Specific drivers in Seattle and other areas of Western Washington are shouting at their radios in their cars this week. It’s not because of a particular music or news item on air but due to an apparent technical issue that has caused radios to be stuck on public stations like KUOW. KUOW.
The affected drivers are believed to be all Mazda vehicles manufactured between 2014 and 2017. In a few cases, the car’s information systems aren’t functioning entirely, which has affected the ability to listen to radio or even utilize Bluetooth phones and GPS, the rear camera, and many more.
As per the Mazda driver who sat with GeekWire and other members of the Reddit thread that discussed the issue, anyone who has encountered problems was listening to the KUOW 94.9 in the past few weeks as the car’s systems started to go off.
KUOW was unable to pinpoint the cause. At least one service department at a dealership blamed 5G. Mazda said to GeekWire in a formal statement that it had discovered the issue and a solution is being planned.
“I see the Mazda symbol, like it’s coming on,” said Stephanie Marquis of Olympia, Wash. She was in her car, trying to get her dashboard display to function. “It simply keeps restarting. Now, it’s all black. It’s like it’s trying switch on, but it can’t switch on.”
Marquis works as a public relations officer for Washington State. Marquis, who works in public affairs for the State of Washington, was driving her 2015 Mazda3 hatchback to her home to a family member two and a half months before the issue began. She was listening to KUOW — even though KNKX from Tacoma KNKX is her favorite station.
The rebooting infotainment system in Stephanie Marquis’ Mazda. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Marquis)
The car she drives has a total of 47,000 miles, and she’s been enjoying the car so far. However, she’s unable to take calls when going. She reported her frustration onto the Reddit sub-group r/mazda3 and posted a topic titled, “Anyone else have their radio corrupted by a signal from 94.9?”
Some have indeed, according to the debate. Also, Mazda dealers located in Olympia, Seattle, and Lynnwood, Wash., are hindered by the issue.
One person who called the customer service number from Mazda in Seattle within the University District said inquiries would need to be directed to Mazda’s corporate headquarters, and the dealer could not comment.
If the dealership heard about many automobile owners’ needs, the salesperson laughed and said, “We are.”
Marquis said she drove her car into the service center at Olympia to be told that the issue might be related to KUOW “switching to 5G.” She contacted Mazda’s corporate office and waited more than an hour before a representative told her he’d look into the issue and then call her back. She has yet to hear from them.
“I called the dealer and they told me the exact same thing,” Reddit user MillionDollarSticky responded.
“We live here in Western Washington; everybody listens to public radio in this area!
Reddit user my alternate life has reported an issue with the system of the 2015 Mazda3.
“My infotainment unit has been perpetually restarting as of last week, and it’s usually dialed to KUOW 94.9,” my alternate life wrote. “I took my car to the shop this morning and they mentioned ~50 customers are currently in the same situation, all stuck on KUOW.”
A Mazda North American Operations representative issued an announcement in response to GeekWire late Monday evening. The statement said nothing about 5G or switching to 3G mobile networks and how any of this could be linked to connected vehicles.
“Between 1/24-1/31, a radio station in the Seattle area sent image files with no extension, which caused an issue on some 2014-2017 Mazda vehicles with older software,” the Mazda statement stated. “Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) has distributed service alerts advising dealers of the issue.”
The report states that “dealers are currently experiencing parts delays due to shipping constraints,” the MNAO will “support affected customers by providing replacement parts. The affected customers are advised to make contact with the local Mazda dealer to send a request for goodwill with Mazda Warranty department on their behalf. Mazda Warranty department on their behalf, place an order for the parts, and arrange an appointment for a repair free of charge once the parts are received.”
The Mazda representative could not respond to questions from GeekWire’s follow-up about what was wrong with the cars and what components would need to be replaced. Update February. Nine 8:50 am PST: Mazda confirmed that the master unit that connects the vehicle is the component that needs to be replaced.
Jay Janette of Seattle and his malfunctioning 2016 Mazda CX5. (Photo courtesy of Jay Janette)
Jay Janette, an architect located in Seattle, was able to take the car in the year 2016 Mazda CX5 to a dealership in Lynnwood, and before the architect could even begin to explain the issue, the mechanic inquired, “Do you listen to NPR?”
Janette’s system for infotainment has been trying to reboot, but the icons appear and then go away, and the radio is locked on KUOW.
“It’s fine because I listen to that station quite a bit,” Janette told me. “At this point, I believe it’s a security issue. I do not possess my camera backup nor the navigation device. It’s really weird.”
Janette said that beforebefore the glitch, he switched to the KUOW HD signal playing while driving. He’s scheduled for an oil change later this week.
“I’ve had it for six years,” the man said. It may be time to trade it in and look for something different.
The interior of a 2016 Mazda6. (Mazda USA Photo)
Tony Meyer of Tumwater, Wash. He experienced the same issue on his 2015 Mazda6. On a trip to the mall to buy some shopping, he was listening to KUOW at the time that his system “started acting wonky and just started a reboot.”
He believed shutting off the engine and restarting it would clarify things. The result was different. A visit to his dealer led him to an identical theory on 5G. It’s issue has been on the news lately because there is concern from the Federal Aviation Administration about how signals affect aircraft safety.
A couple of days ago, while driving, the backup camera of Meyer turned on and displayed an image that was frozen while he went down the road.
“It cleared and all of a sudden it started functioning, so I changed the channel [on the radio], and I thought, hey, maybe somehow this has gotten fixed by itself,” Meyer explained. “The next day I started the car and it’s right back to constantly rebooting.”
KUOW will indeed have received feedback from listeners curious about what the station’s signals did to their vehicles.
“We’ve received some feedback from listeners who have said”I listen to KUOW often, but … I’m unable to alter the channel! ‘” News Director Gigi Douban said to GeekWire.
The Operations Director Dane Johnson, who oversees the day-to-day technical and facilities requirements for KUOW and its other media offerings and services, told reporters on Monday he needed to learn the causes of the car’s problems.
“But there are engineers at Xperi along with All In Media with direct access to our transmitters as well as data servers in order to find the cause. As of now, I’ve seen reports of Mazda having an issue,” Johnson said.
Xperi develops connected-car technologies for infotainment systems. This includes HD Radio, which Mazda offers. Xperi did not respond to GeekWire’s query on Tuesday about the issues with KUOW and the Seattle-area Mazdas or its work to resolve the issue.
Johnson stated that he had been aware of the Mazda idea regarding the image that needs to be fixed and claimed that all KUOW has the logo. Johnson also said the 5G theory is not valid.
“5G is just a cell standard,” Johnson stated. “When they discuss cars and the 5G and. 3G issue, they’re talking about cars with a cell receiver inside them and are connected to services like AT&T which could face issues in the event that their provider ends 3G. It is nothing to have anything to do with broadcast terrestrial service.”
In addition to being Mazda drivers, Everyone who spoke to GeekWire was a faithful audience member of public radio. The glitch was not going to alter the fact that.
“We live in Western Washington, everybody listens to public radio here!” Janette stated.
Marquis has said that her experience won’t force her to reconsider her move to commercial radio, even if she could switch stations once more.