• Report: #158270

Complaint Review: Marin Mazda, Mazda USA

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  • Submitted: Sun, September 25, 2005
  • Updated: Sat, November 19, 2005

  • Reported By:Greenbrae California
Marin Mazda, Mazda USA
595 Francisco Blvd. East San Rafael, California U.S.A.

Marin Mazda, Mazda USA ripoff, RX8 for transmission problems with clutch assembly dealer & Mazda USA not backing the defective parts San Rafael California

*Consumer Comment: Manufacturer standing by their product?

*Author of original report: One for the Road

*Consumer Suggestion: Not talking about a muscle car here.

*Consumer Suggestion: If the stock parts are weak, try a high-performance clutch from an aftermarket specialty manufacturer

*Consumer Suggestion: RX8 clutch issues

*Consumer Suggestion: I'd fix it myself and save the labor costs. Plus, I'd know it was done right.

*Author of original report: Yes, clutches wear out

*Author of original report: Yes, clutches wear

*Consumer Suggestion: Clutches are no different than shoes in that they both wear out. Based on your complaint, I fail to see the manufacturer's defect here.

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I purchased a 2004 Mazda RX8 in Florida during it's 1st production run. Although minor problems were experienced in the initial few months, the manufacturer backed everything and the performance was stellar. To this day, I still love the car. As of now, I have incurred 24,700+ miles.

8 months ago, I came to Marin County, Ca. to work on contract. As this contract is a long term arrangement, I brought my vehicle for daily transportation.

After 2 months here, I began to notice the acrid odor of clutch burn, not always, but rather rarely and with no reason (i.e., not going up hill, or riding the clutch, etc.). As I was about due for an oil change anyhow, I made an appointment with Marin Mazda and brought it in, referring to the problem, and suggesting an adjustment to the clutch/flywheel assembly (I have owned manual shifts since I was 16). This was when I first met John Lauster, Marin Mazda's Service Manager. As a person, to this day, I still like John alot- I really do.

During my initial visit they said they were unable to find or reproduce what I had experienced, and that according to the diagnostics, everything was operating under proper ranges. Satisfied that, as my car was under warranty, and these individuals were professionals appointed and empowered to represent the product, I was ok.

3 months later, I experienced it again, only a bit more in length, and the smell lasted for 5-10 minutes. I brought it in again. And again, thay said they couldn't find anything wrong.

On the 20th of Sept., 2005, I experienced it again. The smell was overwhelming, and the clutch began to slip, a little at first, but within 20 minutes the slippage had deteriorated to the point where I knew I could not continue to drive it without possibly damaging the transmission. I immediately called Marin Mazda service and scheduled to bring it in, and had it towed from my home to the dealership.

On Friday Morning, John called me. He stated that they would have to replace the clutch assembly (bearings, flywheel, the whole package) and that as my 12 month/12k mile warranty on the transmission had expired, the cost would be passed to me. $1300.00. Needless to say, I was dumbstruck. My vehicle, 2 years old, with 24K miles, and a history of a reported problem to this dealership pertaining to the failure, WAS NOT COVERED FOR THIS ITEM?!? John was nice, professional, and offered zero confrontation. He went ahead and put in for a decision from the factory rep for coverage due to the history, and extenuating circumstances. John, thank you. He told me he would call me back with the rep's decision.

I then immediately contacted Mazda USA- and then the run around began. $9 an hour techs answering the phone after 20-30 minute hold times only to take a message with a loose promise that someone would be in touch. I thought I hit a time warp and went back to the 90's, where the corporations actually thought they could buy time by diverting the progression of information, and sticking you in a loop. But I am an open fellow, so I went through the motions, thinking that Mazda would surely see the obvious issue, and being the stand up company I percieved them to be, would stand behind the product as the problem was obvious and related to a recent recall involving thermal damage.

A couple hours later, I got a phone call from John. He stated the factory rep was qualifying it as "normal wear" and Mazda would not be covering it. I discussed with John the fact that this problem was brought to his attention 6 months ago, but he reiterated that as Mazda had made it's decision, the dealership was going to stand by it as well. I was astonished. I pleaded with him lightly, but to no avail. I told him I would would call back, and then hung up.

I began doing research online- and was empowered at the number of same and/or similar events I found. Transmission problems with Mazda products, 626, RX7, RX8, the 3 & 6 series- all clutch and flywheel assembly related. Many with horror stories worse then mine, some with happy endings as the dealer or manufacturer stepped up and reacted with honor and integrity. All experienced what I am going through initiallly though- where the dealer & manufacturer would not recognize this recurring problem as an item they were responsible for, and instead pushing the cost on the consumer.

I called John back, armed with knowledge. Surely now, with the light of sanity this had provided me, I would be able to convince other sane people that there was an obvious issue stemming from the product, and not it's use. But John was still firm in his resolve, however empathetic, but Mazda's Factory rep's decision was final.

So here I am, looking for my own reconciliation in all this, in the hopes that Marin Mazda, or the HQ Mazda USA, will take the time to KEEP the customer they worked so hard to get in the first place. In the end, it is just a car- it is the honor and integrity behind the service and the warranty that defines the true quality behind any product. Without such, the car is useless to anyone. Feel free to contact me with any legal adice or to share a similar experience.

Kevin
Greenbrae, California
U.S.A.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/25/2005 12:00 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Marin-Mazda-Mazda-USA/San-Rafael-California-94901/Marin-Mazda-Mazda-USA-ripoff-RX8-for-transmission-problems-with-clutch-assembly-dealer--158270. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Manufacturer standing by their product?

AUTHOR: Ss - (U.S.A.)

The bottom line is that the manufacturer must stand behind their products! Kevin, I feel for you! Don't let some people convince you that it is your fault! Think of it this way, if the manufacturer considers your car a sports car and people who buy your type of car would use it hard then why don't the manufacturer put a shorter bumper to bumper warranty for sports car then?? Oh, why don't they cater the warranty to the gender? ...say men would get shorter warranty because they generally are more hard on their things?? Longest warranty would apply to widow er over 70 who drives a MX-8!! You get my point! You should print out the clutch problems forum and show them in their faces and demand the problem be fixed under warranty! Goodluck
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#2 Author of original report

One for the Road

AUTHOR: Kevin - (U.S.A.)

Thanks everyone-

First, I absolutely do not abuse this car- have I had it up to Max RPM's while accelerating? Definitely. Do I double clutch and drop it down a gear? No way. As stated in subsequent posts, this is not a race or drag car, but rather a sports car I commute with. Have you ever tried to speed around in SF? It's about impossible, trust me. And the low end torque is abysmal. But that's not why I love it. It handles like a dream and is very civilized to pilot. I have a 69 vette for rompin and stompin', and she gets all my abuse.

The real point here is standing behind a product that doesn't stand up to it's expected performance. Clutch wear on this class of vehicle should occur at around 40-60k- due to high heat, RPMs, and stock quality. When the product does not perform at its expected level, in ANY area, it is the manufacturers DUTY to be ethical and step up to the plate. I am willing to pay for the soft parts at this point, but all the hard parts should be on their plate as they are still covered. But whatever.

I am getting the aftermarket assembly from Shane Racing for street use- racing is overkill. Just want a heavy duty clutch that lasts like it should.

And I will be seeking damages, just haven't decided if I want to go through small claims, mediation, full on court battle, or Lemon Law (3 times is a charm, and I got 3 incidents- this would be my 3rd lemon law battle, and I won the previous 2). I hate to do it, cause I love the car, but my life is more than just driving.
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#3 Consumer Suggestion

Not talking about a muscle car here.

AUTHOR: Dean - (U.S.A.)

Hi Paul,

We are not talking about a muscle car here that puts out 400 hp and gobs of torque. This car puts out about 175+ rear wheel horsepower, and not much low end torque. It gets it power from high rpm that is what a rotary engine is known for.

I think what Kevin is upset about is a clutch should last much longer in todays cars, under normal driving conditions. And this car is generally not a drag car and will not win too many runs against a V-8 mustang or Turbo WRX, EVO, etc. It excells in handling as it is a perfect 50/50 balance.

The history of this car has shown some defective clutches from the factory, even loose bolts and entire pressure plates exploding under normal driving conditions. Not saying that maybe Kevin did or did not do some high RPM clutch drops, but Mazda should give the customer the benifit of doubt at this low mileage and with its history.

I have had numerous standards in small sporty cars and have never had to replace a clutch, and that is even after close to 100k miles. Well except for a 1976 AMC Pacer, but that is another long ripoff report :)

Anyways, I think Kevin should print out all the reports he can find on the car sites, including the RX8Club.com and send them to mazda with a letter from his lawyer. Todays clutches should last longer than his did.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

If the stock parts are weak, try a high-performance clutch from an aftermarket specialty manufacturer

AUTHOR: Paul - (U.S.A.)

I'll be honest, I immediately assumed that this was a case of a person running their car hard, and then wondering why it fails under that kind of usage.

After all, I ran my stuff hard as a kid. I don't know how many times I went out with a 440 six-pack and smoked the tires until they either popped or the wire cords were frayed and hanging out.

I had an old big-block El Camino that was already crashed, so I went out and practiced J-turns in it. That is nothing but abuse.

And, don't even get me started about doing donuts in the snow or drifting around corners on country roads! Way too much fun.

Back then, you could do that kind of thing and get away with it. Today, they suspend your license before you manage to blow up your first engine.

Anyway, it looks like you only have two choices here.

You can continue to install the same weak-a*s stock clutch, and get used to changing it out every 18 months. Or else, you could try a high-performance clutch from an aftermarket manufacturer.

Pick up a copy of Import Tuner, or one of the import hot-rod magazines, and see who is selling what.

I'd pick a disk that was made for high-performance street driving. Maybe a ceramic clutch even. They take a helluva lot of abuse. Just make sure you get a sprung hub. Solid hubs tend to grab so hard that they break parts. Plus, they are a nuisance to live with on the street.

See, the problem here is one of economics. Mazda, like all modern manufacturers, is constrained by price. Only a few specialty Italian companies can say the hell with price and build the best possible vehicle for its intended use.

The rest have to be competitive in the marketplace. That's means every penny counts. That's why you get a weak clutch in an otherwise high-performance automobile.

But, an aftermarket manufacturer doesn't face as much of that. Racers tend to place performance first, and price way down on the list of priorities. So, an aftermarket specialty unit may hold up for years and years.

In which case, it'd be a much better value than going through stock units like rolls of toilet paper.

As for warranty, what good is it, really? Clearly, you'd have to sue here to get anything on your clutch. So, that pretty much shows you the value of the whole warranty thing, doesn't it?

I'd go with the aftermarket part and get the thing back on the road for good this time.

Check the internet and see what other owners have had success with. I'm sure you're not the only one who has this problem.

In addition, update your complaint. That should cost Mazda a few RX8 sales after others see your problems.
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

RX8 clutch issues

AUTHOR: Dean - (U.S.A.)

Hi Kevin,

Are you a member of the RX8club.com? If not, join it and read about other members similar problems, such as a guy named Abid who has been refused warranty work because Mazda has accused him of abusing the car.

Some of the car manufacturers are watching the car groups on the internet and seeing if individuals are autocrossing, and then consider it abuse and voiding their warranties.

Funny how a car is advertised as a high performance sports car but when used as such, they consider it abuse??

Anyways, good luck with getting it resolved.

I have an Aug '03 build and just love it also!
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#6 Consumer Suggestion

I'd fix it myself and save the labor costs. Plus, I'd know it was done right.

AUTHOR: Paul - (U.S.A.)

When I was a kid, I had a GTO with a ram air 400. I don't know how many clutch disks I put in the thing. But, I doubt any of them went more than 20,000 miles. Hell, most of them didn't last more than 6 months. Big power and wide tires are hard on clutches.

Then, I read how the performance was stellar. I assumed you're not talking about the CD changer. I figured you're out playing with your car, the same way I did.

If this model indeed does have a history of clutch problems, maybe you're entitled to some consideration here.

Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath for the resolution. Not unless you file suit.

If the thing were mine, I pull it apart and put a new disk in it myself. I probably did several hundred transmission R/R's on my back before I started working in a shop. I figure one more won't kill me.

Thousands of people read these complaints everyday. Look around at the size of this site. It's like freakin' ebay. The ebay of fraud, that is. You're not the only one here. Not by a long shot.

Sunday is nothing to me. Everyday is my time to do as I want.
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#7 Author of original report

Yes, clutches wear out

AUTHOR: Kevin - (U.S.A.)

also, limited damage occured; I was referring to the flywheel and overall assemblage, and used the term "transmission" more for lay purposes (i.e., Drivetrain= transmission, clutch assembly, linkeage, etc.). And the flywheel "feels" off, so it may be worn some- alot of reports are showing this is occuring alot with Mazda clutch assemblies (type "Mazda" into your search, grap a cup of Joe, and get a couple hours of reading from the results).
And I need to use dealer specific repairs and OEM approved parts or I could void a warranty; and there are no transmission express shops I would trust with my car- the clutch assembly is not like domestic or previous froeign build outs.
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#8 Author of original report

Yes, clutches wear

AUTHOR: Kevin - (U.S.A.)

Yes clutches wear- I have been driving manual transmissions since 16 and have replaced my fair share myself. But what I do know is that they do not wear out at 24k miles of commuter driving, and there were warnings from the clutch 6 months prior to failure, brought to the attention of the dealer, and never corrected. Add to this is the recent recall in the clutch/flywheel housing that creates thermal damage to a fuel line, as well as the THOUSANDS of almost identical experiences from mazda owners everywhere and the same mode of response from the dealer/manufacturer where they refuse to back a warrantied product when something occurs "other than intended" due to poor manufacturing R&D and corporate indifference.

If I had 40k miles on this car, I would expect this, or if I abused this car in any way. Fact is, niether has occured.I am not looking for a handout- I am looing for a product to be backed by it's manufacturer. Lucky for me, if they don't, I have many options for resolution, all of which impact Mazda negatively. And who are you, by the way, where you would take such interest on a Sunday over something which doesn't concern you? Just curious.
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#9 Consumer Suggestion

Clutches are no different than shoes in that they both wear out. Based on your complaint, I fail to see the manufacturer's defect here.

AUTHOR: Paul - (U.S.A.)

First let me explain something here. When a clutch wears out, it won't damage the transmission.

All the clutch does is connect the power from the engine to the rest of the drivetrain. The transmission is next in line to receive that power. Then the driveshaft, and finally the rear axle and tires. That's how you end up going down the road.

Just like the soles on your shoes, the clutch wears every time you use it. So, it has a finite life to begin with. Just like shoes.

You can accelerate the wear greatly by making a big difference between the speed of the engine and the part next in line, the transmission.

Rev the engine up to 5,000 RPM. Put the transmission in first gear, and let the clutch out fast and hard. You get clouds of tire smoke and lines of rubber on the road. Plus, you get fast acceleration. The main reason people do this is because it's fun.

The faster the engine is going when you let out the clutch, the greater the speed mismatch is going to be. That speed mismatch is what actually wears the clutch. So, when you dump the clutch with the engine running fast, you're wearing the clutch as much as 100 or more normal starts.

The best way to get moving is by raising the engine speed only enough to pull away without stalling. Slightly above idle is all you need. Of course, the SUV beside you, who is pulling a boat, may beat you away from the light. But, you're saving on clutch and gas. You can't have it both ways.

Every subsequent shift wears the clutch a little too. It all depends on how much speed mismatch the clutch must absorb.

They have a saying with high performance cars. Speed costs money. How fast can you afford to go?

You don't have to spend $1300. Just throw in a new clutch disk. Johnnie's Quick-N-Cheap auto service can do it for less than $400, I'm guessing.

Then, you'll be back on the road again.

Next time, when the clutch is going out, ease the car down the road until you can replace it. Nothing else gets ruined. If the thing is slipping badly, the flywheel heats up. But, the trans won't be damaged. Maybe the stink from the burning clutch might bother it. But that's about it.

The harder you drive, the more you wear out your car's parts. It's everything. Clutches. Brakes. Drive axles. And, finally tires.

Now tell me, how fast do you think you can afford to go?
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