It’s difficult for me to see a subcompact vehicle and not automatically think that it would turn into an accordion-like piece of metal in the event of a crash. I’m sure that’s a pretty unreasonable connection to make, but one car manufacturer is now recalling its latest subcompact in order to boost the car’s crash resistance.
Honda announced Thursday that it voluntarily recalled about 12,000 model year 2015 Fit subcompact vehicles to replace the steel front bumper beams in order to make the car better withstand a front-end crash.
Officials with Honda say that a modification was made after an early production 2015 Honda Fit received a marginal score (the second worst) in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “small front overlap” test, which simulates what happens to a vehicle and its passengers when only the front corner of a car collides at 40 mile-per-hour with a solid object like a utility pole or tree.
According to IIHS, in the first test, the bumper beam – a steel bar located behind the plastic bumper cover – broke free of the frame rail on the passenger side of the car early in the crash. The break caused more of the crash energy to be absorbed by the driver side, creating excessive upward movement of the steering column and less space on the driver’s side.
Honda engineers modified the Fit’s front bumper structure so that energy from the crash would transfer over the entire front part of the car.
Testing after the modification received an “acceptable” rating from IIHS, and the Fit was then named a 2014 Top Safety Pick, because it had received the highest rating of “good” in all other categories.
“In the second test of a car built with the improved bumper beam, intrusion was considerably reduced and the steering column remained much more stable during the crash,” IIHS reports.
While Honda changed production of the Fit to incorporate the modification, several thousand vehicles were already on the roads in North America. Those cars are eligible for the beam replacement free-of-charge at any Honda dealer in the U.S. Honda will notify owners of the available modification.
Officials with Honda claim the update allows “all early production vehicles to qualify for a Top Safety Pick rating and the same score in the small overlap test as recently built models.”