A lawyer determined to find out why his trip had gotten longer ever since he switched to a Honda brought about the case and made Honda admit fault. He is now aiming at Nissan, alleging that its Altima sedans back to 2002 roll up miles 2.5% to 3% too fast.
Toyotas were found to routinely register slightly fewer miles as oppose to the other way around! The Lawyer suspects odometers are deliberately set fast to help automakers trim warranty costs. But the car companies say they're just following an industrywide standard that allows a few percent variation in odometer accuracy.
The Society of Automotive Engineers in America has a voluntary standard of plus or minus 4%, or no more than 4 miles high or low in every 100 miles (this equates to an inaccuracy of about 6.5 kms in ever 161 kms or 4km/100km).
Honda America says its odometers were accurate to within 3.75% on the high side and 1% on the low side. However, given the negative publicity, Honda will extend the warranty mileage 5% and will pay lease-mileage penalties due to fast odometers. Current estimates suggest that Honda will be paying back at least $6 million just for overcharges on vehicles leased directly from the manufacturer.
"No odometer is going to be perfect," says Honda spokesman Chris Martin. But prompted by the class-action lawsuit, Honda realized, "The customer expectation is that it would be based on zero. We weren't. So we decided to settle the suit."
Honda says that from 2007 its odometer will be near perfect.
Does this affect Honda vehicles delivered in Australia? Australian Design Rules have a leeway of 4% so Honda is well within its legal right to have this inaccuracy. Honda Australia has been contacted for comment.