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August 9, 2010

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced today that Honda is recalling 384,220 Accord, Civic and Element models in the United States due to a defect that can allow the vehicle to roll away unexpectedly.

Under certain conditions, the interlock lever of the ignition switch in these vehicles may unexpectedly deform, allowing the interlock function of automatic transmission vehicles to fail if the driver does not shift the gear selector to the Park position before rotating the ignition key to the off position. If the driver removes the ignition key without shifting the gear selector into the Park position, the defective interlock lever can allow the vehicle to roll away, increasing the risk of a crash.

Affected by the recall are approximately 197,000 Honda Accord and 117,000 Honda Civic of the 2003 model year, and 69,000 Honda Element model year 2003-2004 vehicles.

According to The Detroit News, Honda has recalled 1.4 million vehicles for various ignition defects since 2003. The news source reports that as of January 2009, the NHTSA had received 36 complaints attributed to the defective interlock lever, 17 instances resulting in crashes. In one instance, a woman reported that her own car nearly ran her over.

To remedy the defect, dealers will replace the interlock pin and lever within the ignition switch free of charge by sending letters to notify Honda owners beginning on or about September 29, 2010. Owners may contact Honda at 1-800-999-1009.

“When Honda identifies concerns of this nature, nothing is more important to the company than fulfilling our obligation and responsibility to alert our customers,” American Honda Motor Co., Inc. said in a statement today.

The Detroit News reports that at a July 29, 2010 meeting with the NHTSA, the carmaker admitted the defect existed but did not initially feel that the issue warranted a recall and agreed only after the NHTSA said it was a “serious enough issue.”

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