Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Honda Civic Sun Visors: Not So Good

The warranty on my 2008 Honda Civic ran out about 7,000 miles ago. Knowing how this sort of thing usually goes, I figured it was only a matter of time before something broke...


It's kind of hard to see thanks to the lighting, but that's my driver's side sun visor, split open at the top. A slightly fractured sun visor wouldn't be that big a deal by itself, except that it no longer stays upright against the ceiling. The visor hangs down whether I like it or not.

So what's going on here? I did an extensive amount of online research, and found a lot of interesting information on this topic:
- When it gets really, really hot inside the car, it causes plastic inside the sun visor to melt, and eventually fail, causing the visor to break.
- This is a VERY COMMON problem with "8th generation" Civics (2006-), particularly in the South and Southwest where it gets hot in the summer. Many people who live in places like Arizona have had to get theirs replaced multiple times, and I saw many pictures posted online that looked almost exactly like mine. Well, on the bright side, at least it's not my fault.
- This problem is specific to the Civic, not other Honda models such as the Fit.
- If your car is out of warranty (as mine is), some dealerships will provide free "goodwill" replacement. But most Honda dealers, including the three Triangle area dealers, will charge full price for replacement ($72).

Now...about that last point. It's pretty clear that Honda Civic sun visors are defective. Surely, they've known about this for a while now. And yet, the 2008 Civic - the third year of the "8th generation" model - was still equipped with a defective visor. I would have thought this would have been fixed by the time we got around to the 3rd year, wouldn't you? Apparently not. And, there's no safety recall, either, nor will there ever be one, because Honda does not consider this to be a "safety issue". Make your own judgment on that one.

Personally, I think fitting new cars with visors they know are defective is a scam to make money. When I called one local Honda dealer to see if I could get free (or even discounted) replacement, the representative knew off the top of his head how much it would cost to replace a broken sun visor. That's a pretty good sign that a) this is in fact a very widespread problem, and b) Honda and its dealers are making decent coin off of their crappy sun visors. I would think that sun visors are such an inexpensive product (relative to most car parts) that Honda would just go ahead and replace them for free in order to keep customer satisfaction. I guess they decided customer satisfaction wasn't worth it.

Well, is it worth it? We'll have to see on that one, at least for me. This incident does make me a little less likely to buy another Honda. On the other hand, this is a pretty minor car problem to have, in the grand scheme of things. It isn't a broken transmission, or "unintended acceleration". If my car makes it to 150,000 miles and beyond without too much trouble, I will probably buy another Honda. If the sun visor is the first problem of many to come, then I'll be shopping around. So...we'll see.

What's done is done, so...what do I do about it? Do I pay up and have the visor replaced, even though the new visor could just as easily break too? Instead of going through that procedure, I decided to try my own solution. The visor is still functional; the only problem with it is that it doesn't stay flush to the ceiling by itself. Here's our (potential) solution:


Those are velcro strips, glued to the visor and the ceiling. I don't yet know if this will work, though. We're supposed to wait 48-72 hours for the glue to dry (this wasn't exactly Elmer's glue we used), and so far it's only been 42 hours, so I haven't tested it yet. And, I certainly don't know what the long term prospects of this "solution" are. Either way, I'll try to park in the shade as much as possible so that the passenger side visor doesn't break too.

On a related note: In terms of keeping your car interior cool while it's parked in the sun, studies have shown - confirmed by personal experience - that cracking the windows doesn't help much. Personal experience also shows that those little silver reflector thingies that go on the inside of the front windshield (also known as sunshades) don't help either. Parking in the shade is really your only recourse if you want to keep your car's temperature below 130°F on a hot summer day.


(Yes, I keep a thermometer in my car. This is how I know sunshades aren't effective.)

Here's the biggest mystery about all this, though. I've had my car since November 2007, and my sun visor made it through each of the last two summers just fine. There have been plenty of hot days over that time, and my car has been parked in direct sunlight on many of those days. Sunday - the day the visor broke - was hot (96°F high), but not record-breaking. So why is it that the sun visor breaks now, after the warranty runs out? Figures.

UPDATE 8/18/10: The velcro only lasted six weeks, so I ended up getting a new sun visor anyway.

UPDATE 6/29/11: As first reported to me by an anonymous commenter, Honda was sued, and a settlement was reached, regarding their defective sun visors.

31 comments:

Aluvendale said...

I use a sun shade to protect the dash. My last car's dash cracked and peeled after years of parking in the sun. For me, that's worth the time to put the visor up every day. Careful with the Velcro though. I would fear that the force of unsticking the visor each time you use it may pull on the headliner, causing it to sag over time. That is, depending on the type of headliner and how it's attached.

Chris Allen said...

That's a good point about pulling on the headliner...we'll have to watch for that long-term, but for now it looks like it doesn't pull down much.

Bryan said...

As a lemon law attorney, I can tell you there is probably a claim here for breach of implied warranty, even with the express written warranty expired. You have already identified the proof of the breach in your post: it is a known defect. The federal lemon law covers both written and implied warranties, and provides for attorney fee shifting. Most attorneys still won't handle a $72 sun visor case, but it is actionable nonetheless. Easier written than done in real life, but I would never rule out going after
Honda.

Anonymous said...

2 bad sun visors on my '06 Civic and it has only 31k miles and i live in not-so-hot Colorado and no, no warranty here either :-(

Anonymous said...

Mine just broke this weekend. My boyfrienhd said take it apart and lubricate it, but there's a lot of torn up plastic inside and I thoughtit was ruined. Now I know it is!

Hudson Valley new honda said...

I have a Honda Civic model and i think you are probably right the Sun Visor is not affordable one of my car too.

Anonymous said...

So glad to stumble across this post. My 2007 Civic's visor has been cracked for a while (something I had shown the dealer while it was under warranty), but it fell off today. I stupidly bought the extended warranty when I bought the car, but this is apparently not something that is covered.

I just called Honda and demanded a free replacement. I should have an answer in 24-48 hours. The lemon-law attorney's comments are interesting. My brother is an attorney and I will get him to follow up if I am unsuccessful.

TB

unite tyre changing machine said...

I have the same issue before of broken sun visors both driver and passenger side.I took a replacement immediately because it's so important especially when summer.I'm not sure what are the main reasons why it happen.

Anonymous said...

This just happended to me too. I found your blog by googling this to see if warranty covers it. I have a 2008 honda civic and my passenger side cracked and now wont go up unless i play with it. I am taking it into the dealers today to have it replaced. Luckily i only have 18k miles.

Anonymous said...

I know 3 08 Civics with this problem (including mine). Interesting to note: all 3 cars are the same color as well.

Anonymous said...

If you have an issue with your car that warrants a recall, then you can file a complaint. I did this for Honda Civic 2008 and the melting sunvisor:

http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm
OR
NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153)
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/complaints/complaintresults.cfm?start=1&SearchType=DrillDown&type=1&year=2008&make=HONDA&model=CIVIC&component_id=235&summary=true&PrintVersion=YES

jsb said...

Same problem here. Replaced while under warranty and they broke again, which means they replaced mine with the original defective design. As to why it sometimes takes long for the failure (your experience for instance), it's all in the timing. If you try to adjust your visor after it's been sitting in the heat, that's usually when it fails. I'm on my second failure and used krazy clue to close it up. I'll let you know how long that lasts. By the way, best blog name I've seen in a while. Peace. --s

Anonymous said...

I have a 2006 honda civic and my visor broke the first time under warranty....thank god. The second time it broke....no warranty. When i went to the dealership they told me it was broke,like i didn't notice this already. I looked at them and said "i refuse to pay $62 for a piece of junk". I have had several problems with this car such as the cd player never working the first day i bought it brand new, the clips on all the interior pieces never stay fastened,and transmission fluid leaking. Just recently my windshield wiper motor broke and i just adore sucking the dirt out that fabulous phelt they call carpet.

My sister also has a honda civic but its a 2007. Her visor also broke and she got so mad at it one day that she pulled off of the road and ripped it out of the car. When i think of her doing this i laugh but i completely understand why she did it.

Anonymous said...

I have replaced my drivers side visor twice on my 2006 and now that I have a wife and the passengers side visor is being used... it is also broken but my car is out of warranty. This is a safety hazard as it reduces vision dramatically to where you can't see if a traffic light is red or green, or if your passengers side is broken, you might not see a pedestrian walking off of the curb. Everyone should make a safety complaint for "vision" with NHSTA here: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm

now our 8th generation engine blocks are cracking and overheating......what else will happen

Anonymous said...

07EX here. Sun visor cracked earlier in the summer and has finally given out completely. I purchased and will be installing a replacement myself. On another website I found a way to reinforce the new sun visor using a 1" binder clip - will also be trying that out.

Other problems so far with the car (<59k miles):
1) Cracked engine block (see TSB 08-044)
2) Bad ground (Stranding me twice before the Honda techs figured out what the issue was)

So much for Honda's legendary quality...they've really lost a good bit of positive perception over the last couple years. Also, if you're in Maryland I'd recommed avoiding the service department at Criswell in Germantown; just suck it up and make the drive to Shockley in Frederick.

Christine, NY said...

I have a 2007 Civic. Every year, I have to go to Honda Service Center to replace a sunvisor. I only had my Honda for a few months when the sunvisor on the driver's side broke the first time. The second time it occured, I told the Honda clerk about the problem and asked why so I can prevent it from happending again(very unlikely that a sunvisor needs to be replaced every year) and he just told me, "we will replace it every time it gets broken. You car is under warranty."

The third time, the never-used sunvisor on the passenger side got broken. This time, I have to pay $100 to replace it with a defective original part (I guess). Don't these people know that it is a pain to go to their place? The serivce center in Honda Long Island, NY transferred to a location that is not accessbile to public transpo if I need to proceed to work wihtout waiting for their shuttle. Aren't they aware that a broken visor is a hazard if you are driving? If the visor that is broken is on the driver's side, I can't see the stop lights. However, if it is the passenger's side that is broken, I can't see the pedestrians about the cross the street from my right side.

I think the people at NHSTA should consider this "little/simple" sunvisor issue a big problem if Honda Civic owners from 06-08 all experience this problem. They should enforce Honda to do a recall on these crappy sunvisors.

Christine, NY said...

I have a 2007 Civic. Every year, I have to go to Honda Service Center to replace a sunvisor. I only had my Honda for a few months when the sunvisor on the driver's side broke the first time. The second time it occured, I told the Honda clerk about the problem and asked why so I can prevent it from happending again(very unlikely that a sunvisor needs to be replaced every year) and he just told me, "we will replace it every time it gets broken. You car is under warranty."

The third time, the never-used sunvisor on the passenger side got broken. This time, I have to pay $100 to replace it with a defective original part (I guess). Don't these people know that it is a pain to go to their place? The serivce center in Honda Long Island, NY transferred to a location that is not accessbile to public transpo if I need to proceed to work wihtout waiting for their shuttle. Aren't they aware that a broken visor is a hazard if you are driving? If the visor that is broken is on the driver's side, I can't see the stop lights. However, if it is the passenger's side that is broken, I can't see the pedestrians about the cross the street from my right side.

I think the people at NHSTA should consider this "little/simple" sunvisor issue a big problem if Honda Civic owners from 06-08 all experience this problem. They should enforce Honda to do a recall on these crappy sunvisors.

Vicki Farmer said...

Yup, happened on both of the visors on my 2006 Civic, too. REALLY annoying. I can hold it closed in just the right place and pop it back into the latch thingy, so I've just been living with it, but anytime someone new rides shotgun, I have to show them how to do it. And it kind of takes two hands, so I have to do it at stoplights. If I'm on the highway in heavy traffic, I just have to flip the thing to the side until I get a break to deal with it.

It's so ridiculously absurd that Honda doesn't fix this; it's not like *sun visors* are some kind of new, unproven technology that nobody quite knows how to get right. WTH?

Eh, I may or may not go Honda with my next car. My little Civic has been very reliable (in all fairness, this is the only problem I've had with it), but when I got it (new, not long after the 2006-es were released), it was *cool* -- now every third car in town is a Civic. There are four charcoal gray Civics in the parking lot of my office building, alone. Bo-ring. Time to move on.

Anonymous said...

Around a year ago the same thing happened to the sun visor on my 2007 Civic, luckily my dealership fixed it for free.

Anyways I got a class action notice in the mail yesterday about this very issue. Honda is extending the warranty on the sun visor to 7 years or 100k miles. You can get reimbursed if you paid to get it fixed. Go here for details: http://www.visorsettlement.com/

Anonymous said...

same problem on my 2008 civic. passenger side has been broke and fell off about a year ago. driver side just broke today.

Hyperman said...

There's now a class action lawsuit settlement that would cover the visor up to 7 years or 100,000 miles.

Anonymous said...

I've had to replace my '06 Civic's visors 8 times!! One time they put one on the wrong side and I thought I could live with it but went back and had it corrected. Thank goodness for the lawsuit. Just got it today and I'm sending it out Tuesday. I love Honda but they deserve this for not taking care of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Mine just broke (driver;s side)yesterday. I received the "settlement letter" on June 23rd. What a coincidence! I called Honda of Westport, CT and asked if I can get it replaced for free or get reimbursed. The lady said they have to see the damage first (I don't get it though). I'll still have mine replaced since it can be dangerous with the visor just hanging in your face. I hope I'll get reimbursed if I have to pay-out-of-pocket. Anyone had any experience with getting reimbursed?

Billie said...

I work with one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs and class members in a case against Honda regarding Civic sun visors. We have reached a settlement with Honda in the case. If you own or lease (or previously owned or leased) a Honda Civic (model years 2006 through 2008, as well as some 2009 models) you might be eligible to receive settlement benefits--including an extended warranty on the visors and reimbursement for what you paid out-of-pocket to repair your sun visor. Please visit www.visorsettlement.com for the information you need.
If you have questions, feel free to call Billie Mizell or Steven Tindall at 415-421-1800.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2010 Honda Civic that I brought in to the dealers today. As I sit here waiting for it to get fixed, I heard the guy next to me had the same problem (not sure the year of his vehicle). The service man did tell me I was covered for seven years. I live in Arizona and I don't want this lovely little trip to the dealership to be tradition every summer.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2006 Civic that had the same thing happen to both visors. Thankfully, there is an extended warranty covering the visors that is covering the cost to fix them. You may want to check it out with the dealer.

Julia

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to my 2010Honda Civic. Going to the dealer tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...

I HAVE HONDA CIVIC 2008 SAME PROBLEM MELTING SUN VISOR.

AzureBlue said...

I have a 2011 Civic. I've been told by my dealer's service department that the visors in my car are not part of the class action suit, but I'm beginning to think they should be. Because the parts needed to be ordered, I have an appointment in two days to have both my driver and passenger visors replaced. This is the first driver's side replacement, but the second replacement for the passenger's side. The visor in my model year has supposedly been redesigned, but mine looks exactly like the one pictured and it came apart in the exact same place. I live in FL (the Sunshine State) and laugh at the notion of only parking in the shade. I have roughly 20k on my Civic, and I think it's great that they will replace my visor while my vehicle is under warranty, but what do I do when the warranty runs out? $200 a year PLUS my time and travel to replace these visors every year is a giant pain. I figured I couldn't possibly be the only person to be dealing with this, so I hoped online and came across this site. Anyone with a 2009+, 8th gen experiencing the same annoyance? Get it together Honda- I may need to trade this car in and get a Toyota.

Perry said...

Just had my 2010 Honda Civic's driver's side visor crack and break. Went to dealership, $100, due to a couple months outside warranty. My daughter's Civic is a 2009 and they replaced it. I'd have to think because of the class action lawsuit. I know it's just a $100 visor, but I have read several complaints saying people have replaced 3 and 4 of these visors over the years. Honda knows there's a problem, but they won't repair the problem. Honda is keeping their Service Bays full of work. That's just poor craftsmanship and you don't find that with companies like Toyota. This is my last Honda!!!!

mind.it said...

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. Thanks... auto repair brandon fl