NHTSA to investigate 1.7 million Honda vehicles over phantom braking concerns

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One ConsumerAffairs reviewer shares her own personal experience with the problem

Tesla isn’t the only automaker giving regulators concern when it comes to “phantom braking.” A new report suggests that 1.7 million Honda Accord and CR-V models are the subject of a separate investigation being conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) announced that it has received 278 reports (107 Honda Accord; 171 Honda CR-V) and several Early Warning Reports claiming “inadvertent activation of the collision mitigation braking system” (CMBS) in 2017-2019 Honda CR-V and 2018-2019 Honda Accords. 

Issue could cause rear-end collisions

The major issue that Honda owners raise is that the braking incidents happen when there are large speed changes, and they occur with nothing obstructing the vehicle's path of travel. Of the 278 reports, six allege a collision with minor injuries.

“Inadvertent or unexpected braking activation while driving can cause unexpected speed reductions that can lead to increased vulnerability to rear end impact collisions,” the ODI said. “The complaints allege that the inadvertent braking events occur without warning and randomly.”

ODI officials said they are opening this Preliminary Evaluation to gauge the “scope and severity” of the situation and any safety-related issues.

ConsumerAffairs reviewer shares their experience

One ConsumerAffairs reviewer – Jen, from Newburgh, N.Y. – wrote about her experience about similar braking issues with a 2018 Honda Fit that had Honda Sensing enabled. 

“Within a week, I discovered that the sensors are so flaky as to render the car unsafe to drive - while I was unable to trigger them at all during the test drive (as they sometimes fail to detect anything), the opposite problem (seeing something that isn't there) is where the car becomes unsafe. 3 times in 60 miles of highway driving, the car applied maximum brakes without warning,” she wrote in her review. 

Jen said the issue seemed to always trigger just as she was about to finish passing another car.

“This compounded the risk of brake checking - had someone been behind me, they absolutely would have rear-ended me, as they would have had no place to go to dodge my vehicle, and absolutely no way to anticipate my car applying the brakes at maximum for several seconds.”

Jen offered a word to the wise – stay away from buying a car with the “sensing” add-on.

“I would strongly recommend that no one buy a car with this 'feature', think twice before riding in a newer Honda, and be aware of their potentially erratic performance if you see one on the road - frankly these cars are a danger to others as much as to themselves,” she said in her review.

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