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Hi. Almost one month ago, my car was damaged after driving over a raised manhole cover in a construction zone. The sleazy/cut-rate insurance company of the construction company denied my claim for nonsense reasons. I'm still considering taking them to small claims court...but that's a different story for a different day. After going over the manhole cover there was a loud noise and the car lost most of its power and it wouldn't go more than 10-15km/h. I pulled into a parking lot and had the car towed to an honest and reliable mechanic later in the day after work. After looking at it briefly a couple of days later, he more or less insisted that I file a claim with the city and in order to do this, I should take it to the Mazda Dealership as they would have more credibility than a small shop. I reluctantly did as he suggested and had the car towed to the dealership. At first they charged $120 to look at the car. I don't think that they did much other than look at the bottom of it and use the diagnostic machine. All of that probably took them a few solid minutes. $120 well spent. Some of the codes that the machine detected implied that there was a problem with the timing chain. Then they told me that they had to look at the timing chain which would take another two hours for $180. I delayed this for a while as I was still waiting on the slow insurance company to get back to me. Finally, I asked them if by authorizing two more hours, I would know what is actually wrong after that. I was told that two more hours would be enough to figure out exactly what was wrong. Of course, it wasn't. They are now saying that the transmission pan was damaged and either the ECU or the solenoids were damaged as a result of that. They said that this put the car into "Safe Mode" and it would not be able to go above a certain speed until it was fixed. They now have to remove the transmission pan and check the solenoids to see what is wrong which will be another hour of labour. I was told that if it was the solenoids, it would be a much cheaper fix than the ECU.

I asked how much it would be to have the ECU replaced and she didn't know off-hand but she thinks that it will be over $1,000 for the new ECU alone, not including installation or programming or anything else. On ebay, I could order used ECUs starting under $70 including shipping. I wouldn't buy the absolute cheapest one that I could find, but I can ones in good condition with very low mileage on them for around $150. Does anybody know if Mazda dealerships usually install used parts? If so, does anybody know how much they charge for labour on replacing an ECU? I have read a few descriptions of how to replace an ECU and it doesn't seem like a lot of work. It doesn't seem like it should take more than 20-30 minutes for somebody who knows what they are doing. But, my guess is that the people at the dealership think that most people don't know how easy it is and will make it seem like a big job and charge for several hours of labour. Does anybody know how long it should actually take? I would like to have something to say if they try to tell me that it will take four hours.

Does anybody know how much they charge for programming the ECU? How long should that take? Is it possible to have this done anywhere other than a dealership? I saw a video on YouTube which I believe took place at a body shop and the mechanic said that they use "Dealer-Level" equipment for programming. Is that common? Would I likely be able to find a shop locally in a smaller city that can also program my ECU if the dealership decides to gouge me? If so, would there likely be much of a price difference?

Has anyone ever had solenoid issues? If so, how much did the dealership charge to fix them? I know that there are different problems that could arise from damaged solenoids, but I would just like to get an idea of what they may charge me if it turns out to be solenoids.


If anybody has any suggestions, information or personal experiences that may be helpful, I would appreciate hearing about them.

Thanks
 

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I'm not sure if Dynotronics can program a new/blank ECM or not... but otherwise I'd say dealer only.

They will probably charge you the 1hr minimum for programming.



Frankly without knowing every one of the codes stored in the ECM(and every other module in the car too), it's hard to guess... but honestly a bad ECM sounds relatively unlikely.

If the trans pan was physically hit then it would only make sense to start there and see what happens.

It sounds like they're not thoroughly diagnosing the problem though.

Can you get a list of the exact codes in every module?

They should start by clearing all codes then see which come back immediately(active codes, not just stored history codes). They should be able to attempt to use their scan tool to actuate the solenoids individually and check for power and ground where it should be at the solenoid connector to verify that the ECM is good and fine(after any fuses are replaced if any were blown... this would have been step #1 before anything else).

Without a whole lot of effort, I found this which details what will likely need replaced:

http://forums.mazdaworld.org/147-technical-guides/89183-2-3l-transmission-solenoid-pack-replacement-guide-lj4a-el.html
 

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but honestly a bad ECM sounds relatively unlikely.
+1. ECU's are designed to be fairly rugged and are all solid-state. Usually the only way to kill one is to short it out (by, for example, installing a car battery backwards).

What I would do if I were you is this: Get your own insurance company involved. You're paying the premiums, put them to work. Your insurance company should be taking care not only of getting your car fixed, but also duking it out with the construction company's insurance.
 

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+1. ECU's are designed to be fairly rugged and are all solid-state. Usually the only way to kill one is to short it out (by, for example, installing a car battery backwards).

What I would do if I were you is this: Get your own insurance company involved. You're paying the premiums, put them to work. Your insurance company should be taking care not only of getting your car fixed, but also duking it out with the construction company's insurance.
Yes. Forgot to mention the insurance part. That is good advise... insurance companies are there with their lawyers to fight for you.. you pay probably $100-150 per month so tell them they need to show they're worth it or you'll go elsewhere.


I've got to admit though that if you hit a manhole cover and it dented your TRANS PAN that you either A) were flying stupid fast or B) your car is very low.


I SUPPOSE if a solenoid were directly hit that it is possible that it shorted out... but I have personal experience with several different makes and models and seeing PCM driver control circuits shorted to ground, what normally happens is that circuit is disabled until power is removed. It the solenoid itself were shorted it should be protected as there isn't much current able to overload the circuit protection device.

Now if a battery cable were applied directly to the ECM trans solenoid driver circuit, it would flow MUCH more current enough to overload the protection device and kill the driver(or the protection device indefinitely, either way your circuit wouldn't work).




My latest experience with a similar issue is Dodge/Chrysler Caravan and Town and Country tail light and brake light bulbs... they are controlled by the TIPM(Totally Integrated Power Module). The module is basically the fuse box, with a control module implemented on the underside of it. The power supply TO the module is protected, but the tail/brake light driver circuit is NOT protected by any fuses... it relies on it's internal circuit protection devices.

This van came in with the right side lights not working... come to find out Joe Shit the Ragman installed a trailer hitch receiver and trailer wiring himself, to tap into the right side turn signal, they ran the wire under the car and pulled the wiring tight enough to the hitch receiver that it rubbed through the wire insulation and was shorting directly to ground. Pulled the wire away from the hitch receiver and the lights would work like normal again... you would hear the signals do the "fast blink" thing for about 2 seconds/blink cycles and then it would return to normal when the circuit protection device returned to it's normal state. Lucky them because those TIPMs are about $300-$400/ea + labor to install and program it last time I had to replace one.


In a nutshell... It's almost for sure just the solenoids, though with the way the place you took it to is "diagnosing" things, it wouldn't surprise me if they try to sell you the ECM first.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I have already spoken to my insurance company a few times and it is definitely, definitely, definitely not worth filing a claim through them. By filing a claim with my own insurance company, I was told that I would almost certainly be covered, but the consequences are not worth it for what may be a small amount of money anyway. I don't know what the exact repair cost will be, but the total cost of repairs will probably end up being in the $1,000-$2,000 range. Possibly even less if it is just one of the solenoids. The collision coverage under my own insurance policy carries a deductible of $500. There goes a big chunk of the relatively small payout right there. In order to use my own insurance, I would have to use my "Collision" coverage and this would be considered an "at-fault" accident. With an at-fault accident on my record, my insurance would not be renewed the next time it comes up for renewal. They have a policy where anybody who has almost anything negative on their driving record within the first three years of being insured does not meet their requirements to be covered. I would assume that other major insurance companies have similar policies. If other reputable insurance companies do agree to insure me with an "at-fault" accident on my record so soon after being insured for the first time, I would assume that my premiums would be at least double what I am paying right now. I would probably end up paying much more in added premiums within the first year alone than I would get back by filing a claim.

Also, I definitely wasn't speeding. It happened while driving downhill and the manhole was only sticking out of the ground on one side(the side that I couldn't see while driving downhill). But, it was sticking out quite high off of the ground on the other side. From my point of view, it looked level with the ground. Driving over a manhole of this kind downhill is almost like driving over a ramp on one side of the car.

As for my car being low, my Mazda3 should be as low as any other Mazda3 of the same year to the best of my knowledge. I didn't modify it in any way to make it lower.

Thanks for the link. The part in that post seems to be for a Mazda Millenia. It seems that on that car the solenoids are all together in one piece. From the little that I have been able to find out about the Mazda 3 solenoids, it seems that the solenoids are separate pieces. If my understanding of that is correct, that could be better as the cost of both the part(s) and labour should be lower.

I'm glad to hear that others also think that it is the solenoids. That is what I was thinking that it probably was, but I obviously don't have the expertise to make that kind of diagnosis on my own. I still think that it is kind of ridiculous that it is going to take at least four hours of labour to diagnose what is actually wrong. At first, the diagnostic equipment seemed to imply that there was something wrong with the timing chain. I had to authorize two more hours of labour for them to open the engine and look at the timing chain and then they told me that the timing chain was fine. Then they decided that it must be the solenoids or ECU because of the damaged transmission pan. I would think that they should have checked behind the transmission pan immediately once they knew that it was what was damaged and not gone through everything else unless it still didn't work after the solenoids were repaired(if that is what is wrong). That to me seems like it would have been the logical course of action, but I'm not a mechanic.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I have already spoken to my insurance company a few times and it is definitely, definitely, definitely not worth filing a claim through them. By filing a claim with my own insurance company, I was told that I would almost certainly be covered, but the consequences are not worth it for what may be a small amount of money anyway. I don't know what the exact repair cost will be, but the total cost of repairs will probably end up being in the $1,000-$2,000 range. Possibly even less if it is just one of the solenoids. The collision coverage under my own insurance policy carries a deductible of $500. There goes a big chunk of the relatively small payout right there. In order to use my own insurance, I would have to use my "Collision" coverage and this would be considered an "at-fault" accident. With an at-fault accident on my record, my insurance would not be renewed the next time it comes up for renewal. They have a policy where anybody who has almost anything negative on their driving record within the first three years of being insured does not meet their requirements to be covered. I would assume that other major insurance companies have similar policies. If other reputable insurance companies do agree to insure me with an "at-fault" accident on my record so soon after being insured for the first time, I would assume that my premiums would be at least double what I am paying right now. I would probably end up paying much more in added premiums within the first year alone than I would get back by filing a claim.

Also, I definitely wasn't speeding. It happened while driving downhill and the manhole was only sticking out of the ground on one side(the side that I couldn't see while driving downhill). But, it was sticking out quite high off of the ground on the other side. From my point of view, it looked level with the ground. Driving over a manhole of this kind downhill is almost like driving over a ramp on one side of the car.

As for my car being low, my Mazda3 should be as low as any other Mazda3 of the same year to the best of my knowledge. I didn't modify it in any way to make it lower.

Thanks for the link. The part in that post seems to be for a Mazda Millenia. It seems that on that car the solenoids are all together in one piece. From the little that I have been able to find out about the Mazda 3 solenoids, it seems that the solenoids are separate pieces. If my understanding of that is correct, that could be better as the cost of both the part(s) and labour should be lower.

I'm glad to hear that others also think that it is the solenoids. That is what I was thinking that it probably was, but I obviously don't have the expertise to make that kind of diagnosis on my own. I still think that it is kind of ridiculous that it is going to take at least four hours of labour to diagnose what is actually wrong. At first, the diagnostic equipment seemed to imply that there was something wrong with the timing chain. I had to authorize two more hours of labour for them to open the engine and look at the timing chain and then they told me that the timing chain was fine. Then they decided that it must be the solenoids or ECU because of the damaged transmission pan. I would think that they should have checked behind the transmission pan immediately once they knew that it was what was damaged and not gone through everything else unless it still didn't work after the solenoids were repaired(if that is what is wrong). That to me seems like it would have been the logical course of action, but I'm not a mechanic.
Oh you're right... whoever is diagnosing your car couldn't find their asshole in the dark with both hands and a flashlight.

They could have done a compression check(which takes all of 15-20 min) on all of the cylinders and ruled out the timing chain from the very beginning. If the timing chain were broken, or teeth jumped, or crank timing gear slipped, etc it would have thrown all kinds of codes for cam and crank sensors out of sync, and it probably wouldn't run at all(you didn't state if it started up and idled fine otherwise). If the chain were broken you'd be getting a P0340 code for cam sensor signal lost... it would do this because the cams(and sensor pickup) would not be moving. This is a dead giveaway when Mini Cooper timing chains break... you can even remove the sensor and see the camshaft itself and see it's not spinning.


In a nut shell if what you're tell us is accurate/there isn't another side to the story, you've got a damn good reason to go demand your diagnostic money back, go to Mazda Corporate, the local news, whatever because they're taking you for a ride. Or they've got some dipshit who doesn't know their ass from their elbows wasting your time and money and isn't honest enough to own up to the fact they don't know what they're doing.

edit: where are you located?
 

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Hi. Almost one month ago, my car was damaged after driving over a raised manhole cover in a construction zone. The sleazy/cut-rate insurance company of the construction company denied my claim for nonsense reasons. I'm still considering taking them to small claims court...but that's a different story for a different day. After going over the manhole cover there was a loud noise and the car lost most of its power and it wouldn't go more than 10-15km/h. I pulled into a parking lot and had the car towed to an honest and reliable mechanic later in the day after work. After looking at it briefly a couple of days later, he more or less insisted that I file a claim with the city and in order to do this, I should take it to the Mazda Dealership as they would have more credibility than a small shop. I reluctantly did as he suggested and had the car towed to the dealership. At first they charged $120 to look at the car. I don't think that they did much other than look at the bottom of it and use the diagnostic machine. All of that probably took them a few solid minutes. $120 well spent. Some of the codes that the machine detected implied that there was a problem with the timing chain. Then they told me that they had to look at the timing chain which would take another two hours for $180. I delayed this for a while as I was still waiting on the slow insurance company to get back to me. Finally, I asked them if by authorizing two more hours, I would know what is actually wrong after that. I was told that two more hours would be enough to figure out exactly what was wrong. Of course, it wasn't. They are now saying that the transmission pan was damaged and either the ECU or the solenoids were damaged as a result of that. They said that this put the car into "Safe Mode" and it would not be able to go above a certain speed until it was fixed. They now have to remove the transmission pan and check the solenoids to see what is wrong which will be another hour of labour. I was told that if it was the solenoids, it would be a much cheaper fix than the ECU.

I asked how much it would be to have the ECU replaced and she didn't know off-hand but she thinks that it will be over $1,000 for the new ECU alone, not including installation or programming or anything else. On ebay, I could order used ECUs starting under $70 including shipping. I wouldn't buy the absolute cheapest one that I could find, but I can ones in good condition with very low mileage on them for around $150. Does anybody know if Mazda dealerships usually install used parts? If so, does anybody know how much they charge for labour on replacing an ECU? I have read a few descriptions of how to replace an ECU and it doesn't seem like a lot of work. It doesn't seem like it should take more than 20-30 minutes for somebody who knows what they are doing. But, my guess is that the people at the dealership think that most people don't know how easy it is and will make it seem like a big job and charge for several hours of labour. Does anybody know how long it should actually take? I would like to have something to say if they try to tell me that it will take four hours.

Does anybody know how much they charge for programming the ECU? How long should that take? Is it possible to have this done anywhere other than a dealership? I saw a video on YouTube which I believe took place at a body shop and the mechanic said that they use "Dealer-Level" equipment for programming. Is that common? Would I likely be able to find a shop locally in a smaller city that can also program my ECU if the dealership decides to gouge me? If so, would there likely be much of a price difference?

Has anyone ever had solenoid issues? If so, how much did the dealership charge to fix them? I know that there are different problems that could arise from damaged solenoids, but I would just like to get an idea of what they may charge me if it turns out to be solenoids.


If anybody has any suggestions, information or personal experiences that may be helpful, I would appreciate hearing about them.

Thanks
Aamco can do flash's I think it was 150-200 and aamco will install used module and flash it to your vin# and the dealer the same here locally qnyway, most shops that tune turbo cars can do it also!!!
 

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Would it be worth getting Mini ELM327 scanner and checking for some error codes yourself? Clearning them, then drying around what codes will resurface.
 
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