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How good is Mazda? How good is Akira Marumoto, representative director, president and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation in Hiroshima, Japan?

Akira (Ako to his mates) says Mazda is here to “brighten people’s lives through car ownership”.

Ako goes on to say: “Mazda strives to establish special bonds with customers while striking a balance between providing customers with driving pleasure and raising their safety and environmental wellness. Mazda promotes initiatives to realise safe, secure and comfortable ownership experiences and customer services that will be ­relied on by customers.”

On November 12 last year (note the date, I will be asking questions later), Mazda North America wrote to Alex Ansley, boss of recalls at America’s safety regulator, NHTSA, notifying it that the company was recalling a heap of cars because the fuel pumps in them may fail.

Failing fuel pumps do help the environment, but don’t brighten your life if your Mazda 2, 3, CX-5, CX-9, 6, MX-5 or CX-3 stops in the middle of the freeway.

OK, let’s stall here and listen to long-time Mazda owner Rachel Palmer, who hasn’t really had “safe, secure and comfortable ownership experiences and customer services”.

Take it away Rach: “My Mazda 2, manual, is three years old and has always juddered slightly, but has become quite bad over the last 16 months or so. Although we have reported issues and it was found to be misfiring last Christmas, the tech from Mazda Gosford, NSW, who was short-staffed at the time, wanted us to book in for further investigations, which we did over the Christmas 2020 period.

“On collection after testing they told me there was nothing wrong with it and insisted that I take their head tech for a test drive of my own car. (I could feel it juddering) but he said he couldn’t feel anything. I was so embarrassed to tell you the truth.

“We then wrote to Mazda Australia telling them we were not happy with the juddering and also high-pitched whining noise (that was so bad my teenage kids refused to be in the car because of it. And on occasions it failed to start/stop. Apparently, Mazda Australia reviewed the data from the testing and said it was not an issue.

“We rang Mazda Hornsby and asked why they hadn’t said anything about the recall, and they said it was not up to them to tell us, and that the recall has to come via an official letter, which he said we should get mid-January. As yet, we have not had that letter.

“We have again complained via Mazda Australia, who have again refused to fix it.”

Remember I asked you to remember November 12? That’s the date Mazda North America advised the regulator that “the impeller inside the low-pressure fuel pump may crack and deform, ­potentially causing the fuel pump to fail”.

So, while Rach was being told (my version) “you’re only a woman, get over it there’s nothing wrong with it”, Mazda Australia knew there was a problem. How do I know? Well, apart from the fact that in January 2020 Toyota recalled 700,000 cars because it “noticed an increase in field reports about the Denso fuel pumps in June 2019 … the reports indicated the vehicles suffered from engines running rough, engines that wouldn’t start and vehicles suffered a loss of motive power while driving less than 20mph (32km/h)”. In May 2020, Denso recalled more than two million pumps (later increased to 3.5 million) because they were at risk of failing (“causing engines to stall and ­vehicle occupants to become stranded”).

Then the official November 15 NHTSA recall was all over the news, followed by a class action filed on November 16 by two Mazda owners alleging that “this defect causes Mazda vehicles to stall, their engines to shut down or fail to start, and creates a substantial risk of injury and death for any person operating or riding in a ­vehicle equipped with the defective fuel pump.

“Despite being aware of this problem for years, Mazda and Denso failed to disclose it to plaintiffs until November 12, 2021 when Mazda announced a recall.”

Then on December 2, our very own Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications told us they were recalling 93,000 Mazdas because “a loss of power while driving could increase the risk of an accident and injury to a vehicle occupant or other road users. In the event of a serious accident, this may result in death.”

December 2, 2020 is not a great date in Mazda history. That’s the day the Federal Court found Mazda Australia “engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct and made false and misleading representations to nine consumers about their rights” under Australian Consumer Law.

“Mazda ignored or rejected the consumers’ requests, telling them the only available remedy was another repair, even though the consumers’ vehicles had already undergone multiple unsuccessful repair attempts, including complete engine replacements. One vehicle had three engine replacements.”

Under consumer law, businesses are prohibited from making false or misleading representations to consumers. This includes representations about a suppliers’ obligations in relation to a recall and can include implied communications or representations made by silence.

We contacted Mazda and the department for comment. The department with the very long name replied along the lines of “don’t you worry about that, we’ll keep an eye on it”, and “vehicle owners may also report a vehicle safety or non-compliance issue to the department”. Mazda had not replied at the time of writing.

Next week, a serious analysis of last week’s Scottsdale sales (or the ones I remember) and we do our first ever comparison road test (just like real motoring columns). But to give you something to look at, here’s a picture of an affordable Feezer that would also give you an income stream. Yes, it’s a 1981 Ferrari 400i Limosine (correct spelling) that could have been yours at the Barrett-Jackson auction for about $70k.



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