Half a million Honda, Acuras may be bad at steering in the cold, NHTSA finds
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has opened an inquiry into complaints of possibly defective steering units on some Honda and Acura models. The problem could result in the steering “sticking,” and requiring an abnormal amount of effort from the driver to steer the vehicle in the desired direction.
The inquiry pertains to 2022–23 Honda Civics, the 2023 Honda CR-V, and the 2023 Acura Integra. Affected are an estimated 532,535 vehicles. The Failure Report Summary lists 1324 incidents, resulting in 13 crashes and three injuries. No fatalities have been reported.
NHTSA and Honda have traced the problem to the manufacture of a worm gear in the steering box. Says the ODI: The manufacturing process caused “stress and strain” on the worm gear:
This strain was slowly released over the first few months of the vehicle life. Over time, the released strain caused the deformation of the teeth on the worm wheel, causing the worm gear to catch on the worm wheel. This results in the consumer’s momentary increase in steering effort. Also, the manufacturing process did not guarantee consistent grease application and therefore, some vehicles within the scope received too little grease which contributes to the momentary increase in steering effort.
The ODI says that analysis of relevant data “indicates that the subject condition occurs early in the vehicle’s life primarily in winter months. Additionally, the subject vehicles need to be driven in a straight line for a period of time, possibly until the vehicle is warmed up, to recreate the condition.”
The analysis found that 11 of the crashes “allege roadway departure due to not being able to overcome the momentary increased steering effort prior to their vehicle leaving the roadway. The remaining two incidents claim overcorrection of the steering wheel.”
Honda has directed its dealers, when faced with a complaint, to remove and replace the electronic steering gearbox, the ODI says. The inquiry is in the “preliminary evaluation” stage.
Here’s a link to the ODI investigation into what it calls the “sticky steering” investigation. No recall yet, but one could result from the inquiry. If you have an affected Honda or Acura and experience a problem, report it to NHTSA here.