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Old 03-08-2011, 01:11 PM   #1
jour
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Default The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

About six months ago, I started to notice intermittent 2nd gear pop outs when downshifting. Not while braking hard, like another fellow I saw on this board, but during normal commute driving, with any manifold vacuum/engine braking, it would pop out once in a while. It was annoying, but I didn't think much of it. Over the intervening 5 months, it got worse and worse, to the point now where in order to stay in second when downshifting, I have to physically hold the shifter in place. (I try not to do this, lest I make it worse, but when I'm in traffic and I need to know that I can get out of the way quickly, I really don't have any other options -- a previous pop out made what should have been a non-issue into a very-near-miss.) Accelerating is fine, it's only on downshift-with-any-engine-brake that it happens.

It's a 2008.5 Mazdaspeed3, 30 months off the lot, with 20K miles on it. The car is dead stock. It has never been autocrossed, never been tracked, never been in an accident, never had a single aftermarket part on it, has had all regular services, most of them at the dealer (one or two oil changes at my local shop.) It has been driven by a responsible, but fun-loving, 33 year old (me) and very occasionally his wife. This car has NOT been beaten around.

I finally complained about it to the dealer last month when I was in for an oil change. The tech took it out for a drive, came back and said, "Yeah, it's definitely not supposed to do that. We'll need at least a full day to look into it, so we've made a note in your file, and you'll need to schedule another appointment when you can leave the car for the day."

So, today I took it in, and from the very start they seemed to be telegraphing trouble. The tech seemed really glum/down about it, and told me they couldn't even look at it until they got the OK from "tech line." They call me four hours later and say that the tech line has OK'ed them to crack the transmission and "look into it," and that once they know what's wrong, they'll call me back to, and I quote, "see if we can work something out" and that they'll need to hang onto the car at least through tomorrow.

Forgive me, but what the HELL is there to "work out"?!?!? It's a bone-stock car, 30 months old, with low mileage, serviced diligently, not driven in any sort of competitive environment, with no aftermarket parts. There's nothing to "work out" -- it's under warranty! You fix it. I pick it up. That's it! I don't see anything to "work out." I see no way, given the circumstances, that it would be 'acceptable wear and tear' for a transmission to be popping out of gear after 20,000 miles.

I'm trying to take deep breaths and take things one step at a time; they haven't delivered any concrete bad news, so I'm not freaking out on them yet, but they definitely seem to be sending warning signals that I'm not going to be happy with the situation. Searching various forum boards indicates that some folks get this fixed under warranty no problem, and others have struggles, but most of the stories I found were of people autocrossing, and/or with aftermarket parts, etc., which I know the dealers like to use as an excuse not to honor the warranty.

I was wondering if anyone here has any tips they could share for dealing with this situation. I feel like I have the high ground, but I also feel like if they were on the same page, they'd be telling me not to worry about it, etc. Also, since it's sounding like this could take a while, does anyone know what the deal is with a rental car on the standard MS3 warranty? (All my warranty paperwork is, of course, in the car.) I don't have the extended warranty.

Thanks! (and wish me luck)
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:35 PM   #2
justint5387
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

I would contact MazdaUSA and complain. I did that a year ago on a local dealership, and they were very prompt with a response.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:53 PM   #3
jour
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

So I spoke with the service manager today, and while they didn't have any new news for me, having apparently not actually cracked the transmission itself yet, he did say that he "saw no reason that this wouldn't be a warranty repair" but that the final decision was up to the home office. He said they would take apart the transmission, photograph all the parts, send in the photos and then the home office would make the determination. If they rule in my favor, then I get a rental car "for however long it takes" (which I can only assume means it's going to take a long time.)

So I guess I've now heard the "good cop" side of it... now I guess I wait and see if there's a "bad cop" side. Fingers crossed.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

Short version: My car is STILL at the dealer 2.5 weeks later; They're going to fix it under warranty, the question now appears to be, "when?"

Long version:

I dropped my car off first thing in the morning on 3/8/2011. Although they had not received a determination from MazdaUSA at the time, at close of business on 3/11/2011 they provided me with a rental car, the service front-office rep telling me that they were confident it would be covered and thus they were comfortable 'going out on a limb' and getting the rental.

I've received 1-2 calls per week from them since. On 3/16 they called me and told me that they had heard from MazdaUSA and that the repair would be covered. At this point, they also explained to me that the reason it was taking so long was that their head Mazda tech felt that the whole transmission should be replaced, whereas MazdaUSA's opinion was that they should replace 2nd gear, the 2nd gear synchro, and a damaged fork. (How the f' did the fork get damaged!?) I realize there are multiple ways to interpret this tidbit. At best, the tech would rather just bolt on a new tranny and be done with it than spend two days or whatever rebuilding my old one. At worst, there really is something systemically wrong with my transmission, and it should have been replaced, but wasn't.

At this time, they also told me that they receive parts from Mazda on Tuesdays and Thursdays and so they were hoping to receive the parts the next day, and get my car back to me Friday or Monday. They called me again on 3/18 (Friday) to let me know that they did not receive the parts on Thursday and therefore the earliest I could get my car would be Wednesday 3/23. I'm still waiting to hear, while "enjoying" my Civic DX rental. (I mean that semi-sincerely, since I've had much worse rental cars in the past, like a Chevy HHR and a Dodge Caliber)

I've got to say, this experience is leaving me really, really nervous about keeping this car after the warranty runs out in a few months. I mean, if this happened when the car wasn't under warranty, the rental car alone would have already cost me ~$700 plus probably somewhere on the order of $2500 for the repair. I'd be freaking out.

So what do folks think? Is this just about laziness/labor cost? Or is this a bad sign? If it weren't for the awful (IMHO) front grill design on the current MS3s I'd consider trading in for a new one at the end of my warranty -- I've had few complaints up until this transmission fiasco -- but the new body design is just not my style at all.

Thanks!
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Old 03-26-2011, 01:55 PM   #5
phate
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

When dealing with warranty bean counters on an issue this big, its going to take some time. Shift forks can, and do, wear out on cars that have never been driven hard. Something as simple as holding your hand on the shifter while driving can wear them out; it creates just enough pressure. [There have been some BMW's that were notorious for this, actually.] The transmissions in these cars are typically solid (more than solid, really).
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:28 PM   #6
hnda etr
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Default The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

I've never heard of a stealership staying in such contact with a person... Usually you have to keep calling them for updates... Sounds like this one you're going to is pretty decent...

Manufacturing defects are always going to happen.. Don't let this one problem get you down... Our trannys are actually, like the person above said, pretty strong and this is definitely an oddity..


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Old 03-26-2011, 02:35 PM   #7
say chi sin lo
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

[quote author=phate link=topic=187442.msg3975026#msg3975026 date=1301162110]
Something as simple as holding your hand on the shifter while driving can wear them out; it creates just enough pressure. [There have been some BMW's that were notorious for this, actually.] The transmissions in these cars are typically solid (more than solid, really).
[/quote]

Both my uncle and dad have told me about this, and they've driven stick for their entire lives. It's a tough habit to get rid off, but it'll prolong the life of the tranny.
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Old 03-30-2011, 02:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

Funny you mention that level of contact being unusual, since I then went from 3/18 until today without hearing from them, despite calling and leaving multiple nagging voicemails. Today they told me that they were waiting for some extra part that wasn't part of the tranny, but that they needed to get the car back together, and that it'll be ready "tomorrow at the latest."

It's hard to tell since I have an automatic rental car right now, but I don't *think* I hold the shifter while driving, but I'll keep an eye out for it now.
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Old 04-01-2011, 04:19 PM   #9
jour
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

Well, after leaving more voicemail, and getting progressively crankier and crankier over 3 or 4 calls to the front desk, I finally got the rep on the phone late this afternoon. The current story is, 'We did what Mazda Techline told us to do and replaced 2nd gear, the 2nd gear synchro, and the fork, put it all back together, took it out for a drive, and the transmission still isn't working right. We're now starting over with the Techline again.'

I mentioned to him that the first go-around here has now taken 3+ weeks, and I asked if I should expect this to take another 3 weeks. He said that he expected the car to be fixed by next Friday. He didn't elaborate from there.

The only thing I can think is that they are counting on Mazda to concede and pay for a whole new transmission, because that's the only way I can see that the car could possibly be ready by next Friday, based on how long it took to do this first round of repairs. On the one hand, I'm really grateful they didn't just tell me it was done, give it back to me, and let me find out on my own that it wasn't fixed; I've heard some dealerships will play that game with you on stuff like this. On the other hand, by the end of next week, they'll have had the car for a month, and I want my car back. At a certain point, even if I'm not paying out of pocket for the repairs, and even if I have a rental car to drive in the meantime, the time spent without the use of my car begins to count against the overall "experience" of owning the car.

Patience, I suppose.
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Old 04-01-2011, 08:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: The dreaded 2nd gear pop out...

I know how you feel. My Mazdaspeed Protige was involved in some drunken reveler's demolition derby in my apartment parking lot two weeks after I bought it, and spent almost two weeks at the body shop because of it. After that it had a host of other problems and was in and out of Mazda's service bay for the next 3 out of 4 months that I had owned it. That car was a true POS, a fun POS, but a POS nonetheless. That being said, I took a leap of faith when the 'speed 3 came out and traded that turd for my current car, and was rewarded with the only car I've ever loved enough to keep longer than a year and a half. I know what you're going through is frustrating as hell, I've been there, but I feel confident in saying that once this issue has been resolved the car is a keeper. Be warned though, you're fast approaching the point where a LOT of owners are getting EGR flow insufficient CELs (myself included), which is only covered under the 36k bumper to bumper warranty. If you get a check engine light, go to an auto parts store to get it checked, and if it's a P0401, make an appointment to get that sucker replaced under warranty. Other than that one thing, this car has been entirely problem free for me, and I'm edging up on 60k.
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