It’s been a tough March for the all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey. After months of effusive praise in the automotive press, the popular minivan has suffered two safety-related recalls in the last two weeks: one earlier in the month for bending windshield wipers, and another Monday for potentially dangerous windows.
Although Monday’s recall affected just 2,800 units, the problem it remedies could prove catastrophic if unchecked. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), affected Odysseys have a potential failure with the front driver and passenger windows that could cause them to come off track, preventing them from rolling up or down. The result, says NHTSA, is that the windows could shatter, causing injury to occupants including the driver.
Unfortunately for Honda, the replacement will be costly: a new passenger- or driver-side window – or both – free of charge. That’s not as bad as the minivan’s March 18 recall, involving the replacement of weak wiper rods that were bending in frozen conditions. The fix for that may have been cheaper, but the scope of that recall was greater, with the NHTSA reporting just over 33,000 vans requiring the wiper rod replacement.
While recalls are generally bad news for automakers, the Odyssey’s recalls come at a particularly unfortunate time for Honda. The company is fighting hard to gain market share in an increasingly competitive minivan segment. Challengers include the recently redesigned Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest as well as an upcoming new Mazda MPV – plus a growing number of gas-sipping, car-based crossover SUVs. Nonetheless, the Odyssey has stood out from the crowd, earning several awards and a golden reputation – which the recalls risks tarnishing.
The NHTSA says that Monday’s recall is designated Honda safety recall number R73 and R74, while the automaker’s March 18 recall is number R72. Consumers with any questions should call Honda customer service at 1-800-999-1009, or the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236. Recall notices will be mailed shortly, with repair work expected to begin by April 15.