Phantom Braking Leads to Mazda 3 Recall

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
phantom braking leads to mazda 3 recall

A system designed to detect obstacles on the road ahead and automatically apply the brakes is acting up in current-generation Mazda 3 vehicles. Seems it’s seeing things that aren’t there.

On Friday, Mazda announced a recall of 35,390 Mazda 3 sedans and hatchbacks in the U.S., spanning the 2019 and 2020 model years.

The company claims the defect contained within its Smart Braking System (SBS), known more generally as automatic emergency braking, can cause vehicles to come to a sudden stop. This obviously poses a risk to occupants, as the driver of a following vehicle might be caught off-guard (though perhaps not, if they’re driving a similarly equipped Mazda).

From Mazda:

Incorrect programming of the SBS control software may cause the vehicle to falsely detect an obstacle in front of the vehicle while driving. In certain cases, the SBS control software may automatically apply the vehicle brakes to prevent or reduce damage from a collision, even though no collision is imminent. If the SBS automatic emergency braking system unexpectedly activates while driving, the risk of a rear-end crash from a following vehicle may increase. There is a warning alarm sound and warning message displayed in the multi-information and active driving displays when this defect occurs.

The automaker claims it doesn’t know of any injuries or accidents stemming from the phantom brake applications.

With its new-for-2019 Mazda 3, Mazda sought to take the compact sedan and hatch upmarket, part of the brand’s premium-minded makeover. Part of that effort included greater standard content, as well as the option of all-wheel drive. Sadly for Mazda, instant sales success did not follow.

The model performed badly in 2019, leading the company to offer even greater levels of content for 2020 — including automatic emergency braking, which became standard kit on all trims.

[Image: Mazda]

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  • Gasser Gasser on Dec 21, 2019

    I had this happen to me once in a 2016 Hyundai Genesis on a very narrow, winding 2 lane road, with cars parked on both sides. This road was winding enough that, since I used it daily, I turned off the LKAS because it constantly alarmed. I now have a 2019 Mercedes GLC and no problems with Autobrake, or BSM. This model lacks the LKAS so who know how well that might work, or not.

  • TheOtherGoose TheOtherGoose on Dec 22, 2019

    I'm sorry to hear that others have experienced what I did when I owned my '19 Mazda 3. As pointed out by the owner of a newer CX-5, it may be due to the camera angle being too wide. Whatever the reason, I stand by my opinion that such systems should be under control of the driver. I realize that user-defeatable safety systems will lead to lawsuits. Unfortunately, there's no safety system out there that is idiot-proof. On a related note, how long have there been airbags and we're still dealing with shrapnel/etc from Takata? I don't like the idea of being sacrificed on the altar of perceived safety improvements...

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