Mazda Recalls 215,000 Cars for Steering Problem

August 18, 2010

Mazda Motor Corp will recall 215,000 Mazda 3 and Mazda 5 vehicles sold in the United States because of the risk that they could lose power steering without warning.

The Mazda recall of vehicles from the 2007 through 2009 model years was announced in a filing with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Monday.

Mazda said the vehicles under recall could experience a “sudden loss” of power steering, increasing the risk of a crash. The notification did not detail any incidents.

The defect occurs because rust could break lose from a high-pressure pipe, straining the power steering pump and causing the system to shut down, the Japanese automaker said.

Mazda also said it was facing a shortage of parts to repair recalled vehicles at its dealerships.

The automaker said it would begin to notify affected owners of the recall in September and send notices to all owners by February.

The Mazda recall stems from a customer complaint in the Japanese market in March 2008, NHTSA records show.

Mazda had told dealers to monitor vehicles for the problem in the United States but had not issued a safety recall because it judged that the problem remained relatively rare.

Earlier this year, Mazda said it realized that more U.S. owners were experiencing the loss of power steering.

In June, NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation of the problem.

The Mazda recall comes as the automaker’s larger rival Toyota Motor Corp faces continuing scrutiny of its handling of safety recalls. It was fined a record $16.4 million by NHTSA, the maximum then allowed, for moving too slowly to recall vehicles with defective accelerator pedals.

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