Friday

4,700 Mazda Cars Go Down the Drain


A boat load of 4,700 "zoom zoom" cars got waterlogged in July off the Alaskan coast on their way to the US and Canadian markets when the cargo ship tipped some 60 degrees to the side.

The Cougar Ace car carrying ship is nearly 7 football fields long and was loaded with 14 levels of Mazda vehicles (90% are Mazda 3 and CX 7 models) and on its way to Vancouver (British Columbia) and Tacoma (WA) with a stop in California.

Huge ships like this use water as a ballast to distribute cargo weight evenly and when the crew was shifting water into ballast compartments, things apparently got out of hand. At night, 230 miles from the nearest land, the next thing the 23 crew members knew, in less than 10 minutes the ship listed more than 60 degrees to the side. The Coast Guard took the photo above, amidst speculation that water tight compartments were the only reason the ship didn't sink.

The US Coast Guard rescued the crew and the boat was towed to a port in Alaska, where it was uprighted to an even keel before being towed on to Portland, where it was to arrive on Sept. 12. The entire cargo was to be unloaded and then evaluated, Mazda reported.

Mazda's North American President has stated that none of the vehicles will be sold as new and no decision on disposition will be made until the vehicles are gone over to see what can be salvaged and what gets scrapped.

To satisfy customer concerns, Mazda says it will post the vehicle indentification numbers of the vehicles on its US sales website and its Canada sales website. If you are car shopping for a low mileage 2007 Mazda next year, you might want to check Mazda's web site before you buy.

Mazda is to be applauded for not just playing it safe, but for also publishing the VIN numbers so that there will be no temptation by any of its dealers to try to pawn off the water soaked cars as low mileage cream puffs (not that they would, but let's admit just how tempting it would be for a car dealer to give it a try).

Flood cars, like those from Katrina, are nearly worthless but unscrupulous dealers can be sorely tempted to dry out the cars, clean them up, and pass them off for something that they just aren't. For tips on how to avoid buying a flooded Mazda, click here.