animals that are drawn by the soy content of the insulation, and proceed to chew through the insulation and electrical wires that the insulation coats.
Owners of the Class Vehicles, like Plaintiffs, are then left with a disabled or otherwise improperly functioning vehicle with an electrical system whose wiring has been chewed through.
Plaintiffs allege breach of express warranty, violations of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301, et .seq., and seek monetary and declaratory relief on behalf of a nationwide class.
Class Action Complaint
Honda is recalling certain model year 2016 Honda Pilot 2WD vehicles manufactured May 4, 2015, to September 8, 2015 and 2016 Pilot 4WD vehicles manufactured May 7, 2015 to September 4, 2015. In the affected vehicles, when one of the safety systems such as tire pressure monitoring, anti-lock braking or electronic stability control malfunctions, there is potential that the instrument panel will not illuminate the corresponding warning light, however the warning lamps will illuminate when the ignition is turned off and then turned back on. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 126, “Electronic stability control systems”, number 135, “Light vehicle brake systems” and number 138, “Tire pressure monitoring systems”.
If a safety system cannot immediately warn the driver when needed, the driver may be at increased risk of a crash.
Approximately 35,400 vehicles are affected by the recall
Honda will notify owners, and dealers will update the instrument cluster software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin November 27, 2015.
American Honda Motor Co. is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Honda CBR500 motorcycles manufactured January 24, 2013, to May 14, 2015, and 2013-2015 CB500 motorcycles manufactured January 31, 2013, to May 16, 2015. The affected motorcycles may experience the fuel level sensor float arm becoming deformed due to exposure to environmental and roadway conditions. This deformation can cause the float arm to separate from the fuel level sensor body.
If the float arm separates from the sensor body, it can give the fuel meter inaccurate information, or in some cases the float may contact the positive and negative terminals causing an electrical short. Either condition may cause the vehicle to stall, increasing the risk of a crash.
Approximately 14,575 motorcycles are affected by the recall.
Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel level sensor assembly, free of charge. The recall began on September 15, 2015.
Honda recently introduced its 2015 model year CR-V, announcing that the new model year would come with substantial upgrades. Most prominently, Honda advertised a new engine and transmission that was projected to make the 2015 CR-V “best-in-class” in fuel efficiency.
According to the complaint Honda’s quest to improve the CR-V’s fuel efficiency came with a significant tradeoff. Typically, auto manufacturers must balance fuel efficiency against customer comfort since several methods for improving fuel efficiency also cause noise, vibration, and harshness problems. In its over-eagerness to optimize the CR-V’s fuel economy, Honda produced a vehicle that experiences a substantial vibration at idle and low speeds—a vibration that drivers describe as “severe,” “extremely distracting,” and “nauseating.”
Honda knew about the vibration before it began selling the 2015 CR-V and had several viable options for mitigating the problem. But modifying the CR-V would either have reduced its fuel efficiency or required Honda to install costly components to dampen the vibration. Alternatively, Honda could have disclosed to consumers that the CR-V is prone to severe vibrating, and allowed consumers to make an informed purchasing decision using that knowledge.
As alleged, Honda chose instead to sell the CR-V as is. Not trusting that consumers would opt to buy a CR-V if they knew of the vibration in advance, Honda hid the problem from the car-buying public. When customers return (often just days later) to complain, Honda refuses to fix the problem or refund their money.
Honda is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Acura MDX 2WD and AWD, RLX and 2014 Acura RLX Hybrid vehicles. In certain driving conditions, the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) may incorrectly interpret certain roadside objects such as metal fences or metal guardrails as obstacles and unexpectedly apply the brakes.
If the CMBS unexpectedly applies emergency braking force while driving, there is an increased risk of a crash.
Approximately 19,502 vehicles are affected by the recall
Honda will notify owners, and dealers will update the CMBS software, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.
American Honda Motor Co. is recalling certain model year 2001-2010 and 2012 GL1800 and 2001-2005 GL1800A motorcycles. The rear brakes of the affected motorcycles may drag after the brakes are released. A rear brake that drags may increase the risk of a vehicle crash. Additionally, extended riding with the rear brake dragging could generate enough heat to result in a fire.
126,000 motorcycles are affected by the recall.
The remedy for this issue has not been determined. Honda will send owners an interim notification describing how to inspect their motorcycle for rear brake drag. A second notification will be sent when a remedy is available. The recall is expected to begin in September 2014.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. is recalling certain model year 2006 Acura RSX vehicles manufactured January 18, 2006, through August 12, 2006; and model year 2006-2007 Honda S2000 vehicles manufactured January 19, 2006, through November 13, 2006. The brake booster may be unable to maintain a vacuum when the brake pedal is depressed, decreasing brake assist.
With reduced braking assistance, the vehicle may require additional brake pedal force to prevent a lengthened stopping distance, increasing the risk of a crash.
Honda will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the brake booster assembly. If necessary, the dealers will replace the booster assembly free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 12, 2013.