• The Associated Press

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Honda Motor Co. is adding 437,000 vehicles to its 15-month-old global recall for faulty air bags in the latest quality problem to hit a Japanese automaker.

The company will replace the driver’s side air bag inflator on the cars because they can deploy with too much pressure, causing the inflator to rupture and injure or kill the driver.

Japan’s second-biggest automaker originally announced the recall to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in November 2008 and the total of number vehicles recalled since then is approaching 1 million.

The latest expansion includes 378,000 cars in the U.S., some 41,000 in Canada and 17,000 in Japan, Australia and elsewhere in Asia. The North American recall was announced Tuesday and followed Wednesday by the recall in Asia.

Honda’s announcement comes at a time of increased attention on automotive recalls. Though the problems are unrelated, rival Toyota Motor Corp. is in the process of recalling more than 8 million cars and trucks due to faulty gas pedals. On Tuesday, Toyota said it would recall more than 440,000 of its flagship 2010 Prius and other hybrids due to a brake glitch.

“There is a heightened sensitivity right now to anything to do with recalls,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda.

Honda’s latest U.S. recall over air bags affects certain 2001 and 2002 Accord sedans, Civic compacts, Odyssey minivans, CR-V small sport utility vehicles and some 2002 Acura TL sedans.

In Japan, the recall covers three models, including the 2001 Inspire sedan.

Honda said it is aware of 12 incidents linked to the problem — one death last May and 11 injuries. The company said it is not aware of any problems happening after July.

The automaker’s original announcement to NHTSA in November 2008 involved fewer than 4,000 2001 Accords and Civics. The recall was expanded last July to 440,000 vehicles, including the 2001 and 2002 Accord and Civic, as well as certain 2002 Acura TL sedans.

Company officials said the air bag produces too much pressure, which can cause the inflator to rupture, sending metal fragments toward the driver.

Honda says owners should take their vehicles to dealerships as soon as they are notified by the company in writing. Notification will begin during February.

Last month, Honda recalled 646,000 Fit hatchbacks worldwide because of a glitch that could cause water to enter the power window mechanism, causing components to overheat and possible cause a fire.

The Fit recall affects 2007-2008 models. The Fit is sold in other countries as the Jazz and City. The recall affects Asia, Latin America, Europe, South Africa and North America. About 140,000 vehicles are affected in the U.S.

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