The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into a corrosion issue at Mazda following over 20 reports from owners who say rust in their 2009-2010 Mazda 6s has caused, or nearly caused, a steering failure.

As a result, federal regulators are looking in to whether this is a systematic issue among the effected vehicles that would prompt a recall of an estimated 84,513 2009-2010 Mazda 6s, Forbes reported today:

Federal regulators are investigating whether Mazda should recall almost 85,000 of its 2009 – 10 Mazda6 models for a possible loss of steering due to a rusting subframe, according a report posted on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A spokesman for Mazda confirmed to Jalopnik that the company is aware of the investigation and cooperating fully, but declined to offer further comment.

The NHTSA report mentions at least 20 complaints, and they’re not the dry tedium you may be imagining. They’re scary as hell. Here’s one from April 7, 2018, from an owner of a 2009 Mazda 6:

IN SEPTEMBER 2017 WHILE DRIVING ON A CITY STREET AT APPROXIMATELY 30 MPH THERE WAS A SUDDEN AND SIGNIFICANT LOSS OF STEERING CONTROL FOLLOWING A LOUD KNOCK ORIGINATING FROM THE FRONT END OF THE VEHICLE. UPON INSPECTION THE FRONT CROSSMEMBER/SUB-FRAME WAS COMPLETELY CORRODED TO THE POINT OF BREAKING. THE STEERING RACK BECAME TOTALLY SEPARATED FROM ITS MOUNTS ON THE PASSENGER SIDE RESULTING IN THE STEERING LOSS.

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Another said the issue caused complete control loss on the highway.

While driving at highway speed (55-65mph) the steering wheel began progressively rotating counter-clockwise with the vehicle remaining straight. The dynamic stability control turned off as if the vehicle was out of control and the vehicle acted as if it were on icy/slick surfaces no longer providing support to the driver. The braking system began to struggle nearly causing an accident on the off ramp of the expressway causing a fishtail with the abs attempting to engage. At this point the steering wheel was registering straight’ with the steering wheel turned approximately 30 degrees left.

That wasn’t the only complaint that referenced having to jerk the wheel to keep the car in a straight line. NHTSA received the following complaint last October:

While driving approximately 30 mph, the steering wheel had to be turned all the way to the left in order to maintain a straight line. The contact pulled the vehicle over in a parking lot and heard a screeching sound when the brakes were applied. The steering wheel went all the way to the right.

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Luckily none of these complaints reported a crash or injury, but as these examples show there were more than a few close call.

Less than 10 miles after leaving the dealership the subframe cracked, my front passenger wheel cv axil disconnected and the car was inoperable. Thankfully I was going only 35 mph, down a straight, paved city road, and not on the highway.

These are just a handful of examples pulled out of more than 20 on the NHTSA website. While officially NHTSA says there have been exactly 25 complaints, our review of public complaints on the site for the 2009 and 2010 Mazda 6 found 28 instances of subframe rot deemed dangerous and reported to NHTSA.

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Of the 28 complaints, 26 were for 2009 vehicles and 2 were 2010s. Complaints mostly sourced from states like Michigan, Ohio, and New York where winters can be harsh and road salt is used liberally.

It’s also worth noting that this is far from the first time rust has caused headaches at Mazda HQ. In August of 2016, the company had to recall 190,000 CX-7s for a similar issue wherein corrosion was causing suspension failure.

Days later, 2.2 million Mazdas were recalled worldwide when it was discovered that misapplied paint on the rear hatch. Without proper protection, the area was vulnerable to rust that could spread elsewhere.

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