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Acura’s Message to Owners: We’re Just Like the Rest


Acura, the luxury car division of Honda, enjoys a fine reputation in the United States built up over 25 years of innovation, according to Acura.com.  However, the Acura brand is demonstrating no difference from Ford, Chevrolet and other car manufacturers involved in the dangerous Takata airbag safety recall.  This hits close to home because I received a safety recall notice with regard to my 2012 Acura RDX just the other day.

Acura states in the recall letter that, under NHTSA recall 16V-061, “in some vehicles, the driver’s front airbag inflator could produce excessive internal pressure upon deployment” and that this “may cause the inflator to rupture (break apart) and deploy … “[allowing] metal fragments [to pass] through the airbag cushion material possibly causing serious injury or fatality to you or others in the vehicle.”

Read the actual recall letter I received in the mail here.

The same basic Takata airbag technology that is in the Honda, is in the Acura’s, and many other brands.  Hundreds of thousands have now been recalled, the recall  scope extends in to the millions.

For example, a 17‑year-old driver of a 2002 Honda Civic was killed in a rear end car crash when her Takata airbag ruptured on March 31, 2016 in Fort Bend County, Texas.  The Takata airbag deployed but also sent tiny metal shards like shrapnel right through the airbag and sliced the young woman’s neck and carotid artery and she died at the scene in what should have been a fairly moderate car crash that everyone should have walked away from.  As mentioned by my Legal Examiner colleague Mike Phelan in his excellent April 7, 2016 post:

 “Takata is the only manufacturer to use ammonium nitrate as a propellant to inflate its airbags.  When the chemical compound ammonium nitrate comes into contact with moisture, it becomes very unstable  and volatile.  People inside vehicles in humid areas of the world and people in vehicles exposed to much precipitation are at risk if they get into a front-end crash of having metal shrapnel shot into their upper bodies.”

Acura Airbags

So what is Acura doing for its loyal customers?  I’ve owned an Acura Legend, Acura MDX (multiple) and currently own the RDX that I was otherwise happy with until I read the fine print in the recall letter. I called my local Acura dealer and it seems that replacement airbags will not be available before September 2016, per a local Acura dealer.  The other fine print says “until parts become available for repairs … the dealer may provide the provision of, or reimbursement for, temporary alternative transportation, as necessary.”

So I spoke with Brian, a customer service representative at my local Acura dealer and he unloaded the next bombshell on me:  You can go to your local Enterprise rental car facility and Acura is providing $35.00 a day toward replacement transportation.  I asked the service representative if that would cover an SUV like my Acura RDX?  Or, what about a different Acura?  “Probably not, but if you want to pay some additional charges yourself, you can probably get a comparable SUV with Enterprise.”

Being a personal injury lawyer myself, I know that under Virginia law, if you’re in a car crash that is caused by someone else’s fault, you’re entitled to a comparable rental vehicle of the same general type that has been damaged or totaled in the accident.  But Acura wasn’t even providing that.  I guess I will now be driving a small sedan unless I want to go out of pocket.

All personal injury attorneys – whether on the victim’s side or representing insurance companies – knows that once this safety recall notice is sent out to the consumer, if the consumer fails to take steps to stop driving the dangerous automobile, they may forfeit their right to any type of personal injury or wrongful death claim if they are involved in a wreck.

Also, even though no one is yet sure why the Takata airbag defect occurs, it has been noted to occur in high humidity areas, such as the east coast (e.g. Virginia).  Acura has been telling customers it has “only” happened on their Honda brand, and on older model vehicles.  Who wants to be the first Acura model disaster?  No volunteers are stepping forward…

Acura is telling its loyal customers loud and clear:  We’re just like the other car manufacturers.  We’ll provide you a replacement vehicle, just not one that’s as good as the Acura you have right now.  Why?  There’s a lot of money involved.

Acura may have a lot of money involved, but I will tell you one thing –  I am never buying another Acura when I see how they’re treating their loyal customers.  First, I thought they were going to provide an alternative Acura, but maybe that is very difficult with the thousands of consumers involved.  My friend told me his BMW was recalled, but he didn’t even know if BMW was offering any rental car for now (as of publication date).

These are the kind of watershed moments where a corporate brand either stands tall or takes a major hit.  Time will tell how Acura comes out of this one.


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  1. Cliff says:
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    Our dealership was giving out comparable sized vehicles. We got a Santa Fe for our rdx.

    Bmw wasn’t offering anything. No loaner or rental.

  2. Karen says:
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    I have a 2011 Acura TL that was recalled. Acura, along with Enterprise provided me with a 2016 Dodge Charger.. No charge..