Honda has recalled nearly 44,000 2012-13 Honda Fit Sport models because of a problem with the cars’ electronic stability control system. The New York Times reports that Honda will update the software on the “vehicle stability assist” to rectify the problem. Honda officials said that the Fit Sport’s stability control system was programmed according to the handling characteristics of the Bridgestone Turanza tire model. However, some vehicles were equipped with Dunlop SP tires.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the system did not react as quickly as it should have to stop a slide. The Fit Sport is different from the standard Fit because it has larger tires and a rear stabilizer bar. The Honda Fit’s vehicle stability assist system basically uses sensors and a computer to determine if the vehicle is moving in a direction at odds with what the driver is doing with the steering wheel. The system then applies the brakes on single wheels to try and correct the movement.

Danger of a Rollover

Honda says the stability control system can cause the car to tilt too far before it applies the brakes to prevent a crash. This software glitch could cause the vehicle to tip over or roll over. The defect was discovered in government testing of the vehicle models.

Honda says so far no crashes or injuries have been linked to this defective vehicle. Honda dealers will update the system’s software free of charge when the recall notifications begin in mid-May. So far, this year alone, Honda has recalled about 183,000 vehicles for problems with the electronic stability control system, which could cause the vehicles to slow down unexpectedly.

NHTSA has required electronic stability control as standard equipment on all light duty vehicles. These systems are said to significantly reduce the chance of a rollover accident. Rollover crashes, according to NHTSA, account for about 30 percent of all traffic accident deaths. In fact, NHTSA estimates that when all cars have stability control systems, up to 9,600 lives will be saved each year in the United States.

Liability Issues

But, when these systems fail to function as they are expected to, the consequences can be devastating for vehicle occupants. Apart from fatal injuries, rollovers can also cause catastrophic injuries such as brain trauma and spinal cord damage that could result in paralysis.

Anyone who has been in a rollover crash caused by a defective vehicle would be well advised to contact an experienced auto product liability lawyer who has a successful track record of fighting large automakers on behalf of injured consumers, and holding them accountable.