Hundreds of Honda HR-V owners have reported that their rear windows shattered suddenly, a problem that Consumer Reports says warrants a recall due to the safety risk posed to drivers from “spontaneous shattering of glass.”
The issue impacts 2023 HR-V models, with Consumer Reports noting that the publication experienced the defect itself when one of its auto testers warmed up the car using a remote start function on a cold morning. While no one was injured, the tester had to clean glass shards from his driveway and, without a rear windshield, the car was exposed to the cold weather and possible theft.
Honda HR-V owners have lodged more than 300 complaints about shattered rear windshields with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is an unusually high number for a newer model, Michael Brooks, executive director at the advocacy group Center for Auto Safety, told Consumer Reports.
Link to defroster, Honda says
“While our vehicle was parked inside our garage, the rear windshield completely shattered outward, without any impact or object hitting it … It was like it exploded,” one HR-V owner wrote in a complaint with the NHTSA, noting the incident occurred January 20 in Flanders, New Jersey. On that day, the temperature hit a low of 18 degrees, according to Weather Underground.
The owner added, “It was very scary and unsettling and could have been incredibly dangerous/life threatening if I had been driving with my young child anywhere.”
In an emailed statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Honda said that it has received “a limited number of reports of rear-hatch glass breaking on 2023 Honda HR-V vehicles associated with rear defroster use.” The issue is related to the assembly process for some vehicles due to the sealer used to secure the rear window coming in contact with the defroster’s heating elements. Over time, that can weaken the glass, the automaker said.
Consumer Reports said the defect should prove dangerous to HR-V owners and passengers.
“This is a known defect in some Honda HR-Vs, and especially if someone’s driving at high speed or in dense traffic, it could all too easily lead to a crash,” William Wallace, associate director of safety policy at CR, told the publication. “For the sake of its customers and everyone on the road, Honda should convert its service campaign to an official safety recall of all affected vehicles, which would help get the word out and maximize the number of owners who get their cars fixed.”
What should HR-V owners do?
In response to the reports of breaking rear windows, Honda said it is starting a “voluntary product update campaign,” and is securing needed replacement parts as quickly as possible.
“We estimate that this campaign will begin in April or May 2024. In the interim, any vehicle owner who experiences this type of rear glass breakage is invited to contact their nearest authorized dealer or Honda customer service (800-999-1009) to arrange a potential repair,” the company said.
But Consumer Reports said that it believes the defect warrants a recall.
“For the sake of its customers and everyone on the road, Honda should convert its service campaign to an official safety recall of all affected vehicles, which would help get the word out and maximize the number of owners who get their cars fixed,” Consumer Reports’ Wallace said.
Without a recall, owners won’t be able to find Honda’s product update campaign when they search at the NHTSA’s recall site, CR noted.