Mazda MX-5 Miata, Fiat 124 Spider recalled over surprise transmission downshifts

March 12, 2019

An automatic transmission has caused Mazda and Fiat to recall thousands of MX-5 Miata and 124 Spider roadsters, which share most of their components. Both cars' transmissions could suddenly downshift without warning and cause the cars to decelerate.

2019 Fiat 124 Spider

2019 Fiat 124 Spider

The Mazda recall was filed with the NHTSA on Feb. 1 and the identical Fiat recall came four days later. Both sets of documents were released by the NHTSA last week. In the MX-5 Miata, the automatic transmission recall will see 14,370 2019-2019 model year cars return to dealerships to fix the problem. The same issue affects 8,933 124 Spiders from the 2017-2019 model years.

READ MORE: 2019 FIAT 124 Spider Review

The fault stems from incorrect programming for the transmission control module, or TCM. Electrical noise may be interpreted as other factors to the TCM and bad control logic for the clutch will result in a downshift in both cars. The problem is also possible in the automatic transmission's manual mode. The sudden decrease in speed from a surprise downshift could make the car less stable at speed and increases the likelihood of a crash. Mazda and Fiat both said no crashes have been reported to this day.

CHECK OUT: More powerful 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata priced at $26,625

Although the issue sounds tricky, the solution is new software to overwrite the old software. The TCM reprogramming will ensure the surprise downshifts do not return.

Fiat 124 Spider owners will receive a letter of notification in the mail no earlier than March 27, while Mazda plans to notify MX-5 Miata owners starting March 29.

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