MONTEREY, Calif. -- After suffering a black eye from disclosing that it won't count RX-8 owners' opinions in its internal customer-satisfaction scores, Mazda says it may have to replace the engines in many of its flagship sports cars.
The voluntary recall of all 2004 and 2005 vehicles, and some 2006s, is expected to be announced this week or next. It involves damage to the catalyst resulting from oil leaks in the RX-8's rotary engine.
Any engine that does not pass a vacuum test must be replaced, said Robert Davis, head of product development and quality at Mazda North American Operations.
Engines prone to failing the test are mostly in hot climates and use synthetic oils.
Mazda also will check each RX-8's battery and starter, which tend to fail in cold climates.
"We're going to give these cars the white-glove treatment," Davis said. "We would rather replace the engine than have the dealer crack them open."
Davis would not disclose the projected failure rate of the engines or the cost to replace them.
Mazda has a remanufacturing center in North Carolina that will rebuild faulty engines and return them to service.
The recall comes after a video Webcast by two dealers who attended the July 11-13 National Dealer Advisory Council meetings in Newport Beach, Calif., was leaked on the Internet.
In the video, dealers said problems with the RX-8 were unfairly lowering Mazda customer-satisfaction scores.
Mazda informed the dealers that RX-8 owners would continue to be surveyed, but that the responses would not factor into dealer customer-satisfaction scores.
Mazda has issued service bulletins on such trouble spots as squeaky brakes and engine flooding.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]