Owners of older Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks in the United States might soon receive a recall notification from Mazda. Specifically, the automaker is recalling first-generation models from 2004 through 2007 due to a defective Mazda badge in the center of the steering wheel that could shatter during driver airbag deployment.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a total of 260,915 vehicles are at risk. It includes all body styles and trims of the Mazda3 during the affected model years. Owners of vehicles under the recall will receive notification from Mazda starting in August. The recall covers vehicles sold in the US and US territories. It's worth noting that this is not related to the Takata airbag recall that affected over 33 million vehicles.
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What exactly is the problem? On the earlier Mazda3s, the prominent Mazda logo on the center of the steering wheel was made of polyurethane, typically used in plastic items. Over time, the polyurethane can become brittle, causing the badge to potentially shatter should the driver airbag deploy. The recall states that Mazda switched to a polyester material for the logos starting in 2006, which doesn't suffer the same problem. Additionally, the NHTSA says vehicles similar to the recall used an improved material for the airbag module cover. For now, it seems the issue is specific to the early Mazda3.
A handful of injuries were reported that allegedly occurred as a result of the defective emblem. All the incidents stem from accidents outside the US, with the first report coming in 2015. Though no incidents are cited as coming from the US, two US-based lawsuits regarding the problem were reportedly received.
The fix is straightforward. Mazda will simply replace the steering wheel emblem with a new emblem made of a different material. As it's a recall, the fix will be performed by Mazda dealerships at no cost to the vehicle owner.