By on July 1, 2019

Mazda has filed a recall for 25,003 of its 2019 Mazda3 cars due to a risk of the wheels falling off. Lug nuts were found to have loosened and come off the car, though there have been no reports of accidents or injuries thus far. Having personally had wheels depart my cars more than once, I can attest to this leading to a less-than-ideal day and hope to encourage affected customers not to wait on this one.

Wheel bolts, or studs, on the car are pressed in from the back of the wheel hub. When the lug nuts are tightened on the studs, they essentially sandwich the hub, rotor, and wheel together. Mazda found that the studs where not fully seated in the back of the hub as the vehicles left the factory, allowing them to be drawn in the remainder of the way as the forces on the wheel were naturally applied through driving. This, however, would also gradually reduce the torque on the lug nuts.

The torque checks for the lug nuts at the factory passed, as the force applied was presumably less than what would be required to draw the studs the rest of the way into the hubs. That’s why this wasn’t caught during assembly. As the cars would be driven and lateral forces were applied, studs would become fully seated in the hubs.

While the original issue was self-correcting, the lug nuts would eventually lose their torque in this process. Mazda’s correction is thus to simply re-torque the lug nuts and send the customer on their way.

From the day of the first report being received (April 9, 2019), it took Mazda another 10 to implement temporary countermeasures inside its plants in Japan and Mexico. Simultaneously, the company was able to address the root cause at the supplier who pressed the studs into the hub assemblies. The issue was fully resolved by May 3, 2019 and the decision to issue a “proactive field action” on affected MY2019 Mazda3 vehicles was made on May 30th. While the countermeasure at the supplier was officially implemented by April 22nd, it likely took until May 3rd for the affected parts stream to fully cycle through the vehicle assembly plants.

According to the NHTSA recall report, owners with the vehicles at risk will have a VIN ranging from JM1BPACM2K1100042 to JM1BPAMM0K1136438. It is advised that they have their wheels re-torqued at their local Mazda dealer as soon as possible. A rattling noise may occur before the complete loss of a wheel or lug nuts, so owners should be listening for this or sensing for any unusual vibrations while driving until they have the issue resolved.

Losing a wheel is no joke and I’ve unfortunately had it happen a few times, though in much harsher environments. I had wheel stud failure in an E36 328is I was racing in American Endurance Racing at Mid-Ohio last October. It did not end well.

[Images: Mazda]

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31 Comments on “Till the Wheels Fall Off: Mazda Recalls 2019 Mazda3 for Risk of Wheel Departure...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    These elementary mistakes still shock me.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Sure, Mazda is ultimately responsible, but who’s the component supplier? I find it hard to believe that assemblers on the Mazda assembly line are inserting studs into hubs; I wouldn’t be surprised if the strut, knuckle, hub, rotor and caliper was pulled off a rack and installed as an assembly. Even if the studs just needed to be drawn up another 2mm, it could make a big difference, and it might not be that noticeable.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is what GO-NOGO gauges are for.

      Full stud insertion should be a requirement of the assembly print, which then translates into an automated or semi-automated on-line production check, with no guesswork required. Then the part or its traveler can be tagged/coded to note that the check has been performed, and the next production step cannot occur unless that note is present.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      The rotors are assembled by a supplier….”Simultaneously, the company was able to address the root cause at the supplier who pressed the studs into the hub assemblies.”

      I’m not familiar with the nuances of auto manufacturing but I’ll put a $20 bet that the same cost-reduction pressures exist as they do in electronics and, sometimes, with the same undesired results.

      More and more in electronics, the company that “manufactures” the end-item is a final assembler of subassemblies built to a specification. Hard parts requiring machining, printed circuit assemblies built out-of-house and complete subs like power supplies are joined together, final tested to verify function as a completed unit and shipped to a customer or distributor. The upstream subcontractor performs function and compliance verification on their items so the expense of incoming inspection at the point of final assembly is avoided. Since it is no-ones assigned task to incoming inspect beyond a cursory “count and contents” look, there is no backup if the supplier fails to do their job correctly. Running a lean manufacturing operation can save money but at a risk of losing detailed knowledge of all the processes to takes to complete the product.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        ”Simultaneously, the company was able to address the root cause at the supplier who pressed the studs into the hub assemblies.”

        …or who DIDN’T press the studs into the hub assemblies.

        I’m a relatively new VW buyer, bought my first one–a GTI–18 months ago. I was always curious why VW did wheel bolts the way they do. I now have a better appreciation for their way of doing things.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          I suppose that’s a reason for it but lug posts are a pain in the ass when it comes to changing a tire unless you have the threaded insert to hang the wheel on.

          Its interesting to note Porsche uses the more common lug nut and stud arrangement.

          In some applications the stud actually screws into the hub instead of being pressed in but I’ve only really seen this on high end drag racing axles.

          Pretty rare for an OE component to fail like this but I see a lot when owners DIY a replacement stud or they let the lube techs play mechanic at a shop.

          Easy enough to detect when your torqueing a wheel as the stud will continue to pull through the wheel until its seated in most cases.

          Mazda probably uses automated wrench to run down and torque the wheels, although its odd to me if that’s the case it doesn’t have some way of detecting a loose stud???

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Actually Mazda has had problems with this in the past ; that’s why Mazdas of the 70s and 80s had wheel _bolts_ instead of nuts.

      100 to 1 the supplier is a subsidiary of Mazda….

  • avatar
    TR4

    In my nearly five decades of driving I’ve had a loose wheel twice. Both on the left hand side. Both likely caused by the ingestion of too many beers prior to mounting the wheels.

    I hold cheap manufacturers partly to blame. They all quit using left hand threads on the left hand wheels. Supposedly, if LH threads are used on LH wheels the bolts will will tend to tighten themselves when driving forward, or at least not loosen. If they are properly torqued there is no problem, however using the correct threads would make them more idiot/drunk proof.

    I wonder what percentage of Mazda’s loose wheels were on the left side?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      That’s only true if you have one lugnut, centered on the spindle like on a racecar. It has zero affect if they are in a bolt circle.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Or just plain ol ignorance. There is quite a bit that needs to be done to seat a wheel properly so the lugs maintain clamping force and it begins with scrubbing the hub and wheel to make sure they are free of corrosion.

      Ask most tire jockeys this and they will give you a blank stare.

  • avatar

    Too bad we can’t change font sizes.

    “zoom zoom” in a really small font.

    I’m more concerned that they seem to be the last of the rusters.
    There’s some ugly rust in some Mazdas built in the first half of this decade.
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/07/mazda-seems-rust-never-sleeps/

    VW seems to have gotten over the blown out headlights. I don’t see that much anymore. Used to be if an on coming car had a head light out it would usually be a VW.

    About 3-4 years ago, my nephew says his girlfriend was looking at a 2013-14 VW.
    I told him about the blown out headlights.
    6 months later, “You were right. She’s had 2 burn outs”.

    Sometimes folklore has some truth in it.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Planes “depart”, wheels fall the hell off, Yikes!

  • avatar

    aren’t whompy wheels a Tesla thing ?

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Tesla failures I’ve seen on internet pics look like fatigue breakage of aluminum suspension arms. Likely the foundry uses the same quality procedures as the paint shop.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @indi500: Those suspension failures seem to be pretty rare. But, if you want to talk about suspensions failures, I owned BMW’s for years and had broken suspension. Also, BMW cheaped out on the tops of the rear shock towers of the E36 and I have seen shocks pop through the mounts.

        As for the paint shop remark, you might want to check out Bob Lutz’s article in Road and Track where he says Teslas build quality is now world class.

        And while this isn’t exactly suspension failure, lets enjoy a few minutes of Fiat Chryslers blowing apart on a track:

        youtube.com/watch?v=yImwDPeKX8s&feature=youtu.be

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    “I’m going to buy me a brand-new car and drive it until the wheels fall off!”

  • avatar
    jalop1991
  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Mazda’s wheels must have stayed tight beyond the much ballyhooed JD Power 90-day Initial Quality Survey, a survey that gave them a good report for their initial quality, so there’s that.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    While not Mazda story related, I’ve noticed that whenever I see a tire in the road, it usually has some suspension attached to it, and with one exception (Jeep) they were all off of older Hondas, and only the front wheel. I guess that upper wishbone gets no attention from the car’s third owner.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep, older beater Hondas popping lower balljoints is very much a thing. Through the winter/spring when our urban streets turn into a moonscape, I got to see 2 older Hondas in this state, along with a ’07ish Impala, SN95 Mustang right in my neighborhood, and an old Eclipse-based Dodge Avenger.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    MAZDA…WHAT A DISGRACE!!!

  • avatar
    rx8

    OK, Lets get some FACTS into this non story.
    1. The Mazda recall on BP Mazda 3 is worldwide and is PRECAUTIONARY ONLY.
    2. ALL Mazda Wheel STUDS are PRESSED into the Hub/Bearing Set (which includes the actual wheel bearing).
    3. It is virtually impossible for all Wheel Lug NUTS and or Studs to ‘vibrate’ off the Wheel Stud and therefore the Wheel itself would violently wobble BEFORE any risk of the same wheel flying off the car strut freely.
    A quick test via ‘a’ Torque Wrench @ Dealership for recall is just a check only, remember the Car Should of had ALL Wheel Nuts checked BEFORE delivery of any car during cars PDI Inspection or pre-delivery Inspection.
    Mazda just being Mazda again and very careful.
    Me?, Only 40 years of Mazda Dealer experience.

  • avatar

    Is the tire rotation American thing? I cannot recall rotating tires before I came to US.


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