Mazda Is Recalling The Mazda3 Because It Can Hallucinate And Activate Emergency Braking

Illustration for article titled Mazda Is Recalling The Mazda3 Because It Can Hallucinate And Activate Emergency Braking

If you’ve got a 2019 or 2020 Mazda3, you should be aware that your car could, in its own electronic way, have hallucinations that cause it to panic-brake, even when there’s no reason. This is because the Smart Braking System (SBS) has some “incorrect programming” that can cause it to falsely detect obstacles in front of it, resulting in automatic and errant emergency braking. Mazda has issued a recall to fix this in these cars.


For the U.S. market, this recall affects over 35,000 cars, but luckily no injuries or deaths have been reported from the problem.

If you have one of these cars, there is some sort of warning when happens, as Mazda explains:

There is a warning alarm sound and warning message displayed in the multi-information and active driving displays when this defect occurs.

...though, to be fair, that’s not going to do you a hell of a lot of good, since if you’re seeing those visual warnings and hearing the alarm, the emergency braking will happen pretty much immediately.

There’s been reports by owners of the defect happening on public forums, and while there is a sort of fix—the SBS system can be disabled—it should be noted that the system defaults to active whenever the car is started.

Mazda3s have had other recall issues this year, including one that could cause wheels to fall off. Who needs wheels, though, right?

So, if you own one of these Mazda3s, get it to your dealer so they can either reprogram it, or, in some cases, replace the instrument cluster unit.


Be careful.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:


my tesla model 3 has done this to me several times approaching an overpass while going uphill (so that the nose of the car is pointed at the overpass) and when there are big shadows across the road. not a complete stop, but it definitely threw the brakes on until i overrode it. hasn’t happened in the last few software updates.

i think this will be more common as this technology rolls out. how does a computer assess the danger of a balloon blowing across the road vs a small child? or a raccoon?