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Mazda MPV: Problems & Solutions



  • rumor24rumor24 Posts: 74
    I have almost 1700 miles on my 04. It is now bangs along more often and harder than before. 1 out of every 4 stops it is doing it, there is no zoom left because it leaves the tranny spongy at best. i have seriously considered taking an ad out in the local and the chicago newspapers explaining what we all have experienced and the way mazda is handling it. Of course I will consult a laywer to make sure it is all proper and legal. I will give mazda until the end of jan to do the right thing otherwise I am going very public with all of this info. I wonder if dateline would like a story like this one. You always see them doing stories on how the public is treated, maybe they would be interested in this one. If I find out how to contact them, I will let you all know and we can all send letters, the more they receive, the more interesting the story would be. Mazda would have to do the right thing then.
  • moibmoib Posts: 49
    Great idea about Dateline. Maybe they could put a hidden microphone and camera on you as you deal with your Mazda dealer etc. (Or maybe even John Stossel on 20/20's Give Me A Break segment? Although I don't think he does "hidden camera" stuff.)

    Best of luck in whatever you end up doing....I'd be as furious as the rest of you are if I was having that shifting problem. (I'd be scared for my safety, too, not to mention my tranny's condition.)
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    I believe they have a web site you can use to contact them. You know it's the ol'www. thing. I think that I would be parking the old MPV next to the dealer with a sign on it stating how bad the van is. I would also be driving around town with a sign stating that this or that car company can't fix my car.

    People should shy away from this vehicle until the problem is solved. I said that over two months ago and people still believe that this won't happen to me and continue to purchase this van. Unbelievable.
  • tomj5tomj5 Posts: 209
    The posts are sounding more and more like a ground/voltage problem. The sun roof probably has a logic stop on it and the stop malfunctioned and didn't shut motor off. TTL(computer logic levels) logic voltage is usually 5.0 volts with an error of +/- .1v... Ground cables that are too small or forcing the ground through metal parts of the car will cause voltage drops. The drops could change depending on vibration of metal parts or voltage loads on the buss such as lights, wipers, heater motors, ect...

    The negitive terminal of the battery should have at least four large stranded wires coming from it. One to the engine block by starter. #two to the tranny. #three to the front car body. #four to the rear of the car body... But vibration and power loads will cause a varations of voltage and noise from motors (heaters, servos, door sliders, will cause problems if not filtered out...

    The biggest problem is going to be the dealers. Their techinical level of their service departments are not anywhere near what it takes to understand computer noise problems...

    I drove my 03 MPV(10K) to Los Angeles and back (800 miles) on the bumpty bump LA ten lane bumper to bumper freeways (temp 65 no rain some fog) and the car ran perfectly all the way. The tranny was perfect in the stop and go traffic. My point is that the overall design of the car is fine. The tranny is excellent. Assume that the tranny oil is clean and at proper levels and all electronic componets are wired properly and working. I have the original software. Then that leaves the power voltage and ground.
    What everyone could do is to inspect the battery ground cable where it is bolted just below the battery. Make sure the connection is tight and clean.. There is another cable there that runs to the engine. The engine and body ground depend on this connection.(Very poor design). If moisture and acid is(oxidation increases resistance) on the connection then you have a possible problem...

    WARNING: do not loosen this ground connection. you must remove the battery PLUS terminal first. In case you have to clean the ground connections. Removing the PLUS cable will reset the computer but will not glitch it... Make sure that the ground is clean and tight before you replace the PLUS cable on the battery....
  • dan2004dan2004 Posts: 86
    Tj makes some good points. Could be that the connection from the battery ground to the body frame in the back and below the battery is the achilles heel of this beast.

    Would be interesting if Rumor24 or Notasoccermom followed Tj directions about cleaning and tightening the terminals to see if that makes a difference.

    BTW, I did notice some rust on the engine mounts in my 2004 MPV so some corrosion could have affected the ground connections too.
  • alf928alf928 Posts: 3
    After having the sliding door repaired Dec 03, we are still experiencing problems with the door not closing flush with the van, opening back up and it even opened up when my husband had to put back our donut tire. The door was closed and parked in our garage, he was on the floor trying to put the tire back and all the of sudden the door popped open. We called the dealer and because we invoked our lemon law rights, they said they could not touch our van until they hear from the corporate office. So, as an interim fix, we are operating the doors manually. We sent a certified letter to Mazda invoking our lemon law rights in Nov 03. Finally heard from a Case Rep after having to call numerous times. Let him know since the last repair, we still had problems. He wasn't of much help. He said that he would have to have a tech inspect the car and would need to do more research. Come on, how much research do you need to do, we provided all the invoices from the numerous times it was "fixed". They replaced the motor, several other parts, and made adjustments, it still doesn't work. We are giving the Case Rep a few days, then we will be bugging the heck out of him. We also sent a second letter with detailing our conversations and recent problems with the van. In the mean time, we are also checking into getting a lawyer.

    Our power door problems, don't compare to some of the tranny problems others have experienced, but it is still frustrating as heck.
  • I bought a 2003 MPV on 12/23/03.I currently have 535 miles on it.I have experienced the hard shift between 2nd and 3rd.My question is if it is poor vehicle grounding than why does it only happen between 2-3 upshift and why didn't it happen for the first 300 miles I put on the vehicle.I took my mpv to the dealer on friday.The dealer reflashed the tcm and I drove it for approx. 75-100 miles and had no problems.The trans problem came back on Sunday after I put some mileage on it.I disconnected the positive cable from the battery and cleared the tcm and ecm,reconnected the positive on the battery and drove the vehicle with no shift problems so far but I'm sure it will come back.
  • I just found this discussion group. Glad I did - glad I'm not alone! I also just Emailed Mazda, from their site, about the shifting problem.

    I just took my 2003 MPV (LX) in a week ago for the hard shifting. Mine occurs ALWAYS from 1st to 2nd gear, mostly in the "cold" state, but not necessarily - sometimes while warm. While the dealership said they actually felt it on a cold drive the next morning after taking it in, they said there are multiple complaints about this same problem, but it is operating "normally". What?@#)@! They said it's because it has an electronic transmission, and that's what they do sometimes. Yeah, ok.

    I'll keep checking this site for updates, and look into the HyperGrounding I'm reading about. Thanks for the info everyone puts out here, and again - I'm glad I'm not alone. I, too, am worried about the day after my warranty, when the tranny falls to pieces.
    Bottom line - this is a new vehicle and shouldn't be shifting like this.

    Thanks again,
  • owr084owr084 Posts: 46
    On the door poppong open on your husband - (and I've done this, that's why I ask...) could it have been something in his pocket that hit the key fob and opened the doors? When I work on the car (oil change, etc.), I invariably move my leg and smush my keys together and invaribaly trip the panic alarm or open a door...

    As for the doors - have you made sure the contacts in the door and pillar are clean - take a pencil or pen eraser to them to clean them off. Have you checked the lower track for any obstructions (cheerios, etc.). Whenever our doors act up on our 2002 ES, these are the first two things we check.

  • tomj5tomj5 Posts: 209
    Banging on the bottom of the frame makes the side door open? Oh yeah, that is a classic symptom of grounding and harness problems. There is a solid state switch that controls the door motor. If a glitch hits that switch then it will activate the motor... Computer controls are very stupid. They don't reason....
    Same idea for a malfunction on the sun roof motors..

    I have heard time and again about when the dealer reflashes the TCM that the tranny shifts good for awhile, then problem returns.. What if there is a bad connection/ground to the TCM and when dealer distrubs it, it works good until the bad "connection" returns from vibration????

    This would explain why Mazda can't come up with a fix... Glitchy computers are a nightmare to fix...
    It might be simple and it might not be. Hopfully the problems is not a bad wiring harness or some pinched wires in the frame somewhere....
    There is special equipment for finding glitchs such as this... But the Jerk Water dealers won't have it or have a clue how to use it...

    I have heard of Electronic repair shops for cars but have never seen one....

  • bob57bob57 Posts: 302
    I haven't posted here in a while but have kept up with the tranny complaints.
    The computer controlled tranny does "learn" from driving habits. Whether that's a good idea or not is another story...
    Anyway, from all the postings this doesn't sound like a grounding problem. The transmission isn't drawing all that much current for computer controlled sensors to activate and poor grounding would be showing up elsewhere in the electronic controlled modules. The fact that a reflash seems to cure shifting for a "short time" comes back (IMO) to a logic chip somewhere that's loosing it's ASIC code.
    I'm have no idea how many MPV's are experiencing this or if there has been an actual tranny failure yet. If Mazda was smart (maybe they are..) they could research VIN numbers, logic chips (likely more than one manufacturer or vendor from my experience) and build date(s). Then draw a conclusion (make it so...).
    The fact that (or so it appears) Mazda has yet to satisfy this problem in the time span this has developed points to (again, IMO) that the number of complaints has not reached the magic number yet, the cure is "big bucks", or they are completely baffled (chose one - checking two does not qualify... :))
  • bigdadibigdadi Posts: 72
    Past 350 miles driven without a hardshift. I don't know whether it'll come back again later.
    Car passed 3000 miles mark,
    It has been extreme cold temperature here in New England,
    The last hard shift happened when I changed from regular unlead, filled the tank with Super unlead. Now it is the #3 tank of premium gas.
  • tomj5tomj5 Posts: 209
    Checked out the ground cable on the battery. The Plus cable is three times bigger than the minus cable!!!!
    Geezzz, the minus ground cable should be bigger than the Plus cable... Terrible design. Now,, the minus cable is one piece that runs to the engine block.
    The problem is just below the battery they have stripped the insulation from the cable and crimped a connector that bolts to the body..

    Crimping cables is a terrible way to make a low voltage/current connection. The connection should be soldered as not to be effected by corrosion and vibration...
    There is another ground cable on the right side of engine that connects the body to the engine block by way of the mounting flange...

    They ground the right side car body by way of the engine block!!!!
    This is extremely poor design... Same kind of undersized crummy cable... I can imagine what road salt does to these connections....
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    the observations that users are having with the car cold and no problem doesn't fit with an IC "loosing" code. and if it lost it - how would it temporarily regain it so the device functioned normally for some miles?

    battery backed RAM memory retention problem? i suppose it's possible.

    grounding? as another poster indicates, if true, why would it exhibit in most people's vehicles on a 2->3 shift. why would it start off OK, and get bad as the car warmed up? for others, why would the situation improve over time. myself, i tend to doubt this as the root cause.

    a thermal flakey? i would think that would be more likely than the other scenarios. ie: some cold solder joints on a printed ckt board, a ckt board with hairline fractures in some traces, a heat sensitive component, a heat sensitive transducer / encoder...

    personally, i like much better theories involving an actuator like a solenoid with stiction issues, or perhaps clogged hydraulic passages. maybe even something like a non-linearity in the gas pedal position encoder.

    but who knows really?
  • I'm looking for a new vehicle. The MPV is (was?) on the short list but there is no way I would buy one until the tranny problem is addressed.
    I HATE to read about consumers being dogged by manufacturers and dealers. Been there, done that. Reading about Mazda service managers treating customers like 5-yr-olds does not make this vehicle very enderaring, either.
  • Let me clue you folks in about on board computers and disconnected batteries and cables. No power, no memory. Luckily NAPA makes a small 9 volt battery cigarlighter plugin that will hold the computer's memory while changing, cleaning, or tightening battery connections. It's one of the gadgets your owner's manual doesn't tell you about. It's $75+ to have the dealer re-learn your computer after changing the battery. I'm really hoping we're on to something here!!
  • bigdadibigdadi Posts: 72
    You made the right call. Everyone buys a new car because they don't want headache, now this tranny is a little headache for mpv owners. AND NO CURE yet.
  • scott31scott31 Posts: 292
    I wouldn't take the MPV out of the running. Our '03 has 6000 miles on it, no problems.

    I have an '03 TL Type S w/Nav. They have such a transmission issue that Honda extended the warranty to 7/100k miles. I have 17k miles on mine, no problems with my transmission.

    And I'm not worried about either. These are remote problems. Are they annoying to those that have them, certainly. Would I be screaming on every message board if I had a problem, you bet.

    But that's just it, how many posts back do you have to go before you read a "No problems with my MPV", "Love my MPV". Message boards are mostly for problems and issues. Don't be spooked by what you read here. Be concerned, yes, but not frightened away.

    Just my $.02 ($.005 after taxes)
  • danogdanog Posts: 318
    We bought an '02 Acura TL/S and quickly found out it had three trannys before our purchase. While working with the dealer and Acura we began having problems that led to the replacement of the third tranny. One week later while on the phone with the dealer the fourth replacement tranny failed. It was a CPO vehicle but Acura would not get involved. So typical of large car manufacturers.

    All of this in 32k miles. Acura has made considerable efforts to correct their problems but during the beginning of this issue continued to act as Mazda is acting now.

    Maybe this is a way to keep sales up at the same time working on the issue "behind" the scenes.

    The TL had me bought and if not for the tranny issues we'd still have it. Good luck with yours and you may not ever need a replacment.

    If it were not for these forums many owners would never know problem existed with most vehicles. Same goes for good items as well like the fact my wife loves this van and is one of those who said, "I'll never drive a minivan".

    Our '04 MPV is demonstrating the hard shift at least once a day now @ 2800 miles. I experienced the issue but unless it is found to be a significant issue by Mazda I am not worried about it. Anyone who has ever driven a muscle car with a shift kit knows how the hard shifts feels.
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    I believe that you are making the wise decision. You have this information and how you use it is up to you, but if you decide to buy the MPV and you end up having the trans problem, you'll have only yourself to blame.

    Let the people who are having this problem fight with Mazda, and then/if they resolve it, buy one.

    Why get into a mess?

    Good Luck!
  • bigdadibigdadi Posts: 72
    Well said. How can you guarantee your new mpv won't have the tranny hard-shift? No way because mazda dealer won't let you return the car once you take delivery (bad isn't it? You can return a bought item to Walmart but not cars.) and get refund/exchange, or wait till mazda has a fix.
  • rumor24rumor24 Posts: 74
    I have been trying to get that extended coverage but as of today I am still scrambling to find someone who will discuss it. As for the hard shift, they are coming more frequently and seem to be harder. I guess I will have to blow this thing up so I can get a new tranny out of it, thought a new one would probably still be junk. I will let you know how the extended goes. By the way, I have contacted some of the big media people like dateline and such. Just waiting to hear back from them.
  • dan2004dan2004 Posts: 86
    If anyone really wants an MPV before the transmission issue is decisively resolved, then you should at least haggle the dealer unmercifully over price.

    These things are not exactly flying off the lots, and there are quite a few 2003s left over.
  • I called my local Mazda dealer today to make an appt to 'document' the fact that I was experiencing the hard shift problem. I was told they were fully aware of the problem, they have 12 MPV's documented at this location with the problem, including this guys wife's MPV. He said I could bring it in but they probably couldn't do anything about it, they are expecting a fix to come from Mazda on February 18. Pretty specific date, don't you think? I'll call the guy back in a couple of weeks to see if he is saying the same date.
  • steveeaststeveeast Posts: 158

    I'm taking my MPV in for a service on Thursday. I'll see if I can get the same date out of my dealer.

  • Ok, if we believe Mazda has the tranny issue well in hand let's get down to some real "nit picking". Like why don't dealers known how to put on pin striping that won't peel off. Or a tire size that almost no one makes (17 inch ES). Or my coffee mug doesn't fit the holder. DH
  • rumor24rumor24 Posts: 74
    Is it me or does this thing suck gas big time? I filled to full on Sun with very little driving, roughly 20 some miles and I have used a 1/4 of a tank of gas. I wonder if it isn't a tranny issue but a fuel issue and that is why they are stalling due to an epa issue like some of have been told. Mine is hard shifting so much I don't know what a smooth shift feels like. I know I have been smelling gas inside the van while driving. Maybe I am paranoid. At this point I think I would just rather have my money back so I can go back to toyota
  • You might want to look for a leaking fuel line. All that hard shifting may have broken or loosened a fuel line connection. Be paranoid not parbroiled anytime you smell fuel.
  • Well we got our 7/100 extended warranty signed, sealed, and delivered. It does give us some piece of mind. Our regional Mazda rep still will not commit to any dates, because he doesn't want to make any promises he can't keep. But he did tell us he's "hopeful it will be within 60 days". He also encouraged us to keep bugging him for updates, and to keep in the back of our minds what our rights are as a consumer (lemon law). But that is ultimately our decision and he hopes he won't go that route because he knows this problem will be resolved. We're just hanging out for now.

    As a side note, our MPV also seems to have quieted down a bit now that it's at 3500K miles. Doesn't happen nearly as often, sometimes not at all. Maybe my husband has figured out the magic way to avoid the hard shift, or the van really has adjusted to our driving habits. Or maybe the teeth on the transmission gears have all been shorn smooth so we don't feel it anymore--LOL!!! We will still have the reflash done when it comes out of course.

    Vickie5, I really hate that you are having problems with your dealership not taking you seriously. As a fellow female, I know what it's like. Whenever I have taken my cars in and I tell them what the car's doing, and I also tell them that I think it may be this or that, they smirk at me like "yeah, sure". And usually I'm right! I wish you luck, and try to get that warranty!!
  • dan2004dan2004 Posts: 86
    Sounds like you are making progress. One thing--if your van stops hard shifting do not let Mazda touch it!

    You can always have the "fix" if it starts hard shifting again.

    My 2004 is still shifting properly after 10 days--a record!

    You may want to consider changing the fluid to Mobil 1 ATF although it costs about $130 for the fluid and labor.
This discussion has been closed.