Mazda, Toyota issue massive recalls over faulty electrics

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 23 October 2015

MAZDA says it is recalling 4.9 million older vehicles worldwide because ignition switches could overheat and catch fire, hard on the heels of Toyota’s massive vehicle recall.

Toyota’s recall of 6.5 million vehicles globally involved a defective power window switch that can overheat, melt and lead to fires.

There has been one injury in the US of a burn on the hand reported. Toyota has also received 11 reports of cases in which the switch or part of the car door burned – seven in North America, two in Japan and two in other areas.

Some of the vehicles included in Mazda’s recall are more than two decades old. Mazda says it put too much grease on electrical contact points in the switches when the cars were manufactured.

The grease can carbonise and reduce electrical insulation. The company says continuous use can cause electricity to flow between the points and make the switches overheat. That can cause smoke and possible fire.

Mazda says its problem doesn’t affect the cars’ operation or safety devices. It says there haven’t been any fires, crashes or injuries in the US, and the problem doesn’t happen when the car is turned off. Globally there have been 13 fires in the Mazdas, but no injuries.

In the US, Mazda’s recall covers the 1990-1996 323 and Protg, the 1993-1998 626, the 1993-1995 929, the 1993-1997 MX-6, the 1989 to 1998 MPV and the 1992-1993 MX-3.

The defect in Toyota switches was also caused by grease — improperly sprayed on during the manufacturing of electrical contact modules. Debris or moisture could enter the module, and that could lead to a short circuit, Toyota said.

Toyota has promised to be quicker with recalls after suffering a scandal starting in 2009 which ballooned into a massive recall over various problems, including faulty floor mats, defective brakes and sticky gas pedals. The scandal resulted in fines imposed on Toyota by US authorities.

Other automakers have been embroiled in scandals since then, including General Motors over an ignition switch recall, Japanese supplier Takata over defective air bags, and more recently Volkswagen of Germany over rigged emissions tests.


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