Mazda has issued a recall notice that includes 215,000 vehicles in the United States, 100,000 in Canada and Mexico, and 11,000 in China. The company stated that it plans to expand the recall to other international markets including Europe and Australia.
In the U.S., Mazda3 and Mazda5 vehicles built in Japan from April 2007 to November 2009 are affected. These models are known as Axela and Premacy in other parts of the world. The reason for the recall is because power steering parts could rust, forcing power steering controls to shut down to avoid overheating.
The problem first came to light in Japan in March 2008. Later that summer, Mazda began its own probe, and a year after that it identified the rust issue as the main culprit. The company immediately began a program to fix the issue on vehicles built for the Japanese market, but not for the U.S. or other overseas markets. Mazda cited a high occurrence rate of the power steering problem in Japan as the reason for the quick action there.
Mazda told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the spring of 2010 that they were now aware of an increasing occurrence rate in the North American market. It was later that Mazda began a voluntary recall. The company said it has not received any reports of crashes or injuries resulting from the problem.
The NHTSA received 33 complaints of the power steering problem in the U.S. Most of those complaints centered on vehicles experiencing a loss of the power steering function while driving. This made it difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicle.
Mazda plans to notify affected owners of the recall during the next few months. Dealers will replace the power steering pump and two high-pressure lines at no charge.
Previous Auto Maker Problems
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires automakers to inform them of safety defects within five days of learning that a defect exists in one of their vehicles.
The Toyota Motor Corporation was fined $16.4 million dollars earlier this year for waiting more than four months to issue a recall on over two million of its vehicles that were experiencing sticking gas pedals. The NHTSA is investigating why Toyota waited almost a year in 2005to recall trucks and SUVs in the United States with reported defective steering rods. This, despite issuing a similar recall in Japan.