My first move after getting a better paying job I thought it was time to upgrade from my old 07 Mazda 3 SP23 which had been just a wonderful car to something a bit newer with better fuel economy. Having such great luck with my Mazda 3 I went no further than a second hand Mazda 6 2.2 Turbo Diesel from 2013.
Firstly, I loved the car. It drove great with excellent acceleration from the engine with an amazing 420NM of torque and the fuel economy was just wonderful. The car was originally my Grandfather’s and as such I know it was driven well and always service on time by the Mazda dealer it was purchased from brand new. With only 50,000KM on the clock, I assumed it would be a reliable car for many years. It seemed like the perfect purchase.
I had done my research and found a few people complaining of issues with the DPF and rising oil levels, however that was mainly an issue with cars which were never driven long enough for the DPF to successfully regenerate. My driving style of ~80KM and 2h round trip to work and back would be pretty much ideal for keeping the DPF happy and clean.
However, the ownership experience took a bit of a negative turn at around 60,000KM when I dropped it off for its scheduled service. I was informed that the car required two new turbos and a vacuum pump for the brakes. To me it seemed way to early in it’s life for any significant failures and here I was presented with no less than three. To my amazement and without any prompting, Mazda offered to foot the bill for everything, and even provide me with a loan car for the duration of the repair (about four weeks). While, I was please I wouldn’t be out of pocket for the failure, it did worry me a little bit as it felt like they knew something I didn’t.
So at 60,000KM I have two new turbos and a vacuum pump and a clean bill of health from Mazda. Everything will be fine right? Not quite.
After doing some research I was able to find that I wasn’t alone in this mess. From what I could gather, these engines suffered considerable oil dilution, where diesel gets into the engine oil as a result of the DPF regeneration process. This happens to some extent with all Diesels with a DPF, however Mazda seem to have suffered from it more than others. I also found that Mazda claimed to have solved the problem with a software update.
Now knowing this, I religiously checked the oil in my car. The dipstick on almost any diesel with a DPF will have a low, full and overfilled mark (usually an X on the dipstick). So I made it part of my weekly routine to check the oil level in the car every Saturday morning when I got back from a short drive to the gym. As predicted, the oil level did rise slightly between service intervals, but never got anywhere near the overfilled mark.
This carefree driving continued from 60,000KM to almost 96,000KM where suddenly I discovered the oil was starting to rise at an alarming level. By the time the car hit 98,000, only 2,000KM before the next service was due, the oil was properly at the overfilled mark. Consulting the manual for the car said the engine oil must be replaced if it reaches that mark. Not wanting to fork out for two new turbos again, I booked it into Mazda to have the oil changed.
So after an oil change, not for free I must add, I started quizzing the dealer about what had changed. Something wasn’t right surely. Firstly they denied there was a problem and then when pushed harder they said they had updated the ECU and the problem was fixed. Since they hadn’t done the rest of the service, I had to put it in again at 100,000 for it’s scheduled service. The oil was once again changed.
By 103,000KM I can tell something is very wrong with the car. The oil is now millimeters from the overfilled mark only 3,000KM since the last service. In addition, I think there was a change in the exhaust smell, but that may have been my paranoia playing into it.
At 103,500 I was driving down the motorway and noticed the car had gone into DPF regeneration mode. It’s quite easy to tell on the Mazdas because the iStop light goes out the moment the regen starts. To my amazement I looked in the rear view mirror to see me leaving clouds of white smoke behind me, something which had certainly not happened before. There was enough smoke that I would have noticed it. To me this felt very much like an over fueling issue as the white smoke was almost certainly unburnt diesel. So back to the dealer it goes with the oil now at the overfilled mark.
I explain the issues to them in great detail and their only response is that the oil shouldn’t have risen that quickly. Instead of looking into the problem they simply replaced my engine oil free of charge and gave me back the car. At this point, I’ve lost all confidence in the dealer and my car. There is clearly a problem, but they just fixed the immediate issue with the oil and gave it back to me to drive. Not quite sure what the plan was, whether they were going to wait for something to seriously go wrong before looking into it.
By this stage, I’d had enough of worrying about this car and it’s impending failure. I’d also had enough of the Mazda service departments oil changes and in my opinion placebo software updates to my ECU. In addition, I was planning on doing a long road trip in the near future and if I could now only get 3,000KM between oil changes that just wasn’t going to work.
At 104,000KM I traded the car in on a Hyundai i30 N Line and I would’t look back. It doesn’t have quite the refinement the Mazda had and it certainly doesn’t have the same fuel economy. But it does have more power and best of all, no DPF in sight. If I get more than 100,000KM without issues, I’ll be happy. More on this amazing car when I have time to write.