Mazda CX-9 Accidental Airbag Deployment Isn’t a Big Deal, Says the NHTSA

When it comes to quality midsize SUVs, the Mazda CX-9 is a great choice. The three-row SUV seats up to seven. It’s fun to drive, offers a posh interior, and a wealth of great features. The CX-9 is a favorite in its class among industry experts.

Should those looking for a good used CX-9 model worry about a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation? What model years were affected? Is there a reason for concern?

Unintended airbag deployment

Consumer site CarComplaints.com reported in March 2019 on an incident where the side curtain airbags deployed in a 2012 Mazda CX-9. The unintended deployment resulted in four injuries prompting a federal investigation. 

The NHTSA reported that two CX-9 owners experienced the deployment of both left and right curtain airbags without impact to their vehicles. One customer explained that they were driving down the highway when the airbags went off and hit the SUV’s occupants. According to the driver, there was no prior warning of the incident that left four people injured.

Another driver with a 2013 Mazda CX-9 claimed that both left and right side curtain airbags went off while they were driving at typical highway speed.

The investigation covered 2010 to 2013 Mazda CX-9 models. The NHTSA didn’t offer a lot of information on the issue or say how many SUVs were involved in the investigation. Safety regulators set out to determine if a recall was needed.

Activated in side-impact crashes, curtain airbags deploy from the top of the door rails above the window. It provides a cushion between the occupant’s head and the window. Unintentional deployment is dangerous because it could cause injury to the occupant’s head and neck. It can also startle or impact the driver in such a way that an accident results.

A Mazda CX-9 recall isn’t necessary

RELATED: $2,000 Can Go a Long Way to Making the 2021 Mazda CX-9 Even More Luxurious

Car Complaints reported in January 2021 that a recall for 2010 to 2013 Mazda CX-9 models is not necessary. The safety regulators said they found the failure and warranty claim rates were low.

Out of more than 104,000 affected models, the NHTSA said they were aware of 11 unintentional side airbag deployments. The latest known occurrence happened in December 2020 with no report of serious injury.

The automaker acknowledges the problem. Mazda claims they traced the problem to the Bosch SMG076 roll rate sensor used inside the restraint control module. The sensor can be affected by tiny particles and cause them to send an erroneous signal to the side airbag. 

A new roll rate sensor was allegedly used back in November 2012 which was supposed to have eliminated the issue.

A vehicle occupant sitting properly in their seat won’t be hit with the airbag if it does unexpectedly deploy according to Mazda. When properly seated, the automaker claims there should be no injury to the brain or head in such an event. An occupant not in the proper position isn’t supposed to be in danger or serious harm either from an unintentional deployment.

The NHTSA maintains that the number of incidents is so low that a recall of the affected vehicles isn’t needed.

The 2021 Mazda CX-9

According to Car and Driver, the latest Mazda CX-9 offers an engaging driving experience and sharp handling. With a turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood, the CX-9 has enough zing for most SUV fans. 

The posh cabin of the 2021 Mazda CX-9 is as much of an incentive as its dynamic driving experience. It has a highly competitive list of standard features and options too. It offers a wealth of popular driver-assist features too.

The infotainment system in the CX-9 is updated for 2021. Now, you get a 10.3-inch display with the new user interface that first appeared in the Mazda 3 hatchback and sedan. Wireless device charging is now a feature on Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature trim levels. 

While the new CX-9 may not have as much cargo and passenger spaces as its stronger competitors, the team at Car and Driver favors the 2021 Mazda CX-9 for its athleticism and build quality.