Archive for the ‘Recalls’ Category

This press release just came through.  It’s a sad day that Ms. Peters lost on appeal after her Small Claims Court victory over Honda. This case may be over, but there are still thousands of unhappy and angry Honda Civic Hybrid owners who haven’t given up yet. You can check Don’t Settle with Honda for future updates.

Honda wins small claims battle, loses PR war



Honda Wins Small Claims Battle, Loses Public Relations War

United States, California, Los Angeles, May 8, 2012 – Last February a small-claims court in California ordered Honda to pay Civic Hybrid owner Heather Peters $9,867.19 for falsely advertising 50 MPG city and highway. Instead of owning up to its mistake, Honda hired a national law firm with more than 800 lawyers to appeal her win. Lawyers are not allowed in small claims court in California, but they are allowed on appeal where losses are re-tried in their entirety.

After three days of testimony on Honda’s appeal, Honda’s dream team of lawyers, led by Roy Brisbois, founding partner of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard and Smith LLP, convinced Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray, II to overturn Peters’ victory. Honda cited reams of complex federal regulations that it claimed required advertising of fuel economy numbers that the EPA itself had determined were inflated. Peters’ reaction to the ruling was:

“It’s a sad day when regulations designed to protect consumers are used against them. I’m certain that the EPA and FTC never intended to shield Honda from liability for advertising claims that a court of law determined to be false.”

A 178-page EPA report of 2006 found that hybrids in general have a greater sensitivity to operating conditions than conventional vehicles. The report states that hybrids “can either take full advantage of the hybrid technology or essentially nullify it” and found that the EPA testing methods overstated city fuel economy of the Honda Civic Hybrid by 85% when compared to the onroad testing of Consumer Reports.  Click here to read full report –

Nevertheless, Judge Gray found that Honda complied with EPA and FTC regulations. Peters does not fault Judge Gray for applying a poorly-crafted consumer regulatory scheme beyond his control, but she is urging the FTC and EPA to revisit the regulations to better protect consumers.

Regardless of Honda’s victory in this small claims appeal, it has suffered an enormous public relations loss. The Peters case was widely publicized in over 1,000 news stories globally which have given a great deal of negative publicity to the automotive giant. Peters says:

“Of course I’m disappointed, but I’m still glad that I raised awareness that Honda is no longer the great brand that it used to be.  They used to go the extra mile in customer service, now the go the extra mile fighting customers in court. I guess the moral of the story is buyer beware – especially of Honda!

The court decision is now final as California’s small claims court rules do not allow for further appeals.  Click here to read the Court’s ruling – Final Decision

A recent settlement of class action litigation regarding the same claims raised by Peters may help other Civic Hybrid owners collect a nominal cash award and coupons towards future Honda or Acura purchases.  Peters urges anyone who owned or leased a 2003-2009 Civic Hybrid to read about their rights at  1,705 people who opted out of the class action settlement may possibly be able to opt back in.  The Settlement Administrator is available to answer questions about the terms of the settlement and about the possibility of opting back in.  Call (877) 465-4797 and press “9” to skip the recordings and speak to a human.


Is your circuit board cracked? Soldered joints giving you problems? Is the glass coating on your varistor broken? If so, you’re not alone.

More than 1,000 complaints have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2005-2007 Toyota Corolla and Matrix models. The problem is that the engine can stall at any speed, without warning, and not restart. Failure to start, the check engine light on and “harsh shifting” are also listed as “symptoms” of the problem.

2008 Toyota Matrix

Woopsee…. Another Toyota safety and quality problem and yes, another reluctant recall. This issue has been floating out there for almost five years. Toyota says the problem rests with an electronic control module (ECM), a tiny circuit board that controls the operation of the engine. This time, it seems the source of the problem is clear and relatively easy to remedy.

The new recall announced by Toyota on August 26, 2010 covers 1.1 million Corolla and Matrix vehicles for model years 2005-2008 with the 1ZZ-FE engine and two-wheel drive. On the same day, GM announced a recall of 200,000 Pontiac Vibes (a mechanical twin to the Matrix) for the same model years. All the vehicles were made at the GM-Toyota joint venture, New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. in Freemont, California.

2007 Toyota Corolla

In total, 1.3 million Toyota Corollas, Matrixes and Pontiac Vibes are potentially affected by this problem. Previously, Toyota had issued four (yes, four) Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) addressing the issue and instructing dealers to replace the ECM to solve the problem; so it’s clear Toyota has known about it for some time now.

2006 Pontiac Matrix - A mechanical twin to the Toyota Matrix

The NHTSA says that there have been six crashes reported with no injuries or deaths. Toyota says it knows of three unconfirmed accidents and one minor injury. Maybe there are more?

Toyota North America’s regulatory affairs manager Chris Santucci said, before the recall, that the company did not believe the alleged defect “creates an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”

Huh? So I’m cruising in traffic and suddenly my engine shuts down. I lose power assist for steering and brakes and the car stops. In my experience, a sudden loss of critical functions can easily create a dangerous situation that could lead to a serious accident.

I would classify this kind of systemic failure while driving as an “unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety” – just to borrow a phrase.

There was more pre-recall spin from Toyota: “We understand that some customers have been inconvenienced by engine ECM failure and some have reported engine stalling.” Just an “inconvenience,” huh? Oh yes, now it is considered a safety defect.

Ah, but how things change in just a couple weeks. Toyota’s chief quality officer (love the new title) for North America, Steve St. Angelo, has the revised corporate spin: “Our goal [of the recall] is to help ensure that Toyota drivers are completely confident in the safety and reliability of their vehicles.” Don’t you feel better now about your Toyota? I don’t. (more…)