A Parasitic Draw in the HandsFreeLink System Drains the Battery

Key Points

  • Acura's HandsFreeLink system can drain the battery as the car sits overnight.
  • In 2008 a TSB acknowledged the system has a parasitic draw.
  • Acura was sued in 2016 saying there were no good repair options.
The blue user interface of HandsFreeLink is shown making a call via a BlackBerry.
Posted on
Scott McCracken
#electrical #infotainment #lawsuit

Acura mechanics received their first Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) about HandsFreeLink battery drain problems in 2005. They were told the system can get "locked up" in an "on" position and that the "system staying on may cause a dead or low battery while the vehicle’s ignition switch is off." Sounds about right.

Unfortunately the only suggested solution was to replace any units that owners complained about with the same, defective product.

Internal Knowledge of the System's 250mA Draw

A 2008 TSB went a but further into explaining the problem by saying that the HandsFreeLink "control unit has an internal problem, which creates a parasitic current draw of 250mA.” That's a big enough drain to empty the battery overnight and make it impossible to start the vehicle without a jumpstart.

The Parasitic Drain Lawsuit

Before the release of the second TSB, a lawsuit was filed in California by owners tired of needing multiple jump starts, new batteries, and alternator replacements.

The lawsuit says owners are left with no good options. Either disconnect the system that they paid for, or replace it with another defective $1,000 unit and hope nothing bad happens. Spoiler alert … it will.

The case is moving forward after a round of dismissals

Honda was not impressed with the lawsuit's claims. Unfortunately neither was the judge who dismissed any claims about warranty and consumer proctection laws because the plaintiffs waited too long.

The judge did rule that the plaintiffs provided enough evidence to move forward on claims that the automaker concealed possible defects in the Acura cars.

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Aberin, et al., v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

    The class-action alleges Honda wanted to beat competitors to the punch by creating a hands-free feature that allowed customers to use Bluetooth wireless technology, hence the beginning of HandsFreeLink in 2004 Acura models. The plaintiffs admit Acura did get the feature to the public, but the automaker allegedly failed to create a system that switched off when not in use.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2004 and older vehicles
  • Janice Pfeiffer, et al v. American Honda Motor Company Inc.

    The HandsFreeLink lawsuit was filed against Honda, parent organization of Acura and one of the first companies to use Bluetooth hands-free technology, calling it HandsFreeLink. The system allows a driver to "pair" a smartphone with the car, but according to the plaintiff, Honda should have warned consumers about the alleged defects that cause batteries to drain at alarming rates.

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA