Honda = Evil? (SRS & seat belt "warranty") - Drive Accord Honda Forums | radio-pro.ru
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post #1 of 29 Old 07-26-2013, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Angry Honda = Evil? (SRS & seat belt "warranty")

Is Honda so big they've become evil?

I'm getting a 9-4 code on my 2000 Accord (front passenger side seat belt switch), the dealer charged me $107 to confirm what my own lying eyes had already seen and told him up-front. Said it would cost $275 to fix. I said the seat belt system has a lifetime warranty for "any Honda seat belt component that fails to function properly during normal use". Dealer said it was SRS and electrical, not part of the seat belt system. I believe the switch can only be ordered/replaced as a unit with the buckle assembly? Honestly, the way the warranty reads I fully expected this to be a simple in & out with no money changing hands and me driving away a happy, contented customer. The diag fee was a slap in the face.

Called Honda Consumer Affairs, talked to Emma who was nice and put my case in the system. Got a callback yesterday and a different, brusker person gave me the same runaround the dealer did - the "seat belt buckle switch" is not a seat belt component (!) but rather part of the SRS system. Was also told it was a potential safety issue but they wouldn't speculate as to the behavior of the airbags / belt pretensioners with this code showing. There was much washing of hands.

Now I've re-contacted HCA (via twitter of all things, seems they prefer their disgruntled customers rant in public rather than privately via email) regarding the escalation of my case, and they said reviewing the case was escalation. They haven't gotten back to me yet, but I suspect they just want another shot at slamming the door in my face.

The guy managing the line at the dealer told me the seat belt pre-tensioner wouldn't operate in an accident situation with the switch malfunctioning, his boss said it should, Honda wouldn't speculate. Who to believe? With all this vagueness I'm pretty much forced to fix it in order to be on the safe side.

I know where this is going and I will probably end up opening the buckle and fixing the damn thing myself, so:

1. Does anyone know the exact tool I need to open the buckle?
2. Is Honda wrong?
3. Am I somehow diminishing Honda's liability if I work on this myself?

[EDIT] Just got denied by HCA a second time by someone considerably less brusk than the first. Though it had me checking for a "kick me" sign on my back. Am I overreacting? Has anyone ever successfully escalated an issue with HCA? Is there anyone above them I can contact?

It galls me that Honda is splitting hairs like this and basically writing exclusion clauses into the warranty after the fact. Literally every Honda representative I've talked to has brought up the age and mileage of my vehicle (13 years, ~109k miles) as a reason for them not to honor their lifetime warranty which makes zero sense to me.

I wonder what kind of song and dance (+ diag fees) they'll give me when I have to bring it in for the lifetime muffler warranty?

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post #2 of 29 Old 07-26-2013, 07:15 PM
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I would suggest you contact another Honda dealer to see if they are more helpful. In the past most dealers cover this problem under the lifetime warranty at least the first time it occurs. If a part has been obviously tampered with, Im sure it voids any manufacturers warranty.

I cleaned my dirty seat belt buckle switch without disassembling anything. I used rubbing alcohol, shot down inside the buckle where the wires go. That was over 3 years ago and the SRS problem has not returned.


2000 Accord SE I4 F23A1 Auto - Sold miles & 10 years ownership
1998 Accord LX I4 F23A1 5 speed - sons DD in DC
1987 Accord LX 5 spd Owned for 17 years sold
1986 Accord LX Auto Totaled miles
1983 Accord LX 5 spd My Second Accord traded in
1978 Accord LX 5 spd My First Accord sold 100k
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post #3 of 29 Old 07-26-2013, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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I would suggest you contact another Honda dealer to see if they are more helpful. In the past most dealers cover this problem under the lifetime warranty at least the first time it occurs.
Any pointers on how one identifies and approaches this rare helpful sort of dealer in the wild and gets them to buy into committing mild "malfunctioning seat belt" fraud for a complete stranger off the street?

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Originally Posted by nehonda View Post
If a part has been obviously tampered with, Im sure it voids any manufacturers warranty.
Honda's lifetime warranty seems pretty worthless at this point regardless of what I do. Something something age and mileage of the vehicle something or other - I'm sure HCA could explain it better.

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I cleaned my dirty seat belt buckle switch without disassembling anything. I used rubbing alcohol, shot down inside the buckle where the wires go. That was over 3 years ago and the SRS problem has not returned.
Interesting. How did you "shoot" the alcohol in there?

Last edited by SatinSilver; 07-27-2013 at 06:52 AM. Reason: language
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post #4 of 29 Old 07-26-2013, 09:15 PM
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refuse diag. go to another dealer. for srs lights we always start this way at our dealer:

it will be 1.0 diag to inspect to start.

tech reads code - sees 9-3/9-4/61-11...w/e a buckle switch failure code

switch is part of the buckle

tech looks under seat - wiring appears normal. side note: usually forcibly latching the buckle a few times gets the switch working again.

buckle is warranty - client doesn't pay diag.

tech gets paid 0.30 warrant diag and 0.30-0.40 warranty time to replace buckle.


the dealer may technically be correct by saying the switch is part of the srs system, but the buckle has to be replaced to fix the problem. we don't charge any cust for this repair. I wouldn't settle for a cleaning if you can get it replaced under warranty.
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post #5 of 29 Old 07-27-2013, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by wedwum View Post


Interesting. How did you "shoot" the alcohol in there?
I used an eye dropper filled about half full of rubbing alcohol. Using stronger solvents (like brake cleaner) might damage the plastic parts inside the buckle. You need to move the small black dust cover out of the way with a screwdriver or similar tool in order to access the inner workings of the buckle. Insert and remove the loop part of the buckle a few times to cycle the switch before the alcohol evaporates. Repeat the cleaning process 2 or 3 times as needed.

Another DIY option would be to get a used buckle from a salvage yard. If you are lucky it will work better than yours. A new buckle would be the best solution tho.

2000 Accord SE I4 F23A1 Auto - Sold miles & 10 years ownership
1998 Accord LX I4 F23A1 5 speed - sons DD in DC
1987 Accord LX 5 spd Owned for 17 years sold
1986 Accord LX Auto Totaled miles
1983 Accord LX 5 spd My Second Accord traded in
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post #6 of 29 Old 07-27-2013, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HondaTechAV6 View Post
refuse diag.
I'm thinking the dealer will turn me away at this point. Almost certainly the dealer I bought the car from would, they seem to have a strict process of expensive diag followed by expensive repair with several layers of underlings running interference.

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Originally Posted by HondaTechAV6 View Post
switch is part of the buckle
I've told the dealer and HCA this many times, and indeed they've told me the switch can only be replaced with a new buckle so they are a unit. But then they come back with switch is electrical and SRS, not part of buckle, which strikes me as splitting hairs but IANAL.

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Originally Posted by HondaTechAV6 View Post
buckle is warranty - client doesn't pay diag.
Dealer and HCA say only physical failure of the buckle is covered by the belt warranty, like if it comes unlatched unexpectedly or won't latch to begin with. To me, if a malfunctioning switch can in any way prevent the belt pre-tensioning system from working, then the switch is indeed an integral part of the belt system. But no one will go on record regarding pre-tension behavior with a faulty switch, which I understand, but this also conveniently lets them off the hook.

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Originally Posted by HondaTechAV6 View Post
the dealer may technically be correct by saying the switch is part of the srs system
Dealer is following HCA guidance for denying warranty. I think they've dealt with enough loyal customers in my position to form a unified front of denial. HCA reps sounded at points like they were reading off a script.

For all the time and energy I've thrown away on this I probably could have fixed 10 switches by now. IMO, Honda is showing their true colors here, saving a buck by not fixing a SAFETY issue that a reasonable person would likely conclude was covered by the clear and simple wording of their warranty.






From this experience I think I have a better understanding of how recalls work:

1. Manufacturer blows it somehow.
2. Manufacturer denies reasonable warranty claims.
3. Enough loyal customers complain / die.
4. Class action lawsuit.
5. Manufacturer forced to come clean, but severely limits recall VIN range so that others experiencing the exact same failure are left hanging out to dry.
6. GOTO 2 until number of loyal customers complaining / dying / suing drops below some large arbitrary value then EXIT LOOP.
7. Manufacturer denies reasonable warranty claims.

I'm remembering something HCA mentioned in both calls to me regarding this seat belt switch kerfuffle. I can't remember the exact phrase but it's clear to me in retrospect that they were talking about some kind of hardship / charity wiggle room on their end. I believe this is why they were bringing up my car's age & mileage as a reason for denial - i.e. denial of charity rather than warranty. It's hard for me not to interpret this as Honda saying to me "we actually could help you if we wanted to, but we don't want to."
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post #7 of 29 Old 07-27-2013, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nehonda View Post
I used an eye dropper filled about half full of rubbing alcohol. Using stronger solvents (like brake cleaner) might damage the plastic parts inside the buckle. You need to move the small black dust cover out of the way with a screwdriver or similar tool in order to access the inner workings of the buckle. Insert and remove the loop part of the buckle a few times to cycle the switch before the alcohol evaporates. Repeat the cleaning process 2 or 3 times as needed.
Thanks for that nehonda! I'll give it a try tomorrow and reset the SRS light. Will report back on status.

I'm wondering how the SRS system knows the switch is bad? I believe there is a pressure switch in the bottom seat cushion - perhaps it thinks the seat belt is closed, and with no pressure on the seat this is an error condition? That's all I can think of anyway.
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post #8 of 29 Old 07-27-2013, 07:20 PM
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eh, find another dealer. you come to use and we don't charge you diag on this and full warranty - all day every day.
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post #9 of 29 Old 07-28-2013, 05:18 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HondaTechAV6 View Post
eh, find another dealer. you come to use and we don't charge you diag on this and full warranty - all day every day.
What's the name of your business and where is it located?
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post #10 of 29 Old 07-28-2013, 11:47 AM
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well, can you get to chicagoland?
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post #11 of 29 Old 07-28-2013, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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well, can you get to chicagoland?
I can't, but perhaps you should let others reading here know who you are so they can come to you if they are experiencing the same problem with their Honda that I'm having.

You know, I've read posts in other fora that suggest those in my position go to the dealer and say that the seat belt pops open once in a while - the dealer will most likely replace the buckle and a new switch comes with the deal. You're suggesting I go to you or to another dealer who will fix this under "warranty" even when Honda explicitly says and on no uncertain terms that the buckle switch is NOT covered under the belt lifetime warranty (how are you writing this up?). Either way I believe I would be involved in fraud, the first directly, the second indirectly. I really don't think Honda is handling this very well at all, but I'm not about to go there.
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post #12 of 29 Old 07-28-2013, 02:07 PM
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I don't know how they process the warranty claim. all I know is that my service manager says warranty so that's what I do. we don't have bounced claims.
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post #13 of 29 Old 07-29-2013, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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I don't know how they process the warranty claim. all I know is that my service manager says warranty so that's what I do. we don't have bounced claims.
I don't doubt there is a way to file this so that Honda pays, but it's almost certainly illegal (particularly so if your service manager is aware of Honda's splitting hairs seat belt warranty policy). Honda won't even tell me if the seat belt pre-tensioner will work with this error showing, which to me is definitely part of the seat belt "system". But what do I know, I'm just a stupid former loyal Honda customer finally wising up and running screaming into the arms of Toyota (or at least away from Honda).

Anyway, one day later the SRS light came back on after copious amounts of 80% rubbing alcohol shot down the buckle and exercised at least 100x. Time to open the buckle me thinks.

What tool do I need? I believe it is a Torx, perhaps the safety variety with the hole in the end? Anyone?
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post #14 of 29 Old 07-29-2013, 04:16 PM
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just replace it.. find another dealer and ask if they warranty seat belt buckles for bad switches. if not, call around.
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post #15 of 29 Old 07-29-2013, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HondaTechAV6 View Post
just replace it.. find another dealer and ask if they warranty seat belt buckles for bad switches. if not, call around.
Excellent advice! And why not? I am literally made of time, my entire life may be devoted to doing nothing but an end-run around the arbitrary edicts of Honda Consumer Affairs.

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