WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is about to reach out-of-court settlements with Ford and Honda over the sale of hundreds of thousands of vehicles that did not comply with clean-air rules.
A federal official familiar with the Honda case said the value of the settlement has been estimated at $167 million.
The total is said to include a $12 million civil penalty and a company promise to provide free tuneups and extended warranties, worth about $150 million. American Honda Motor Co. Inc. would not be required to admit wrongdoing.
The official, who insisted on anonymity, said Honda sold 1.6 million cars and vans with a faulty device that normally would detect engine misfires. It is part of the on-board diagnostics system.
As a result, people might drive with engines that would pollute more than they should. Drivers would not be alerted by the 'check engine' light on the instrument panel to get repairs.
Honda spokesman Jeffrey Smith confirmed only that 'we have had some discussion with the EPA regarding those issues.'
The Ford Motor Co. case involves about 60,000 Econoline vans that were equipped with an electronic device that helped fuel economy but increased emissions to illegal levels. Ford is to pay a civil penalty of $2.5 million and spend about $5.5 mil-lion on other environmental actions.
Ford spokesman Terry Bresnihan would say only that 'Ford is extremely proud of how we have responded, but we unfortunately can't provide any details until the government releases the information.'
The settlements, negotiated by the Department of Justice following investigations by the EPA, are expected to be announced today, June 8, and filed in federal court.
Environmental officials have been on the alert for vehicles that pass emission-certification tests but then pollute more than they should in normal use.