Cars That Go Boom

American Honda is being sued by two drivers in Northern California who both bought their new 2007 Honda CR-Vs from Val Strough Honda in Seaside. Honda is in the midst of a national recall for using faulty Takata airbags, which contain the cheaper, but more volatile, airbag propellant ammonium nitrate.

The propellant, used in the inflator, caused Takata airbags to expand so quickly that in many cases the inflator would explode, sending tiny pieces of shrapnel flying toward passengers. Add fluctuating temperatures and environmental moisture, and the airbag could be detonated unexpectedly even in the most minor accidents, like a minor parking lot accident in May 2009 resulting in the death of 18-year-old Ashley Parham in Oklahoma.

Though Honda first issued a recall in 2008 on 2001 and 2002 Accord and Civic models, prioritizing cars in the humid southern states next to the Gulf Coast, the 2014 nationwide recall red-flagged more car models and prioritized California alongside the Gulf states.

Salinas resident Robert Gadbois, one of the two plaintiffs suing the car company, lives in a “Zone A” state according to Honda’s recall website. (The other, Paul Steven di Leo, lives in Oakland.) The “Zone A” designation means Gadbois’ airbags are at the highest risk for exploding unexpectedly due to the local weather.

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In August of 2016, Gadbois claims, he followed protocol by taking his car back to his designated service representative, Honda Morgan Hill. Service was slow to come and his airbags weren’t replaced in the estimated 30 days, he claims in his lawsuit, filed Dec. 21 in Monterey County Superior Court.

The delay could be due to a supply shortage. According to Honda’s website, parts recalled after February 2016 have limited replacements in supply.

Representatives of the dealership didn’t respond to requests for comment by the Weekly’s deadline. A hearing is scheduled for April 25.

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Marielle Argueza is a staff writer and calendar editor for the Weekly. She covers education, immigration and culture. Additionally, she covers the areas of Marina and South County. She occasionally writes about food and runs the internship program.

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