For just over half a decade now, we've become accustomed to reading about recalls pertaining to vehicle airbags, particularly with Takata and the many automakers that use their airbag units. That is not something we will downplay as substandard airbag inflators that can disintegrate upon deployment in a collision are a serious matter. The device that can save your life can instead seriously harm you.
Now there's a new, albeit somewhat different issue, and it concerns a quite popular Mazda model: the Mazda3. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released an advisory regarding a special service campaign being conducted by Mazda Philippines for the Mazda3.
In a letter to the DTI, Bermaz Auto Philippines stated that there is an issue with the emblem on the Mazda3's steering wheel; they say that the emblem may become “brittle over time”. If the steering wheel airbag deploys, the emblem can “shatter and project fragments into the vehicle” and cause serious injuries.
The unusual bit is that the Mazda3 that is being cited by Mazda Philippines is the BK (the first generation model), and that wasn't sold by Bermaz; it was actually sold by Ford Group Philippines when Mazda was still under the Ford umbrella. Actually, the first-generation Mazda3 was built here in Santa Rosa, Laguna at the Ford factory, which is now owned by Mitsubishi Motors.
Regardless, Mazda Philippines is taking responsibility and will take care of affected vehicles even though it wasn't their product at the time. Berjaya (the parent of Bermaz) only took over as distributor of Mazda in the Philippines in 2013.
The airbag module cover on the BK Mazda3 with the frangible emblem will be replaced by Mazda Philippines.
In the letter, Mazda Philippines did not elaborate on the specifics of the emblem on the Mazda3 BK apart from stating that the emblem uses “improper material specification”. The issue isn't confined to us though; earlier this month, the NHTSA in the US released a similar recall from Mazda North America for the same problem.
In the US, the concerned component is produced by AutoLiv Japan. Some reports indicate that the supplier made the logo out of polyurethane which becomes brittle over time. Later models have since switched to polyester which does not have those same tendencies as polyurethane.
Owners with vehicles fitting the recall are advised to contact Mazda by email ([email protected]).