Mazda has updated a recall affecting 205,377 Mazda6, CX-7, and CX-9 vehicles made between the 2007 and 2011 model years. It's the latest development in the largest (and arguably, most confusing) recall in U.S. automotive history.
The vehicles affected were technically recalled in May of 2016, along with over 500,000 other Mazda vehicles. That recall was meant to replace Takata's fatally flawed airbag inflators, which use ammonium nitrate to deploy airbags during collisions.
Unfortunately, ammonium nitrate becomes explosive when destabilized--for example, when it's exposed to moisture--causing it to rip airbags apart and send hot shrapnel hurtling toward vehicle passengers. To date, Takata inflators have been linked to 18 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.
Even more unfortunately, last year's recall didn't offer a permanent fix. Instead, it replaced existing inflators with similar ones that also used ammonium nitrate. The thinking was that the ammonium nitrate in the new inflators hadn't yet had the chance to degrade and would be a safe alternative until other replacement inflators could be found.
So the bad news is, if you own a Mazda CX-7, CX-9, or Mazda6 and had it fixed as part of last year's recall, we're sorry, but you're going to need to take your car in for repairs once more. Don't do that now, though: Mazda is prioritizing repairs for vehicles that haven't been previously fixed.
On the other hand, if you're one of the millions of people who haven't heeded the advice of experts, automakers, and federal agencies and haven't gotten your vehicle fixed, congratulations: you only have to have the one fix, and it'll be available as soon as you receive the recall notice in the mail. (FWIW, if you haven't followed through on the recall, you aren't alone: only 35 percent of cars affected by the Takata recall have been repaired so far.)
Mazda's updated recall affects passenger-side frontal airbag inflators on the following models:
- 2007-2011 CX-7
- 2007-2011 CX-9
- 2009-2011 Mazda6
Mazda mailed recall notices to owners of those vehicles on July 24. After receiving those notices, owners will be able to schedule service appointments with their local Mazda dealerships. Dealers will replace the passenger-side frontal airbag at no charge. (Again, this recall is only for cars that weren't previously repaired. If you had your car repaired under the previous recall, sit tight: you'll be notified when it's time to schlep back to the dealership.)
If you own one of these vehicles and have further questions (and of course you do), please call Mazda customer service at 1-800-222-5500 and ask about recall #1317F. Alternately, you can call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and ask about safety campaign #17V-429.
Interestingly, this recall update comes on the heels of a request from Mazda to be excluded from an expansion of the Takata recall announced earlier this month. That expansion targeted 2.8 million Takata airbag inflators that employ ammonium nitrate, but also contain a desiccant to keep the ammonium nitrate dry. NHTSA tests suggest, however, that over the long term, the compound could still prove dangerous. .
Some 2.5 million vehicles affected by the recall expansion were manufactured by Ford, which announced that it intended to petition NHTSA to exclude it from the expansion. Mazda will make a similar request for several thousand B-Series pickups--pickups that were, coincidentally, built in partnership with Ford.