Mazda recalling 300,000 units over possible power-steering issues


Mazda is recalling 90,000 vehicles in Canada as a part of a wider, 300,000-vehicle recall of Mazda 3 and Mazda 5 vehicles in North America because of power-steering system problems that could lead to crashes.

The recall concerns model year 2007-2009 Mazda 3 and Mazda 5 vehicles built from April 2007 through November 2008.

According to the Associated Press, the Japanese automaker says the vehicles could experience a “sudden loss of power-steering assist, making it difficult for the driver to steer.”

Mazda says it has not received any reports of crashes or injuries that resulted from the problem. But the news agency reports that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation on June 28 into steering problems in 2007-2009 Mazda 3s, citing 33 complaints alleging steering problems, including three crashes.

Apparently Mazda started fixing vehicles in Japan for the same problem last year and has been investigating the issue for two years.

Published reports indicate Mazda sent a letter to NHTSA last week that said the manufacturer was first informed of similar steering problems in Japan in March 2008 and began its own investigation into complaints in July of that year.

Mazda said it found that the problem was caused by “rust forming inside the high-pressure pipe in the power steering system.” Apparently the rust particles could enter the power steering pump and cause it to go into a “fail safe mode and shut down to avoid 

According to the letter to NHTSA, Mazda conducted an improvement campaign in the summer of 2009 to repair vehicles in Japan “due to a high occurrence rate of this problem,” the Associated Press says.

A recall was not issued in North America where Mazda instead issued a technical service bulletin to dealers.

Once Mazda says it realized the “occurrence rate” was rising in North America, it began to “study further field action for the market,” it said in the NHTSA letter.

Transportation Department spokeswoman Olivia Alair said NHTSA was reviewing the recall documents submitted by Mazda and will look at whether any additional action is necessary.

Mazda has issued a statement that indicates it would notify owners shortly and that dealers will replace the power steering pump and two high-pressure lines at no charge.

“Be assured that our customers remain Mazda’s highest priority. They remain safe
in their Mazda 3s and Mazda 5s,” the company said in a release.

- With files from The Associated Press