Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the 2022 and 2023 Honda Civic. The agency had received 145 complaints from owners stating that the car suddenly exhibited “sticky steering” and increased steering effort. We’re now learning that the investigation is expanding to include hundreds of thousands more cars.
The original probe included around 238,000 Civics, but the NHTSA’s latest report, issued Friday, noted that the investigation is expanding to include more than 530,000 Hondas and Acura vehicles. The 2022 and 2023 Honda Civic, 2023 Honda CR-V, and 2023 Acura Integra are affected. A drastic increase in complaints drove the expansion, as the NHTSA said it had received 1,300 reports and was aware of at least 14 crashes related to the problem.
An alarming 11 of those crashes involved a roadway departure due to loss of steering control. Two of them came after the driver allegedly overcorrected, and there are three known injuries from the crashes. NHTSA’s report found that the problem happened primarily in the winter months and after the car had been driven in a straight line for an extended period to warm up the vehicle and gear.
Though alarming, it’s worth noting that this investigation has not yet reached the recall stage. Honda acknowledged the problem, noting that it was a manufacturing issue for the steering gear unit. The manufacturing process created conditions that could cause greater internal stress, which can wear and deform the gears inside the steering component. The NHTSA also found that the factory did not guarantee consistent lubrication throughout the gear, which could be the cause of the temporary increase in steering effort.
The automaker directed its dealers to replace the electronic power steering gearbox to correct a manufacturing defect, but NHTSA will continue its process, moving to an engineering analysis. If that study finds a defect, it could request a recall.