Mazda Recall Issued For Nearly 375K Vehicles Over Takata Airbag Rupture Risks

Nearly 375,000 Mazda vehicles have been recalled after the manufacturer received notice from airbag supplier, Takata, indicating the passenger side and frontal airbags may rupture during inflation, causing metal fragments to be blown through the vehicle towards the driver and occupants. 

The Mazda airbags recall was announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on January 7, adding to the millions of vehicles sold throughout the U.S. that may contain defective inflators manufactured by Takata, which have already been linked to at least nine deaths and hundreds of injuries when vehicle occupants were struck by shrapnel bursting from the airbags.

The ongoing Takata airbag recalls are the largest to ever hit the automobile industry, impacting more than 34 million vehicles. The airbags were supplied to more than a dozen automakers to be used for driver and passenger frontal and side airbags.

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Problems with Takata inflators may cause airbags to over-inflate and rupture, sending sharp metal fragments and debris flying into the passenger cabin during a collision. Some reports suggest the airbags may also explode spontaneously in more humid climates, due to a pressure build-up defect in the inflators, according to federal investigators.

Since the first recalls were issued, the NHTSA has taken oversight and is managing the massive repair action. However, manufacturers are continuing to expand recalls furthering the repair process.

The Mazda airbags recall includes 374,519 model year 2003 through 2008 Mazda6 vehicles manufactured from May 29, 2002 to May 5, 2008, model year 2006 through 2007 Mazdaspeed6 vehicles manufactured from July 1, 2005 to June 29, 2007, and a limited production of model year 2004 RX-8 vehicles manufactured from June 25, 2003 through June 30, 2003.

The vehicles were manufactured by Mazda North America Operations at the assembly plants in Flat Rock, Michigan and the Hofu and Hiroshima plants in Japan. Mazda stated that some of the information received overlaps existing recalls for the models, but the new recalls will supersede the older recalls due to the updated information.

Airbag Repair Concerns

With such a dangerous defect in so many vehicles still being driven on U.S. roadways, the NHTSA stepped in during November and issued a Consent Order, which requires Takata to be cooperative with the agency in all future actions involving the current recall investigation.

The order demands that the NHTSA be head controller of the recall campaigns in the U.S. and to organize and prioritize the recall process to speed up the repairs. In addition to taking control of the recall process, under the Consent Order, NHTSA fined Takata $200 million.

The NHTSA aimed to take control of the Takata airbag recall process due to the lack of ability for Takata to supply and repair the recalled vehicles in any timely manner. Experts state the recall repairs could take several years to fix all vehicles, and at the current rate, with only 27.3 percent of vehicles repaired, it could result in more fatalities due to consumers being exposed to the lethal airbags for so long.

The NHTSA announced Mazda will begin notifying owners of the newly updated recall and anticipates the repair process to begin as early as February 1, 2016. Customers will be urged to schedule a repair appointment at their local dealer to have the passenger airbags replaced with a new one free of charge.

The agency urges affected owners to act quickly to have the recall repair fixed as soon as possible due to the potential for the rupturing airbags to cause serious laceration injuries, crashes, and fatalities.

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