Many Honda SUVs Catch Fire After Oil Change

NEW YORK, July 9 (Kyodo) -- At least 27 Honda Motor Co. CR-V sport-utility vehicles from the 2003 and 2004 model years caught fire shortly after getting their first engine oil changes, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Many of the vehicles were destroyed, although no injuries were reported, said the newspaper, quoting data supplied by Honda to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, a federal agency.

The NHTSA concluded July 1 the cases were the fault of dealerships or others who improperly installed oil filters, it said.

When engine oil is changed, oil filters for purifying oil circulating through an engine are often replaced.

The paper said the NHTSA agreed with American Honda Motor Co. that oil from the filters most likely leaked onto the vehicles' hot exhaust systems, quickly igniting.

Honda has no plan to recall the vehicles and install a barrier to block the oil from spraying onto the hot exhaust manifold, according to the daily's Web edition.

About 140,000 CR-Vs were sold in the United States in 2003. Honda said 22 of them caught fire from the apparent oil filter problem. So far this year, five owners of 2004 CR-Vs have reported such fires to NHTSA.

In a related development, a spokesman at Honda's Tokyo head office said the CR-Vs appear to have caught fire because new O-ring gaskets were fitted over existing gaskets on the oil filters when the oil was changed, thereby causing oil to leak.

''We plan to send out a notice calling on dealers to take care'' when replacing used oil filters, he said.