NEWS FLASH!!!! May 14th, 2002 - Transport Canada called me today to say they have been notified by Honda Japan that a recall notice will be released shortly for close to 2,000,000 Honda owners with regards to defective ignition switches. The Internet is totally responsible for getting this message out and getting this response from the company.

I have contacted Honda Canada about getting my expenses back for replacing the Ignition switch in January and they are now considering my reimbursement for the full amount of money spent. In Canada, contact 1-888-946 6329 to seek any reimbursemnt due to you - make sure you remain on the recall list to get the new design of switch when it becomes available.

This (unofficial) service bulletin is made available to other Honda owners to make them aware of a dangerous and potentially deadly fault which is prevalent in many Honda vehicles. The information presented is based on hours of Internet searches and personal experience with my 1997 Honda CR-V.

It should be pointed out that Honda dealers appear to ignore the obvious defective switch and will convince you that expensive tune-ups or other components like the Main Ignition Relay are faulty.

Apparently, some owners who have had this problem have been told by the dealer that it is caused by a heavy key chain pulling down on the switch but if you look closely at the overall design of the key lock / switch assembly, the key does not even come into direct contact with the switch itself. A heavy key chain could not possibly affect the internal contacts of the switch.

Research on the Internet shows the ignition switch has proven to be a problem in older Honda vehicles but it is noticeably beginning to be a recurring problem in 1997 vehicles. The problem begins to appear at around 78,000 miles or 125,000 kms.

The contacts within the assembly become very pitted and dirty.

Official Notice of Recall
Honda Recalls Vehicles to Replace Ignition Switches

May 23, 2002
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. today announced a voluntary recall of certain Honda and Acura models to replace an ignition switch which may cause the engine to stall. The recall involves about 1.3 million of certain 1997 to 2000 models of Accord, Civic, Prelude, CR-V, and Odyssey. Also included in the recall are some 1999 Acura TL sedans and certain 1997 to 1999 CL coupes.

The situation is created by electrical contacts within the ignition switch that wear prematurely causing the switch to malfunction. An affected vehicle will likely experience difficulty in starting for a period of time prior to experiencing any engine stall. Normally, the vehicle can be restarted immediately.

Most customers will not experience problems with their ignition switch prior to repair -- less than 3/10ths of one percent of affected vehicles have experienced switch problems. Owners of affected vehicles will be contacted by American Honda and asked to take their vehicle to an authorized dealer to be repaired free of charge. The repair involves the replacement of the electrical contact portion of the ignition switch while retaining the original lock and key assemblies.

Owners will be notified by mail when parts are available for their model. Because of the large number of vehicles involved, it may take several months to make the replacement parts available for all vehicles. Mailings will begin in June and should be completed by September.

Details regarding mailing dates and affected vehicles will be available on the Honda and Acura Web sites. Owners will be able to access this information by registering at the "Owner Link" section and entering the 17-digit vehicle identification number found on their dash. Customers may also contact their Honda or Acura dealer with questions.

There have been no accidents or injuries reported to American Honda related to this issue.

Two symptoms indicate a defective igniton switch:

  1. While drving the vehicle, the engine just quits. There is no stuttering, stalling, or engine misfires, it quietly just quits. The radio, heater fan, brake lights still work but not the signal lights. Fortunately, I live in a semi-rural area so traffic did not present a problem but on a busy freeway or in heavy city traffic the consequences could be deadly. Imagine passing a car and all of a sudden, no engine!!!!

    When you finally coast to a stop and try to re-start, it immediately re-starts and runs okay. In my case, it ran again for another month before the same thing happened.

    My two Honda dealers had no idea what to do other than to experiment with the vehicle at my expense until hopefully they found something. I was not going to finance this potential money pit so continued to drive the CR-V.

    It was impossible to predict when it would quit - weather and road conditions were not consistent when it failed each time.

  2. Finally after 6 months of this unreliable and dangerous driving, it quit again but this time, it would not re-start.

    When the key is turned to 'start', the engine did start but as soon as you released the key to spring back to the 'run' position, the engine would quit. Eventually, it would stay running but it quit reguarly after that.

The solution is to buy a replacement ignition switch for your vehicle. The $65.00 (Canadian dollars) 'switch' part is simply held on the back of the key assembly with two Phillips head screws. You do not need to replace the key lock and cylinder itself.

Part Number for the 1997 CR-V is 35130-S10-A01

The switch has two large plugs which connect it to the vehicle's electrical system.

Other than having to disconnect the battery and then be a bit of a contortionist to get under the dash, it can be replaced by yourself.

1997 Accord Installation Instructions from Kent

I would strongly suggest that anyone with a 1997 Honda tell their dealer to replace the switch before the warranty period expires. Simply tell them the vehicle occassionally 'starts' but does not 'run' and let Honda pay for the switch and labour.

I attempted to contact the Customer Relations Department of Honda Canada to verify the switch problem and help me get my vehicle running properly. Despite the urgency and obvious danger to myself and others, they took over two weeks to get back to me - so much for responsibility, concern and customer service. There has been no official service bulletin or defect notice released to dealers so they will not acknowledge the facts either. Honda Canada Customer Relations got hold of me January 16th, 2002 to thank me for my report and they will look into it but as far as they know the ignition switch is not a problem because I am the only one to give them the details. Call them at 1-888-946-6329 if you have had a similar problem.

I have contacted Transport Canada and reported the incident to them but they will essentially do nothing until more people report problems or until someone is killed on the road and they happen to investigate the ignition switch as a possible cause. Call 1-800-333 0510 to report your ignition switch failure.

US owners who experience this problem should notify the US National Highway Safety Administration at:

Together we might save some lives.

Click here to see reports from other owners

If you have had this problem, please contact me at so I can collect evidence to support this article.