NHTSA Expands Investigation Into Honda Steering Issue


nhtsa expands investigation into honda steering issue

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expanding a probe into over 500,000 late-model Hondas that could be suffering from a steering defect. Reports indicate that 2023 Honda CR-Vs, 2023 Acura Integras, and 2022-2023 Honda Civics could be affected. However, no formal recall announcement has been made and likely won’t be until the investigation has concluded.

According to the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, the vehicles in question are seeing reports where “steering can stick and cause a momentary increase in steering effort that could potentially cause overcorrection and an increased risk of a crash.” The issue seems to occur after long bouts of highway driving in most cases.

The NHTSA cited 523 incidents, with Honda noting 804. There also appears to be at least 13 crashes the agency believes might have been related to the issue. Originally, the NHTSA was only worried about the Honda Civic. But the investigation was expanded to the Honda CR-V and Acura Integra due to mechanical similarities between the vehicles.

From Engineering Analysis 23003:

On March 17, 2023, The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened Preliminary Evaluation (PE23-005) to access the alleged defect of momentary increase in steering effort in model years (MY) 2022 and 2023 Honda Civic vehicles. The complaints report that the momentary increase in steering effort (described as Investigation: EA23003 Open Resume Page 2 of 2 “sticky steering”) occurs mostly at highway speeds after driving for a certain amount of time. The reports have been received over the past 2 years with most occurring with low vehicle mileage.

The steering gear contains a unit that includes a worm gear and a worm wheel. Honda stated this condition of momentary increase in steering effort occurs due to two factors within this unit. During manufacturing, the worm wheel goes through annealing and component conditioning processes. These processes caused internal stress and strain within the worm wheel. This strain was slowly released over the first few months of the vehicle life. Over time, the released strain caused the deformation of the teeth on the worm wheel, causing the worm gear to catch on the worm wheel. This results in the consumer’s momentary increased [sic] in steering effort. Also, the manufacturing process did not guarantee consistent grease application and therefore, some vehicles within the scope received too little grease which contributes to the momentary increase in steering effort.

The paper goes on to state that incidents seem to take place during the winter months and often “early in the vehicle’s life.” Honda is also aware of the problem and released Service Bulletin 23-037 in July of 2023 to notify dealers to remove the electronic power steering (EPS) gearbox and replace it with a new gearbox when pursuing a fix.

However, it also stated that it found no situation where parts replaced under warranty exceeded steering efforts beyond 2.4 pounds. That seems relatively minor and hardly enough to result in the aforementioned accidents where most drivers claimed they could not overcome the sudden changes in steering effort required to keep their vehicle on the road. Though the variables may also be one of the reasons the NHTSA is expanding its investigation.

Honda has said it’s well aware of the probe and that the company is presently “in communication with the agency on this topic.” The automaker says safety remains committed toward safety and will cooperate with NHTSA through the investigation process. Meanwhile, Honda will continue conducting its own internal review of the matter.

Since there’s no warning light accompanying the issue, we’d advise drivers of new Civics, CR-Vs, or Acura Integras to be extremely cautious while driving. Additional care should be taken when exiting the expressway or making sharp turns at moderate speeds, as those were the circumstances that seemed to yield the most accident reports. The NHTSA estimates roughly 532,535 Honda products could be affected based on the information it currently has.

[Image: Honda]

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