A little more than two years ago, Rivella Dunner of Los Angeles bought a new 2009 Honda Civic at a dealership in Woodland Hills. She, like most Civic owners, was psyched that the car was both affordable and supposedly reliable.

Thirteen months and 10,433 miles later, however, Dunner was shocked when she took her car back to the dealership and was told she needed new brakes.

What's more, Dunner says, she was informed that the new car's three-year, 36,000 mile warranty would not cover the cost of the repair because Honda took the position that nothing was wrong with the braking system.

Pissed off at Honda, Dunner has now filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against the Torrance-based auto giant, claiming the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Civic's brakes wear down prematurely, causing safety risks, and that the American Honda Motor Co. will not fix the problems and refuses to tell purchasers about the vehicle defect.

According to the lawsuit, first reported by Courthouse News Service, Dunner did initially pay to repair the brakes, as suggested by her mechanic, but 11 months and roughly 10,000 miles later, she brought her car in for service again and was told the same thing: she needed to replace the brakes once more.

On behalf of “hundreds of thousands” of Civic owners, Dunner claims that the front brakes, which should last at least 30,000 miles, wear out after 10,000 to 15,000 miles, thus requiring far more frequent replacement than the norm.

She claims this not only costs Civic owners lots of money in unanticipated repair costs, but also endangers Civic drivers' lives.

“The braking system defect causes the pads to wear at such an accelerated rate,” according to the lawsuit, “that the vehicles' on-board computer system does not warn drivers that the brake pads require inspection or are suffering from dangerous levels of brake pad wear.”

This is certainly not the first class-action lawsuit Honda has had to fend off with regard to brake issues.

Last spring, the company agreed to settle a lawsuit with customers who claimed the rear brakes in 2008-2009 Accords and 20009 Acura TSXs wore down too quickly and that the auto manufacturer refused to fix the brakes under the new-car warranty.

Dunner is suing the American Honda Motor Co. for unfair business practices and breach of a written warranty. She is seeking restitution and an order from the court prohibiting the car company from continuing to engage in the alleged unlawful activities.

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