Honda is a Japanese multinational corporation that manufactures automobiles, motorcycles, and power equipment. Founded in 1948 by Soichiro Honda, the company has since become one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world, with a presence in more than 150 countries. Honda’s products are known for their reliability and fuel efficiency, making them popular choices for both consumers as well as for many commercial purposes.
Honda Lawsuits Over the Years
The company has been involved in numerous lawsuits over the years, primarily related to product liability. Honda has faced lawsuits alleging that its vehicles have caused personal injury or property damage due to defective parts or design flaws.
In addition, they’ve been sued for deceptive advertising and false claims about their products. However, it’s rather difficult to pinpoint the exact number of lawsuits that Honda has been involved in due to the sheer volume of cases due to the enormity of the number of vehicles sold by the company.
A Wide Range of Vehicle Issues
In the fiscal year 2021 alone, The Honda Group was successful at selling approximately 4.5 million vehicles, according to Statista. So, now that we’ve established how big Honda is, and before we launch into the 10 biggest Honda lawsuits in company history, we’re going to outline the wide range of defects and issues that the company has had problems with and/or been sued over:
- Brakes sticking
- Check engine light illumination
- Engine emits grinding noise
- Engine shudders
- Engine stalling out after starting
- Engine won’t turn over or start
- Excessive oil consumption
- Faulty alarm systems
- Frequent premature battery failure
- Loss of power, surging or stumbling
- Loss of power during acceleration
- Occasional hesitation
- Premature brake wear
- Squeaky brakes
- Transmission jerking into gear
- Transmission slipping
- Trouble shifting gears
- TPMS warning light
- Vibration from brakes
- Warped rotors
So, here are the 10 biggest Honda lawsuits in company history, starting out with the most expensive, highly publicized, and oldest:
1. Most Expensive Honda Lawsuit – David J. Keegan et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. Inc. et al – Rear Suspension Defect
The most expensive Honda lawsuit (Case No. 10-cv-09508) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. According to Top Class Actions, in 2013, a nationwide class action suit against Honda resulted in a settlement of $460 million after the company was accused of selling both Civics and Civic Hybrids (model years 2006 to 2008) knowingly with defective control arms and rear suspension.
Replacements & Reimbursements
Honda also agreed to replace prematurely worn tires, and certain rear suspension parts, as well as to reimburse the vehicle owners who had already incurred out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, the lawsuit alleged that the company was already aware of the faulty suspension during the vehicles’ pre-release testing phase and failed to notify the affected customers until 2008.
What About the Six Billion Dollar (yes, with a “B”) Lawsuit in 2014?
One other class action lawsuit against Honda would have held this position if they hadn’t settled for much less. In 2014, a False Advertising Class Action Suit alleged that the company had misled consumers with false advertising regarding the fuel economy of its vehicles.
The class action suit sought over $6 billion from Honda, accusing them of deliberately misleading customers and failing to disclose important information about the true fuel efficiency of their cars. Ultimately, Honda settled out of court for a much lower amount, but details of the settlement remain confidential.
2. Most Highly Publicized Honda Lawsuit – Takata Airbag Scandal
The most highly publicized Honda lawsuit was the Takata airbag scandal, which began in 2014 and lasted for several years. The lawsuit alleged that Honda, along with other automakers, had installed dangerous airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation in some of its vehicles. These airbags were prone to sudden and unexpected deployment, potentially leading to serious injury or death.
According to CBS News, the scandal and related lawsuits resulted in numerous recalls of affected vehicles and a settlement of over $1 billion (between all automakers using the airbags, as well as Takata) with the US Department of Justice. This was also the longest lawsuit against Honda in the company’s history.
How Much Did Honda Have to Pay?
Honda paid $96.5 million for settling the probe that uncovered the defective airbags in many of its vehicles. The Takata airbag class action lawsuits originated from the Attorneys General of no less than 46 states, Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories. Since then, Honda has recalled about 12.9 million Acura (Honda is the parent company of the brand) and Honda vehicles that were equipped with those Takata defective airbag inflators.
Failure to Inform Led to Deaths & Injuries
The settlement was also the culmination of the investigation into the alleged failure of Honda to inform both consumers and regulators regarding the known risk of frontal airbag system ruptures in some vehicles.
The airbag systems were designed and manufactured by Takata Corp. and could result in metal fragments flying toward passengers in the event of a rupture. Some 14 (or more) people in the U.S. alone died from Takata airbags that ruptured. In addition, at least 200 were injured, according to Letitia James, the New York Attorney General.
3. Oldest Recorded Honda Lawsuit – False Advertising and Deceptive Practices
The oldest Honda lawsuit dates all the way back to August 1995 when the company was accused of false advertising and deceptive practices related to fuel economy ratings. The class action suit alleged that certain Honda vehicles were not achieving the fuel economy ratings advertised in brochures and other marketing materials.
Settled Out of Court
The case was eventually settled out of court. At that time, Honda agreed to pay out $17 million in refunds and other compensation.
4. Constance Chiulli v. American Honda Motor Co. Inc., et al., – Faulty Infotainment System
In January 2023, Case No. 3:22-cv-06225 was filed against Honda in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Subsequently, Honda agreed to a class action settlement that benefited certain vehicle lessees and owners who had issues with their Honda infotainment systems and filed a Honda settlement claim form in the matter.
The vehicles involved included:
- 2018 & 2019 Honda Odysseys (including Elite, EX-L, EX-LNR, EX, and Touring trim models),
- 2019 Honda Pilots (including 2TRG, 2EX-LNR, 2TRG 7P, 4EX-L, 4Elite, 4EX, 4TRG, 4EX-LNR, and 4TRG 7P trim models),
- 2019 Honda Passports (including 2EX-L, 4EX-L, 2TRG, 4Elite, and 4TRG trim models)
New Vehicle Limited Warranty Extensions
As part of the settlement, Honda agreed to extend their New Vehicle Limited Warranty. If the vehicle is within five years or 60,000 miles of its original purchase or lease date, the warranty will be extended for two years or 24,000 miles to cover some Honda infotainment system symptoms.
5. Eliyah u Wolf et al., v. American Honda Motors Co Inc. – Defective Turbo Direct Engine Class Action Suit
Honda allegedly equipped some of its Honda Accords, Civics, and CR-Vs with a turbo direct engine that was defective and could result in catastrophic engine failure. According to Top Class Actions, the plaintiffs filed their class action complaint in Illinois federal court on Oct. 24, 2022, alleging Honda violated both federal and state consumer laws.
In addition, according to the lawsuit, Honda allegedly marketed its turbo direct injection engines (1.5-liter) in such a way as to fool customers into believing they are purchasing a revolutionary product focusing on power, efficiency, and reliability.
- The affected vehicles include:
- Honda CR-Vs (2019 thru 2023)
- Honda Civics (2019 thru 2022)
- Honda Accords (2018 thru 2022)
6 . Deneen Nock, et al. v. Honda Motor Co. Ltd., et al.- Class Action Lawsuit- Auto-Idle Engine Stop Defect
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 2:23-cv-00109 alleges that some specific Honda vehicles had an engine defect that could cause them to become immobile and inoperable.
Several claims were brought against Honda in this class action lawsuit, including negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, and unjust enrichment, as well as other violations of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. This particular Honda lawsuit would affect the following vehicles (equipped with nine-speed automatic transmissions and 3.5L engines):
- 2016-2020 Honda Pilot
- 2015-2020 Honda Odyssey
- 2015-2020 Acura TLX
- 2015-2020 Acura MDX
Significant Safety Risk
The suit also alleged that, on those specific models, Auto-Idle Stop does not trigger the automatic engine restart feature when the brake pedal is released in vehicles affected by the alleged Honda defect, which poses a significant safety risk to vehicle occupants. And, according to the lawsuit, this Honda defect renders the affected vehicles inoperable, which can result in significant costs for drivers in terms of towing and ineffective repairs.
Did Honda Know?
The Plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and American Honda Motor Co. Inc. (AHMC), knew all about the Honda defect since 2018 (if not earlier).
At the time, AHMC reportedly issued an internal communication that acknowledged the customer complaints regarding this problem, requesting a visit to an authorized service department for the purpose of inspecting the affected vehicles.
The class action also claims that numerous Honda and Acura drivers have complained about the defect to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which launched an investigation on June 3, 2022.
7. Baylor v. Honda Motor Company- Violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
This very recent and still ongoing class action suit filed against Honda Motor Co., Ltd. is a bit different from the others as it involves Honda investors rather than consumers. It is seeking to represent investors who purchased and/or acquired American Depositary Shares of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) that were issued from June of 2018, to September of 2022, according to Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.
False or Misleading Statements
- This lawsuit also alleges that the defendants made false and/or misleading statements throughout the above Class Period, failing to disclose:
- Sales of thousands of vehicles that were equipped with flawed Idle Stop features,
- Overstatement of the safety and effectiveness of that feature, throughout the Class Period,
- Deficient procedures and disclosure controls related to product quality and safety,
- Subjected Honda and/or Honda subsidiaries to a high risk of litigation plus reputational or financial and/or harm.
8. Fath, (et al), v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc. – Oil Dilution Lawsuit
In this 2020 case that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Minnesota, drivers of some 2018 thru 2023 Honda vehicles could experience oil dilution and stall. The engines of affected vehicles may suffer significant wear and damage due to manufacturing defects that can cause oil to be diluted with fuel.
No Steps to Fix the Problem
Honda is also accused of knowingly leasing and selling vehicles that were equipped with defective engines. The suit also alleges that the company was guilty of failing to take any meaningful steps to fix the problem as well as failing to inform the affected customers.
9. 2020- Another Faulty Airbags Class Action Lawsuit
This fairly recent lawsuit against Honda was filed in May 2020, accusing the company of selling vehicles that were equipped with faulty airbags. This is a separate and much more recent airbag class action suit against Honda than the Takata Scandal represented. The lawsuit claims that the airbags in some vehicles were prone to deploying without warning, potentially leading to serious injuries or death.
Seeking Recall & Damages
The class action suit is seeking damages for those affected by the alleged airbag defects. The Plaintiffs are also seeking a recall of all of the potentially affected vehicles.
10. Mary Quackenbush, et al. v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc., et al – VTC Class Action Suit
In Civil Case No. 3:20-cv-05599-WHA, the lawsuit alleges that Honda manufactured and sold vehicles that were equipped with variable valve timing control (“VTC”) actuators that were prone to rattling briefly during cold startups.
The Plaintiffs further alleged that the Defendants were aware that the alleged defect could pose a safety hazard and that they were also aware of the defect at the time of the sales of the affected vehicles.
Still an Ongoing Case
The case is still ongoing and The Court hasn’t decided yet whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of the company. Honda continues to deny all of the Plaintiffs’ allegations and, to date, there’s been no recovery for the Class nor any guarantee that there will be. The case is still pending in The US District Court for the Northern District of California before Judge William H. Alsup.