Mazda is recalling about 260,000 Mazda 3 sedans and hatchbacks from the 2004-2007 model years over concerns that the airbag deployment could cause the steering wheel logo emblem to shatter, spraying the driver with fragments that could cause serious injuries.
As with most vehicle models, the manufacturer logo is set into the center of the steering wheel. But the faulty material can cause the badge to break apart into sharp slivers when the airbag explodes from within the wheel.
According to Consumer Reports, this recall comes after eight incidents that have been documented outside the United States. There are two lawsuits in the U.S. alleging related injuries.
Details of the Recall
Mazda has explained that the injuries are because of an “improper material specification.” The issue could mean that the plastic logo on the steering wheel may become brittle over time and could shatter during normal airbag deployment. Mazda changed the steering wheel logo material starting in June 2006, switching to a different polyester material. The automaker says these improved logos are not subject to such deterioration.
The recalled vehicles were built from June 24, 2003, to June 22, 2006. Vehicle owners will be notified by the end of August. When the recall begins, dealerships will replace the steering wheel airbag cover with a new one at no cost to consumers. There is no change needed to the airbag itself. Vehicle owners who have questions may reach Mazda’s customer service at 1-800-222-5500.
Product Liability Issues
These types of incidents can result in major injuries. Recently, there was another warning about rhinestone steering wheel decorations that could come apart and become projectiles when the airbag deploys. The plastic pieces in these recalled vehicles are similar. In other words, they have the potential to become airborne projectiles in the event of a crash and could result in major injuries or even fatalities.
Tens of millions of Takata airbag inflators have already been recalled because they can degrade over time and explode with such force that it expels shards of metal into the vehicle compartment. These defective airbags have caused at least 28 deaths and 400 injuries worldwide. The Takata recall has shown how dangerous these types of airborne objects can be in the vehicle compartment.
If you have been injured as a result of products made with substandard parts or items, you may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. An experienced product defect lawyer will be able to advise you regarding your legal rights and options.