Archive for the ‘Car Talk’ Category

Mazda5 cyclical noise

Well it looks like my less than a week old mazda5 already needs some major work done.

The cyclical “whump whump” noise I was hearing (even from the initial test drive, which the sales person said was just road noise) turns out to be the left front drive axle. Good thing that this is under warranty (Mazda’s Certified Preowned Limited Warranty).

I bought this car used from Wellesley Mazda, and while I question how this drive axle problem was missed in the “150 point inspection” that Mazda Certified Preowned program features, at least for now I am willing to give them a benefit of the doubt. Hopefully this will fix the whump whump noise and also the slight clicking noise I hear when shifting.

I will be bringing in the Mazda5 next Monday and be getting a loaner car for the day. More to come later




It looks like the tire problem has caused many owners to look to alternative size tires from stock (205/50/17)


The change in looks is probably way too subtle for many enthusiast owners, but I went with 215/50-17 Contis for my first set of replacement tires. These are slightly too large in circumference, making the odometer under-record by 1% or so, but have the advantage of making the speedometer ABSOLUTELY accurate, compared to Garmin GPS just taken on 8800 mile road trip back east from Seattle. Plus, they give a slight clearance improvement for driveway nose-scraping, and slightly improve the “economy” aspects of gearing (our is manual, and 2800 rpm 60 in 5th is plenty high for me)



I recently purchased a used 2009 Mazda5 Sport, with manual transmission. I was curious about the (to me) high RPMs I was experiencing driving it home from the dealer, when I ran across this on edmunds forums:

The gearing is somewhat high, although it feels smooth to me (sometimes I forget to shift up to 5th) on the highway and then notice it when I look at the RPMs). I only saw your question now, so I can give an inexact answer. When I drive around 65, the RPMs are in the low 3000’s (3100 – 3200). Doing the math would get you a bit under 3000 for 60 MPH and a bit under 3500 for 70 MPH. I sure wish it had a 6-speed manual so highway driving could be down around 2500 RPM. My 2000 MPV automatic did around 2700-2800 at 65 MPH and my 2005 MPV with the 3.0 engine was around 2200-2300 at the same speed. Did C4C with the 2000 MPV to get the M5 Sport Manual.


Other things to watch out for:

  • Premature tire wear
  • Rear strut wear
  • Rear sway bar wear
  • Road noise due to flattened tires (after being stationary for a long time)
  • Replacing OEM tires with more durable quieter tires



Oxygen Sensors on a '94 Mazda 626

I drive an old 1994 Mazda 626. It still runs great most of the time, and I am in love with it. Recently, however, the check engine light (CEL) turned on briefly, then went away. This repeated once again, and I felt it was time to take action. I took it to a local Mazda dealer (I was fed up with local mechanics, two of which screwed up simple repair jobs) and they told me it was a failed oxygen sensor. I had recently noticed my mileage was going down, from somewhere as high as 30 mpg (I drive conservatively) to the current 20~24 mpg. A failed oxygen sensor, which can behave poorly even before the CEL comes on, is one possible cause of reduced mpg.

The Mazda dealer wanted ~$220 for the part and labor. Since I had already forked over $380 for a 120K maintenance procedure (transmission flush, etc.) I wasn’t in the mood to pay an additional $220 (I need to get my rear  brakes and front CV boot/joint fixed though), so I started researching oxygen sensors.

  • On the site, I found a wealth of information on techniques, parts, etc. The most useful piece of information I found after much reading is that on pre 1996 Mazdas (inline 4 engines), there is only one oxygen sensor. 1996 and later models have two or more, one before the catalytic converter and one after.
  • Autozone sells the parts, and a oxygen sensor socket/wrench kit. They also loan them out, but it was cheap enough that I just bought the kit.
  • Resetting the ECU (the computer) requires you to unhook the negative (gnd) terminal of the battery, and step on the brake pedal for more than 5 seconds.

I am away from home right now on business, but I’ve already bought all the parts and tools I need (Bosch oxygen sensor for ~$60) and am looking forward to replacing it when I get back.



(This is the second time I’m writing this, my first post inexplicably disappeared 🙁 )

I get (have) to travel a lot for work, and usually I rent a car. (usually Hertz, as I am a Gold Member) Hertz used to allow me to specifically request a Mazda, but these days it is not an option. However, I have been lucky the past three times I’ve rented a car, and have gotten to drive three very different Mazdas.

  • Miata (Las Vegas). Ok, this was a pleasure rental and not for business. I was surprised to find a Miata waiting for me at the canopy, as I had requested an economy car. It was a newish Miata, with a ragtop. I decided I wanted to find out what all the excitement surrounding the miata was, so I went ahead and drove it out of the lot. Immediately there were two things I didnt like about it: the seats are very low to the ground and uncomfortable, and there was a LOT of road noise. My companion liked it even less, and eventually said she hated it. Still we only had the car for a day, so it was at least a learning experience. No more Miatas!
  • Mazda6 (DC). I own a 626, which is the predecessor to the Mazda6. While the 626 is squarely a family sedan, the Mazda6 is a bit smaller in interior space, and a lot more sporty in exteriors. I liked the 6 I drove, which had a V6, but could tell that a normal 4 cylinder would not have any oomph to match the sporty lines of the car. My 626 engine is nothing to gush over either, but at least the body doesn’t scream sporty like the 6 does. All in all though not a bad car. With incentives and rebates, I believe you can get a 6 for the same or lower price than a Mazda3, which is probably a good deal.
  • Mazda5 (DC). This is the microvan I am currently driving this week. I’ve driven it before, and thought its acceleration was amazing considered it was a microvan, but this time around I’m not impressed with the acceleration. The gas mileage is pretty poor too. However, I think this is a very useful vehicle if I were married and had 2+ kids. Probably don’t want to make this the primary car, however. In a perfect world I would have a Mazda3 for day to day commuting and a Mazda5 for weekend trips with a family. Now all I need to do is get rich and get a family!