Honda Readies Recall of New Civics on Possible Engine Failure

Inside The 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show

The new Honda Civic compact car.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
  • Carmaker stopped sales of some 2016 Civics as of late January
  • Recall is latest quality setback one year after CEO change

Honda Motor Co. is preparing a recall for the 2016 Civic compact in the U.S. and has ordered dealers to stop selling some versions of the car, months after beginning sales of the crucial new model.

The automaker issued a stop-sale notice to dealers in late January, spokesman Chris Martin said in an e-mail, declining to give specific details including the number of vehicles before the official recall statement. Blogs including Jalopnik and Autoblog earlier this month cited a dealer service bulletin posted on the enthusiast site CivicX.com that said about 34,000 Civics were involved and the fault was with missing or mis-set piston rings that could cause engines to stall or fail.

The impending recall is another setback to Honda one year after quality issues led Japan’s third-largest automaker to change its president, naming Takahiro Hachigo to replace Takanobu Ito. Hachigo has vowed to improve internal communication and downplayed sales targets after recalls related to Takata Corp. air bags and redesigned Fit small cars and Vezel compact SUVs plagued his predecessor.

One of Honda’s core models, the Civic joined the CR-V SUV and Accord mid-size sedan as the company’s three nameplates to top 1 million units sold in the U.S. for the third-straight year. The 2016 model was named North American Car of the Year in January by a committee of automotive journalists.

Honda’s stop-sale is in effect on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis until each affected car is inspected and repaired, if a fix is needed, Martin said. The company will issue a recall statement once the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges its recall plan, he said.

Replacement parts for the recall were not available as of when the company issued its service bulletin dated Jan. 30, the posting on CivicX.com shows. Honda said it expected to notify customers in mid-March when tools, parts and details are projected to be available, according to the bulletin.

Honda last month missed analysts’ estimates for net income, operating profit and revenue, and cut its fiscal year sales forecast by 50 billion yen ($443 million), as costly recalls to replace faulty Takata air bag inflators expanded. The carmaker is Takata’s biggest customer and has called back vehicles to replace more than 20 million inflators that can deploy with too much force and rupture, spraying plastic and metal shards at vehicle occupants.