Several injuries have been reported and a recall has been initiated for 2004-2007 models.
Mazda was one of many automakers affected by the notorious Takata airbag recall that rocked the auto industry for several years. Back in 2018, 156,000 Mazdas were recalled in the US due to faulty airbag inflators that could explode, causing shards of metal to fly into the driver's face. Unfortunately, another airbag safety defect has been discovered in the Mazda 3, though this time it's unrelated to the Takata scandal.
More than a quarter of a million Mazda 3s are being recalled in America over concerns that the plastic emblem on the steering wheel could shatter if the airbag deploys.
In the event of a crash that causes the driver frontal air bag to deploy, there a risk that the plastic Mazda logo on the steering wheel air bag module cover may shatter in certain models, causing metal fragments to fly into the interior and increase the risk of injury, says NHTSA.
Mazda says this happens due to "an improper material specification", which causes the plastic logo to "become brittle over time." In the US, the recall affects 260,915 Mazda 3s ranging from the 2004-2007 model years.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mazda first received a report of an occupant suffering facial injuries after the steering wheel emblem shattered after the airbag deployed back in 2015 Since then, eight separate incidents relating to this issue were reported outside the US between 2015 and 2019. Two lawsuits have also been filed in the US claiming injuries were caused by this defect.
Clearly, Mazda has been aware of this issue for a long time and should have recalled the faulty models sooner. To fix this issue, Mazda will replace the airbag cover in affected cars free of charge. Affected owners will be notified by mail to arrange an appointment with their local dealership.