This morning I received a call from a really good friend who owns a successful mechanic shop that specializes not only in your standard repair and service. But also in custom exhaust, performance solutions right to building full spec custom cars. Monday morning calls from Glenn usually are invitations to lunch. Not today.
He had a question about a 2004 Mazda3 that came in with intermittent power steering failure. The radio also cut out momentarily at the same time, but would come back on yet the power steering would remain in inoperative.
I remembered there was a time I was driving along the 401 near Pearson Airport outside of Toronto when I decided (without any real reason) to shut off the car, then bump start it while at speed to see what happens. (Bump starting is a way of restarting your car without using your starter. It can typically only be done on cars equipped with manual transmissions). What I noticed is that when the engine started again, that everything operated properly with the exception of the power steering.
I relayed my story to Glenn, he went on to work his magic and confirmed the probable diagnosis. I felt like Greg House telling Foreman, Cameron and Chase to do an LP (lumbar puncture) while I popped several pills.
So Here Is the Lesson:
If you have experienced the above in your Mazda3 chances are its not your Power Steering Pump failing. Especially if your car is a 2004. Why you ask?
2005 and up Mazda3′s are equipped with a larger capacity battery than 2004 models. This was a result of intermittent failure of the electrical system. Battery would fall below a certain level and several electrical system circuits would temporarily fail. This is not a huge fail on Mazda’s part, but it sure as ice cream melting on a hot day annoying and potentially dangerous.
How Does This Experience Play Out If You Are The Driver?
So if you are driving along and this happens, lights will dim. Instruments will shut off, then turn back on. Your radio will turn off then back on all without any explanation or cause. But your power steering will not work. Potentially dangerous if you are not an arm wrestling champion.
What To Do?
While this is prevalent in 2004 Mazda3 models, it may happen on 2005 and newer models as the batteries start to get older, starting to lose their capacity. So if you have experienced this, get the battery checked. There is a very good chance that it is only the battery. Get a second or third opinion if necessary as a battery is less expensive.
Thanks to Glenn of Camtech Auto in Mississauga for calling me with this. Glenn always picks up the phone or emails me with info that will help out Mazda3 drivers.
If you live or work in the Mississauga area and need a great trustworthy mechanic, give Glenn a call at (905) 814-5490 or stop in at 6295 Mississauga Rd., Unit 402 (back of the building) Mississauga, Ontario.