Honda Motor Co. announced a recall on over 410,000 vehicles. Over 344,000 Honda's Odyssey minivans and 68,000 Honda Element S.U.V.s have been recalled because of "soft" brake pedals. The brakes can, in a statement issued by Honda, over time cause a loss of braking power as time and wear cause the pedal, when pressed to get closer to the floor. Honda spokesman Chris Martin reported that the problem could "cause loss of braking power and possibly a crash."
Three crashes have resulted due to lost breaking power. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated the crashes and determined that despite the fact that drivers and passengers suffered only minor injuries and no deaths, the recall is necessary. "It's definitely not operating the way it should, and it's safety systems, so it brings it to the recall status," Martin maintains.
The root cause of the braking problem is a device that controls the electronic stability control system which choses which brakes to deploy to keep the vehicle in an upright position during an emergency situation. The fix is a simple "bleed" of air bubbles within hydralic lines to remedy the problem until parts are distributed to Honda dealers for a more permanent fix,
Honda will send vehicle owners a formal letter in April which addresses the recall, though Martin maintains if a driver experiences any difficulties with brake pedals, to get the vehicle to the dealer before the letter arrives.
Honda issued a statement which said: "Although not all vehicles being recalled are affected by this issue, we are recalling all possible units to assure all customers that their vehicles will perform correctly."
Under the recall, which Honda said it volunteered to do, Honda said that owners should wait to get a letter from the company before scheduling a repair because the parts are not yet available. Letters should go out toward the end of April.
Drivers who fear that they've lost braking power should have their dealer check the brakes sooner, Martin said. The dealer can "bleed" air bubbles out of the hydraulic lines, which should fix the problem until the parts arrive for the final repair, he said.
Honda technicians will put plastic caps and sealant over two small holes in the device to stop the air from getting in, Martin said.
The automaker is still preparing a list of affected vehicles. After April 19, owners can determine if their vehicles are being recalled by going to http://www.recalls.honda.com or by calling (800) 999-1009, and selecting option number four.