DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/6/22 6:36 p.m.

Last year I started a thread titled Spend my money. Pick me a cheap but decent family truckster to replace an old Matrix.  Thanks to the standard-issue (i.e. fantastic) GRM community input, I got a lot of great suggestions and pointers, some possibilities I hadn't really considered, and most importantly, an opportunity to validate my preexisting belief that the Mazda 5 was exactly the vehicle we needed.  A couple of weeks ago I started checking Craigslist, FB Marketplace, etc., to see whether used car values were still all kinds of stupid, and found a decent-looking 2009 Mazda 5 for reasonable money and ended up buying it.  This thread is just a place to share our experiences with it and maybe document some of the repairs and maintenance as they occur.

Here's the ad and some of the more telling photos from it.  First off, $6500 is not a lot of money.  That's a good start.  And the ad says the sellers are the original owners.  Also good.

Driver's side profile shows a lack of detailing and some brake dust.  I am okay with that.  I'd rather tidy it up myself where necessary.

Not a lot to see in the next pic other than some UV damage on the headlights.

It has doors!  And several of them open!

There's a little battle scar on the hood.  Both headlights are roached.  Glass is dirty.  At least I'm not paying for somebody else's half-assed detailing job.

More of the same dust and grime in the interior shots.  Parking pass from some event or another a couple of years back, possibly the Oregon Country Fair.  Proceed with caution.

 

The engine compartment is filthy.  Alright, fine.  Easier to see leaks that way.  Honest and dirty beats shiny and deceptive.

More nerfs and biffs at the back end.  Taillight is busted but functional.  Bumper has been bumped.

 

We took a look at it last Saturday.  The owners were nice folks, but definitely not enthusiasts.  They had a folder full of service records from the last few years and a smattering from the first few.  The van looked the same in real life as it did in the pictures, and our impression matched the ad's description: "Good condition with a few reminders of all the years of fun."  There are a lot of minor cosmetic issues that I've decided are not going to bother me.

Driving it revealed no major mechanical flaws.  The engine and trans are far more responsive than I expected.  It ran fine, shifted perfectly in automatic and manual mode, felt tight, drove and braked straight with hands off the wheel.  No weird smells other than a very faint residual dog funk.  Ice-cold A/C.  Despite copious evidence that this thing has seen serious bull dust, all doors opened and closed smoothly, and windows and locks were smooth and quiet.  

It is not perfect.  Some initial observations:

  • Both outboard seat cushion bolsters have softened up from climbing in and out, which suggests lots of short trips.  Conversation with the owners confirmed this.
  • I felt a very faint shudder under braking after the first few miles.
  • The second-row blower fan makes a nasty rumble on high speed.
  • The tires, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S, are pretty nearly worn out at 23K miles.
  • Both front and rear suspension groaned slightly over speed bumps.
  • As mentioned, the right taillight and both headlights will need attention.
  • The van is smaller than I realized.  That's both good and bad.
  • A backup camera might be a prudent addition.

We offered $5800, minus the cargo box.  That figure was a compromise.  I wanted to hold some back for the tires and other work it needs before winter, but I also felt comfortable with this example, and didn't want to let it get away.

As we were driving home in our Matrix, the owners texted us to accept our offer.  Monday afternoon we met at our (shared) credit union to make the deal.  The sellers arrived with a fatter folder full of more maintenance records they didn't realize they still had.

Except for the fact that the airbag light decided to start flashing at me a couple of days ago, our first week with the van has been pretty positive.  It's a far better kidmobile than the Matrix.

Letters and tomatoes to the usual address.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/6/22 6:57 p.m.

Congratulations! We've had ours for about 3 years now, very happy with it. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/6/22 7:06 p.m.

For an honest 1-owner car with records, I'd say you did quite well. As I recall, those cars are real punishers of tires and rear suspension bushings (or is it rear shocks?). 

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/6/22 7:47 p.m.
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) said:

Congratulations! We've had ours for about 3 years now, very happy with it. 

Thanks!  It seems to be respected around here.  But this group also seems to be into some kinky E36 M3.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

For an honest 1-owner car with records, I'd say you did quite well. As I recall, those cars are real punishers of tires and rear suspension bushings (or is it rear shocks?). 

Thank you.  And you appear to have been reading my mind.

Following my wife home from the purchase, I noticed a suspiciously high amount of negative camber on the rear wheels, particularly the starboard side.  It's not hard to spot anything over a degree or so, and this looked like more than that.  A very cursory internet search suggested the following specs:

Front
Toe-in: Tire 2mm +-4
Inner rim 1 +-3
Caster with 1/2 tank of gas: 2.9 degrees +- 1 degree
camber: -0 degrees 41 minutes +- 1 degree

Rear
Toe-in: Tire - 3mm
Rim - 2
Camber: -1.25 degrees +-1 degree

Those look pretty aggressive for a minivan.  If accurate, it's no wonder these have a reputation for eating tires.  The maintenance records revealed two alignment inspections, but no indication that any adjustments were ever made.  The printout on the left was at 130,481 miles, and the one on the right was at 46,643.

Yeah, as suspected, -2.4° static camber on the RR.  That seems excessive whether it's in spec or not.  We'll take care of that.  Rock Auto has cheap adjustable rear upper control arms in case we can't get the numbers where we want them through the factory cam adjustment at the inboard end of the rear LCAs.  I think -0.5° all the way around is plenty.  That, followed by setting front toe (rear toe does not look to be adjustable), should be a driveway job.

Related to the above: these do have a reputation for chewing through suspension components.  None of them on this example have been replaced other than sway bar end links and bushings.  I'd like to see if we can get urethane sway bar bushings and just keep them lubed.  I know, I know - poly bushings squeak.  Well, maybe, but in my experience, the Prothane stuff I have used, with the supplied sticky lube, doesn't squeak until after the first decade or so.

The taillights on these are still less than appealing.  Normally, I don't care for the clear-lens LED look, either, but that may be the better choice here with the silver paint, especially since the LED tails in question would be OEM parts from the Grand Touring model.  If we go that way, a light and possibly partial mist with some VHT Nightshade might help blend them into the rear pillars.

Last note: I haven't checked the cabin air filter yet.  Apparently they are a real SOB to get to.  We'll see.

 

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
8/6/22 8:34 p.m.

We have an 06, I know I did the cabin filter, I remember it being fiddly, but not overly troublesome.

 

Ours needs a suspension overhaul soon. Also figure out why the 2nd row power door locks aren't working.

paul_s0
paul_s0 Reader
8/6/22 8:57 p.m.

The cam adjustment on the rear LCAs are intended for toe adjustment, although have an impact on camber.  I used rockauto cheapy camber arms on my Mazda 3 and have been ok thus far.  Squeaky on speed bumps is likely an assortment of bushings.  The front bushings on the rear trailing arms go bad and cause all sorts of issues.  Easy enough and cheap if you have access to a press..

Cabin filter is about 40 mins in the footwell, not terrible, not great. 

Good choice, our 3 has done sterling service, even if I may be looking to replace it soon.

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/6/22 9:07 p.m.
paul_s0 said:

The cam adjustment on the rear LCAs are intended for toe adjustment, although have an impact on camber.  I used rockauto cheapy camber arms on my Mazda 3 and have been ok thus far.  Squeaky on speed bumps is likely an assortment of bushings.  The front bushings on the rear trailing arms go bad and cause all sorts of issues.  Easy enough and cheap if you have access to a press..

Cabin filter is about 40 mins in the footwell, not terrible, not great. 

Good choice, our 3 has done sterling service, even if I may be looking to replace it soon.

Ah, dang. Yeah, I bet you're right about those cam adjusters. If there isn't a separate toe link, that's where the toe is adjusted. Rock Auto, here I come.

I do have a (unbranded, assumed ancient HF) 20-ton press. Thanks for the tip on those trailing arm bushings.

Looks like they all got 17" wheels that year, which is kind of annoying, since we have brand new Michelins in the same rolling radius (P205/50R17 vs P205/55R16) on the Matrix.  Maybe we can dig up some decent 16" wheels for the 5 and throw the Michelins on, then chuck some cheap winter tires on the Matrix to boost its appeal as a winter car. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/6/22 9:17 p.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

If it helps with your search, our last generation 2014 has 16 inch wheels. 

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/6/22 9:23 p.m.
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) said:

If it helps with your search, our last generation 2014 has 16 inch wheels. 

Thanks, that's good to know. Apparently 16s were available both before and after our example, but not for 2009.

Now to find a private party set. Wrecking yards seem to be especially proud of OEM alloys lately. 

03Panther
03Panther UberDork
8/6/22 9:37 p.m.

Congrats. 
My financial manager, is thinking about selling both her cars, and getting something nicer, getting better mileage, and has to have enough room for the two of us, a weekend's luggage, and a Rottweiler. The 5 is a strong possibility, if we find a decent one with low miles. 
The other option is a Honda Oddy, but mpg hit, or Mazda 3 touring (mighty small, but hatches seem like room!)

Anyway, following along to see how y'all like it!!!

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/6/22 10:52 p.m.

We road tripped our 2014 last summer. Four of us and the back packed full, got 30 MPG on consecutive tanks, running 75-80 MPH. The 2.5 had surprisingly good torque on some long climbs in the Smokies, too. If we have to replace it, we'll be looking for another one. It's a shame they're out of production.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
8/6/22 10:52 p.m.

Find some cheap Mazdaspeed 3 castoffs for the suspension. It'll bolt right up. At that age I'm sure the front and rear shocks are fried, that platform eats them like a fat me and...well everything. Good find all around. 

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/7/22 12:07 a.m.
Mndsm said:

Find some cheap Mazdaspeed 3 castoffs for the suspension. It'll bolt right up. At that age I'm sure the front and rear shocks are fried, that platform eats them like a fat me and...well everything. Good find all around. 

Interesting idea. This is very much a family car and not likely to get modified, but it's good to have options. Regarding the dampers, I am surprised they are as good as they are. They actually feel fine in the driving I've done so far.

Got a little bit accomplished in the driveway tonight. Both license plate lights were burned out, so two new 168s went in. All other lamps checked out for function, but I couldn't walk past those chalky headlamp clusters without trying something quick and dirty to make them less awful. 

Here are the before shots of the captain's side lamp:

 

And here it is after:

 

The passenger's side turned up at least as good:

 

They ain't perfect, but they're a hell of a lot less worse. Not bad for ten minutes apiece with a twenty-year-old can of Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish and a crusty microfiber cloth.

Also threw some new 1620 button batteries into two of our three remotes, and sure enough, all systems are go.

So far, so good!

calteg
calteg SuperDork
8/7/22 8:15 a.m.

The Mazda5 really likes to eat brakes, tires and suspensions.  My suspicion is that Mazda spec'd "just good enough" for all 3 components, causing them to wear faster

Bibs
Bibs New Reader
8/7/22 8:46 a.m.

Adding to comments above, the motor/trans mounts are likely toast, if they haven't been done.

 Not a difficult fix. I recall using Rock Auto generic units, and that worked fine, for the short time I kept my car. I recall others using Focus Hybrid units(?) , as they were stiffer and lasted longer.

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
8/7/22 9:00 a.m.

The blinking airbag light is usually one of the seat airbag connectors coming unseated. Happen to multiple times in both of our Mazda 5s. Reach under squeeze them together and usually it'll cure the issue.

They do eat rear tires and I used the adjustable upper control arms in the back on our first one but haven't done it to the second one yet.

For the wheels and tires I find that the 17s bend very easy and I tend to swap them all to 16s when they need tires.

Keep an eye on the oil consumption because it seems like both of ours have done that to greater or lesser extents along with my Mazda 3s and sixes.

And yes the cabin air filter is one of those jobs where you'd rather stick your nuts in a vice and smack your pecker with a hammer then have to do it again.

All that being said, i love these things. Fantastic cars.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
8/7/22 9:16 a.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

You may be familiar with it but seems like a good place to add this so, here's the link to the big GRM Maazda5 thread.

My wife really liked hers. After 8 years we upsized to a Grand Caravan, which is nice, but my wife misses the svelte size of the Mazda

jb229
jb229 New Reader
8/7/22 1:16 p.m.

Removing the glove box makes the cabin filter easier.  But not much easier.

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
8/7/22 1:19 p.m.
calteg said:

The Mazda5 really likes to eat brakes, tires and suspensions.  

Yeah, I keep reading that on the internet, but it's hard to know where those statements lie on the spectrum between internet rumor and universal truth.  Ours shows no evidence of eating brakes, and I believe the tire-eating will cease when the aggressive alignment is corrected.  I'll report findings on worn suspension components as they are discovered.  So far we're at almost 147K miles on what appear to be the original ball joints, tie rods, and control arm bushings, and three out of four original dampers. 

What issues have you experienced, and what did you do about them?

 

Bibs said:

Adding to comments above, the motor/trans mounts are likely toast, if they haven't been done.

 Not a difficult fix. I recall using Rock Auto generic units, and that worked fine, for the short time I kept my car. I recall others using Focus Hybrid units(?) , as they were stiffer and lasted longer.

Thanks for the heads-up and the tip about the Focus Hybrid parts option.  As with the suspension, I'm not feeling or hearing any indication that motor mounts are roached, but will BOLO for them.

 

Dusterbd13-michael said:

The blinking airbag light is usually one of the seat airbag connectors coming unseated. Happen to multiple times in both of our Mazda 5s. Reach under squeeze them together and usually it'll cure the issue.

They do eat rear tires and I used the adjustable upper control arms in the back on our first one but haven't done it to the second one yet.

For the wheels and tires I find that the 17s bend very easy and I tend to swap them all to 16s when they need tires.

Keep an eye on the oil consumption because it seems like both of ours have done that to greater or lesser extents along with my Mazda 3s and sixes.

And yes the cabin air filter is one of those jobs where you'd rather stick your nuts in a vice and smack your pecker with a hammer then have to do it again.

All that being said, i love these things. Fantastic cars.

Thanks for the tip on the airbag light.  Nothing under the front passenger's seat was obviously amiss on a hasty visual inspection, but there's a good chance something got bumped during our post-purchase cleanout and move-in process.  I'll give it a closer look and probably spritz a little contact cleaner on the terminals in a few minutes.

What do you like for 16" wheels?  It's starting to look like Miata (NC?) takeoffs may be the answer.  That's making the foolish assumption that a good set can be had for reasonable money.

 

John Welsh said:

You may be familiar with it but seems like a good place to add this so, here's the link to the big GRM Maazda5 thread.

My wife really liked hers. After 8 years we upsized to a Grand Caravan, which is nice, but my wife misses the svelte size of the Mazda

I am indeed familiar with that thread.  It's a great resource.  Regarding the upsized Grand Caravan, I probably should have taken a look at one, but the 5 will probably meet our needs for at least the next four or five years.

Does anybody have any thoughts on backup camera options?  If the factory Grand Touring nav screen setup be integrated with a backup camera, that might be a neater solution than an aftermarket head unit and cheesy install kit.

paul_s0
paul_s0 Reader
8/7/22 7:57 p.m.
Bibs said:

Adding to comments above, the motor/trans mounts are likely toast, if they haven't been done.

 Not a difficult fix. I recall using Rock Auto generic units, and that worked fine, for the short time I kept my car. I recall others using Focus Hybrid units(?) , as they were stiffer and lasted longer.

If you're going to keep it a while, I'd recommend genuine Mazda mounts, except in the lower position where the e-Focus mount is better.  Cheapo brands tend to last a short time, and never give the same NVH as OEM- I tried various options.  

If you feel like it, my thread shows most of what goes wrong on the bits it shares with the 3.  I wouldn't recommend MS3 take-offs personally, they wont be valved right for the rear weight

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
8/7/22 9:28 p.m.

Ours is currently rolling on 205/60/16 tires (16" wheels off a Mazda6)

The difference in how it rides on rough pavement is significant.

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