Torrance, Calif. – February 20, 2019 – Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling certain 2016-2018 Acura MDX, 2015-2019 Acura TLX and 2015-2017 Honda Accord vehicles. These models were equipped with a 3.5L V6 engine. The recall is due to potential fuel pump issues, and 437,032 units were potentially affected.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Safety Recall Report on this incident, sodium particulates contained in low-quality fuels can adhere to certain internal components in the fuel pump. This can eventually lead to buildup, which in turn increases the electrical and mechanical resistance inside the pump, and subsequently reduces fuel pump performance. If a vehicle is operated in surroundings with high ambient temperatures, a reduction in fuel pump performance can restrict vehicle acceleration, cause an engine stall or both. If the engine stalls while the vehicle is moving, the chances of a crash greatly increase.
Timeline of Events
Honda received the first report of an engine stall prior to August 2017. Claims were minimal and infrequent, so Honda made the decision to continue monitoring the market. Between August and September 2017, after additional engine stall reports, Honda launched an investigation. Failed return parts were sent to the fuel-pump supplier. It was known that the fuel pump operating voltage could vary between 10 V-13 V. The supplier was able to recreate the engine stalling condition while operating the fuel pump in 10 V mode.
Between October and November 2017, sodium deposits were found on the brush and commutator components in the failed fuel pumps, and between December 2017 and June 2018 Honda conducted additional tests, determining that low-quality fuels were to blame for the problematic presence of sodium. Recreation tests confirmed that fuel containing greater than one part per million of sodium could result in the aforementioned restriction in regard to safe vehicle acceleration, or potentially result in a stalled engine.
Between July and November 2018, more testing confirmed that when the fuel pump operated in 10 V mode, more sodium could accumulate within it. This situation was found to result in increased mechanical and electrical resistance, and also caused a reduction in fuel pump performance. Poor pmp performance can lead to an engine stall as well as restricted or rough vehicle acceleration. On January 22, 2019, Honda determined that a credible defect related to motor vehicle safety existed. The automaker then made the decision to conduct a safety recall, having received 731 warranty claims and 102 field reports but no accounts of any crashes, injuries or deaths directly related to this issue.
According to a media release from Honda, all owners of registered vehciles are being contacted by mail. The notice will request that each owner take their vehicle to an authorized Acura or Honda automobile dealer. Once the car has been brought to the seller, the FI-ECU will be updated with software programming that disallows fuel pump operation in the 10 V range and thus prevents the potential for sodium accumulation. If the vehicle owner informs the dealer that they have experienced an engine stall, and this is confirmable via a diagnostic scan, the fuel pump will also be replaced. Both services will be completed at no cost to the owner. Additionally, any owners who previously paid to have one or both of these repairs completed out of their own pocket will be eligible for reimbursement. The recall is expected to begin March 25, 2019.
Acura’s number for this recall is P3W, while Honda’s is N3X. Owners of potentially affected vehicles can also determine if their vehicles require repair by visiting www.recalls.acura.com or www.recalls.honda.com or by calling (888) 234-2138. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 19V060000.