Mazda Owners Must Have Airbag Inflators Replaced Twice

Mazda recalls 445,000 cars to replace the driver airbag inflators, then will have to do it again.

Posted in Recalls

— If you own a 2003-2008 Mazda6, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6 or a 2004-2008 Mazda RX-8, prepare to visit your dealership twice to have the same work performed on the front airbag system.

Mazda is recalling 445,000 cars to replace the driver-side frontal airbags. However, Mazda is warning owners just one trip to the dealer won't be enough because the first airbag inflator replacement will only be temporary while the automaker waits for permanent replacement parts.

For most car owners, scheduling dealer appointments and waiting for repairs are enough to ruin the day. But to go through that twice for the same problem?

Mazda says the 445,000 recalled Mazda6, Mazdaspeed6 and RX-8 cars have driver-side front airbags that could explode and send shards of metal into occupants. The airbags, made by Takata Corp., have caused at least eight deaths and over 100 injuries to date. The problem is, after months of testing by numerous labs, Takata isn't sure what is causing the metal airbag inflators to explode.

In late-June 2015, Takata Chief Executive Shigehisa Takada told shareholders the internal investigation into the root cause of the exploding airbag inflators was "not progressing very well" and Takata execs had no idea when the investigation would be completed.

Current theory is the metal inflators are affected by age, heat and humidity. Any cracks in the inflator can allow moisture to reach the ammonium nitrate, the explosive chemical used to deploy the airbags. The chemical can be unstable if affected by moisture and cause the explosive force to be greater than required. Many of the shattered metal inflators have been rusted, which is another indicator humidity is playing a role in the disaster.

Here's where the circus begins for owners of the recalled Mazda cars.

Mazda doesn't have the permanent inflators needed for the cars because the inflators haven't been created. This means temporary inflators must be used until the newly designed inflators are available.

Calling it a "stop-gap measure," owners will have their current driver-side airbag inflator replaced with an identical inflator, only newer. Mazda believes getting rid of the older inflators will be better than nothing until the "real" inflators are produced. Once the newly designed inflators are ready, owners will have to schedule another appointment to have the "interim-remedy" airbag inflators replaced.

To make matters worst, it's always possible the newly designed inflators might have to eventually be replaced based on the fact a root cause of the exploding inflators still isn't known.

Mazda says it doesn't know when the recall will begin to install the "interim-remedy air bag inflators." The automaker also has no idea when the permanent inflators will be available.

If by this point you feel like screaming, call Mazda at 800-222-5500 and refer to recall number 8215F. Or if you want to let the real culprit know your thoughts and feelings, contact Takata at 1-248-373-8040.

Furthermore, please try to stay out of any fender-bender that could cause the driver-side airbag to deploy.