When it comes to reliability and quality at a reasonable price, no company has built up as much of a reputation as Honda. The Honda Odyssey is one of the most popular family vehicles on the road, and Honda has done everything they can to make the minivan good for the entire family. But recent models of the Odyssey are suddenly making headlines for the wrong reasons. Until this year’s models, the most common complaint about the Odyssey was that it eventually required a new and expensive transmission. But the 2019 and 2020 Honda Odysseys have a backup camera issue that’s affecting over 200,000 vehicles.
The most recent Honda Odyssey recall
An article published on August 5, 2020 on Car Complaints listed the full extent of the recalled issue: “Water can enter the rearview camera mounting holes as well as the camera lens, distorting the image or causing the screen to go black. Honda also says if the rearview camera view mode is set to view as top-down, the image may not display at all. In addition, the image will disappear if view mode is switched to another mode in a bright environment.”
Pretty straightforward: the camera doesn’t work if there’s water . . . or too much sunlight . . . or if you’re in a particular view mode. Backup cameras have become standard on nearly all vehicles over the last decade, but they’re especially important in minivans. The awkward shape of the vehicle and large size make it difficult for a backing driver to see behind them. Safety is one of the most important considerations in a minivan, and the Honda Odyssey’s recalls call the vehicle’s safety into question.
The potential impact of the recall
Hondas are known for their reliability and value, but safety has always been a top concern as well. If the Odyssey can’t maintain its reputation as a safe van for the entire family, Honda might end up losing a massive share of the market. In a family vehicle where the driver might already be distracted by a load of passengers or a busy schedule, a failing backup camera might be the last straw. But it’s certainly not the first straw.
Consumer Reports relayed that in addition to the backup camera issue, even more Honda Odyssey models are being recalled for an issue with the power sliding doors. From the recall announcement: “Water may enter the outer door handle cables for the sliding doors. If this occurs, the outer door handle cables may freeze in cold temperatures, preventing the sliding door from securely latching.”
Not only do Honda Odyssey owners have to worry about their backup cameras failing, but they also might just suddenly have doors that don’t close if it’s cold outside.
The future of the Honda Odyssey
It would be one thing if these recalls were for older models. Cars break down over time and new flaws are discovered. But for a recall to be implemented so quickly after the release of the vehicle is a bad sign for recent Odyssey models.
Over the past few years, the Honda Odyssey has gone from one of the most reliable options in its class to one of the least reliable. It’s unlikely that enough has changed at Honda that the company is intentionally producing sub-par vehicles. The most likely reason is just a string of bad luck with minivan production.
Regardless of the cause, Honda is in a tough spot with the Odyssey. It’s a vehicle that has a long history of customer satisfaction, but a pair of recent high-profile recalls have cast doubt over its reliability. If the 2021 and 2022 Odyssey model years roll off the production line without too many issues, Honda might find themselves back at the top of the minivan market. But it’s a tough hill to climb.