Following all the criticism federal regulators received earlier this year for letting Toyota safety defects go unaddressed, everyone is taking a closer look customer complaints. The 2007-9 Mazda3 and the 2003-5 BMW Z4 are both being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration following consumer complaints about a loss of power steering assist. Three Mazda crashes and one BMW accident are being blamed on the steering issue.
Although the specific circumstances vary for each of the vehicles, in either case the loss of assist results in significantly increased effort to turn the steering wheel. The Mazda uses an electro-hydraulic assist system and Mazda issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) in 2009 related to this issue. Contamination in the pump can cause it slow down reducing the available assist. A TSB is sent out to dealers to correct an issue if a car comes in for service or a customer complains but fall short of a full recall. The Z4 has an electric power steering system that seems to have issues at higher speeds and temperatures.