Latest in the Mazda 3 saga: Mazda USA does me a solid

The check engine light came on in my car for like maybe the 30th time last week. Mid-week, I dropped it off. I didn’t know it at the time, but my car was out of warranty based on date – I haven’t passed the mileage limit but the time had expired. They called the next day with bad news – I had a vacuum leak, they thought it was a sensor attached to the exhaust manifold and it was going to cost me at least $350, but could cost at least another $800 if there was something wrong with the exhaust manifold itself. Ouch! (the prices are high in part because it’s a modern car – they had to disassemble half the engine to get at these parts). Anyway they call back a day later with more bad news: it’s not the sensor, BUT – am I willing to risk another $250-300 to have them disassemble the exhaust manifold to check it, but not replace it?

At this point I was starting to wonder if they might be scamming me, but I took the gamble. Their thinking was, they had almost never seen an exhaust manifold in a car with mileage this low that had a leak, and that maybe something was fixable on the manifold itself by grinding it down/resealing etc.

At this point I’m looking at ~$500 with the possibility of another $800 hanging over my head, so I’m not happy and praying for a happy ending. Of course when they next call it’s nothing of the sort – they can’t fix the manifold, they have to replace it. Now I was half convinced they were scamming me, and I’m looking at ~$1300. Double ouch! They mention that they’re going to try and get Mazda corporate to reimburse some of the expense since while I’m technically out of warranty I have not exceeded the warranty miles and I have an unusual part failure issue. I don’t count much on this and at this point am pretty pissed. Poor Susan gets a couple of earfuls about this. Meanwhile I’ve also been in a rental all this time and since I’m not in warranty this is also on me and they won’t be able to get the car back to me until the following week. To sum up: all bad news.

When we return the rental (because Susan is back from Boston and can bring me to work) they tell me Mazda USA has agreed to pick up all parts costs plus most of the labor – all they ask me to pay is the local dealership’s time spent diagnosing, which amounts to ~$300. They even cover the cost of my rental.


Talk about a dealer doing you a solid. There’s no better way to earn customer loyalty than this kind of stuff, and they just earned mine bigtime. This car has been a pain in my ass with the constant check engine light stuff, but they definitely did the right thing by me this time around. Kudos to Mazda USA and Balise Mazda in Springfield MA, I owe a debt of gratitude to both of them.

Meanwhile I still can’t decide what to do with this car. It’s proven a constant source of reliability issues which are very out of the norm for the model and model year. I don’t figure I can continue to count on the dealership doing me solids when it has issues, so I feel like I ought to get out of the car now, but the situation kind of sucks – buying into something new means car payments again, just as I made my last payment! On the other hand, when this latest issue cropped up I was cussing myself since I swore after the last time that I had had it and it was time to trade the thing in. I dodged the bullet once, how many more times will I be able to? Susan and I will be debating this over the weekend, no idea how this will play out.

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