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Honda's Alliston, Ont., engine plant (Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Honda's Alliston, Ont., engine plant (Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Honda Canada issues recall Add to ...

Honda Canada Inc. is recalling 44,000 vehicles to fix a problem that could allow the ignition key to be removed when the vehicle is not in "park," the company said Monday.

Although Honda Canada spokesman Richard Jacobs said there have been no reported complaints about the problem in Canada, the company said there were "several" complaints south of the border, including one that resulted in a "minor injury."

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The problem occurs when the ignition's interlock system is damaged or worn during use, which could allow the ignition key to be removed when the vehicle's shift stick isn't in the "park" position. This could allow the vehicle to roll and potentially crash.

"The best thing is to be cautious in making sure the vehicle is fully engaged in park before trying to remove the key," Mr. Jacobs said.

The recall in Canada affects about 18,000 Honda Accords, 21,000 Honda Civics and 2,000 Acura 1.7ELs from the 2003 model year, and about 3,000 Honda Elements from the 2003 and 2004 model years. An additional 384,220 vehicles are being recalled in the United States.

This isn't the first time parent Honda Motor Co. Ltd. has had to recall vehicles over problems with the ignition switch.

Three related recalls have involved about 1.4 million vehicles since 2003. Honda recalled more than 560,000 minivans and sedans, including the 1998-99 Accord, to correct the ignition park-shift interlock defect in October, 2003. In January, 2005, Honda recalled nearly 490,000 passenger cars, including certain 1999-2002 Accords, because of the ignition switch problem.

However, Mr. Jacobs said the cause of those problems was different than the cause of Monday's recall.

The latest recall followed an investigation opened by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January, 2009, after the government received 16 complaints about the failure of the ignition interlock in 2002 and 2003 Accords. Eleven of the complaints alleged that the failure of the interlocks led to roll-away crashes.

Honda Canada said it will notify owners of the affected vehicles next month and those concerned about the problem should contact a dealer or call 1-888-946-6329. Mr. Jacobs said the company will perform a quick fix to replace the cylinder in the ignition.

Monday's recall follows another call-back of hundreds of thousands of Honda vehicles in March after some of the Japanese carmaker's customers complained about the feel of brake pedals due to air leaking into part of the anti-lock braking system.

A string of recalls due to safety concerns at Honda's rival, Toyota Motor Corp., have resulted in a wave of recalls at other auto makers, partly due to heightened consumer awareness and corporate responsiveness.

Toyota has recalled about 8.5 million vehicles worldwide because of acceleration problems and braking flaws. These recalls were the subject of congressional hearings in the U.S. and a parliamentary hearing in Canada.

In Canada, 270,000 Toyota vehicles were recalled over "sticky" accelerator pedals and 3,300 Prius hybrids were recalled due to inconsistent brake feel.

Other companies that have issued recalls in recent months include General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

Honda Canada employs approximately 4,600 people at two plants in the southern Ontario town of Alliston, where it builds the Honda Civic sedan, Acura luxury vehicles, and Honda Ridgeline trucks, as well as engines.


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