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Oil changes said to ignite Hondas

Report: NHTSA says poorly installed oil filters caused at least 27 SUVs to burst into flames.
July 9, 2004: 9:30 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 27 Honda CR-V sport/utility vehicles from the 2003 and 2004 model years burst into flames shortly after getting their first oil changes, according to newspaper reports Friday.

No injuries were reported, but many of the vehicles were destroyed, usually with 10,000 miles or fewer on their odometers, the Washington Post said, citing records provided to the U.S. government by Honda. (HMC: Research, Estimates)

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration investigated the situation and concluded on July 1 that the cases were the fault of dealerships or others who improperly installed oil filters, the newspaper said.

According to the report, NHTSA and American Honda Motor Co. agreed that oil from the filters most likely leaked onto the vehicles' hot exhaust systems, quickly igniting.

"We consulted with Honda. Honda concluded it was a technician's error, and they have taken steps to make sure service technicians who work on this vehicle understand that they need to be particularly diligent when they replace the oil filter," NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson was quoted as saying.

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