2009 Mazda 6 Long Term Road Test - Maintenance

2009 Mazda 6 Long-Term Road Test

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  • Long-Term

2006 Mazda 6: Navigation Issue Resolved

November 27, 2009


Our 2009 Mazda 6 made its final trip to the dealer for service on the navigation screen. We are hopeful this is the last time.

Long Beach Mazda was more thorough now than during our last visit. This time the GPS screen was physically removed, which uncovered the problem. One of the wires from the loom was not soldered properly. The ineffective solder-job was touched up and now we're back in business. Our navigation system works like new.

So what did we learn from this process? Ford of Orange was a disappointment. It took them 4 months to order and incorrectly replace the nav-screen. We would use Long Beach Mazda again. Yes, the first repair attempt failed, but the folks there were always pleasant. And in the end they do get credit for fixing the problem.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 20,613 miles

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2009 Mazda 6: Auto Headlights, Auto Dark Screen

November 26, 2009

CotW_05.jpgwhere did the nav go?

Besides dust, what do you see on this nav screen? Nuthin', right? Me neither. Believe it or not, the navigation system is on. If you look very, very closely at the bottom of the screen, you might be able to make out part of the word "Venice," but it's quite faint.

This is what happens when you have the Mazda 6's headlights set to "automatic" during the day. The nav screen automatically darkens and is basically unreadable (even when it's not in direct sun). I haven't been able to figure out how to counter this (if anybody has any ideas, I'd love to hear them), so I end up turning the headlights to the off position during the day, which sort of negates the benefit of having automatic headlights, doesn't it? I recently picked automatic headlights as my contribution to Edmunds' Top 10 Features We're Thankful For article, but if the Mazda 6 were my personal car, I might have reconsidered.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com

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2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Suspension Walkaround

November 24, 2009


After looking back through the archives, I realized that our 2009 Mazda 6 had not yet undergone the suspension walkaround treatment. This aggression will not stand, man. You deserve a peek.

Each long-term test of course ends as it began: the car is taken to the test track to see how it fares when driven at the limit.

The Mazda 6 recently underwent its wrap-up testing, and by chance we had a 2010 Ford Transit Connect delivery van at the track on the same day for unrelated purposes. Comparisons were unavoidable after the Transit beat the Mazda 6 in the slalom (61.9 to 60.9 mph) and tied it on the skidpad (0.79 g).

Some of that difference is down to the absence of electronic stability control (ESC) on the Transit we tested, whereas our Mazda 6 has an ESC system that can't be completely disengaged. And the system fires-off somewhat easily because our 4-cylinder Mazda 6 rides on rather pedestrian Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 tires.

Despite those limit-test numbers, the Mazda 6 performs admirably in day-to-day driving due to a well thought-out suspension.

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2009 Mazda 6: What To Do When the Intelligent Key Gets Dumb

November 05, 2009


For the record, we are not having problems with our 2009 Mazda 6's so-called Advanced Key. You know, the kind where you keep it in your pants...and push buttons to lock or start the car instead.

But what does one do if the car fails to recognize the electronic signature of the Advanced Key?

Well, for starters, you slide the little latch aside to release a hidden "real" key and use it to unlock the door, old-school style.

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2009 Mazda 6: Navigation Problems Persist

October 19, 2009


Let's get down to brass tacks: The persistent navigation system problems we are having with our 2009 Mazda 6 have gone on far too long.

First reported back in April, we waited months for back-ordered parts to come in to fix a broken display screen. A new head unit was needed to remedy a mysterious red stripe that obscured the right-hand side of the display.

The parts eventually came in and we finally got the screen repaired in late August. But a short time later the "you are here" cursor started to wander -- first to Mexico, then out into the Pacific Ocean. At least one reader suspected the problem was a GPS error related to improper installation of the new part.

Circumstances prevented us from bringing it in straight away, but when we finally did we brought our Mazda 6 to a different dealer, in hopes of better service. They told us that all the system needed was a recalibration. "That will do it", they said. The work was done and the car was promptly returned to us the next day.

After a while it became obvious that this rush job was woefully insufficient. Our Mazda's nav system needs much more than a mere recalibration.

They should have have been able to tell that the GPS signal is not reaching the navi system, as evidenced by the lack of clock reading in the yellow circle, above. Without it's main guiding signal, the system resorts to groping its way along 100% of the time in "dead-reckoning" mode, a back-up mode intended to fill-in the momentary satellite blackouts that occur when the car is driven under trees or through tunnels.

DR uses steering, speed and acceleration sensors to approximate your direction changes, and this data is overlaid on top of the map. It doesn't know exactly where you are, but it can make a good guess if your starting point (and heading) was properly calibrated. It also makes the assumption that you're driving along roads that it knows.

This works fine for short hops in suburban areas. But if you drive miles and miles at a time in this mode, the errors pile up and the system loses it's way. Left unchecked, North becomes South and you wind up south of the border or far out to sea. It's no coincidence that the editors who noticed the biggest errors were the ones who went out on extended trips.

This weekend I drove to San Diego, 90 miles south. But I didn't notice that the cursor had started to diverge until I appraoched a meal stop in Irvine, about 1/3 of the way there. In the photo above the nav system thinks the car is on Von Karman Avenue. But I've put the manual cross-hairs on my true location on Jamboree Road, about 1/2 mile east. It's not a big offset at this point, but it played heck with my attempt to locate food.

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2009 Mazda 6: Navigation Back on Course

October 07, 2009


We dropped off the Mazda 6 at Long Beach Mazda to have its navigation fixed. Within a couple hours the phone rang. "You're car is ready. We calibrated the nav system and you're no longer swimming in the Pacific."

See that arrow on the nav screen? Well, that is exactly where I parked to take this picture. I consider that a job well done. Finally, a competent service department.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 18,704 miles

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2009 Mazda 6: Fix Our Nav, Please

October 06, 2009


Yesterday we called Long Beach Mazda and scheduled a service appointment for this morning in order to bring our Mazda 6's navigation system back to dry land.

We agreed to drop off the car at 8:30 a.m., which we did as evidenced by the photo above.

Hopefully, it won't take long for the repair.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 18,704 miles

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2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Nav Works Swimmingly

September 28, 2009

mazda6 004.jpg

This is where our long-term 2009 Mazda 6 insisted it was located all weekend.

That is all.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 18,187 miles.

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2009 Mazda 6: Automatic Headlights Possibly on the Fritz

September 21, 2009

Mazda 6 Headlight

This weekend featured beautiful, sunny weather in Los Angeles. I know, what a surprise. Yet, for some reason our Mazda 6 thought that it was dark and gloomy, because the automatic headlights stubbornly refused to shut off. Even after multiple starts and stops (ignition wise), the headlights continued to remain on despite it being bright and sunny.

This morning was indeed overcast and gloomy, so it was tough to tell if the headlights were still acting up or if they were just doing their job. However, in the brief drive between the gas station and the office, I'm pretty certain the lights came on only after I entered the garage. Therefore, it would seem that the auto headlights are acting up, but not always.

We'll have to add this to the imminent dealer fix-it list along with the manual lumbar control knob (we forgot about that one) and the wonky navigation system, which now places the car about 114 miles off the coast of Santa Cruz. It doesn't even have a reliable compass, as it points south when you're really going north.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 17,789 miles

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2009 Mazda 6: Donde Estoy?

September 08, 2009


Last month we let you know that the Mazda 6's navigation screen had finally been fixed thanks to Mazda of Orange. But while the display screen's red line is indeed gone, the actual navigation unit seems to be having problems. When I left our office in Santa Monica, GPS was locating me in Fullerton, about 40 miles away (presumably because it's close to Orange).

I then drove about 250 miles north to central California but the Mazda thought I was heading south. For a while the display screen showed the car wandering around Mexico. I felt like Moses in the desert, if Moses happened to drive a Mazda.

I tried the calibration function via the navigation system's menu and set my location manually -- that worked for a short time but then the navigation started getting increasingly off in terms of distance. I finally tried taking the navigation DVD out and reinserting it. No luck there, either.

Another trip to the dealer is probably in order. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the underwater scenery of my current location.

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2009 Mazda6: Look Ma, No More Red Line!

August 25, 2009


Those of you who care about our Mazda6 no doubt remember the red line on the nav screen, which has been haunting us for months. Well, it's finally been repaired. Or, more precisely, it's been replaced -- by Mazda of Orange. The debacle dates back to April when we first took the car in for this issue and to have the Oldhamised underbody cladding replaced.

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2009 Mazda 6: Service! At Last! For Real This Time.

August 14, 2009

I'll be taking the Mazda6 to Ford and Mazda of Orange today to have the navigation screen and underbody cladding repaired/replaced. Between the dealer's delays and our own foot dragging this has taken far too long. More on this next week.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2009 Mazda 6: Center Console Broken and Fixed

July 17, 2009


I opened up the center console of our Mazda 6 this morning. It was really easy to open. And when I saw the missing latch I understood why. I can't tell you how it happened.

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2009 Mazda 6: Service! At Last!

July 17, 2009

Well, not quite. But we did get a call from Mazda of Orange last week saying they have the navigation screen and underbody cladding in stock at last. Service writer Mary Kant offered to have the car detailed to compensate us for the delay.

We'll take it in next week.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor.

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2009 Mazda 6: Add This to the Repair List

June 22, 2009


I logged 150 freeway miles this weekend in our 2009 Mazda 6, most of it in slooooooww moving freeway traffic, and noticed that the center console lid felt strange under my bored right elbow.

Lifting the loose lid, I realized the latch was broken off, preventing it from clicking shut.

I don't believe that mini nuisance has yet been added to the Mazda 6's growing list of repairs.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 12,784 miles

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2009 Mazda6 i Grand Touring: Parts Still On Order

June 04, 2009


Perhaps you remember this little problem with our 6's navigation screen? Or, maybe, you remember the missing underbody cladding courtesy Boss Man Oldham? Certainly you remember that way back in early April we took the 6 to the dealer to have these issues addressed and get the oil changed? Naturally, the parts had to be ordered.

Service writer Mary Kant at Ford of Orange in Orange, California (that would be the OC) told us we'd get a call when the parts arrived. That was in April. It's June. Still no call. We rang Mary this morning and were told the underbody cladding is in but the nav screen has been on backorder. It's supposed to ship on June 9. We don't know from where.

Mary said she'd call when it arrives. We aren't holding our breath.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2009 Mazda6 i Grand Touring: Parts On Order

April 13, 2009

Our Mazda6 went to the dealer last week for its first service and to have its various malodies repaired. Some time has elapsed since we've discussed the stripe and the stupidity, but both will be fixed soon enough. Ford of Orange had to order both a new nav system and new undercarriage molding and will be calling us when they come in.

Meanwhile, we paid $95.08 for the 5,000-mile service, which, near as we can tell, includes little more than we would have received for an oil-change-only price. Included in the service are top offs of all essential fluids, a tire rotation and pressure adjustment, brake inspection and inspection of all exterior lights. This, however, is largely our fault for asking only for the necessary service at this mileage instead of asking specifically for an oil change.

The other parts will be covered under, ahem, warranty.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 8,690 miles

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2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Needs a Little Oil at 7K

March 05, 2009


After last night's drive in our 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring, I stopped for fuel. Then, per the car's owners manual, I let the 6 sit for five minutes, during which time I did my taxes and finished Foucault's Pendulum. Then, and only then, did I check the oil

Oil still registered on the dipstick, but it was below the low mark. So this morning I went to the auto parts store to buy the car's preferred drink, 5W20.

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2009 Mazda 6: Recall For Ours?

February 18, 2009


A commenter on yesterday's Mazda 6 trunk post mentioned reliability, so it seems prudent today to note that there's a recall notice out for the 2009 Mazda 6. There's nothing more I can tell you beyond what's contained in the above NHTSA screen grab, so I'll leave it at that.

Annoyingly, though, I haven't been able to find out if our car is subject to the recall. Mazda's 800 number is completely unhelpful, and the automated voice prompt system doesn't currently list this recall as one to get more information on. We'll update you once we know more, or if, umm, our car's possibly defective door latches result in "an unbelted occupant being ejected and could result in death or injury."

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Mazda6 i Grand Touring: Ghost in the Machine (part 2)

December 18, 2008

On my drive home last night, I kept a careful eye on the Mazda's display. The stripe got worse.


After about 30 minutes of driving, the fluctuating stripe became a solid stripe. When I shut the car off then started it back up, the stripe went away for a moment then returned full force. Perhaps it has something to do with heat in the system. I tend to agree with y'all that it's a bad screen and not something to do with a connection or program.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 2610 miles

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2009 Mazda6 i Grand Touring: Ghost in the Machine

December 17, 2008

It's only been a short time we've had the Mazda6, and we did our initial track test yesterday (results soon), but we already have a glitchy nav screen.


Look in the upper-left right corner for the reddish pattern that's displayed on every type of screen (audio, navi, setup, etc.). The width of the pattern never changes, but the top-to-bottom length of it acts as if it's a sound-level meter. Yet the varying length of the stripe doesn't seem to correlate to anything in particular (e.g. volume, static, station).

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Past Long-Term Road Tests