Car Industry

Mazda Miata, Fiat 124 Spider recalled for downshifts nobody asked for

The problem only affects models with automatic transmissions.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata
James Halfacre/Mazda

While the Mazda Miata and Fiat 124 Spider are thought of as usually carrying manual transmissions, a number of each are also sold with automatic transmissions. It's the latter cog-swapper that's at the center of a recent recall.

Mazda, Fiat and supplier Aisin have issued a recall for 14,370 examples of the 2016 to 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata and 8,933 examples of the 2017 to 2019 Fiat 124 Spider. All of the affected models carry automatic transmissions, as the issue stems from a component used to control those transmissions' shift logic.

The problem stems from Aisin's transmission control module. According to the defect report sent to NHTSA, "due to inappropriate control logic of the clutch control software... [electrical noise] may cause the vehicle to unexpectedly downshift." A downshift nobody asked for means the car may inadvertently pitch its nose downward and begin decelerating, causing stability concerns and possibly increasing the risk of a crash.

Thankfully, both Fiat Chrysler and Mazda are unaware of any accidents or injuries that could be linked to this issue. Mazda first discovered the issue after receiving a field report from a US owner, and a second report eventually arose, but those reports didn't mention accidents or injuries.

Since the issue is related to software, technicians only need to perform a quick software update to remedy the issue. Owners will be notified by first-class mail in late March.