Honda Recalls 384,000 Cars Because They Might Roll Away

Honda is recalling 383,000 Accords, Civics and Elements from 2003-2004 because they might roll away after they’ve been parked.

The car maker said that the ignition interlock can become damaged or worn over time and that it’s possible to take out the key even if the car is not in park. Without the user setting the parking brake, the car could roll away and hurt stuff or get boo-boos on itself.

The recall expands two earlier recalls, bringing the total number of cars recalled to 1.4 million.

When the recall begins in late September, dealers are planning to replace the faulty ignition interlocks for free.

Owners can go to or call (800) 999-1009 option 4 for more information.

Statement by Honda Canada Regarding Ignition Switch Interlock Mechanism Recall: 2003 Honda Accord and Civic, 2003/2004 Honda Element; 2003 Acura 1.7EL [Honda]
Honda Recalls 384,000 Vehicles Over a Familiar Problem [NYT]


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  1. Tvhargon says:

    Now I have 4 reasons to take my ’03 Accord in. Faulty airbags, faulty ignition interlock, the “Maintenance Required” light is on, and the “Supplemental Restraint System” light is on.

    • AlfredaCosta says:

      I have an ’03 Accord and have had the same problem with the airbag light. With mine though, sometimes it’s on, sometimes it’s off–they told me “not to worry” unless the “light comes on and stays on.”

      Not exactly confidence-inducing.

      • sp00nix says:

        Some cars its a bad connection in the steering wheel and the SRS system looses sight of the airbag in some situations

  2. bullwinkle12 says:

    Couldn’t people just use their parking brake?

    • MeOhMy says:

      They could…but they don’t. Particularly people who have only ever driven automatics. I once met a guy whose car either predated ignition interlock or the interlock was worn out.

      You wanna know how I met him?

      I was collecting his insurance information after his car rolled into mine after he “parked” it.

    • Orv says:

      Most people don’t bother on automatic transmission cars. Also, parking brakes tend to be one of those “works great when new” features. Over half the used cars I’ve owned had parking brakes that would no longer hold the car in place on a hill. Some car models are infamous for having parking brakes that were poor even when new, and simply can’t be adjusted to work effectively.

      Finally, if you live in a northern state and have an older car, you’re asking for trouble if you try to set the parking brake. Rusted cables often mean they either won’t set, or won’t release once set. If it’s cold and wet out and you set the brake, there’s a good chance the brake shoes will freeze to the drums and immobilize the car.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Parking brakes are one of those things you either need to use all of the time or not at all. Using it sporadically is just asking for the problems you mention. It’s also a good idea to inspect/adjust it periodically.

      • Conformist138 says:

        My ’88 Civic had a parking brake that was totally loose. You could sorta flop it around and when it was “engaged” it did nothing at all. When it was being serviced one time I was convinced something just needed to be tightened. I agreed and, yes, the lever was no longer all loose… but the brake still never worked. That car was smashed into by an idiot with a learners permit, so I never did get it actually fixed.

    • sugarplum says:

      I always use my parking brake on my automatic as it puts less stress on the car. I didn’t know if made a difference if you always do it or always don’t…hmmm. I use it 95% of the time.

    • sp00nix says:

      The issue is, people are leaving the car in gear, and most likely don’t even know what a parking brake is. The busted device holds the key hostage until its put into P.

  3. lawnmowerdeth says:

    I remember when being able to take the key out while a car was running was a normal thing.

    When did it become bad? It ticks me off I can’t do it anymore.
    (Winter, leave car running to warm up, remove key and lock doors.. etc)

    Like every other silly rule, it’s probably because some idiot screwed up and sued.

    • Orv says:

      There are a few common accident scenarios:

      1. Your coat snags the shifter as you get out, car runs away with no one in it.
      2. Your kid/pet bumps the shifter, car runs away with them in it.
      3. Thief finds running car with no one watching it, steals it.

      #3 is so common that one municipality I lived in passed a law making it illegal to leave a car unlocked and running.

      There are remote starter systems that work with the interlocks on the car, though, so if you get one of those you can start your car from the comfort of your living room and let it warm up.

      Personally I drive older cars, so I don’t like letting them idle unattended. Too much can go wrong, like the time one of them blew a seal and vomited out all its oil.

      • lawnmowerdeth says:

        I said “lock car”. Hence the point of being able to take the key out.

        • TuxRug says:

          In my city, they say on the news every winter that it is illegal to leave your car running with nobody in the driver’s seat, even if you lock the doors. But they still sell the remote start systems…

  4. Belle says:

    I groaned when I saw this. I just took in my ’03 accord in for a problem outside the extended warranty. I was like, crap, I am going to have to take it in again.

  5. TWSS says:

    So I take it this only applies to Hondas with automatic transmissions?

    Stick shift wins again!

  6. JonBoy470 says:

    Geez, being able to take the key out with the engine running was a standard feature of most GM cars from the 80’s. At least once they had 60 or 70 thousand miles…

  7. TuxRug says:

    And that’s why I always pull my parking brake. One, I have a manual, and sometimes I forget to put it in gear, so I have the parking brake fallback that I learned when I drove an automatic. Park gear is more of a rollaway deterrent, but not a prevention.

  8. debones says:

    I drive an 03 Honda Civic but always use my parking brake. The husband doesn’t understand why I do it and thinks it’s pointless. Now I’ll show him this article and ask him what’s up.