Mazda Tribute 2001-2006 expert review

9 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Mazda Tribute 2001-2006 expert review
Mazda Tribute

Mazda Tribute

2001-2006 review

Mazda Tribute 2.3L DOHC 16-valve engine

Only the 2.0L engine has a timing belt that according to the owner’s manual, needs to be replaced every 144,000 km (90,000 miles). Both the 4-cylinder 2.3L engine and the 3.0 V6 have a maintenance-free timing chain that does not require regular replacement. All three engines, although not completely trouble-free, are fairly reliable if maintained properly and don’t have major problems.

Transmission choices included a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Antilock brakes (ABS) were optional (standard from 2006). Mazda Tribute has disc brakes in the front, drums in the back (late models have optional four-wheel disc brakes).

The Tribute’s interior looks plain, but is roomy and comfortable. The tall driver’s position offers good visibility. The split rear seat can be easily folded flat (with headrests removed) for extra cargo room.

The rear hatch window opens separately, which is a big plus.

Mazda Tribute handles very well for an SUV; it feels more like a car than a truck. The ride is firm and a bit noisy at highway speed, but otherwise comfortable. The 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine is responsive, but may feel a bit underpowered with a full load. The 3.0L V6 is smooth.

The available four-wheel drive system will help improve traction on slippery roads, although it’s not designed for heavy off-roading.

In the NHTSA frontal crash test, the 2001-2004 Mazda Tribute has received five stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger. The 2004-2006 Tribute got four stars for both the driver and the front passenger. In the NHTSA side crash tests, the 2001-2006 Tribute has received five stars.

Pros: Perfect size, spacious interior, visibility, handling, maneuverable, reasonably priced, powerful V6, rear seat folds flat, liftgate glass opens separately

Cons: Poor gas mileage for V6 models, early models have transmission shifter blocking the radio controls, ignition switch location, road and wind noise at highway speeds, interior materials could be better, conservative styling.

Overall: Mazda Tribute combines car-like handling with a roomy, comfortable and functional interior. It’s not as cramped as Toyota RAV4, it offers an optional V6 that you won’t find in Honda CRV and it’s not as thirsty and bulky as larger truck-based SUVs. On top of that, a used Mazda Tribute is not very expensive and a 4-cylinder front-wheel drive Mazda Tribute offers one of the best fuel economy among SUVs.

However, quality and reliability are not the best; issues like defective rear wiper, excessive brake wear, cupped tires and some minor engine and suspension problems are not uncommon. An extended warranty might be a good idea to protect yourself from unexpected repairs.

What to look for buying a used Mazda Tribute: If you found a used vehicle you like, first it’s worth to check its history records to see if the vehicle had any reported accidents or other problems in the past. Follow this link: How to check used car history.

When checking the vehicle, check if all the door locks work properly and the door handles are not broken. Any warning light coming on after the engine was started indicates a problem. Watch for leaks and burnt oil smell under the hood.

Test the hand brake and the rear wiper operation. During the test drive, see if the engine holds idle well and runs smoothly when accelerated. See if the tires are worn unevenly. Tires also could be noisy due to uneven wear. Read our illustrated checklist for info how to spot problem areas when buying a second-hand auto.

Before buying, have the vehicle properly inspected by a mechanic.

After buying a vehicle, visit your local Mazda dealer to check if all outstanding recalls and engine computer software updates have been performed.

Check few vehicles to compare condition. When choosing between a few vehicles of the same model, it’s worth to pay a little extra for a well-maintained vehicle in good shape.

You might also be interested:

How to buy a used car

step-by-step guide

Mazda Tribute

transmission problems

Maintenance: Change your engine oil regularly, to keep the engine well lubricated and clean inside.

The transmission fluid also needs to be changed in recommended intervals, as over time it looses its qualities. Check tire pressure at least once a month; in a 4WD model uneven tire pressure can lead to increased wear of 4WD system components.

Avoid overheating the engine; it may cause serious problems.

If your engine is misfiring due to a bad ignition coil, change all the spark plugs along with the coil. An old, worn out spark plug can cause even a good ignition coil to fail. A flashing Service Engine Soon light is an indication that the engine is misfiring.

It’s a good idea to change the spark plugs as a part of preventive maintenance.

If your Tribute stalls unexpectedly, visit your dealer, there might be an engine computer software update available to address this problem; sometimes cleaning the throttle body may help. A faulty IAC valve also can cause stalling.

To keep your vehicle safe, at least once a year have it inspected in a garage on the hoist. A visual check-up at fast lube places may not always be enough to catch a problem with brakes, steering or suspension. Your mechanic can check these components when the car is lifted on the hoist, for example, when doing tire rotation.

Here is the link if you need an owner’s manual for your Tribute: Where to download an owner’s manual.

More on maintenance:

Top 10 simple car

maintenance tips

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Mazda Tribute
Mazda Tribute
Mazda Tribute
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