By on June 6, 2018

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Mazda can’t seem to shake a recent history that saw its vehicles fall victim to the flesh-eating disease in embarrassing numbers. We’ve seen corrosion issues crop up in a myriad of recalls issued by the automaker over the past several years, and it’s raised its flaky brown head once again.

This time, it’s just a preliminary investigation, but probes conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have a way of turning into recalls in a hurry. The model in question is the 2009-2010 Mazda 6, and the issue is a subframe that can become so corroded, you might have trouble staying on the road.

The investigation, first noticed by Forbes, affects an estimated 84,513 vehicles sold in the United States. According to the NHTSA, it has received 20 complaints about steering or suspension failure related to severely rusted subframes. Another five owners spotted the corrosion before a failure could occur.

Vehicle owner questionnaires (VOQ), along with supporting information, “indicate that severe corrosion in the right-rear corner of the subframe may result in failure of the right steering rack mounting bolt (7) or detachment of suspension components (e.g., lower control arm mount) from the subframe (5),” the agency states.

“Thirteen (13) of the VOQs allege experiencing failures while driving that resulted in vehicle handling or control concerns. The complaint trend is increasing, with 16 received in the last 12 months. In addition, ODI has received 5 VOQs reporting severe corrosion of the subframe detected prior to failure (e.g., during routine oil change service), including 3 in the last 12 months.”

Of the 20 incidents, all but one occurred with 2009 model year Mazda 6 vehicles. The outlier is the sole 2010 vehicle.

Complaints logged to the NHTSA include this one, sent from an Ohio driver last September:

“I was driving on a city street at approximately 30 miles per hour. There was a sudden and significant loss of steering control,” an owner wrote. “The front cross member subframe was completely corroded to the point of breaking. The steering rack became totally separated from its mounts on the passenger side, resulting in the steering loss.”

There’s something to be said for frequent undercoating. Should Mazda issue a recall, we’ll let you know on these digital pages.

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65 Comments on “Severe Corrosion, Steering Failure Sparks Investigation of Older Mazda 6 Models...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I rented that bodystyle Mazda6, hated it. Noisy, uninspiring to drive, not particularly good looking.

    Mazda should offer a significant rebate to those affected by the rust issues towards a new Mazda. I’ve argued in the past that Ford should do the same with the horrible Freestar, but we all know it’ll never happen with either.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      If you want Mazda6 you don’t need to bring corroded car. The rebated on those already huge.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      I actually have a 2009 model of this. At that moment in time it gave you great features for the money – it absolutely annihilated the equivalent Sonata (right before their new 2010 body) and looked better than the equivalent Fusion. The Camry that year was bad, and the Accord didn’t click with me (steering was way too light).

      Biggest problems are the god-awful gas mileage (I get 20ish City…out of the I-4) and noise levels on the highway. It was completely uncompetitive by the time the SkyActiv 6 came out, but for 09-10 it was really nice.

  • avatar
    gtem

    https://youtu.be/LmlUpw8VWt8

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Upstate NY…where Mazdas come to die.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      what about Subaru?

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        What about Subaru? Thank God they’re not Mazdas.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Slavuta, Im curious. Why do you always have to put down another car brand ti enjoy Mazda?

        I say this as someone that doesnt like Subaru myself. They rust horribly but they have a very if not too loyal fanbase.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Ryoku75,

          If you read my question, and don’t add a special made-up meaning to it, you might realize that I asked Sub-600 if Subarus come to NY to die. May be because I am curious if they fare any better than Mazda in Upstate NY. This is since I cross-shopped (no pun intended) Crosstrek when I stopped on ‘6.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Yes, Subaru has nothing to do with this junk Mazda product. Just think of him as the pro Mazda troll of TTAC.
      I was thinking Toyota built this model after reading about the rust bucket issues.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Hey, you learned a new word – troll. And you are… who?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Lay off slavuta and persons such as gtem (and others, also).

        Some members here are not from the U.S. or Canada, and from European (including Russian/Ukrainian/former Russian satellite states and other and eastern bloc nations) and speak/write English as a 2nd language (and most do an admirable job of it).

        English is tough as a 2nd language, in terms of inconsistency of rules and different compositional standards, including feminine/masculine terms, conjugation, etc., yet Breton handle it well.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Honestly I don’t have much of an excuse. I was born over there in the last days of the SU but came over here as a toddler and grew up entirely in the US school system (while also learning Russian writing/literature on the weekends). Blew away most of my American-born classmates in spelling and grammar. Any mistakes I make in online commentary is strictly laziness in catching and correcting mistakes.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ gtem – I used to work on a team where two coworkers and I always would defer to our Soviet-born intern on spelling. One of the coworkers is a very bright guy but is dyslexic; the other is brilliant (a Smith and Yale alumna who’s fluent in four languages) but isn’t a great speller. The guy who didn’t learn English until he was 12 or 13 definitely had us beaten. We nicknamed him “The Russian Heritage Dictionary.”

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Considering I converse over at videogame forums often, Im just glad that Slavuta knows how to spell “you”.

          Lots of native English speakers seem to think its spelled “U”.

        • 0 avatar
          stuntmonkey

          > Lay off slavuta and persons such as gtem (and others, also).

          This is sage and important.

          However, the minute I read the headline and without clicking, I knew that he was gonna be in the thick of it dragging Subaru into a topic of discussion that has no bearing on them whatsoever. What can I say, just like clockwork.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    you know what rusts in my 2010 ans 11? – hardware. Bolts, hose clamps, etc. ’98 had better hardware. But body seem better in the newer ones.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Weren’t these the rebodied Fusions built at Flat Rock? I wonder when the Fords will be recalled.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I wondered if Ford shares this too?

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      The Fusions were built in Mexico at the time. The Mustang was built at Flat Rock along with the Mazda 6. Using only the finest US steel, corrosion issues of the 2009 through 2012 Mazda 6 cannot be blamed on Japan.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/09/2009-mazda6-review/

      Naturally, those whose heads are filled with self-created “facts” may be unable to accept such shocking news. So google Flat Rock, why don’t you?

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        FWIW my brother’s friend recently did a subframe replacement on an ’07(?) Milan. But that’s in Western NY which is just about the worst place for road salt I’ve ever seen in my life. All sorts of cars suffer from every kind of rot out that way. Subarus are also known for getting rotten subframes (statistically more frequently).

        My ’96 ES300 had silver-dollar sized rust on the rear quarter panels by the time I got it, but looking underneath the only element that was really actively corroding was the fuel filler neck. Everything else was freakishly clean. The subframes front and rear honestly looked like new. I respect the Germans for generally excelling in the areas of corrosion engineering: spec-ing out hardware like small metal clips for things like brake lines to be made from stainless steel, the brake lines themselves seem to be entirely immune, various bolts and such are made from good alloys or thoroughly anodized. Sheet metal, body sealing and paint are likwise head and shoulders above what everyone else brings to the table. I’m mostly speaking of 1990s era stuff, not sure if that mostly still holds true or not. I’ve noticed some US-built Mercs with an embarrassing amount of orange peel.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          I think the Scandinavians excel here, but I’ve owned a northern transplant’s e36 BMW 318i from Pennsylvania that was so rusted in the rockers and sub frame that it was basically unserviceable underneath.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I guess I should have been more specific. I had older Audis in mind. My brother’s friend drove a ragged out ’96 A4 2.8 Quattro (stick shift!) that had been neglected its whole life. It was dinged and scraped up, had been on its roof, etc. But not a bit of rust on that thing, even the little brackets and brake dust shields, etc that tend to crumble and disappear on most Japanese/Korean/American cars of the same era.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    That’s a shame as I love the sharp, sleek styling these have.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Name a brand (other than maybe BMW, Volvo or VW/Audi) that *doesn’t* have rotted subframes, brake lines, fuel lines or rocker panels after 8-12 years in the salt belt.

    Sure, the painted surfaces might still look good on your Honda, Toyota or Ford after a decade. But take a peek underneath and they’re all pretty much biodegradable without regular oil sprays.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      My Ford (Mercury) is 26 years old and is just now showing perforation due to rust. Underneath is not too rusty and the brake lines are still original. Those brands you mentioned all rust as much as others, some more so.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Well, some are far worse than others. Yes, other cars rust, but how badly and how quickly varies. Older Mazdas are clearly one of the worst. That doesn’t mean all cars (except Mazda) do not rust at all.

      • 0 avatar
        Brumus

        Surprisingly, I still see ’04-’05 Mazda 3s on the road in Montreal: good God, the bodies of these are in unbelievably advanced states of decay.

        And then there’s the Protege5…

        • 0 avatar
          hamish42

          Yeah, I thought the 3 year old rust buckets here in Toronto were bad. Then I scooted down the 401 and checked out the Montreal cars. Holy Hannah! Our cars are pristine by comparison.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Undercoating would not have helped anything.

  • avatar
    Importamation

    Doesn’t anyone pressure wash the underside of their cars in these salty states? Seems like spraying it off underneath and all under the hood as well as you can with one of those coin-operated wands would prevent a lot of this. Maybe halfway through the winter and then when winter/salt is over with.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      I’ve also read that cars that are kept in garages in cold climates have a higher risk of rusting. Metal, especially cheaper metals like on this Mazda covered in salt/brine allow the chemical change to increase when it goes from cold to not so cold. I’ve talked to a few out here in Utah that hardly ever spray wash the undercarriage that have to no rust after 10+ years. These are folk do not garage their vehicles. They have a car port or nothing. Another neighbor has a 4 yo Sequoia that is garage kept with an insane amount of rust. Like chunks falling off the bottom.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I’ve also read that people *must* use perfect grammar on internet comment forums, else the Grammar Police will strike down upon them with great vengeance.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yes it is the salt+thaw/water that is the real rust creator. My parents in Central NY keep their cars in a heated garage and combined with my dad’s poor car washing habits everything they own rots. His ’07 Fit is starting to bloom where the rear bumper attaches to the quarter panels.
        I’d rather keep a salt-caked car outside in the cold where the reaction is nowhere as catalyzed.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      On something like an SUV sure, but on regular sedans, especially with how low-slung they have gotten, it’s hard to effectively give the bottom a good wash with a wand. Now, there are on the other hand plenty of automated car washes with an option to blast the underside.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    This should not be that difficult.

    I wonder if the supplier shorted the coating thickness and/or coverage?

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Rust prevention should have been one of those things every automaker had figured out like 30+ years ago.

    Seems to me some sort of epoxy spray could be universal on undercarriages for very little extra cost to the consumer.

    Other brands seem to have no problems with this. Stupid place to cut costs. How much did Toyota spend replacing truck frames?

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Toyota has a different buyer. Rust, new frames nothing matters. It says Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yeah an automaker offering to buy back trucks at 150% of MSRP and replacing entire frames at their own expense. What scumbags, am I right? It was undeniably an issue, and they met it head on. If only VW could do the same thing for their myriad of serious engine issues over the last few decades.

        For what it’s worth the frame on my ’96 4Runner is absolutely immaculate because I oil undercoat it and wash the bottom of the truck off. Conversely my ’97 Ranger (not washed or undercoated by previous owner) had developed a hole in the frame and the front body mounts had literally rotted off and all of the spring hangers needed replacing. I suppose Ford should have bought my truck back then?

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          I know a few people that oil and spray their Toyota truck frames to prevent the Toyota rust. What other brand has their owners getting together and oiling their frames ? It’s just an odd way to say their trucks are just poorly built from the start. Coworker is a diehard Toyota owner. He has a 2015 Tundra and states his frame is rusting from the inside out and dealers won’t do anything. So he’ll probably act like a sheep and buy another Toyota. This is just inexcusable from a company like Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “What other brand has their owners getting together and oiling their frames”

            Most people that want to keep their trucks a good long while (15 years+). Plenty of guys with domestic trucks in the salt belt do the full oil undercoat, and not just the frame but inside of the tailgate, rocker panels, backsides of steel bumpers, etc. My brother stayed plenty busy with brake line replacement on GM trucks, his redneck mechanic/welder friend was always busy welding on truck frames of all kinds, not just Japanese ones.

            I agree that Toyota had a very real issue with their frames, and frankly not just on the Tacomas but even 4Runners like mine that never got recalled. They have more boxed sections and are simply made of thinner steel that rusts through quicker than something like an old school C-channel made from a thicker gauge on my Ranger (which ultimately succumbed anyways). I haven’t heard of any rust issues on the ’07+ Tundras, nor seen so much as a bit of bubbling on a ’07+ Tundra bed or cab, even on really ragged out ones.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Everyone has figured out rust prevention. The catch is convincing buyers to pay for it up front.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      We should add in stainless exhausts as well, Panthers got em and they were pretty rust proof. The car itself couldve used more drain holes though.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        The stainless steel exhaust on my ’90 C1500 Cheyenne was pristine even to 2007 in rust-belt and salty Ohio after 275k miles. It failed, however, at every carbon steel hanger bracket, hung on rubber hangars to prevent electrical continuity with the frame, that were factory-welded onto the stainless tubing where the electrolytic process destroyed these locations. Stainless steel brackets were probably bean-counted out of the final product to save, say, $1.50 or so/vehicle.

  • avatar
    nlinesk8s

    Things rusting from the outside isn’t really the issue. The design of the unibody can and does provide places for water to drain and have no place to go. Mazda doesn’t seem to get this. I’ve owned an older Miata, truck, and protege, and have a new Mazda 3. All the older cars had some rust, but the protege seemed designed to hold water. If the newer platforms have similar design elements, you’ll get similar results.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      A good example of poorly designed unibodies from the past are Studebaker Larks in ’59 to ’61 or so. Front fenders would disappear along the door hinge line within 18 months due to clogging of the drainage path for the vent at the base of the windshield due to the buildup of salt-soaked debris within.

    • 0 avatar
      mankyman

      This was certainly true, at least for my Protege5. Before getting rid of it last year I had to figure out the source of a ant/spider infestation. It turns out there was an entire ecosystem living behind the wheel wells in several pounds of dirt. When I washed out the dirt, about 10 pounds of rust came as well.

      I have never seen a car as prone to rust as a protege, even after 30 years of living in Chicago with Malaise Era vehicles. It was so rusty that I could not put it on jack stands, as they would simply crunch through the body. All the panels around the wheels were almost entirely gone and there were holes in the interior. What a POS.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Overtime I am in the market for a car I think Mazda 6 and I ask myself have they fix the rusting issue? No it seems is the answer. so they stay off the car I would buy list, we use plenty of salt in metro ny so until they can back up their claims w a 10 year rust warranty it looks like i will shy away from them. If VW can sell cars that do not rust Mazda can, their cars sell for the same price, it is not like I am comparing Volvo to Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Speaking of VWs I was amazed to see how the earlier ’05+ MKV Jettas are starting to “bloom” in Central NY when I visited a few weeks ago. I had always put them in the “impervious to rust” category as the B5 Passats and older Audis, boy was I wrong.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I’ve got a 2010 Mazda 6 and I’ll have to check into this. I have almost 80K miles on it and yet to have a problem outside of normal maintenance. Noisy? No noisier than the same year Accord and Fusion. I test drove both extensively. I love the 5 speed transmission in the car as it was at the time better than the 6 speed in the Fusion as it hunted all the time. The only REAL complaint is that that the urethane in the front and rear bumpers is junk, and has spider webbed badly. It could also use a paint job.

  • avatar
    Davis Jones

    Have a 12 Madza 6… Had to replace part of the exhaust system because of rust.. Probably should check the sub frame just in case.. Maybe spray some kind of undercoat on it… Good car over all…

  • avatar
    Davis Jones

    Have a 12 Madza 6… Had to replace part of the exhaust system because of rust.. Probably should check the sub frame just in case.. Maybe spray some kind of undercoat on it… Good car over all…

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Interesting. I have ’11 Mazda3 and nothing rusted out to the point of replacement. Besides… front rotors. Yea, these suckers could serve longer if not for rust that “ate” pads. Then I had to cut them off the spindles. Rotors rusted right around it. Never seen something like this. On my ’98 Protege few good whacks with 4lb hammer would make rotor fly off the spindle after 8 years sitting on it. These went bad in just 6.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Slavuta my brother has complained about rotors freezing onto hubs on Mazda3s before as well. Perhaps the factory rotors have a very tight tolerance on the inner diamter where it interfaces with the hub. I recently replaced non-OEM rotors front and rear on a friend’s ’09 Mazda3 (that was starting to get some body rot) and the rotors came right off with a few wacks of a mallet.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          I put DuraLast gold on my ’10 and in 3+ years they still look good. They were covered in black protective layer. I think, I will not have issue to pull them off. Still though, Mazda hardware is nothing like high quality Toyota stuff. I was replacing rotors on highlander that stayed on for 9+ years. No whacking required. Just 2 bolts that go into holes. 30 sec and rotor is off. I could resurface it but come on, $120 for set that lasts nearly 10 years, is not worth it to pay $25 a pop for machine job. Especially, considering all the time spent. Ordered OEM pads/rotors on ebay and they came to me.

          Ah, and on my ’11 I put Carquest Wearever rotors. Seem not worse than OEM until now.

          And I am wondering if Fords have same issues. Because Mazda brake parts come marked FoMoCo.


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