BEIJING, March 2 (Reuters) - Japan's Honda Motor Co has halted new sales of CR-V crossovers in China and may have to do the same with its Civic model after a Chinese watchdog rejected the automaker's plan to recall 350,000 of the cars to fix a problem.
The company had planned to address a cold-climate engine problem on two of its top-selling models in two phases, recalling CR-V sport utility vehicles from late February and Civics from early March.
A Honda spokesman said on Friday China's quality control watchdog considered its plan insufficient, leading Honda to stop sales of new CR-Vs until a new recall plan had been agreed.
The company's problems in the world's biggest auto market highlight what appears to be an emerging trend, where Chinese customers air their complaints on Weibo - the country's Twitter equivalent - and other social media, forcing carmakers to act.
With complaints from CR-V and Civic owners pouring out in mid-Janauary, Honda devised a recall plan in only about a month.
Honda had said on Feb. 12 it intended to recall roughly 350,000 CR-Vs and Civics equipped with a 1.5-litre turbo engine. Both affected models have been sold by Hondas joint venture with China's Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd.
The Honda spokesman said company officials earlier this week went to China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to explain its plan.
On Thursday, the agency said in a statement on its official website that Honda's proposals were not enough.
The company needs to improve the recall plans further, it said, suggesting Honda could extend the warranty coverage period of the affected cars.
The Honda spokesman said its officials were expected to go back to the agency with a revised plan soon. He did not elaborate.
The recalls are aimed at fixing a problem caused by an unusual amount of un-combusted petrol collecting in the engines lubricant oil pan.
The issue in some cases caused a strong odour of gasoline inside the car and in others the cars check-engine light came on. Honda and Dongfeng plan to resolve the issue by updating the engines gasoline injection control software.
Honda officials said there had been no reports of accidents. (Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu Editing by Mark Potter)