Mazda Bongo Camper – Buyer's Guide | Practical Motorhome

14 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mazda Bongo Camper – Buyer's Guide | Practical Motorhome
Mazda Bongo

Mazda Bongo

Camper – Buyer#039;s Guide

Rob Hawkins looks at what can go wrong with a Mazda Bongo Friendee or a Ford Freda – so you can not only buy a good camper van, but head off trouble with a bit of general maintenance.

The Mazda Bongo and its sister vehicle, the Ford Freda, were never officially imported to the UK, but were numerous in Japan during the 1990s. These narrow-bodied commercials became very popular as camper vans.

The rules on older vehicles in Japan mean that servicable vehicles become uneconomic to run at a certain age and enterprising motor dealers in the UK realised that bringing well-equipped used, right-hand drive vehicles here was a good idea. The Bongo-based camper vans came to the UK in huge numbers during the early 2000s through companies such as Wellhouse Leisure. They are now a very common sight on the second-hand market and can represent incredible value.

Care must be taken to avoid problems.

Common Mazda Bongo problems

There are a number of problems associated with the Mazda Bongo, which in some cases have given it a bad name. The most well-known dilemma is head gasket failure, resulting in expensive repair bills, especially if the cylinder head has cracked.

However, problems such as this are often straightforward to avoid with routine maintenance and regular checks.

We visited KG Auto Engineers to discover the typical trouble associated with the Bongo and the best solutions for fixing and avoiding them. Aside from the aforementioned head gasket failure, most problems concern the brakes, steering, suspension and electrics, which are all relatively straightforward to fix.

KG is also an MoT testing station and they find most Bongos fail on the rear fog light (usually an import conversion), a worn lower front suspension ball joint, worn anti-rollbar drop links or D-bushes and poorly serviced brakes.

Mazda Bongo

Mazda Bongo problems – how to spot them

The Bongo is best known for its head gasket failure. This can often be identified by lifting the bonnet and looking inside the header tank (located on the nearside). If there’s oil inside it, the head gasket will have failed.

If the level is low, there’s a leak and this may cause the engine to overheat and the head gasket to fail.

The oil filler cap is located underneath the driver’s seat on the petrol engine Bongo (above)

On diesel models, the oil filler is under the passenger’s seat. In both engines, look inside the filler for a milky substance, which usually indicates head gasket failure.

The cause of head gasket failure is often down to the coolant hose located under the driver’s seat, which is attached to the top of the engine. It can balloon and crack, resulting in coolant loss, overheating and head gasket failure. It should be renewed if it looks at all suspicious.

Mazda Bongo
Mazda Bongo
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