Honda Recalls Its Smallest Car

The Honda Fit wasn’t quite fit for sale. This week, Honda announced that it is recalling about 44,000 of its 2012 and 2013 model year Fit Sport cars. The reason has to do with the car’s electronic stability control system, and the fix may be as simple as reprogramming the software.

According to an article in The New York Times:

Electronic stability control systems use sensors and a computer to determine if the vehicle is moving in a direction at odds with what the driver is doing with the steering wheel. The system then applies the brake on single wheels to try and correct the movement.

This type of scenario commonly happens when there is something on the road that affects the tires’ ability to grip, such as when you drive on black ice, or if there is oil or other chemical spillage on the road. But stability control can also kick into gear if you have a tire blow out, or other rare events.

The government has required electronic stability control on most consumer vehicles–all except the true “heavy-duty” trucks. These systems are estimated to reduce the number of single-vehicle accidents by about 34%, and the number of single-vehicle S.U.V. crashes by nearly 60%.

What happened with the Honda Fit Sport is that the car’s stability control system was programmed using one kind of tire–the Bridgestone Turanza. But then some Fit Sports came with Dunlop SP tires, which handle differently. For people who own a Honda Fit with Dunlop tires, a simple software update will recalibrate the stability control system and fix the problem.

One lesson for all of us: If you have a car with an electronic stability control system–and if your car is model year 2011 or later, chances are you do–then make sure you check the specs before purchasing new tires.


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