CAR company Honda has recalled 79,000 vehicles because of handbrake problems.

The South Marston based firm issued the recall last week, after receiving 29 complaints. It has promised free new handbrakes to every one of the 79,000 owners.

The problem is with Civics produced between 2006 and 2007.

Those who had complained said the vehicle rolled away when parked.

So now the firm is advising all owners to go back to their dealer for a free new handbrake.

"We have fully investigated the 29 customer reports of handbrake malfunction," said Steve Kirk, communications manager at Honda.

"While no defects were found, if the handbrake is applied with the release button intentionally or unintentionally pressed, there is a small risk that the handbrake may not latch sufficiently to hold the vehicle securely on a slope.

"As a result, we are sending a letter to all Civic customers in the UK advising customers to apply the handbrake as per the owner's manual without touching the release button.

"If these directions are followed, the handbrake efficiency will be unaffected.

"But we appreciate this is an inconvenience for customers.

"So we are improving the handbrake design and asking customers to visit their local Honda dealer to have a new handbrake fitted free of charge."

The South Marston facility, which employs thousands of people, has been producing Civics since 1994.

Each year it makes almost 100,000 of them and they are Honda's biggest selling model.

"As a responsible manufacturer we felt it was important we inform our customers as soon as possible," said Mr Kirk.

Anyone who bought a second-hand Civic and did not register ownership with Honda may not receive a letter. They should call the helpline on 0800 707 6688.