Honda set to recall 350,000 cars


HONDA Motor Co will recall roughly 350,000 vehicles in China to resolve a cold-climate engine issue and quell a barrage of customer complaints that has hit the automaker over the past month.

The recall involves the CR-V sport utility vehicle and the Civic model equipped with a 1.5-liter turbo engine, Honda’s joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group Co said in a statement yesterday.

The company is calling back those cars to resolve a problem caused by an unusual amount of un-combusted petrol collecting in the engine’s lubricant oil pan.

The issue in some cases caused a strong odor of gasoline inside the car and in other cases the car’s check-engine light came on. Honda and Dongfeng plan to resolve the issue by updating the engine’s gasoline injection control software.

Honda officials said there had been no reports of accidents. They said the engine oil issue doesn’t affect the engine or the car’s performance.

The measure comes after CR-V and Civic owners turned to the Weibo microblog — China’s Twitter equivalent — and other means to air their complaints since mid January.

The recall points to an emerging pattern in China where customer complaints spiral as they are aired out on Weibo, forcing an automaker to respond.

Years ago the kind of recall Honda announced yesterday could have been dealt through a so-called customer service action, industry officials and experts say. That refers to what the auto industry calls a “quiet recall,” which is less damaging financially and image-wise, where an automaker fixes a non-safety issue, often free of charge, whenever the customer comes to the dealership.

A Beijing-based spokesman and other company officials said Honda and its joint venture partner are likely to recall 350,000 vehicles.