Mazda has issued a recall for Tribute SUVs from the 2001-2004 model years. In a statement from the automaker, Mazda estimates that some 109,000 U.S. vehicles are affected by the recall.
The problem with the Tribute stems from corrosion on the underside of the vehicle, which appears to be caused by the salts used to de-ice roads in colder states. Mazda says that in some cases, the rust and corrosion can be so severe that it may force the front lower control arms to separate from the Tribute's subframe.
The lower control arms aid in steering, so if they were to become detached or otherwise disabled, a driver would have less control over the vehicle's direction. That, in turn, would dramatically increase the risk of an accident. However, Mazda notes that it knows of no accidents or injuries associated with the problem.
Typically, recalls like this are limited to vehicles currently or previously registered in a handful of states, but in its brief announcement, Mazda doesn't acknowledge whether that's the case here. However, this recall sounds suspiciously like the one issued for 2001-2004 Ford Escapes earlier this month, which only affected vehicles in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The similarity isn't coincidental: the Tribute and the Escape were developed and produced together, and in many ways, they're nearly identical.
Mazda says that it will notify owners of the recall this May. If you own a Tribute SUV and have questions in the meantime, we encourage you to contact Mazda customer service at (800) 222-5500.