Mazda recalls sports cars with defective ball joints


Washington, D.C. – June 1, 2017 – Mazda North American Operations has recalled more than 35,000 sports cars with defective ball joints. The campaign affects RX-8 sports cars manufactured between April 10, 2003 and May 7, 2004, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The Japanese automaker is unsure what percentage of the vehicles named in the recall contain the damaged part.

The Defect
Affected models are equipped with ball joints that have been improperly caulked and can therefore damage the joint socket. This structural instability puts immense pressure on the suspension and can even cause the joint to separate from the socket in affected vehicles that are bearing abnormally large loads. Such an event drastically decreases driveability – a symptom of loss of steering control – and compromises occupant safety.

Timeline of Events
In December 2005, Mazda received a field report from a dealer in the U.S. market mentioning the problem, according to a defect timeline filed with the NHTSA. While the automaker was unable to recover the failed part, it ultimately launched an official investigation to further explore the problem cited in the report. Quality assurance personnel closed the inquiry four months later without identifying the root cause. Mazda continued to monitor field reports to look for additional occurrences. In September 2007, the car maker received a report from the Japanese market in which the driver described losing steering power while racing. QA personnel started an official investigation.

Engineers conducted tests between October and November of that year and determined that heavy loads were to blame in this instance of steering loss, after which Mazda resumed field monitoring. The company received two more reports from Japanese drivers between July and September of 2008, both of which detailed sudden steering failure during racing events. Engineers tested these vehicles and determined that the ball joints in both had fractured while the autos were supporting abnormally large loads. Mazda continued to monitor incoming field reports.

The automaker received another field report during the summer of 2009. While the vehicle addressed in the complaint was not used for racing purposes, it did feature a performance suspension. Engineers determined that this fixture had nothing to do with the steering failure but noted it just the same. From October to December 2009, Mazda received two additional field reports pertaining to vehicles used in competition.

Over the next two years, the number of field reports multiplied, most of which applied to RX-8s involved in racing events. Even so, the automaker did implement design changes in late 2012 to reduce the likelihood of steering loss. It also continued to investigate the problem and collect related field reports, eight of which materialized between 2013 and 2014.

In the spring of 2015, another driver in the Japanese market reported that his race-ready RX-8 had suddenly lost its steering power, forcing Mazda to resume more focused investigative efforts. Then, in June, an owner with no experience on the track filed a field report mentioning the problem. QA personnel for the car maker further analyzed ball joint separation in this non-racing model and restarted monitoring efforts to pinpoint other instances in which overloaded RX-8s used exclusively for commuting suffered steering control loss due to ball joint separation. From July to December 2015, Mazda conducted further tests.

In January 2016, engineers for the car company began considering the possibility that the defect was not the result of race-related stress but a symptom of faulty assembly processes. Two months later, QA personnel conducted detailed examinations of existing production workflows. Between April and August 2016, Mazda continued this work and started developing field screening procedures for RX-8s already on the road. Over the course of September and October, these plans were finalized. By April 2017, engineers at the car company were fairly certain the problem was related to defective parts.

On May 29, 2017, Mazda officials decided to launch a voluntary recall campaign.

The Solution
The automotive organization will order dealers to replace the lower control arms in affected RX-8s with new assemblies containing properly caulked ball joint sockets, free of charge. Mazda plans to notify owners July 15, 2017 and owners July 30, 2017. Individuals in need of more immediate assistance are encouraged to contact Mazda customer service or the NHTSA.

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Mazda Recalls Sedans With Broken Seats

Washington, D.C. –  Feb. 15, 2017 –  Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that it will recall almost 174,000 vehicles due to faulty driver seats. The recall affects 2011 Mazda 2 subcompacts, along with Mazda 3 and Mazdaspeed 3 compacts produced in 2010 and 2011, according to documentation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Defect

Faulty seat height adjustment links lie at the heart of the problem. These fixtures are abnormally weak in the affected models and can loosen, or in some cases detach completely, causing the driver seat to recline dramatically. This increases the likelihood of an accident.

Timeline of Events

Several Mazda owners have filed NHTSA complaints mentioning the issue. The earliest dates back to April 2012, when one Mazda 3 owner in Decatur, Alabama discovered that the adjustment rail on the front driver seat had snapped. Another Mazda 3 owner in Port Jefferson Station, New York filed a complaint earlier this month, telling the NHTSA that the adjustment link gave way suddenly during operation. The driver urged the agency to address the issue with Mazda.

“The manufacturer should have a recall on this problem immediately before someone gets killed,” the complaint read.

The NHTSA submitted the official recall Feb. 8 and contacted Mazda five days later.

The Resolution

Mazda dealers have been instructed to evaluate affected vehicles, specifically the driver seat adjustment link. If this fixture is cracked, on-site personnel will replace it entirely with a modified part. Should the adjustment link show no damage, it will be reinforced with an additional bracket. Mazda has also advised dealers to install two extra push nuts per link in these cases. These repairs will be performed free of charge.

The carmaker is expected to notify all dealers by March 15, while owners should receive confirmation by March 31.

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The Problem With Mazda Lift Gates

Washington, D.C. – October 26, 2016 – The lift gate of Mazda vehicles are beginning to drop unexpectedly, according to a memo released by the National Highway Traffic Administration. The result is usually not pretty for anyone involved. The individual working with the car is likely to be injured when the lift gate of a vehicle drops unexpectedly toward him or her. In a variety of vehicles, Mazda found that the struts of the lift gate may corrode over time, which is likely responsible for the gate dropping. The company is recalling Mazda3 and Mazdaspeed3s made between 2010 and 2013, Mazda5s from October 26, 2010 to June 22, 2015, CX-3 vehicles from June 1, 2015, to December 26, 2015, and CX-5s from December 15, 2011, to December  26, 2015.

The Defect

Although professionals are still working to find out the exact causes of such a problem in the lift gates, researchers believe that insufficient corrosion protective coating was applied in the first place. There are plenty of things that can cause corrosion to those parts. If materials like that are exposed to water that contains road salt, the compound can cause corrosion. If that is the case, the mechanisms holding the lift gates up will not be able to do their job properly. That is when issues like unexpected drops occur.

Timeline Of Mazda’s Response

Unlike other recall processes, Mazda has taken a relatively straightforward approach to this issue. Some manufacturers might let this kind of issue drag on for years, but in less than that long, Mazda is taking steps to fixing the problem. Here is a rough timeline for the actions by Mazda:

  • January 2016: Mazda was notified that there was an investigation on the corrosion of parts that prevent lift gates from falling unexpectedly.
  • March 2016: Mazda received information saying that salt water may be responsible for penetrating the gap between the outer tube and the end cap. Combined with temperature changes, corrosion can occur.
  • April – August, 2016: An internal investigation was launched by leaders at Mazda. Although no broken parts were found, the outer tubes of some returned parts were confirmed to be corroded. Mazda then conducted an anti-corrosion evaluation. The results were that the anti-corrosion performances by certain vehicles were not up to par.
  • August 30, 2016: There still isn’t enough evidence from global markets to cause Mazda manufacturers to panic. But Mazda professionals acknowledge that lift gates may fall or break off vehicles in the future if steps aren’t taken to prevent it. In an effort to get out ahead of any future problems, Mazda issued a recall.

The Solution

Mazda is doing their best to help people who have encountered this problem. In fact, Mazda dealers replace lift gates and their components free of charge. Mazda is planning on sending interim letters to car owners starting on November 1, 2016 and plan on sending secondary letters as parts become available. That’s the bad news – parts are currently unavailable. If you have any questions in the meantime, reach out to the Mazda customer service center at 1-800-222-5500.

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Steering Issues On-Target in New Mazda Recalls

Washington, D.C. — Oct. 17, 2016 — Ball joints in some Mazda vehicles are possibly vulnerable to a dangerous flaw. The model years in this recall range from 2007 to 2012, per official documents with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, the source said that 190,102 Mazda CX-7 vehicles were potentially affected, with the first related field report of this issue dating to August 2015.

The higher-priority vehicles for this recall are reportedly located in states that use lots of road salt for ice. That’s because driving on salted roads can inadvertently introduce salt water into the ball joints. Over time, this exposure could corrode the joints, eventually separating it from the lower control arm and making it more difficult for the driver to steer properly.

Target regions include northern states like Indiana, Minnesota and New Hampshire, but also more southern states, such as Kentucky and West Virginia. Dealer notification is scheduled for September 30, with owner notification coming Oct. 10. Dealers will replace left and right lower control arms after the recall campaign.

As of this writing, the manufacturer has noted no injuries connected to this fault, and the report did not state any possible indications that the issue might be present.

The Mazda recall is just one of the more recent to concern possible road-salt corrosion. Last October, approximately 218,019 Nissan Versa vehicles were recalled because of the danger road salt posed to their front coil springs. Automotive News reported that corroded springs could eventually fracture, puncturing vehicle tires in the process.

The Versa model years subject to this recall ranged from 2007 to 2012. Similar to the Mazda recall, this Nissan action particularly looked at the vehicles in particular states. Vehicles were produced between May 8, 2006 and Nov. 12, 2012.

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Two Recalls Affect Mazda CX-5

Irvine, CA — February 16, 2016 — A pair of recent recalls bring consequences for the Mazda CX-5 vehicles. Most recently, Automotive News reports that more than 264,463 vehicles are subject to a possible fuel pipe issue. No injuries have been reported due to this problem, but the manufacturer still asserts that a possible fuel leak after a collision could lead to danger for occupants.

In addition to a recall, Mazda is also stopping the sale of all CX-5s with the model years between 2014 and 2016. Since repair parts aren’t yet available, dealers can provide a “loaner, demo or rental” to relieve the customer until repairs begin. The recall reportedly comes after testing revealed a lack of compliance.

Another recall announced last month also has ties to the CX-5, although this one comes not from the manufacturer but from supplier Pilkington North America. A Part 573 Safety Recall Report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that replacement windshields may have defective brackets.

“On a small number of parts, a bracket installed on the inside of the windshield may have been affixed improperly,” the report reads. “This bracket is used to hold a separate laser sensor or LIDAR device that is linked to the vehicle’s Smart City Brake Support System.” The brackets in 305 units may potentially break under pressure, posing problems for the CX-5 brake system. There may not be any warning signs for owners other than possible shaking.

The new brackets “will be firmly affixed with urethane” rather than the tape used in the old ones.

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Mazda Recall to Begin this Month

Washington, DC — October, 14 2015 —  Late last month, a Mazda dealer email announced a pending recall for Mazda3 vehicles with the model years of 2015 and 2016. According to this notice, vehicles built between May 21 and August 24 of this year are at risk of a fuel shutoff failure that could potentially cause fire hazard in cases of overflow. That recall is currently being conducted.

This action, overseen by Mazda North American Operations, specifically concerns 14,406 potentially affected units, with the manufacturer offering rental vehicles to owners who need them while repairs are being administered. If needed, dealers can replace the fuel shutoff valve to correct the situation. Since the fuel problem can lead to multiple related issues, including engine stalling, replacing the charcoal filter canister could make operating affected Mazda 3’s safer.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) document for dealers describes the steps needed to test fuel tanks in vehicles under inspection for this flaw.

“Using a special tool to pressurize the fuel tank, test to determine if the shut-off valve is properly sealed,” the document reads. “The special tool is currently being produced and will be sent to dealers in mid-October. It requires a nitrogen gas bottle in order to perform the test.”

As they wait for the tool to arrive, dealers are instructed to prevent drivers from using vehicles that may be defective and to coordinate proper reimbursement and rental with customers. In addition to the tools necessary for testing, dealers will also have access to replacement fuel tanks sometime later this month.

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