U.S. agency opens probe into 2008 Honda Accord air bag controller

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators have opened an investigation into air bags on Honda Motor Co’s 2008 Accord sedans after 19 complaints of air bags failing to deploy including in a front crash that resulted in an injury, federal officials said on Friday.

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The issue involves a module that controls deployment of the air bag. It appears to be a problem separate from that of combustible air bag inflators made by Takata Corp 7312.T in Honda 7267.T vehicles.

At least 17 million vehicles made in the United States by 10 different carmakers have been recalled, because some Takata airbag inflators have exploded, spewing metal shards that have injured or killed drivers and front seat passengers.

“Malfunction of the air bag control module may prevent air bags from deploying in a crash,” said a filing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “This malfunction causes the air bag status/readiness indicator lamp to illuminate

and the air bag system remains disabled until repaired.”

A Honda spokesman said the company is cooperating with NHTSA, while doing its own review. He also said the part involved was not made by Takata, though he did not say which supplier made the SRS module.

About 384,000 of the 2008 Accord sedans in the United States may be recalled if NHTSA finds in the investigation that a recall is warranted.

The federal safety agency said consumers have filed 19 complaints claiming that the air bag controlling SRS module failed.

A person filed a complaint saying, “My son was driving my car and did not make a turn and ran into a concrete block wall at about 50 miles per hour. The air bags did not deploy.”

There was an injury of unknown severity in the incident that occurred five months ago, the complaint said.

A person in Maryland said that his Honda dealer said it will take $700 to fix the problem, another complaint said.

Another complaint from an owner in Illinois said, “I had to pay out of pocket close to $500 for parts and labor (which) seems silly as this is a safety-related service.”

NHTSA said it is investigating to determine the “scope, frequency and consequence of the alleged SRS module failures.”

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Steve Orlofsky