Mazda Recalls 228,000 Cars Over Parking Brake Failure, Roll-Away Crash Fears

If you own a Mazda3 or Mazda6, be careful parking on a hill.

Getty Images

Mazda North America is recalling nearly 230,000 vehicles in the United States over concerns that an improperly-sealed parking brake assembly could allow corrosion to build up and eventually cause the parking brake to fail, according to documents posted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Covering 2014-2015 Mazda6 and 2014-2016 Mazda3 passenger cars equipped with a hand-operated parking brake, the recall points to two dangerous outcomes reported by drivers: The parking brake can become stuck in the "on" position and prevent the car from moving, or more seriously, the brake can fail on a hill and cause a roll-away crash.

According to Mazda, the protective boot around the parking brake assembly isn't properly sealed and can allow water and debris into the system, especially in cold temperatures. If that happens, corrosion can build up on the actuator shaft to the point where it freezes in place, preventing the parking brake from being fully engaged or disengaged.

Mazda first became aware of the problem back in April of 2015, when a driver in Canada reported parking brake drag while driving their Mazda6. (On a slightly humorous note, the official chronology document states that company first thought the corrosion was caused by "direct spraying around the brake caliper with high pressure water which was beyond Mazda design specification." Riiiight.)

That obviously wasn't the case, and since then, there have been at least 13 documented cases of brake drag or roll-away crashes between the Mazda3 and Mazda6 in this country alone. No injuries have been reported, however.

Dealers will reportedly inspect the affected cars to check for corrosion, and either replace the whole caliper assembly or the protective boot itself. Owners will officially be notified starting August 21.