Doctor Diesel

Doctor Diesel: A Costly Slip

Inside Information

Hi Doc. This is for your encyclopaedic knowledge rather than your articles.

I was talking to a guy the other night and it turned out he worked for a local Mercedes-Benz/Mazda main dealership. I mentioned that I had the 2.2-litre diesel Mazda3 and he said that he is changing a lot of front wishbone assemblies at present.

He said that the rubber bushes seem to delaminate. No doubt you will have your own sources to check this information. I had a similar problem with both my previous cars, diesel Ford Escorts.

Bob Fisher

ThanLetter one - Mazda3 - 31ks Bob. After a bit of searching, I could only find a Mazda US service bulletin for the Mazda5 relating to front suspension noise, issued back in 2006. “To stop the noise, the following mass production changes have occured: the shape of the front lower arms along with the attached bushings has been changed; the stabiliser bar bushing rubber was made harder, and the amount of wax that is included in the front/rear stabiliser bushings has been increased.”

The same front suspension is common to a number of Mazda models sold in Britain, and therefore the problem would most likely be common to them all.

There was apparently also a modification for the front suspension strut top bush around that time, which could also be a source of unhealthy noise.


A Costly Slip

Dear Doctor, I am a volunteer driver who takes elderly/disabled people to hospitals etc.

Last week I stopped at the drop-off point, and the passenger immediately started getting out. As he was very disabled, he was probably going to fall flat on his face, so I leapt out of the car, remembering to put the parking brake on but, in my haste, I forgot to put the selector into neutral.

When I got back into the car, I accidentally touched the accelerator pedal. The car being a semi-automatic, the parking brake immediately released and the car shot forward and collided with the car in front. Result – £800 of damage to my car and the other car!

The car warns you if you leave the keys in the ignition, with the engine switched off, if you open the driver door, or you don’t wear the seat belt, but something that could kill somebody has absolutely no warning buzzer.

I have tried four garages regarding fitting a simple switch to the forward/reverse lever, which would sound an alarm if the car is left in gear. All the garages tell me the electrics will blow up and cause thousands of pounds worth of damage if fitted, and that my insurance will cost hundreds of pounds more.

Please can you suggest a reputable firm who could carry out this work?

Kind regards,

John Packer

Letter two - accident1Many thanks for your letter John, and I’m sorry to hear about your misfortunes. If you think about it, this possibility exists for all automatics, if the parking brake is not put very firmly on, and the selector left in gear, not Park.

In view of all the other wet nurse safety systems now arriving – blind spot warning systems, automatic braking, along with intelligent cruise control, lane deviation warnings etc., one might think that the situation which you encountered requires some attention.

I think that the response you have had from garages sums up the position – nobody really wants to know, and you would indeed be in the position of having modified a car and potentially made it uninsurable.

What might be possible is to fit a loud driver door open warning, using a simple pressure switch, which should not be too difficult. I suggest that you try again by talking with a proper auto electrician, and see if you get some helpful progress.


Doc Diesel

To which John replied:

I agree with most of what you say, but the trouble with the Citroën system, unlike some of the other makes, is that the electronic parking brake instantly releases as soon as the accelerator pedal is touched.

It needs either a push button control telling the electronic parking brake to release when the accelerator is touched, or a good old handbrake.

To which I must add that, admirable though many of the semi-automated electric parking brakes are, there really was nothing ever much wrong with a properly adjusted simple handbrake!

There have also been a number of scares over the years, usually in the USA, about runaway automatic transmission cars that have been claimed to have caused significant numbers of accidents.

Years later, it seems that most of them were generally unfounded accusations, and the problems have usually been down to the drivers themselves. But we’re in a blame culture world these days that seemingly blames anyone but the driver.

Things like rucked up carpets that might possibly cause accelerator pedals to stick are always now blamed on the manufacturer, never the driver.

Similarly road traffic accidents are down to dangerous roads, and dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention is put down to lack of driver education.


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