The new recall Mazda has issued will make permanent repairs on about 205,000 vehicles that first were recalled about a year ago as part of the massive industry-wide action to replace all Takata airbag inflators that don't contain a desiccant, or drying agent, to protect the propellant.
The model-year 2007-11 Mazda CX-7 and CX-9 SUVs and 2009-11 Mazda6 sedans originally were recalled in May 2016, and Mazda has been temporarily repairing them with interim "like for like" replacements -- that is, inflators like the originals and using the same non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate propellant that has caused the problem. The stopgap repair, however, made the vehicles safer because propellant degradation develops only after years of exposure to heat and humidity, after which the inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into the cabin.
The temporary measure was taken because of a shortage of parts at the time as suppliers ramped up to make permanent replacements. In essence, it reset the clock.
In the notification to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the new recall, which supersedes the original action, Mazda said it now has permanent replacements that use an entirely different, safer propellant. The new recall first covers vehicles that have had no repair under the original action and then will be expanded to the vehicles repaired with the temporary inflators.
The Mazda action comes as a new Takata recall has called into question a new and different group of 2.7 million older driver-side airbag inflators in Nissan, Ford and Mazda vehicles. These inflators do have a desiccant of a type no longer used, and this group is in addition to the massive recall of all non-desiccated inflators. Nissan subsequently has recalled about 515,000 Versa cars to repair them.
However, Ford and Mazda have notified NHTSA that they believe more data is required to show that there is a real danger of failure and that they do not believe at this point they should have to perform a new recall. The Mazdas involved include about 6,000 Ford Ranger-based pickup trucks from the period when Ford controlled Mazda, and the company is following Ford's lead on the issue.
The Takata airbag defect with non-desiccated inflators has been linked to 17 deaths worldwide, including 12 in the U.S. A potential 18th death in Australia was reported this week.
See our full coverage of the Takata airbag recalls and vehicles affected here.