Under increased pressure, NHTSA opens investigations into BMW and Mazda over power steering failures.
Apparently, NHTSA used to just take consumer complaints…and make cheerful paper machete dolls out of them. Sort of like crash-test dummies, but much more festive.
Those pesky ‘runaway Toyota’s’ however, brought an end to the long standing tradition of ‘arts & crafts’ at NHTSA. Now, the government agency actually has to do something about all those old complaints.
Case in point; non-functioning steering wheels.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received 33 complaints, and 1 accident report concerning power steering assist failure on the 2007-2009 Mazda3.
The complaints “allege loss of power steering assist while driving, requiring excessive force on the driver’s part to maintain control, or in some cases causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle”.
According to reports, the Mazda 3’s hydraulic power steering pump can fail if contaminates get into the pump. In 2009, Mazda issued a Technical Service Bulletin to its dealers concerning the problem. However, they didn’t issue a recall.
After cleaning out a broom closet, one of the NHTSA janitors discovered another old stack of complaints. This time about BMW.
They received 107 reports of steering failures on the 2003-2005 BMW Z4.
The Z4 uses a drive-by-wire electric power steering system. Instead of the steering wheel being connected to the front wheels, it’s connected to a bunch of sensors…which can stop working when the car reaches speeds in excess of 45 mph. The steering system can also experience problems if the temperatures exceeds 75 degrees. So, if you drive your Z4 through Florida…you’re screwed.
The complaints allege that the BMW’s steering wheel can stick, bind, or lock up. One wreck has also been attributed to the problem.
So far, no recalls have been issued in either case.