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Honda Brake Problems Lead to Recall of 412,000 Minivans and SUVs

A recall is being issued for approximately 412,000 Honda Odyssey minivans and Honda Element sport utility vehicles (SUVs) due to brake problems that have caused a number of crashes. 

The Honda brake recall was announced on Tuesday by American Honda Motor Co., Inc. after the Japanese automaker received complaints that the brakes in certain 2007-2008 model year vehicles felt “soft” and lost effectiveness over time.

Defective manufacturing allows air to slowly enter into the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) modulator, which is part of the brake systems of the recalled vehicles, Honda said. This results in the brakes not engaging until the pedal is pushed closer to the floor than usual, and the Honda brake problems may worsen over time.

The Honda recall comes about a month after the company was forced to expand an airbag recall that now encompasses more than 826,000 2001 and 2002 model year Honda vehicles. The Honda airbag problems can result in the airbags exploding, sending deadly shrapnel into the passenger compartment. At least one person has been killed and several others injured by defective Honda airbags.

Honda said it has received reports of several crashes and at least three minor injuries as a result of the Element and Odyssey brake problems, but no serious personal injury or deaths have been attributed to the problem.

The company says that the defect does not affect all of the recalled vehicles, however the company decided to recall all of them “to assure all customers that their vehicles will perform correctly,” the Japanese automaker said in its statement. Recall notifications will be mailed to registered Honda owners at the end of April, the company has announced.

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hectoralejandro/ / CC BY 2.0

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43 comments

  1. David Reply

    Is it just me or does anyone else find it curious that Toyota and now Honda have recall issues now that General Motors (GM) AKA Government Motors has been taken over and continues to lose money?

  2. Kristin Reply

    My 2005 Odyssey has had brake problems from Day 1. Honda has done nothing to date but replace the pads and repeatedly grind the brakes down. Clearly, they haven’t fixed the problem for the newer models – big mistake Honda.

  3. Tara Reply

    It’s nice to see Honda taking responsibility for at least ONE of their break issues. Now how about addressing the issue of the 08 Accords and the pre-mature wearing of the rear brakes. This could also cause wrecks. Mine were worn 97% and 95% and I would not have known if it wasn’t for an inspection during a routine tire rotation at 20,000 miles. 20k is WAY too early for REAR brakes to be completely gone! Honda’s response has been: You must have been riding the breaks – woman driver! Absolutely NOT! , I have found forums with literally thousands of complaints about the premature wear; and we are NOT all women! If it wasn’t for that rotation; my brakes woudl have failed very soon. I carry my children in this car! Honda will not even replace them under the new car warranty because they are a maintenance item and not covered…

  4. Erin Reply

    I am actually a previous ower of a 2008 Honda Civic, and I experienced the same problem with my brakes being soft, eliminating my ablity to slow down or stop, that resulted into an accident, that involved my two small children and myself. My son consiquently sistained a small micro brain bleed causing a few seizures, and had to be hospitalized. This in my book,needs to be resolved right away before more innocent people are harmed by this neglagent manufacturer.

  5. laurie Reply

    If we purchased a Honda Odyssey from another consumer, how do we make sure that we are a “registered” owner.

  6. shandira Reply

    i am glad this report came out before i had purchased a honda element because i heard the rumours about the airbag and did not take heed because i thought maybe my car would have been ok but thanks to this report i will be looking elsewhere for a vehicle.

  7. Jim Reply

    The Big Lie, the 600 pound gorilla in the room is using the manufacturer’s
    supplied info on defects. The dealer service people do everything they can to prevent a customer from getting a complaint addressed to their satisfaction and just work to wear them down until it isn’t worth the effort to get things fixed. My 2007 element with a windshield crack, seat belts that don’t retract and damage the door trim, speedometer recalled but the dealer didn’t want to fix, said it looked ok. My last Honda rusted through in one year of Pennsylvania weather. That was our fault too. Should of known snakes; can’t help themselves, they always slither away.

  8. Nohemy Reply

    I also had to have my rear breaks replaced earlier than my front brakes. I thought that was really odd. And I also inquired by my wheels make a clicking sound when i am backing up. I was told it was part of my wheel mechanism and that it was “normal”. I have since replaced front wheel brakes. No major problems.
    Maybe this all these problems with foreign cars will be beneficial for the american car market.

  9. John Reply

    I thought I was the only one experiecing these problems with my 08 civic.My front brakes wore out at 14,000 miles. I complained to Honda and they gave me the excuse that i drive the car hard.Hard,I have been driving 30 years and have never gotten anything more than a parking ticket.And of course, it was routine maintainence so it was’nt covered.Now,the brakes are becoming soft,and again,when I complain, it’s just my imagination. Time to buy a chevy again.

  10. David Reply

    My 2007 odyssey makes a noise in transmission between 60 and 80km and they put it on the computer and tell me nothing is wrong??? my brakes are sodt as well but i guess they are recalling that.

  11. Calembo Reply

    I have the same problems with my 2003 Honda Pilot… I almost crash into another car the other day.

  12. Andrew Reply

    Honda issued a Service Bulletin 07-045 , March 5th 2009 about the ‘brake pedal is low and feels soft ‘ problem in Accords , Elements and Odysseys. They said that the problem could be fixed by manually bleeding the brakes or replacing the ABS, the TCs or the VSA modulator control unit. My daughter put a deposit down on a 2007 Odyssey with a Honda Dealer just before the latest recall was announced and the dealer will not deliver the car to her or give her a date when it could be fixed. I called Honda and they said that the dealer was not allowed to release the car, but it would be ready within a week. So far two weeks have passed and there still no word when this will fixed. As Honda obviously had the procedures and parts for this a year ago , I do not understand why they are telling the dealers not to release the Odyssey and why the parts are not available.

  13. Carolyn Reply

    I had a problem with my 2007 Odyssey shaking at 30 and 60 mph and found out Honda did issue a recall on the torque converter for the transmission. I had mine replaced at the dealer in December and haven’t had a problem since. You might want to look into it.

  14. theresa Reply

    I just brought my 2003 Pilot (109k miles) to Honda service becuase the brakes seemed to give out as the pedal got closer to the floor. I was told the abs modulator had to be replaced and brakes too. Getting a bill for over $2,000. I have complained about brakes since 2004. My purchased warranty ended at 100k miles.

  15. MJ Reply

    I have a 2005 Odyssey EXL that has had brake issues develop around 6K miles. I took my van to the dealership where I bought the vehicle and they told me that it was all in my mind and I am driving a “Sporty” van and the steering is giving me feedback or “road feel”. The steering used to vibrate under braking and the brakes felt rough in general. At 9K I paid them a visit again and was told that the van is being driven with the foot on the brake or we use the brakes more aggressively than others. My van is driven by my wife who is the most gentle driver that I know of. To cut the long story short the rotors were turned and the pads were changed at 9K miles & then again at 26K. At 40K miles the brakes started doing the same thing again. This time I decided to work on it myslef and found a pretty bad design. The standard pads used by Honda are so hard that they do not wear at all in the front and generate so much heat that they wrap the rotors and cook the brake fluid. I got the rotors turned and installed the most expensive aftermarket pads I could find. Now I have 60K miles and so far the pads/rotors are holding up. I still hear a moan from the right front everytime we turn and brake at the same time. I have been hearing this grinding moan since brand new and Honda told me that it is “normal”.

  16. Carl Reply

    We are having problems with our brand new (2010) Honda Accord seedan – the brakes are failing intermittently. So far two minor (but expensive) accidents have resulted.

  17. Jeff Reply

    I have an 05 Honda element with 77k and an 08 element with 11k. I drive the 05 and the few times I drive the 08 element I have nearly crashed. If u drove the 08 element daily u might get use to it. I took it to Honda and they said it was fine. I told them if they drove my 05 element afterwards they probably would cause an accident from slamming on the breaks. It’s that big of a difference. Our windshield cracked after a couple months of owning the 08 element which they had recalls on past elements for but not this one. I love Honda and I think if GM wasn’t owned by the public Toyota and Honda would be doing business as usual. I had a hyundai tiburon with six transmissions in 5 months. One died in their parking lot before I even made it out. The car would not shift into fourth gear (automatic) and the car would accelerate by itself.

  18. Dissapointed Honda Owner Reply

    We just had our 2009 Honda Accord in for its second service/oil change at only 15,000 miles and was shocked to find out that the rear brakes are prematurely worn to less than 1mm. If we had not had our tires rotated, we may have not known of this problem until the rear brakes completely failed. Honda has agreed to pay 50% of the almost $300 repair cost and does not admit that the brake pads and or rotors are defective. Yet, we have been told that the dealers have been overwhelmed with this repair issue. The service department claims they do not know of the cause. Honda needs to step up and take care of this potential life safety issue before someone gets hurt. Who knows, maybe someone already has.

  19. Niel Reply

    I’m a very disgruntled owner of a 2007 Honda Civic and had numerous brake failures at 120km/h, especially on downhills. After numerous complaints, Honda skimmed the discs and replaced the brake pads at my cost. Their comment was that they never had anyone with a Honda Civic that drove 82000km and still had 25-30% left on their brake pads. The problem continued and then they replaced the discs and put new brake pads on, and still the problem persists. The old pads had more than 30% life left and the discs had no damage. A screaching noise from the first replacement is still present, but Honda ignored it and now the problem became mine. They only reccon that if I want it fixed I have to pay. Honda you are pathetic and you lost a customer for life!!!

  20. Veronica Reply

    I have a 2008 Honda Accord and I have 66000 miles on it and have had to replace my rear brakes 3 times!, that is an average of 22000 miles for each set of brakes. Brakes should last a lot longer than that especially being a front wheel drive. My front brakes are still great but my rear ones are shot! Honda does need to address this problem before someone does get hurt or even killed.

  21. Winsley Reply

    I have had my Accord for 2 years and love it. However, today I will be replacing breaks for the second time. Where do I find the contact info to be reimbursed for break expenses under the class action law suit?

  22. Jerry Reply

    I have a 2008 Honda Element with 20670 miles. The other day I heard a grinding sound ; so I stopped the vehicle and proceeded to inspect the wheels. I noticed that the right rear wheel had large deposits of carbon dust. A Honda dealer was close by to which I drove the vehicle.
    They told me that the slider pins were dry which caused an improper operation of the caliper leading to my break pads to grind.
    I had service done on my vehicle in March 2010 and the Honda Tech had marked off good on his checklist for all 4 brakes. My mileage was only 16000 miles. In just 4000 miles my break pads had failed.
    I do not believe that brake pads should have to be changed at almost 21000 miles.

  23. larry Reply

    My 04 Element at 35K is going in for its 3rd rear brake job. I am told I dont drive it enough!!! They say the slides rust up??? IN 50 years of car ownership I’ve never had this problem. The front brakes are original equipment.

  24. Mark Reply

    I just bought an 08′. The pads are low on the rear. i thought it would be just normal maintenance, but now im reading sliders rust, air bubbles in system…major problems. great. Has anyone thought of turning off the VSA when conditions arent wet or snowy? Or do any mechanics think that this on/off would increase the problem?

  25. Deb Reply

    We’ve had our 2008 Pilot for 2 years now–mileage is 33K. Went in for routine maintenance and was told that our brakes-FRONT AND BACK–were at 1/32? The dealership/repair shop agrees that it is odd for both sets of brakes to wear at such an even pace. They did mention a known problem with the Accord’s brakes but there is nothing known about a problem with the Pilot’s brakes–I find this hard to believe. I think that maybe it is not a safety issue but a repair issue that just makes Honda richer. This is our first and last Honda. What a joke.

  26. George Reply

    I have a 2006 Odyssey I bought new. It has 46K miles. We have babied the car but now Honda says it needs new rear rotors and pads. They want nearly $600 to fix it. When I complained they said it was a “wear issue”. I have never had to replace rear brakes at this mileage. I called Honda Customer Relations telling them I had owned six new Hondas since 1976 and would not buy another. That was fine with them.

  27. Bill Reply

    I had the brake recall service performed on my 2008 Odyssey by the local dealer. I was pleased that it was a covered fix on this little used van (11,000+ miles). I I needed to get the brakes looked because the brakes were not working well and the pads were good. In less than 300 miles the problem returned. The dealer “performed the recall service again” when I took it back. I am concerned that the true problem and the real fix has not been identified or will not be fully implemented. The ability of this van to stop securely was one of the selling points. I have my fingers crossed. This is my first Honda and I want it to last a long time.

  28. mike Reply

    I have a 2003 pilot with the soft brAke problem and that noise in transmission at 48 to 60 km.too.

  29. Caryn Reply

    I have a 2005 Odyssey EXL, which I LOVE, but have had brake problems since about 5k miles. We had the brakes replaced twice within the first 20K miles as well. We were also told the same as others I’ve seen in the string of comments above. That we brake too hard etc etc. I also get a shake in the front end at 60mph+. Dealership said tires. Have had tires checked and alignments done by tire shops and can find nothing and yet…still get this horrible shake (especially when braking). Other than that…best vehicle we’ve ever owned.

  30. Kevin Reply

    I have a 2006 Odyssey LX,but have had brake problems since about 50-60K miles. We had the brakes replaced twice within the first 25K miles as well. I got an accidence in today. when I pushed the pedal but Brake can not stop the car. And Air Bag are not working too.

  31. richard Reply

    I own a 2002 honda odyssey mini van. I purchased this car from my mother who had purchased brakes for this vehicle awhile ago. Last wekk I took the van to the honda dealer due to a maintenance light however I was told I needed rear brakes. The service associate assured me that I could wait until the next oil change to have the brakes fixed. On the way home the car became louder and louder due to the malfunctioning of the brakes. I returned to the honda dealer only to be told we needed brakes and rotors. Cost was almost five hundred dollars. I find it appalling that honda had a recall on their odyssey brakes for mini vans and it was never mentioned to us by their sales associate. I’m not able to pull money off trees. Wish I could.

  32. Ken Reply

    I have a 2008 honda odyssey and had many problems since I bought it.
    I complain to the dealer about the brakes, and about front axels the first month I purchased the van back in 2008. The dealer of course told me the could’t dulplicate the problem. Few months later my ac went out so I took it in. They fix my ac and replace my front axel because the were defective.(front axel were binding), I told them..but they still refuse to do anything about my brakes.. yes I got into an accident. Thank god no one got hurt. I could of prevented the accident with working brakes. Yes it might be a crash safety van with all the interior airbags, but causing an accident it will rate much higher.. I went for the recalls, brakes still the same. Now i have a knocking or rattle sound from engine when warming up. And of course the dealer service mechanics cannot dulplicate the problem..so if you own one of these vans becareful..

  33. GEORGE Reply

    i had a 2006 honda odyssey and i got rid of it last month due to the problems that they are having right now. i had electrical, brake and suspension problems within the first couple of months that i had it. i figure they would fix it but it was a uphill battle. i finally was able to get honda relplace the pads and the rotors, change out the elctrical fuses that inhibit my car to turn on my headlights and light on the passenger visors. also the stater went out on me just after 3 yrs. overall what a crapy car. please don’t buy hondas they are eventually going to be the next toyota crisis. if you value your life and your family don’t do it and don’t believe the hype about these cars.! anyone out there i welcome your stories to be told for justice.

  34. Michael Reply

    I have an 07 Honda Element EX. I have had constant problems with the brakes. The rear has had the most problems, but the front have had their issues as well. Very, very disappointed with the Element. I’m sure that Honda knows it has faulty brakes on a lot of its vehicles, but will let it’s customers hang out to dry. First and last Honda I will ever buy.

  35. William Reply

    I own a 2010 Honda Accord it has 25,000 miles on it and I just had the rear brake rotors and pads replaced. The mechanic said he hasn’t seen the rotors go out so early on a new car. I have since found out about a class action suit concerning this issue. I do not qualify because my vin number falls outside the allocated range. A nice dea for l the auto manufacturer. Someone said it earlier “this has got to be good for the American manufacturers.

  36. Jennifer Reply

    I have a 2007 Honda Element as a third car, the “dog car”. We only take the Element on camping trips and to the dog park. In 2009 I had to replace the rear brakes and now less than 2 years later I just brought my car in and they claim my rear brakes have “lot rot”. They said the whole brake system was rotted out and need to be replaced with a $1000 price tag. So after less than 2 yrs and now it has a little over 18,000 miles it needs a whole new back brakes. Honda America or whatever the 800 # is said that they would replace the rotors as a good customer service which still would leave me with over $800 in fees for the rest of the parts and labor. I am getting it done at a local garage for less than $300 and I am specifically requesting NO Honda parts! We thought it was a good car for the dogs, but I assure you I will never buy another Honda.

  37. JOHN Reply

    ANYONE TIRED OF THE DEALERS? I HAVE AN 08 SCELEMENT. I HAVE HAD A SOFT BRAKE PEDAL SINCE NEW, I NOW HAVE 33,000 MILES . IHAVE HAD IT IN FIVE TIMES FOR SOFT BRAKES PLUS ONE TIME FOR THE RECALL. I HAVE BEEN IN TOUCH WITH HONDA AMM. AND THEY SENT ME BACK TO THE DEALER TO HAVE BRAKE PEDAL MEASUREMENTS TAKEN. THE DEALER CALLED ME TODAY7/19/2011 AND SAID EVERYTHING IS OK! I ASKED HIM THEN WHY DID THEY PUT A NEW MASTER-CYLINDER ON THE LAST TIME WITH THE SAME PROBLEM. DOES IT FALL UNDER LEMON LAW? I CAN`T AFFORD TO REPLACE IT.

  38. david Reply

    I have a 2009 honda odessey my brakes shutter when we are going above 40 and brake. They cut the rotors but still have the problem .anyone else have this problem?

  39. Lori Reply

    We have a 2005 Honda Element. We have always thought the brakes were soft, but this evening they totally failed and got me into a fender bender. Luckily I was barely moving and coming up to red light, but when I put my entire body weight into the break it still was TOTALLY UNRESPONSIVE. I read all these reports and now know I am not crazy and it is definitely something wrong with the car.

  40. Debra Reply

    I have a 2000 Honda accord and while going in reverse the brakes apply themselves. Anyone have this problem or a solution to what is causing this. ABS module has been replaced.

  41. Linda G Reply

    I have a 2009 Honda Element, that I generally hate. I have only 20,000 miles and have already had to replace the tires (front worn badly) and just had the front brakes done and based upon a noise I hear, I will probably ned the back brakes replaced as well. Called Honda to complain and they said that 20,000 brake replacement is normal for a Honda. I said if they had told me that when they were selling me the car I never would have bought it. I also get terrible gas mileage…the car is so tinny that if you lean on it it dents, the paint chips/scratches/ the rubber matting on the floor is buckling, it is impossible to get in/out of the suicide doors if somebody is parked next to you….etc, etc.

  42. C Ainsworth Reply

    This is interesting – I have an 07 Accord Euro – I have complained that the brakes on it are spongy and soft and getting worse .

    I know wonder if this is related – it is a real worry

  43. Felicia Reply

    I have a 2004 Honda Odyssey . I purchased 5 years ago I have replaced brakes literally every 3 to 4 months since then. My tires are going flat constantly I’ve replaced stems. My driver side door handle has broken. The driver side passenger slide door kicks back doesn’t want to close. I have to force it. It is scraping the paid t off my van. I’ve replaced the drivers side window controller. I take my van to the dealer to get recall fixed they don’t assemble my ignition properly rubber piece is busted now I have to stop my car put it in park so my windshield wipers will stop.

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