Release 98-33
June 8, 1998

     Richard Varenchik
    (626) 575-6730
    Jerry Martin
    Allan Hirsch
    (916) 322-2990

ARB Announces Settlement With Honda To Extend Emission Warranties

        SACRAMENTO - The California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (ARB) today announced it has reached an agreement with Honda to extend emission-control system warranties to 14 years/150,000 miles for 290,000 1995-97 Honda vehicles sold in California. The action will remedy a software flaw in the vehicles' emission-control computers that could lead to higher emissions as the vehicles age. Honda also will pay $6 million in penalties, including $3.5 million to fund various environmental and air-quality research programs.

        "Honda has been innovative in its efforts to lower emissions from automobiles," ARB Chairman John Dunlap said. "They have now acknowledged limitations in this vehicle computer emission-control system, and have worked closely with ARB to reach a remedy that ensures no adverse impact on air quality and provides vehicle owners with long-term consumer protection."

        The original warranty on the emission-control systems was three years/50,000 miles, or seven years/70,000 miles for higher-priced parts.

        California regulations require automakers to equip vehicles with a second-generation on-board diagnostic system (OBD II), a small computer which tracks engine and emission-control performance and flashes a warning if something goes wrong that could increase air emissions. ARB staff, while performing on-road testing of Hondas, found that improper design greatly delayed or prevented the OBD II system from detecting engine misfires, a problem which causes increased air emissions.

        The federal government began a national investigation as a result of the ARB's findings and the Department of Justice has reached a separate settlement with Honda in connection with 1.6 million 1995-97 vehicles sold nationally.

        In addition to extending its emission-control system warranties, Honda agreed in its settlement with ARB to provide owners of 1995-97 vehicles with two separate free inspections of the OBD II system and free repair of any emission-related parts. Honda will also provide free oil changes and free ignition system tune-ups to owners of the vehicles. Vehicle owners will be notified by mail of these provisions, which are transferable to subsequent owners.

        "Low emissions and system durability are the two keys to our vehicle emissions-control strategy," said ARB Chief Deputy Executive Officer Tom Cackette. "Honda's agreement to extend emission warranties to 150,000 miles proves that lifetime system durability, at the heart of ARB staff's LEV2 proposal, is the right approach."

        Environmental and research projects to be funded from the settlement include: $1.2 million for air-quality research projects; $1.1 million in the form of 25 Honda electric vehicles and chargers to demonstrate the usefulness of electric vehicles; $350,000 each to UC Davis, UC Riverside and the Health Effects Institute for vehicle and health research; $100,000 for programs to buy back high-polluting lawn and garden equipment; and $50,000 to the Western Partnership for Environmental Technology and Education in Sacramento.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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