The second-row seats on the recalled vehicles have release-levers that fold down the seat-back and slide the seat forward so passengers can get into the third-row seats.
“There is potential for the seat to stay in the unlocked position (free-sliding) after returning the seat to its normal position,” Honda said in a recall, warning that an unlocked seat increases the risk of injury in a crash.
Honda received its first warranty claim for a seat not locking into place in January 2011, but could not figure out what caused the problem, and decided to “continue monitoring” for incidents.
By December 2016, Honda had 689 warranty claims and determined there was a safety defect. No injuries were reported, but in a complaint from 2014, one owner in Massachusetts wrote:
The seat slides back and forth. If there is a person in the seat it is a very dangerous situation as my passengers have hit their legs on the seat in front of them going at a very slow speed.”
Owners of the recalled vehicles will be contacted by mail and asked to take their vehicle into a Honda car dealership, where an additional bracket and spring on the second-row seats will be installed for free.
Until it is repaired, Honda is asking Odyssey owners to manually lock the seat in place by pushing down on the horizontal position adjustment bar.
In a separate recall for about 7,600 Honda Odyssey minivans from the 2016 model-year, the horizontal adjustment bar can stick in the unlocked position and cause the seats to slide unexpectedly. Honda dealerships will inspect the slide function and replace the horizontal adjustment bar if necessary.
The necessary parts will not be available until spring 2017. Owners of the recalled vehicles should be notified in the mail by mid-February, with follow-up letters to be mailed as new parts become available.
The problem was blamed on internal parts with a rough surface, reduced torque on the return spring (as a result of manufacturing variability), inconsistent / inadequate grease application, and potential grease hardening under specific temperature and humidity ranges, according to Honda.