An exterior view of a Mazda3 hatchback

Mazda is recalling more than 35,000 Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks from the 2019 and 2020 model years because their automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems may unexpectedly and inadvertently engage while driving, which could cause a rear-end collision from a following vehicle.

A spokesperson for Mazda told CR that there have been no “accidents resulting in death or injury nor any fires related to this recall.” However, in a search of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s complaint database, CR found evidence of one injury and one crash related to sudden and unintended braking in 2019 Mazda3 vehicles.

“AEB systems offer important safety benefits when they are operating correctly, but when they perform unexpectedly, they may create risk for the occupants of the vehicle doing the braking as well as those following behind,” says Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at CR’s Auto Test Center. “That makes this an important recall to have completed.”

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Drivers may hear a warning alarm sound and notice a warning message displayed on the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel when this defect occurs. Mazda says it plans to fix the problem by updating the software that controls the AEB system.

NHTSA is currently investigating a similar problem in Nissan Rogue vehicles from the 2017 and 2018 model years. The agency says it has received 87 complaints about unintended braking in the Rogue.

The Details

Vehicles recalled: 35,390 Mazda3 vehicles from the 2019 and 2020 model years.

The problem: According to Mazda, the problem is due to incorrect programming of the AEB control software, which may cause the vehicle to falsely detect an obstacle in front of the vehicle while driving. The faulty control software “may automatically apply the [vehicle’s] brakes to prevent or reduce damage from a collision, even though no collision is imminent,” Mazda says.

The fix: Mazda says that it plans to reprogram the software that controls the AEB system. Dealers will perform this service free of charge.

How to contact the manufacturer: The automaker will notify owners of affected vehicles by first class mail no later than Feb. 17, 2020. Owners can also contact Mazda customer service at 800-222-5500.

NHTSA campaign number: NHTSA has not yet assigned a campaign number to this recall.

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and this recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.

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