Washington D.C. – Sept. 26, 2017 – Mazda North American Operations has recalled more than 57,000 vehicles believed to be equipped with defective seat frames, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2015-2016 Mazda6 sedans produced between Nov. 3, 2014 and Dec. 9, 2015. Mazda is uncertain how many of the vehicles actually include the defective features.
Affected models are likely to contain front passenger seat frames with high levels of weld spatter. When passengers are present, this excess metal could make contact with the classification wire harnesses installed beneath the seat frames and abrade them over time, leading to short circuiting and the eventual loss of power steering assist and air bags. In the event that power steering assist is lost, multiple warning lights illuminate. Drivers will still be able to maneuver their vehicles to evade other drivers. However, when weld splatter abrades wire harnesses and air bag functionality is inhibited, these safety features will not work should an accident unfold.
That said, Mazda has not received reports connecting the defect to any injuries or accidents.
Timeline of Events
On Dec. 1, 2015, Mazda received a field report from the U.S. market outlining an instance in which all of the dashboard lights illuminated in a Mazda6 sedan. Engineering personnel investigated the report and found that the occupant sensor wiring harness in the car was abraded due to extensive weld spatter on the front passenger seat frame. Approximately eight days later, the Japanese automaker rolled out amended assembly processes that involved installing protective pads beneath the seat frames in Mazda6 models. On February 5, 2016, quality assurance personnel reviewed all information related to the defect and resulting production fix, and determined that a voluntary recall was unnecessary as there was a low frequency of occurrence and drivers could still safely maintain control of their vehicles in the event of complete wire harness abrasion. Mazda continued to monitor the field for more reports.
By Nov. 29, 2016, 13 more field reports materialized, forcing the automaker to reassess its earlier decision. However, by March 3, 2017, few other occurrences cropped up. On July 25, Mazda shared information on the defect and the assembly amendment with the NHTSA during a technical presentation. The agency requested more detailed data, which the automaker submitted to NHTSA officials Aug. 10 during a follow-up meeting. The NHTSA offered additional guidance on the matter Aug. 21. Mazda convened a Quality Audit Committee meeting Aug. 24 and decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall based on this discussion.
The car manufacturer notified dealers Sept. 22.
Mazda directed dealers to attach protective pads to front passenger seat frames installed in affected vehicles free of charge, according to a recall acknowledgment document. Service crews are also supposed to inspect wire harnesses and apply insulating tape if they show signs of abrasion. The car company plans to notify owners via first-class mail Sept. 29. Those in need of more immediate assistance can reach out to Mazda customer service at (800) 222-5500. Callers should use the internal recall identification code 1517H. Owners can also connect with the NHTSA through its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.