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Mazda MPV: 12 Most Common Problems

What kind of problems does a Mazda MPV normally have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for an MPV. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:

Most commonly, the Mazda MPV has problems with the ignition key getting stuck or the power seats failing. Also, the engine can lose power and start misfiring with the check engine light turning on. Furthermore, the shifting can get rough, and the electronics can start to cause malfunctions.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll tell you how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A Mazda

Exterior Problems

The Spare Tire Location

In the earlier models, pre-2000s, the MPVS had their spare tire under the vehicle in front of the rear bumper and would require removing a cover, which would reveal the space-saving tire. This tire is really flimsy and definitely not recommended on highways, so it’s better to have a full-size tire.

The space is adequate for a full-size tire. On the other hand, the later models have the spare tire under the captain’s seat compartment.

Interior Problems

Stuck Ignition Key

This is one of the most commonly occurring frustrating issues that MPV owners face. It happens due to a malfunction in a safety feature that prevents the driver from taking out the key when the vehicle is in gear to ensure when the driver leaves the vehicle, the car is always in parking gear.

This issue mostly occurs in 2000-2002 models, but other models can also show this problem.

This particular issue occurs when the ECU doesn’t receive the signal that the car is, in fact, in parking gear.  It is due to a fault in a micro switch that sends the signal to the steering column that it’s okay to release the key. You can double-check the validity of the diagnosis by removing one of the connectors in the steering column.

To get this connector, remove the covering of the steering rack from the passenger side, have the lower panel loose, and pull it down; you will see a connector having 6 wires, three of them are black, and the other three are color-coded. You can clearly see the connector from the footwell area while looking up towards the steering column.

Disconnect that six-wire connector, and the key should come out. Now to get rid of this issue we would have to change a micro switch, which unfortunately doesn’t come separately so we would have to change the whole “Change Liver Assembly,” for 2002-2006 models the part number is “LD47-46-10XB” and for 2000-2001 change lever assembly, the part number is “LC62-46-10XE”

This part costs around $200-$300 depending on whether you are going for the new ones or the used ones. To get to this part, you will have to remove the steering and the airbag assembly, so it is advised to disconnect the negative battery cable and wait for about 5 minutes for the airbag backup battery to deplete.

Now, removing the steering is tricky because it won’t budge that easily, so you would have to struggle a little on this part and pay attention to the color-coded wires and connectors to have a smooth reverse procedure.

Tape the clockspring just behind the steering to ensure that the steering would be in dead center and wouldn’t be off, tilting to one side; otherwise, it will be hard to calibrate. After doing the whole procedure, you will finally get to the part, that tiny switch was the culprit, replace the part, go back in reverse, and you are good to go.

Power Seat Failure

This issue mostly occurs with the 2002 Mazda MPV. The motor usually doesn’t go out; it works fine. The problem is with a small component that engages the motor’s driveshaft with the moving gears that move/tilt the seat. This small-cap component is not separately available in the market, and Mazda won’t service the seats anyway, so it’s better to look into the used market.

This cap easily breaks as it’s really not that strong and causes us a lot of frustration. You might also find the right part in a junkyard and replace it with those, or look up online to find some used seats and negotiate with the seller for that particular part.

Engine Problems

Flashing Check Engine Light

It means you should not drive your vehicle at all. The first thing that you should do is to get it fixed. It happens because a cylinder is misfiring so much that the engine is getting damaged. The misfiring issue has been discussed in detail down below.

Check Engine Code P1512 VTCS

This is one of the common codes that occur in this vehicle. It is caused by a Faulty Intake Manifold Runner Control cable, also known as IMRC cable. This is often the culprit because the cable often breaks and causes this code; we might be seeing this code because of the ruptured intake manifold.

The cable doesn’t come separately, so you would have to buy the whole IMRC actuator costs around $180. There is an improvised way to fix the broken cable. If that cable is replaced with another cable, i.e., bicycle brake cable, cut to size, we might have it in working condition.

These cable issues are mostly reported in the 2001 MPVs. Other models may also experience this issue. Due to this problem, the ride will feel rough, and the idle will also be problematic. After fixing this issue, the ride will become much smoother. 

Misfires And Loses Power

This issue is a widespread one. The poorly designed engine bay lets some water leak into the ignition coil area, and the affected coil would cause a misfire in its relative cylinder. These coils often go out one by one, so it’s better to change them all at once if the issue has already started and has some insulation prepared as well.

The PCV hose (around $40) would also leak, sometimes causing a similar problem, and it’s worth checking when the coils aren’t the problem. Some coils are very easy to change while others require one-and-a-half-hour labor, and it will be a nightmare if you changed one of those, and after a while, another goes bad from the hard-to-access coils.

Numbers 4,5 and 6 are easy, but 1, 2, and 3 in the back are problematic as they are not easily accessible and require one and a half-hour worth of labor. The cost is around $500.

P0106 code

This code suggests a problem with the EGR valve. Most of the time, it only needs cleaning as, after some time, they tend to clog due to carbon debris. After a thorough cleaning and ensuring the vacuum lines are intact and the EGR holds the vacuum, you are good to go.

If the problem persists after this fix, you should also clean the throttle body and the semi-circular channel with three channels opening into the air intake and outputs to the EGR valve. After cleaning this area, the problem will likely go away. The cost can be around $200.

Transmission Problems

Rough Shifting

Software problem or sensor problem, The models of the early 2000s, had a software issue that caused thuds while changing gears; this issue was fixed by updating the software. So make sure that you have the latest software update when you face this issue.

Another reason you might face this problem is the sensor malfunction. The engine light comes on, and the scanner tool can diagnose the problem. The specific code gives the information about the faulty sensor; check for any sensor-related faults.

A diagnosis for any code will cost around 100 dollars. It is advised to have a scanner tool of your own as it will be a great investment and would save you a lot of headaches and trips to the dealers. There are many types of scanner tools available in the market; you can buy a normal one to read and update the settings.

Suspension Problems

Self Leveling Air Suspension Problem

The models before 1997 show this particular problem. The shocks often go to heaven after some time, and for these MPVs, it has been quite a long time. The rear of the vehicle would feel drowsy, as if it wants to take some rest. It happens due to a leaked air suspension.

You can easily replace them with aftermarket shocks “LA1228011B” for a non-air ride if you don’t want to put the entire system. Another reason why these shocks might not work is the failure of the rear-mounted gas shock that compliments the self-leveling air suspension; these shocks in the aftermarket cost around $50$100 each.

These shocks are held in place by two bolts only. Have your vehicle lifted and firmly held in place. Remove the tire, unscrew the two bolts, remove some Phillips screws, and pull out the faulty shock. Replace it with the aftermarket ones, and you will be good to go.

But if the problem is with the airbag or some leakage, you can opt for a self-leveling air suspension kit to have the faulty parts replaced. This kit is priced at around $100. 

Electronics Problems

High Beams Are Okay But Low Beam Not Working

It occurs due to a failed wiring harness that probably corroded. It mostly occurs in the 2000-2003 models. It probably happens due to the condensation dripping off the air conditioner hose, which causes corrosion over the wiring harness responsible for switching between low and high beams.

First, ensure that the bulb itself is okay and that the 15 amp fuse behind the glove compartment is also working. Check the voltage at the bulb area to see if it is receiving the required electrical supply or not. If everything seems okay, but only the low beam is not working, then the problem is the wiring harness.

First, before changing the whole wiring harness, clean the connectors located behind the glove box area, and see if there is some corrosion or debris; try to clear as much as possible. Make sure to disconnect the battery before doing any electronics-related job. Plastic insulation can also be placed to avoid any further corrosion.

It should work after you are done with cleaning; if not, you would have to change the entire passenger junction box to avoid any future short circuits. Try to find that in the second-hand market as the dealerships are asking more than $2000 to fix this issue.

Or maybe you can have an aftermarket bulb that will work fine on the high beams. You wouldn’t have to bother with all the fixing mayhem.

Catalytic Converter

It happens mostly to 2003 models; it may also occur in the later models as well. This P0431 code, if not stored, then the problem will be the downstream oxygen sensor. And if the code is stored and the check engine light is always on, the issue is with the catalytic converter. The oxygen sensor failure will show a different code.

These are ridiculously expensive, so it’s better not to have them at all. We are not recommending you drive without it. It costs around $2000.

Airbag Light Flashing

This problem seems to occur in the SAS module. Even if it occurs for some other reason, it is still advised to have it fixed from the dealerships as this safety equipment should never be compromised with other sub-standard aftermarket ones. Yes, the dealerships ask a lot to fix this issue, but when it’s a safety matter, then it is better to bear the expenses as nothing is more precious than a life.