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Honda/Acura Odometer Class Action Suit

rahlquistrahlquist Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Honda
My wife and I heard a brief story on the news today about Honda reaching settlement in a lawsuit stating 2002 - 2006 accords had odometers with readings as much as 4% off real world. The settlement had something to do with extending it beyond the original mileage limitation.

Has anyone heard/found any information on this issue?


  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Atlanta's Channel 2 news did a story on this. Here is the link to the Story with more info.
  • micro99micro99 Posts: 51
    I wonder how much this breaking story affects each of the posts in the `MPG- Real World Numbers ` thread ? If the odometers record mileage that is 4% too high, then the calculated MPG (either by computer or by hand calculation ) must be TOO HIGH as well - no ?? Seems like the MPG could easily be overstated by something in the range of 1.5 MPG ! This does not bode particularly well for Honda in the extremely competitive mid-class car segment where fuel economy is constantly used as a comparison metric.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Well, keep in mind that Honda, just like all the other automakers, is within the regulated amount of error. As someone pointed out to me earlier in the chat tonight, people do things that change the registered mileage such as wear out tires (which reduces their diameter), change sizes of wheels, etc... so to most of the Honda-owning world, I doubt this is more than a blip on their radar.

    If Honda is within limits having not done anything wrong but still stepping up to make customers happy, it makes me wonder what other vehicles and brands over or understate their mileage and just don't know it or don't admit it.
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    What a fast-breaking, newsworthy event! (delivered in droning monotone and followed by a stifled, small yawn) Shortly after I purchased my '03 Sonata I took advantage of an Autoclub free speedometer calibration clinic. It turned out that my Hyundai's speedometer reads a bit over 3% "optomistic". (The technician told me most do - 2-5% under or over, but usually over.) Presumably, the electronic odometer does too, since it and the speedometer are both merely multipliers of transmission output shaft revs to process and display their respective stored and instantaneous units. Sounds to me like the story that broke out of Atlanta was filler on a slow news day - perhaps initiated by none other than the same worthy representative of the noble legal profession who's selflessly handling the class action lawsuit on bahalf of all those mislead and grievously cheated Honda Accord owners. Still, in the case of any vehicle make owner, getting a certificate of calibration from Autoclub might be worthwhile for warranty purposes. In the example of a 4% "over-report" with a vehicle protected by the usual 3 yr./36,000 mile warranty, by the time the vehicle indicates 36,000 miles on the odometer, the actual mileage would only be 34,560 miles - still 1,440 miles left in warranty (presuming the car was still within three years of its initial registration date).
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    I own multiple Hondas/Acuras, so received 3 different notices about this lawsuit relating to cars I've owned or currently own. If you read through the fine print of how the class action was developed, it started with a single Odyssey owner in Texas, who complained that her odometer reading was slightly off. A 2nd consumer jumped on the case, and a law firm went trolling to build the case for the class.

    This is a good example of a case where a very small minority of Honda owners may reap a small benefit in isolated cases (regardless of whether their odometers may have been faulty or not), while trial lawyers laugh all the way to the bank. For Honda to have litigated this case to disprove allegations that their odometers were defective would have cost millions of dollars. It was cheaper for them to concede, admit no wrongdoing, but agree to extend warranties or lease buyouts by 2-3% beyond the stated mileage limits.

    This also only pertains to mileage limits. The 3 year portion of the warranty that applies to nearly all Hondas is not affected, so the benefits of this class action are extremely small for consumers. But a few lawyers got rich in the process.

    There's no question that some odometers regardless of make are defective or miscalibrated. But to subject all Honda or Acura owners to be included in this class is a waste of money and judicial resources. I threw my notices into the trash.
  • kennyg8kennyg8 Posts: 225
    Who will benefit in a class action assuming Honda/Acura is found to be negligent in odometer calibration? The lawyers instead of the car owners. In any event, in the most likely scenario, Honda/Acura will pay a settlement sum without acknowledging any mistake.

    If the odometer calibration is 3-4% higher than actual readings -- mpg values will be deceptively higher, limited mileage warranty will be shorter, and maintenance intervals will be more frequent. These factors seem to disfavor car owners. However, higher odometer readings may actually reduce the number of speeding tickets, as we all tend to drive a bit slower when the odometer edges to the right. So, take the positive and negatives, and disregard the class action notice.
  • harvey44harvey44 Posts: 178
    However, higher odometer readings may actually reduce the number of speeding tickets, as we all tend to drive a bit slower when the odometer edges to the right. So, take the positive and negatives, and disregard the class action notice.

    ??????? What ??????
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    ...when I took a laptop computer with GPS software into my former Honda S2000, the digital odometer and speedometer were absolutely, exactly, correct. The computer measured mph in 1/10 mph increments. I could set my cruise control on 65 mph in the S2000 and the computer read 65.0 mph. Tap it up, and as soon as the computer hit 65.6 mph, the S2000's speedometer went to 66 and vice-versa. the odometer in a 300 mile trip was reading exactly the same as the GPS.

    In our MDX, the damn odometer is off by 3%.

    Frankly, for a company to claim that 3-4% is within the regulated amount of error for the odometer is pure BS. They can calibrate it to within .1% accuracy without breaking a sweat. Lots of manufacturers are known to have high reading speedometers. BMW and Porsche to name a couple. My 911 speedometer (digital readout) reads 65 mph when I'm actually only going 61 mph, That's a 7%+ error. But on a 370 mile highway trip to our second home, the odometer reads 370.3 miles when the independent GPS logged 370.2. Our MDX shows 381.4 for the same trip.

    I am certainly no fan of trial lawyers. But I have no sympathy for an auto manufacturer that is as good as Acura/Honda, playing games with the odometer readings. You know damn well this is not an innocent mistake. This is the same company that can squeeze 120 hp out of 2 liters in the S2000. And yet an MDX odometer reads precisely 3% too high.

    If they were really within some bogus range of error, there would be 50% of odometers reading too low. I guarantee you, there isn't a single one doing that. And I'll put up my 911 on that bet.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Are they really playing games though? Is Honda (or any manufacturer) that unethical to consider intentionally altering odometers to reap higher revenues, risking substantial penalties or embarrassment in today's litigious environment? I just don't see the cost-benefit when you weigh the potential downsides, ethical standards notwithstanding.

    Over time, can't odometers deviate due to myriad factors? Tire pressure, slight variations in alignment, electrical pulses or surges, varying temperatures screwing up the precision of the instruments, software glitches, etc.? I'm not convinced that these readings were ever intended to be that precise.

    Take for example, external temperature monitors. I know a few people who go ballistic when their temp readings are off by 1 degree, and demand that the carmaker replace the unit under warranty. I usually tell them to get a life and worry about more important things.

    I don't believe that these instruments were ever designed to be exactly precise. The technology used is inexpensive, and 95% of consumers understand and really don't get their underpants in a bind, until one day some lawyer taps them on the shoulder and suggests this could be their lucky lotto jackpot. The rest of us consumers included as class members get coupons for $1.29, thanks to the settlement.

    There is no question that our judicial system should offer checks and balances, and keep Corporate America honest. There are good examples of this in recent history. However, there are also far too many examples of lawyers chasing the all might dollar and filing frivolous class action lawsuits, screwing with the legal system, to the detriment of all consumers. On the surface, this Honda case smells like that to me.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Is right at or just below the indicated speed. (I drove at 40 MPH on the needle, and the Garmin Streetpilot C330 I got for Christmas read 39).
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    First, for those others (not you) that seem to be confusing the two:

    - Odometer: measures distance.
    - Speedometer: measures speed.

    If a manufacturer wants to fudge their speedometer +/- 5%, that's not necessarily a punishable offense. I don't like it that I have to calibrate in my mind that a 74 reading in my 911 is actually the "safe" 69 for avoiding a speeding ticket on the PA turnpike, but so be it. The issue with Honda/Acura is consistently high reading odometers.

    Over time, can't odometers deviate due to myriad factors? Tire pressure, slight variations in alignment, electrical pulses or surges, varying temperatures screwing up the precision of the instruments, software glitches, etc.? I'm not convinced that these readings were ever intended to be that precise.

    In short, NO. Sure, in theory a slight deviation could occur if you decide to inflate your tires to 80 lbs of pressure with helium. But using an average tire size, they go 700 revolutions per mile. Or, say, about 7.50 feet per revolution. Consistently reading 3% high would mean that your odometer is reading 7.50 feet when your tire is only going 7.27 feet. That's over 2 3/4" off on every revolution. If, in reality, your alignment, air pressure, or any other mechanical system was causing even a fraction of that kind of variation, your car would likely blow up at 65 mph with the resonant frequencies that would result.

    I bought a $29 odometer for my daughter's bicyle. It measures to 0.01 mile increments and is guaranteed accurate to within 0.1%, according to the owners manual (but still not to be used for "official" marathon or event measurement). She's ridden an accurately measured bike/jogging path with 0.1 mile markers (which is used for running 10k races) and it's dead on. So if Trek can sell a bicylce odometer that is accurate to within 0.1% for $29, I think Honda can do better than 30+ times worse.

    Imagine if Honda/Acura's GPS systems were off by 3% over the United States. That would be up to a 100 mile variation from coast to coast. They'd have you looking for Main Street in the wrong bloody State. But in my TL and MDX, they can tell me which side of the street to look for my destination, whether I'm in Pittsburgh or Boston.

    Don't make excuses for Honda/Acura. They have some of the world's best automotive engineers, as my experience with the S2000 validates. The fact that certain models have odometers that are consistently reading high is not an accident. And they are probably not the only violator, as my old Nissan Maxima at 155k miles was off by about 2% (equal to 3,100 miles).
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    A speedometer and an odomoter are related, don't forget that. If one is off, the other likely is too. When the speedometer in my 1996 Accord stopped working (it would go down to zero, even at highway speeds) the odometer stopped working as well. When it would pick back up (it was off-and-on) the odometer would start rolling again.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    While it is true that the speedometer and odometer are often "related" as you describe (i.e. both working or both not), they are not necessarily related in their calibration.

    In the case of my 911, the speedometer reads 5-7% too high, but the odometer is spot on, compared to an independent GPS. In the case of my former Nissan Maxima, the speedometer was about 3% high, the odometer 2%. And in the case of our MDX, the speedometer is close to spot on, whereas the odometer is 3% high. So one reading high or low doesn't necessarily mean the other one is. And, once I figured out the percentage of discrepency, it was constant. No variation due to temperature, relative humidity or stereo volume.

    If you do a lot of driving over the same 370 mile route like I have done the last 20 years, you notice these little discrepencies, which turn out to be as much as a 12+ mile swing in odometer readings. Someone once suggested that maybe the higher reading comes from doing more "passing" rather than driving the entire route in the right hand lane. So on one particularly boring drive by myself, I went back and forth between the right and left lanes about once per mile, passing or not. It added about 0.2 miles to the trip. And nearly made me sea-sick.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Good posts, Habitat. You've certainly educated me. Perhaps there is a conspiracy, or at the very least an arrogant, casual attitude about odometer accuracy at Honda. If true, they should be taken to the woodshed with respect to their product liability.

    Besides, if the instruments are indeed subject to being slightly inaccurate, they should be off kilter in both directions. Apparently that is not the case, which is suspect by itself.
  • webby1webby1 Posts: 209
    I agree with logic....also what about all the cars that are returned from leases and the penalties for going over the allowed km ?....who will get the monies now ???!!!!
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Under the class action settlement, Honda agrees to reimburse mileage fees (using a specified formula--2 or 3% if I recall) that were assessed to lessees. It's not a huge amount of money, but some people can get that refunded.

    Same thing applies to people who had to pay for out-of-warranty repairs that were just outside the 36,000 mile ceiling. I threw away the paperwork, but it's all specified in the fine print.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,780
    Ody 99-2004, and the Ody 99-04 Problems & Solutions thread a few years, you will find that quite a number of us discussed the issue. I reported mine as being off by several %, picking up three to four tenths of a mile on any given 10 mile stretch of interstate. That says my van has probably close to 2500 miles less on it than the indicated 72k. To me this has had nominal economic impact, but to others it could be significant.

  • I just drove a 20 mile distance in my 2006 Civic LX and checked the odometer against my Magellan 3050 GPS and they matched exactly. 20 miles odometer reading on the civic and 20 miles traveled on the GPS.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    And my career (coaching) free throw percentatge is 100%. I made 3 of 3 yesterday coaching my 3rd grade girls team.

    You may very well have an accurate odometer in your 2006 Civic, but I would try a longer test than 20 miles and make sure the 1/10th mile indicators match.
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