Mazda Recalls 1.2M Vehicles Because Grease In The Ignition Can Cause A Fire

If you have an older Mazda that still runs like a champ, listen up: the car company is recalling nearly 1.2 million vehicles made in the 1990s because of defective ignition switches. 

Mazda announced this week that it would recall several models of cars after determining that the ignition switch can overheat and potentially cause a fire.

According to a notice [PDF] filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an excessive amount of grease may be present at the contact points inside the ignition switch. The substance can accumulate and carbonize between the points, reducing electrical insulation performance inside the switch.

If this happens, continuous use may lead the points to become conductive and overheat, resulting in smoke or fire, Mazda says.

Vehicles included in the recall are: model year 1990-96 323/Protégé, model year 1989-1998 MPV, model year 1993-98 626, model year 1993-95 929, model year 1993-97 MX-6 and the model year 1992-93 MX-3.

The issue dates back to May 2001, when the company first received reports of short circuits in ignition switches in vehicles sold in Japan.

In 2008, the company investigated the switch failures and determined an accumulation of grease could lead to smoke and short circuits. Two years later, the company had determined that the cause was likely grease injected into the switch as a result of normal wear-and-tear.

Then in 2015, the company decided it was unable to determine how the vehicles collected excessive grease, but understood it could be a safety hazard and recalled the vehicles.

Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the ignition switch, free of charge. The company also says it has changed the crease used in the ignition switch to be less susceptible to fires.

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