Honda adds 437,000 vehicles to global air bag recall

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Honda Motor Co is adding 437,000 vehicles to its 15-month-old global recall for faulty air bags in the latest quality problem to hit a Japanese automaker.

The company will replace the driver's side air bag inflator in the cars because they can deploy with too much pressure, causing the inflator to rupture and injure or kill the driver.

Japan's No 2 automaker originally announced the recall to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in November 2008 and the total of number of vehicles recalled since then is approaching 1 million.

The latest expansion of the air bag recall includes 378,000 cars in the US, some 41,000 cars in Canada and 17,000 cars in Japan, Australia and elsewhere in Asia. The North American recall was announced on Tuesday and followed yesterday by the recall in Asia.

The recall now affects 952,118 vehicles, including certain 2001 and 2002 Accord sedans, Civic compacts, Odyssey minivans, CR-V small sport utility vehicles and some 2002 Acura TL sedans.

Honda's announcement comes at a time of increased attention on automotive recalls. Though the problems are unrelated, rival Toyota Motor Corp is in the process of recalling more than 8 million cars and trucks due to faulty gas pedals.

"There is a heightened sensitivity right now to anything to do with recalls," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda.

Honda said it is aware of 12 incidents linked to the problem - one death in May 2009 and 11 injuries. The company said it is not aware of any problems happening after July 2009.

Honda decided to expand the recall after a company investigation found that more cars might contain defective air bag inflators, made by supplier Takata Corp, based in Tokyo.

The problem, the company found, could be traced to a stamping machine that sometimes used insufficient pressure to make the inflators. Honda decided to recall all vehicles using the compressed inflator propellant produced by that machine, it said.

"It took time to come to that conclusion because we had to do many tests," said Natsuno Asanuma, a manager of public relations at Honda in Tokyo. "We have concluded this is the cause."

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