Consumer complaints about Honda Odyssey third-row seats continue to stack up in the wake of an Enquirer investigation into the death of Kyle Plush.
From Florida to California, motorists said they too had seat-stability problems with the popular minivans. Similar to complaints reported by The Enquirer in December, the consumers said they had difficulty getting the back-row seats to securely latch in place or said the seats slammed down when unlatched.
The Enquirer investigated previous third-row seat complaints following 16-year-old Plush's 10 death on April 10. The Seven Hills student was asphyxiated when the seat flipped over on him and pinned him against the closed rear hatchback door.
"(The) third row seats do not latch properly when converting from stow away position to upright seating position," a Cincinnati motorist complained to federal regulators. "This deficiency was first noticed with passengers seated and the vehicle in motion as inertia caused the seat to rock backwards upon acceleration. This is clearly not the design intention. This occurs everytime the seat is converted."
The report was filed on Dec. 19, the day after The Enquirer first published its investigation. The complaint was filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal government's agency for auto safety.
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The agency's policy is to redact consumers' names from complaints. The Enquirer has requested NHTSA release the names under the Freedom of Information Act.
Another motorist from Fort Myers, Florida also told federal officials they had trouble securing their seat in place.
"(The) third row seat will not lock in place," the motorist reported.
NHTSA officials and Honda officials have said they see no pattern in the Odyssey third-row seat complaints they have received and stressed they straddle different years and generations of the vehicle. Safety advocates say the complaints could indicate a lingering defect.
NHTSA officials did not comment on the latest complaints. Honda officials said its seats are under warranty for three years after which the automaker recommends motorist see their dealership for a repair.
"It’s possible that some components could have worn or become damaged over time, with use, as you’d expect from any moving mechanical component in a vehicle," Honda spokesman Chris Martin said.
Several NHTSA functions were suspended during the Dec. 22-Jan. 25 shutdown of the federal government amid the impasse between President Trump and Congress.
Other consumers complained directly to The Enquirer using a form:
Gayleen Gavitt, of Anderson Township in suburban Cincinnati, said she has chronic troubles getting her third-row seat to latch in place and a local dealership told it would cost $1,200 to fix. She plans to sell the vehicle instead.
"It took a while to actually get it to latch although it sounds like it does every time," Gavitt said. "I was able to get it to finally latch, but I do check it regularly and don't unlatch it."
Fellow Ohio motorist, Charles Perkins, who lives in Cleveland Heights, also expressed frustration with securing his third-row seat. He bought his Odyssey used about eight years ago and gradually the rear seats stopped working every time.
"(The) back seat does not latch in place when folded down. (It) has to be slammed down," Perkins said.
California motorist, Jessica Chavarria, said slamming her third-row seat isn't enough to secure it. Just 5-foot-2, she needs help getting it locked into place.
"The third row won't lock properly unless it is slammed by a bigger, heavier person," she said. "How the heck am I suppose to slam the 3rd-row seat several times till it locks?"
Another Cincinnatian, Mike Finney, remembers he didn't have latching problems but said the seat would move suddenly when he tried to adjust it.
"When the catch release was activated, the third-row seat seemed almost to be spring loaded in the way that it quickly and with all the force of its weight, came backward," he said. "It was a very heavy seat. Once the action was set into motion, it was pretty hard to stop it."
Since The Enquirer's investigation, several lawmakers have called for further scrutiny of the accident that killed Kyle Plush. Among them, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, the incoming chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees NHTSA.
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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Owners report more Honda Odyssey seat problems in wake of Enquirer investigation