Mazda has issued a recall notice for approximately 215,000 of its 2007-2009 Mazda 3’s and Mazda 5’s because of a problem with the power steering assist. The problem is being blamed on rust forming inside the high pressure pipe on the power steering system which makes its way to the motorized power steering pump, causing it to overheat and shut down. The same problem was found in vehicles in Japan two years ago but was not a concern in the U.S. until last June when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received 33 complaints related to the problem.

Because Mazda is short on parts to fix the problem, the recall will be broken down into two phases. Some owners will get details about how to have their cars fixed in a mailing that will begin by Sept. 15, but others might not hear anything until February, according to the NHTSA. Owners with concerns can contact Mazda customer assistance at (800) 222-5500. Owners can also contact NHTSA at (888) 327-4236.

Mazda’s long time relationship with Ford is weakening as Mazda looks to Toyota for hybrid drive train technology. In the past Mazda has used Ford’s hybrid system in its sport-utility vehicle, the Tribute, but because Mazda plans to make their new hybrid car in Japan, they decided to lease the technology from Toyota instead. Masaharu Yamaki, Mazda’s executive vice-president, said the group had chosen Toyota’s technology over Ford’s because, “We need to procure components quickly and reliably from domestic suppliers.” The agreement which the two companies had been negotiating since last spring, will include hybrid components such as control systems, inverters and the regenerative braking mechanism.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s executive vice-president, said the Mazda deal would help lower production costs for Toyota’s own hybrid cars by expanding the market for shared components. As a result, “We hope that the cost of parts will fall and new innovations will emerge.”

T.S.B’s (Technical Service Bulletins) are not recalls. They let automakers and consumers know about recurring problems experienced with various automobile models. Manufacturers do not offer payment assistance for these repairs beyond normal warranty coverage. Below is a list of some recent T.S.B’s

T.S.B. SB0151-09 issued on Oct. 14
2006-9 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 models may have a clicking noise from the rear, which requires the rear coil spring assembly to be replaced.

T.S.B. WVL-22 issued on Oct. 13
2005-8 Subaru Foresters and 2005-7 Imprezas may experience a momentary lack of fuel during cornering when the gas tank is below 1.5 gallons. The fuel pump could momentarily draw air, causing the engine to misfire resulting in damage to the catalytic converter. Removal of the one-way valve situated at the base of a small sub chamber in the tank should remedy the problem.

T.S.B. J06 issued on Oct. 12
2009 Dodge Ram 1500s’ a leaky windshield washer fluid reservoir sensor has the potential to leak fluid through to the wiring harness to the temperature sensor. This could damage the temperature sensor, preventing the fluid-level warning lamp from lighting. Replacing both sensors and the harness will stop the leak.

T.S.B. 09-19-15 issued on Oct. 5
2006-10 Focus and Escape models may have defective ignition locks that fail to turn to the start position. The problem is blamed on a bad steering column lock module which causes the keys to bind, but can be repaired by replacing the module.

T.S.B. 09-19-14 issued on Oct. 5
2010 Ford Transit Connects may have a brake knock in the rear. Ford dealers have been instructed to engage the parking brake three notches, and drive forward and then reverse for about 800 feet. If this “voodoo” doesn’t work, you can try swapping or replacing the left and right rear drums.

T.S.B. 09-18-2 issued on Sept. 21
2008-10 Ford Focus models may have problems with the front stabilizer bar, the upper front strut bearing or the lower control arm that may cause popping or clicking noises on turns or bumps. Replacing the affected parts, or tightening them to the factory-specified torque setting, should solve this problem.

T.S.B. SB0342-09 issued on Sept. 21
2006-9 Toyota 4Runners during stop and go driving or heavy acceleration, a smell of sulfur may be noticed. The replacement of the converter will eliminate the smell.

T.S.B. SB0338-09 issued on Sept. 16
2007-10 Toyota Tundras may emit a grinding noise from the front end when in 4 wheel drive. A new differential support should remedy the problem.

T.S.B. 09-023A issued on Sept. 10
2003-5 Q45s and 2004 M45s could have an electrical malfunction that deactivates one or both front side air bags and turn on the warning light. The system should be inspected, and if need be, repaired by adding a coating of epoxy to the wiring connectors and rerouting them slightly.

T.S.B. 0600309 issued on Sept. 4
2008-9 Mazda Tribute crossovers may have a popping or clunking sound from the steering column when turning. Replacing the steering shaft and the coupling joint will remedy the noise.

T.S.B. 0904509 issued on Aug. 17
2007-10 Mazda CX-7 may have a rattling sound from the bumper at highway speeds. Adding washers and new fasteners between the bumper cover and the body will quiet the noise.

T.S.B. 09-02-35-005 issued on Aug. 10
In some 2008-9 Cadillac CTS; 2005-9 Chevrolet Cobalt; 2006-9 Chevrolet HHR,2006-9 Pontiac Solstice; 2007-9 Chevy Equinox and 2007-9 Pontiac G5’s the key is difficult to remove from the ignition. Replacing the ignition lock cylinder will fix the problem.

According to Consumer Reports the best cars to buy under $20,000.00 are the Honda Fit, Hyundai Elantra SE, Mazda3 i Sport, Pontiac Vibe 2.4L, Scion tC, Scion xB, Scion xD, Ford Focus SES and Toyota Corolla LE. All models earned very good or better scores in Consumer Report’s tests.