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Mazda MPV: Problems & Solutions



  • Bought a DX MPV in late Sept. 2000. Love it so far and haven't had any problems. Was wondering if anyone knows the true story about the engine and transmission. I heard it was Ford long before buying but don't have anthing concrete. Speedee oil change guy told me it was a Taurus engine. Others say Contour. Mazda told me while puchasing the van that Mazda designed the engine and ford just built it. Does anyone knw the true facts here. Thanks SPP
  • The engine is indeed Ford's Duratec 2.5, which was seen in the Contour/Mystique twins. The basic specs are similar, though bore and stroke differ substantially - the Mazda mill is far more oversquare than Ford's.

    The transmission is Mazda's GF4A-EL, also seen in the base Millenia and the occasional 626.
  • I've had a couple of Contours with Duratecs, including my current SVT Contour (200 HP 2.5L Duratec.)

    This is a Ford designed engine. Any Mazda sales person who tells you otherwise is lying to you because he fears your dislike of domestic engines.

    The engine was designed for the CDW-27 platform by Ford. The cars we've seen from that platform are in order, the Ford Mondeo (Europe only), the Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique, and the Mercury Cougar. (Yup, the Cougar is essentially a two door Contour, he he.)

    The engine was designed using a process developed by Cosworth, (Pretty famous in racing circles) to cast in the cylinder sleve liners into the aluminum block.

    The version of the Duratec used in the SVT was on Wards Automotives 10 best engines list for 1998 and 1999, producing 80hp/litre.

    We have members at that have 150K on the Duratec, without much drama.

    Things to watch for:

    1. Choice of oil filter. I noticed an earlier poster here had trouble with timing chain tensioners and mentioned using Fram oil filters. If you look at the Ford/Motorcraft FL-820S, you will notice a silicon anti-drainback valve. The Fram filter does not have this. So, if you use a filter that doesn't have this valve, you will notice some valvetrain noise at startup. It usualy doesn't continue, but can be avoided with a good quality filter.

    2. Water pump. Early duratecs (1994-1997???) have plastic impellers in the waterpump that would crack and become ineffective. (Wouldn't pump any more.) It seems there are some metal impellers available as replacement parts. Also, the newer water pumps appear to have a different plastic, so they may not be a problem.

    If you are really worried, change your pump at 60K miles. It is actually pretty easy to do.

    3. Some reports of oil starvation and engine failure. Remember, these are the Contour drivers who are taking 30MPH exit ramps at 70+ MPH. It seems that under very spirited driving, you can cause the oil pump pickup to no longer be submerged in oil. Do that long enough and you have metal on metal, which is a very bad thing. However, it is unlikely that you can toss your van around the way a Contour/Mystique or Cougar can on a track or long sweeping Right Hand Exit.

    Keep your eyes on the Supercharger kit Vortech just released for the 2.5L Duratec. That will be the ultimate test of reliability.


  • Hi,
    I am about to buy a 2000 MPV, but have read with dismay some problems with child safety seats. I am buying this so my 2 children can sit in the second row-both need car seats/boosters. Please update me on any problems and how they were resolved. Thank you.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    I agree with Tboner that FRAM filters should be avoided, at all costs. I've heard way too many horror stories about Fram products. My indi-mechanic likens using Fram filters to using a coffee filter for your oil. Your best bet is to stick to the factory (yes, FoMoCraft FL-820S) oil filter, it has the anti-drainback valve built in for your filtering pleasure. The factory filter isn't expensive either, I believe it's about $7. Isn't it Fram's slogan, "pay a little now, or a lot later"? heh heh, right. Maybe it's Purolator's slogan, anyway...I use Mann brand filters on my other cars, but I don't find a fitment for the Duratech, so I stick to the factory one.

    It sounds like maybe your chain tensioner failed, which is rare, but not unheard of for any car manufacturer. This would not be an oil issue, since the chains don't slosh through the oil pan.

    The 2.5 duratech should be a pretty bullet proof workhorse for our needs. It takes a lot of abuse in the CDW-27 cars on and off the track and comes back for more. I'm not a huge fan of domestic products, but having known that Cossie was involved in the development of the motor is always been a confidence booster.

    Let us know how things turn out for your MPV. It's good to know that the service dept. at your dealership is taking care of you.

  • otishotish Posts: 59
    Boy, I know that child safety seats can be a real headache (and some are much harder than others to install!) We have had great luck with our seats and have had them checked at a safety seat inspection and passed with flying colors (one of only 5 for the whole year!)

    First of all, I can not believe that Mazda told someome that you can not use child seats in the second row since that is where they have the tether anchors! We have our seat installed in the second row captains chair on the driver's side with the tether anchor. (Mazda installed this for free, the part cost $7 and looks fantastic. It has a nice cover when not in use and matches the interior. The floor mats also have a pre-cut area for where the anchor is located).

    I have posted this information before but it seems like there are some more people who need the info. We currently use a Fisher Price Safe Embrace convertible seat in the forward facing mode. It was extremely easy to install. However, it was not as easy when we had it rear-facing but a tech at a child seat clinic did it with no problem. We were advised to use some shelf liner to keep the seat from sliding on the leather seats. I know that others use the Safe Embrace that post on this board and also have good fits. The seat doesn't move! We also tried the Maxi Cosi Priori and it also was easy to install and fit great. (The Maxi Cosi is a forward facing only seat for babies from 1 year and 20 pounds up to 40. The Safe Embrace is a convertible that rear faces up to 30 pounds and forward to 40).

    When she was an infant we used the Century Smart Fit infant carrier seat with the base. I found this seat also fit very well but had to use a piece of a pool noodle to get a good angle (this is approved by the safety experts by the way and passed a check also).

    Yes, the seats belts can cause problems with some car seats but there are also some car seats that are notoriously hard to fit in many cars (the Century Smart Move and the Century Breverra booster seats are ones I am well acquainted with). I had the Breverra booster with a previous car and have heard that techs really complain about their fit (or lack of) when using the harness but they fit better as a belt positioning booster.. So, my point is that there are seats that work and you might just have to try them out first (Toys R Us will let you do this by the way). Toys R Us sells the Safe Embrace and it is a great seat that is highly recommended. Also, a great source of information is the car seat discussion board that includes a link to a database with info on what seats fit in what cars (and which ones don't).

    I just looked up booster seats in the database and the following are recommended as good fits:Cosco high back booster, the Graco Cherished Cargo and the Century Breverra Contour when used as a belt positioning booster. Someome reported that the Century Next Step booster was NOT a good fit at all.

    Please don't despair that you can't fit a child seat well in this van - it might take a different seat but it is possible. I am adamant about installing a seat so that it doesn't move and feel very comfortable with this van.
  • Drew_host or javadoc:

    On your recommendation I ran out and picked up a complete set of Bosch Microedge wipers (not refills) for my '00 MPV ES. While it was quick and easy to replace the liftback's 16" wiper (I used the replacement's adapter that was already mounted, I hope that was correct), replacing the 24" front wipers is another story. I believe I have the correct adapter mounted on the wiper assembly, but I cannot get it to snap onto the MPV's wiper arm. [Apparently others have had some problem with that same adapter type since I have encountered broken ones in two separate packages that I inadvertently purchased from an allegedly unsuspecting store.]

    Any advice on the proper technique for mounting the replacement Bosch Microedge wiper assemblies without breaking the adapter would be appreciated. [When I asked a Pep Boys' employee for assistance, he replied that he had no experience with Bosch wipers, and that he only uses Trico because then he doesn't have to deal with adapters.]

    Thanks in advance for any insight.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    I'll check this when I get back to chateu de javadoc tonight (wife has van...won't give it up...) and confirm this, but did you try flipping the clip 180 degrees? If I remember correctly, I attached the wiper to the adapter, then manipulated the whole thing onto the arm, and it confused my pea brain at first because it appeared to go on backwards, and I almost broke it the first time, as ham-fisted as I am. I sympathize with you entirely.

    Am picking up a set for Rolf (the Volvo in my stable) tonight since the wipers on it are shot and I'm driving in rain/snow/hail slop this week, yuck. So I'll figure out the exact procedure and post it for you.

  • I just got my 2000 loaded ES back after 3 weeks at the dealer. It has 15K miles and I've had it for one year. On the day after Christmas, it dumped all it's oil and froze the engine. It needed a complete engine replacement; the dealer said it would cost $6400 and that he wouldn't pay. Said it was due to a faulty oil change and that "You are on your own". The oil had been changed by Oil Can Henry's 3 weeks earlier with no sign of problems. Inspection after the failure showed that the oil filter had expanded in size due to an over oil pressure condition in the engine. After great help from the Oil Can Henry Rep, Mazda agreed to pay; but they didn't make it very easy. I have not been pleased with the van overall; the engine performance is just too weak and noisy. Slow acceleration in traffic borders on dangerous. Also the general build quality and materials seems below par; thin carpet and broken plastic pieces. It was clear that my dealer's main interest was in deflecting blame and not standing behind his product. I hope to be able to sell the van now that I have it back if I can handle the large depreciation loss. I was a proud owner of a 1989 MPV van for 11 years; I think buying this new one was a mistake.
  • javadoc--

    I found out what one of the problems I had with mounting the Bosch wiper assembly was--I was trying to use the wrong adapter; it which was too deep [thick] to fit in the hook of the wiper arm. But what made me choose that adapter was, from the instruction diagram I thought the other adapter was only for Mercedes Benz; besides, it looked so strange and unlike any wiper adapter I had ever seen before. In fact, it took a friend and me together to figure out how to work that adapter. And his father used to work for NAPA auto parts!

    I can't believe you and Drew thought installation was such a snap. I may have to remove and reinstall that adapter on a weekly basis so I don't forget how it works, for the next time I need to install new wiper blades again.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    Well, you see, I would've grabbed the Mercedes adapter first, because the MPV is "the Mercedes of minivans" and I've seen a post where someone's MPV was mistaken for an ML320. lol!

    j/k...Glad you got it all sorted out. I hadn't had a chance to check the wipers yet and get back to you, the router on the home network was being a pill.

  • zzoom1zzoom1 Posts: 31
    I have heard that Fram filters are not all they are cracked up to be. I try to use Purolator Pure One. My question is, does anyone know if Fram makes filters for other brands to put their name on it, eg Penske or Castrol? Also I have heard that Wix filters are pretty good. Do they make one for the 2.5 Duratec and who sells them?
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    AS far as I know they don't make filters for anyone and most likely have theirs built elsewhere.

    The WIX # is 51372 - check your local parts store. I believe the Parts Plus stores carry Wix.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    javadoc, hey, yours truly happens to drive an ML! :-)

    drrocket, I did find installation easy for a Grand Voyager. I don't drive a Mazda MPV :-) Actually, I found installation easy for the driver's side of the Voyager. I got the old blade out and the new blade on in under 1 minute. The passenger's side wiper was another matter entirely. The little hook like curve at the end of the wiper arm was bent too far (don't know how since we've been the only owners of this van) and I had a heck of a time getting it out.

    On another note, be sure to scrape off all of the ice before wiping your windshield. My van was left overnight outdoors at the Chrysler dealership after a service and the next morning a 1-2 centimeter layer of ice had formed on the windshield. The wiper switch was left in the on position and when I started the van to warm it up, the wipers turned on (they actually got stuck after moving 1/2 inch; not good for the motor!) and ran over of the ice. Since then, I've had some inconsistency (albeit not much, but enough to a irritate a picky car nut like me) as to how well the blade works in some small spots. I believe the ice may have prematurely worn a couple of small 0.5-1 centimetre sections of the blade. Looks like I'll have to soon spring for another blade for the driver's side; the passenger side is still okay.

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  • drew--

    So you are either accustomed to using that wacky 2-piece Bosch adapter because you have experience using it on your Benz, or your Grand Voyager accepts the one piece Bosch adapter that appears slightly more logical (or should I say less illogical?), but is more fragile (the one that people prior to me have broken but managed to return for resale to be purchased by hapless people like me).

    In any event, Bosch needs to have more detailed diagrams to facilitate installation. I sure hope the quality of the Microedge wipers warrants all the time I spent trying install them. BTW, I couldn't help but notice that Consumer Reports rated the Anco wiper blades highest in that same review you and javadoc cited. What do you know about them?

    Regards, and thanks for sharing in my wiper blade trials and tribulations.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    How do you like the ML? Wife wants me to ditch the Volvo (blasphemy) for an ML430 (oh, so many dm). Does it feel "really" like an MB, or is it not truly worthy of the tri-spoke on its grill? Curiosity on my part.

  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    I like the ML a lot. Having grown up with several MB cars in the family, I can tell you that it does feel like a MB...well, at least the MY2K and newer M-class models :-) The previous models did have noticable cost cutting (it was, and still is a great value for what you get) but MB was embarrased by this and hence significantly improved it for 2000. Is it worthy of the MB star? I think so...

    FYI, there is a 7 passenger seating package that adds 2 full-sized (removable or fold down/fold to the sides) 3rd row seats with 3 point seatbelts and full head restraints, as well as power pop-out quarter windows.

    You may find the ML320's V6 engine more than adequate for your needs. The ML430's V8 engine only truly shows its longer "legs" at higher highway speeds, and for extended hill climbing. Around town and even off the line (due to the ML430's lower rear axle ratio vs. the ML320's), both V6 and V8 MLs feel quite similar.

    If you would like to discuss this vehicle further, please join me and other M-class owners in the MB M-class topic. Or you may contact me off the list if you wish. :-)
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    My minivan uses the kind of adaptor that has a tab which you push (or maybe pull - can't remember right now) and simply slide the blade out. To tell you the truth, I haven't changed the blades on the ML. There is a 2 year wear-and-tear warranty in addition to the 4 year bumper-to-bumper warranty, so I just get the service guys to do it :-) When the warranty does expire, I will only be changing only the rubber pieces themselves (to the Bosch Microedge refills, of course), as the wiper blades have existing aerodynamic wing pieces that keep the blades firmly planted to the windshield even when driving at autobahn speeds .

    No, I don't know much about the Anco blades and I couldn't find them anyway. I've seen German test reports comparing the Bosch blades to other ones and they impressed me enough to win me over. It's not like the Bosch blades are terribly pricey either (this really surprised me).

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  • Tried to change the oil filter yesterday for the first time and end up getting only the oil changed. I could not remove the filter!. There is not enough room to use my oil filter wrench and I don't have the cap for it. Looked into the owner's manual, which states that it needs a special tool.

    For the ones who had done it, do I just need a cap or do I need something else?

  • The first time I changed the oil filter on our MPV, I had to remove the heat shield attatched to the exhaust pipe. I was then able to get a band type of filter wrench in there. I think a gorrilla attached the filters at the factory.

    After hand tightening the filter, and restoring the heat shield, and 4000 miles, the next oil change was much easier to remove using my hands only, no tools.


  • msgjvhmsgjvh Posts: 196
    When I changed ours I baught the cap the goes on the end of the filter. Once I removed the splash shield on the front undercarriage, I was able to get to it very easily. My big problem was I couldn't get it to seal. I had to really crank it down to get it to seal to the housing. Now I am afraid it will take a jack hammer to remove the thing.
  • bill124bill124 Posts: 242
    Never having owned a mini van, I am amazed at how dirty the thing gets, particularly given the amount of snow we have had in NY.. I am one of those people that likes a clean car and will not take it to a car wash (they aren't as good as I am). Maybe it's the white that makes it seem more dirty than other cars I've owned but the rear of the van becomes filthy rather easily. I have the GFX which I thought might make a difference but it doesn't seem to.

    Oil change. I haven't done one yet but my dealer has been sending me coupons to change the oil at $20 per change. That's what I have been doing. Sounds like money well spent.
  • bill124bill124 Posts: 242
    I meant I haven't personally changed the oil. Since I have owned the van since feb. 2000, we have changed the oil twice (1,000 and 4,500). Due again soon.
  • zzoom1zzoom1 Posts: 31
    there is a plastic covering which is easily removed (4 screws) then, I've never had trouble removing filter using filter cap with socket wrench fitting.
  • wpennerwpenner Posts: 25
    I know everyone is sick of hearing about it, but here it goes. I really want an MPV, have researched them extensively including hours spent reading these boards. My husband is really concerned about the power problem--we do find it slow to accelerate to high speeds. I have pooh-poohed it since I'm not a speed demond and I love the van so much. Here is the thing:

    1. We live in a rural area and often have to pass on two lane,somewhat winding roads. Our current car (Subaru Outback wagon) has good power in this situation. If I have an MPV, am I going to have to give up on passing in somewhat tight situations? Are there folks out there who were worried about this issue before they bought the van and how do they feel about it now? I realize we may just have to be more patient about passing, but it is hard to gauge from our test drive situations since they are on a 4 lane highway and it is a bit different from "real life" passing situations where you start to sweat a little.

    2. FYI-I called Mazda today and spoke to someone in customer service. She told the that the pulling to the left problem and the shaking at high speeds problems were both corrected on the 2000 model early in the model year, but it seemed to me that some folks were having these problems with 2001 model year. Is that right?

    3. Also FYI, she said that model year 2002 will be out soon, and that model year 2003 will be the first one to have a more powerful engine--no specs announced as of yet but she said it will still be a Ford engine. She said that model year 2003 may be available as early as next spring, though this seems strange to me since fall is the usual time.

    and finally 4. THANKS for all your help in advance because even if I don't get any responses to this message, these discussion boards and your contributions have already been really helpful.

    I'll calm down now and sign off....

  • msgjvhmsgjvh Posts: 196
    Under the situation you describe I doubt that you will have a problem with the MPV. I have found it to have plenty of pick up and go, specially at cruising speeds. Now starting from 0 to 60 leaves a little to be desired, but if you let that semi go first like you should anyway, you won't have a problem. Believe me when I tell you, the enjoyment you will have overall from the van far exceeds the disappointing acceleration. Besides if you compare the acceleration between it's comparatives it's not that much of a difference. But don't compare it to a Boxster. You will be able to sleep at night knowing your doors don't open automatically or worrying how far your transmission will take you today. One last tip, Get the ES you'll love it!
  • I'm the person that had to replace the engine in my AS (see previous post). I have been pretty disappointed by the acceleration. I think you'll be able to still do the passing you require, but the transmission will shift very abruptly and the engine will be very noisy while you are doing it. The engine technology in this van is at least one generation removed from it's competition. We do like the size, handling and appointments of our van; but the quality and workmanship remain a concern.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    Been lurking, but I am wondering what vehicles mpvtrouble1 has been used to driving, and I'm not trying to insult here. I've seen comments regarding the brashness of the 2.5 duratech motor, and I disagree, but that's just MHO.

    The transmission is, well, it could maybe improved upon in the smoothness category. I've replaced the OEM tranny fluid with synthetic, and I have to say, the shifts are "like butta" when you're driving normally, and crisp and right-on when you hoof it around.

    Sorry to hear about your unhappiness with your van. It's not for everyone.

  • I think I know part of the concern with the MPV engine. If you're accustomed to the type of engines in domestic cars/van such as the 3.8L V6's offered by Ford/Chrysler/GM, these engines have gobs of low end torque, but don't do well at high RPMs. So they can turn 2000 RPMS at 60 MPH, because of the old-school pushrod engines. But get them to 4K-5K RPMs and they run out of breath.

    Now the MPV engine is a smaller displacement, lower torque powerplant. So, it just starts coming on at 3000+ RPMs and pulls hard to it's redline.

    Now in my experience, the engine does much better in the 50-70 passing move than it does in the 0-60.

    So don't be afraid to get those revs up there. This engine ain't no lump of iron.

  • cinka1cinka1 Posts: 30
    Okay, I was one of those that was gonna wait for the bigger engine. I had been reading this board for months and came to the conclusion that it was a great van except for the engine. Then my Ford van (with the 3.8 powerful engine) went belly up. Forced to buy the MPV with 2.5 I was really concerned that I was making a big mistake. Found out the only mistake I made was waiting so long in the first place. My husband, who did not research anything - (my van - my decision), thinks it has plenty of get up and go and doesn't know what all the fuss is about. I've put on over 5,000 miles and I have to say - the engine is truly just fine. I had a gutless wonder years ago (ford escort wagon) and can remember having to give up passing anything other than a bicyclist. This van is nothing like that. I can pass safely and effectively. In fact, since I love driving so much, I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere anyway. I think tboner or javadoc said I would not be disappointed and he was right. I am overjoyed!!!
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