While Takata balks at demands for a nationwide recall of vehicles equipped with its fatally flawed airbags and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration frets over what to do, Mazda is taking matters into its own hands. According to Reuters, the automaker has confirmed that it will expand existing regional recalls in the U.S. to cover Mazda vehicles from coast to coast.
Around the globe, Takata's airbags have been linked to dozens of injuries and five deaths -- four in the U.S. and one in Malaysia.
Investigations of the safety devices are ongoing, but early data suggests that the underlying problem is humidity, which can destabilize the ammonium nitrate that Takata used in airbag inflators around the turn of the 21st century. When the gas becomes destabilized, it can explode as airbags deploy, ripping the fabric of the bags and sending shrapnel flying through the car.
Initially, recalls of Takata airbags in the U.S. were focused on passenger-side devices installed in vehicles sold or registered in areas with high humidity, like states along the Gulf Coast. However, problems have been found with driver-side airbags, too, and NHTSA has called for a nationwide recall of those devices. (The agency insists that regional recalls are just fine for passenger-side airbags, though.)
Last week, Takata refused to facilitate nationwide recalls of any sort, leaving NHTSA stymied. Thankfully, Honda -- Takata's biggest client -- chose to do the right thing and expanded its own recalls to include vehicles across the country.
MAZDA'S RECALL EXPANSION
In Tokyo today, Mazda confirmed that it would follow Honda's lead and expand its recall of Takata airbags to include vehicles across the U.S.
Reports suggest that the expansion will cover both driver-side and passenger-side airbags. (Mazda hasn't confirmed that, though the company's current, regional recalls cover both.) Mazda also hasn't confirmed when the recall expansion will begin, nor has the company announced whether it will recall faulty airbags worldwide, as Honda now has.
The 86,773 Mazda vehicles already covered by U.S. regional recalls include:
- 2003 – 2007 Mazda6
- 2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
- 2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
- 2004 – 2005 Mazda MPV
- 2004 – B-Series Truck
If you own one of those models and live outside the current recall zone of "Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands" (PDF), we expect that you'll receive a recall notice in the near future.
If you have questions in the meantime, we encourage you to contact Mazda customer service at 248-295-7859 and inquire about recall SSP96. Folks manning the phones may not have information about the recall expansion yet, but it doesn't hurt to ask.