The Japan-based automaker informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Saturday that it was recalling 334,187 of its 2007-08 model Odyssey minivans due to a possible computer malfunction that could cause unexpected braking. The announcement comes about eight months after Honda recalled 183,000 2005 model sedans and SUVs for a different malfunction that could also cause spontaneous braking. Despite the problems, some auto industry experts and dealers say recalls rarely result in fewer sales for the car companies involved.
"I think a lot of consumers don't pay attention much anymore unless it's really something outside the bounds of concern," said Bill Visnic, auto industry analyst and senior editor for Edmunds.com. "I don't think consumers are paying much attention and it doesn't matter much which auto company it is."
Honda reports that it is unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the latest recall.
The recalled Odysseys were all produced at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln. However, the plant, which employs more than 4,000 workers, was not responsible for the vehicle malfunctions, said Chris Martin, spokesman for American Honda.
"This is a software issue unique to that model Odyssey," Martin said.
According to Honda, a sensor malfunction on the 2007-08 Odysseys could allow brake pressure to build up and release suddenly, triggering the brakes. Honda cannot replace the software, but is offering to install new sensors to affected consumers to correct the problem, Martin said.
Martin noted that the earlier recall, announced in March, was caused by a different malfunction, but still caused spontaneous braking. The vehicles recalled included 2005 Pilot SUVs, Acura RL sedans and Acura MDX SUVs.
Visnic said consumers are rarely concerned with recalls since they happen so frequently.
"They look at recalls as part of the landscape," Visnic said.
Del Miles, president of Frank Miles Auto Sales in Jacksonville, said recalls never impact his sales, regardless of which auto manufacturer is having the problem.
"Owners may receive a letter from the recall folks, but perhaps half of those people never even respond to it," Miles said. "I know of one who got a letter a couple of weeks ago, and they basically just threw it away."
Miles said many consumers make up their minds early on about what kind of cars they like and recalls don't seem to phase them.
"They buy like they want, especially the most popular brands," Miles said. "Recalls don't matter one bit."
The March recall did not seem to impact Honda. The company has seen rising sales of most of its vehicles all year. According to American Honda, the company sold 7.1 percent more vehicles in October compared to the same month last year. Also, the Acura MDX, which the Lincoln plant began manufacturing earlier this year, set an October monthly record with 5,608 vehicles sold, a 48.7 percent increase from the same month last year. The Odyssey, however, saw a 7.7 percent drop in October month-to-month sales.
Visnic said minivan sales have fluctuated from month to month in recent years and consumers do not consider such vehicles to be as desirable as they did in the past.
"But overall, October was a very solid month for Honda," Visnic said. "Honda really seems to be hitting the right spot now."
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.