Mazda Issues Warning Following Fatal Crash

Mazda Issues Warning Following Fatal CrashAfter a fatal automobile accident, Mazda has issued a warning to dealers about an incorrect repair. The warning follows a recall involving more than 100,000 2002-2004 Mazda Tributes.

The recall followed an ABC15 Investigation into a safety recall that involved Ford Escapes and a crash that killed a 17-year-old Saige Bloom this January. Auto safety advocates are urging for a recall of almost 500,000 cars and, said ABC15, that number could rise. “The Mazda Tribute and the Escape are twins,” Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, told ABC15, “the same vehicle, same assembly line.”

The ABC15 Investigators discovered that Ford issued a recall on the accelerator cables of its 2002-2004 Escapes in December 2004; Mazda issued a nearly identical recall on its Tributes, the same model, at the same time. Ford then issued a technical service bulletin 10 months later, warning its dealers that they could be making incorrect repairs.

If the repair is completed incorrectly, according to the bulletin, mechanics could damage the speed control cable while replacing the accelerator cable for the recall, said ABC15. When Ford issued its bulletin, records reveal that more than 300,000 affected Escapes had been repaired, but without the corrected dealer instructions.

According to records on the matter, Mazda’s recall involved more than 121,000 Tributes, and its initial recall repair instructions are nearly identical to the initial Ford dealer instructions, said ABC15. Mazda did confirm that the “Mazda Tribute and Ford Escape share the same powertrain system as well as acceleration and speed control system design and componentry.” But, say ABC15 Investigators, they learned that, unlike Ford, Mazda never sent an updated repair bulletin to its dealerships with warnings about how the repair could be incorrectly completed. In other words, said ABC15, some 106,000 Tributes have been repaired in the Mazda recall without the new, corrected instructions.

Meanwhile, Saige died as a result of her 2002 Ford Escape accelerating out of control in January. The teenager’s SUV was just one of the 2002-2004 model Escapes recalled by Ford in December 2004, said ABC15. An inspector working for the Bloom’s attorney discovered that Saige’s Escape had a damaged speed control cable—the issue Ford warned its dealers could happen in its dealer repair update.

Ford told ABC15 Investigators that, “We are in the midst of our investigation, and we have not reached any conclusions.” Ford said it is working with government regulators, the Blooms have not yet filed a lawsuit, and regulators have not made any determinations concerning the crash. Ditlow has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to “open a defect investigation into all 2002-04 Ford Escapes equipped with cruise control cables of the same design in Saige’s Escape and Escapes involved in recall 04V-574.”

Mazda finally just issued an updated technical service bulletin to all Mazda dealerships, saying “Mazda was only recently made aware of an update to the original repair bulletin and is currently in the process of issuing the update.” About 16,000 Tributes are left that need repair, said ABC15; however, the Center for Auto Safety says that’s not enough, filing a petition with the NHTSA and asking it to hold a hearing about if “Mazda reasonably met their obligation to notify owners and correct the defect at issue.” When ABC15 asked Mazda if it notified owners who already had the recall repair done on 2002-2004 Tributes, Mazda said, “we will need to study this further.”

In 2010, a shortage of replacement parts forced Mazda Motor Corp. to issue a vehicle recall of 215,000 of its 2007-2009 Mazda3 and Mazda5 sedans over reports of sudden power steering loss while driving. This defect could increase crash risks said federal safety regulators. The NHTSA reported that, at the time, it received 33 complaints about Mazda’s steering problems. The vehicles’ electric boost, which works with the hydraulic power steering system, can fail, requiring extra force to manage the car; not all drivers have the strength to do this. In some cases, the problem led to crashes.

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