2004 Tribute Starting Issues



Unreal. One day after taking it to the dealer it died on me.

Luckily, I was at home this time. I turned the key and when I didn’t hear the fuel pump prime, I knew it wasn’t going to start. And I was right. I switched the relays back just for kicks and got the same result. The pump wouldn’t prime when I turned the key (right before turning it to start). I didn’t bother cranking it since I knew it wouldn’t turn over without the fuel pump working.

I called for a tow truck and called a local garage who does great work since he knew the trouble I’ve been having with the Tribute. I told him to make sure that he tested it out once it got to his garage because it would most likely fire right up in the morning.

As the tow truck backed into my driveway I gave the key another turn and like magic I heard the fuel pump prime! I turned the key and it fired right up. Nice.

I paid the tow truck driver $25 for coming out and I’m back to where I started.

I called the garage (not the dealer) and we agreed to leave my Tribute with them all next week to see if they can replicate the non-start.


Well, the Tribute has been dropped off at a local mechanic to see if he can possibly duplicate the non-start issue.

I had another “episode” today though. Each time I went to start the Tribute the last couple days I’ve first listened for the fuel pump to spin up before I turned the key to start the engine. No problems there. Heard it every time. Even when it started then choked out and stalled this afternoon. What the…??? I gave it a minute and turned the key, heard the pump spin up again and then turned the key and it started right up.

I sure hope the mechanic can figure this out. The more I read the more I’m convinced it’s simply the fuel pump going bad. But until someone can confirm it they won’t think about changing it, which is good I guess.


No luck. Local mechanic said that in the past 4 days he’s never had an issue starting my Tribute.

Basically I’ve decided that this SUV must die, as in not start then not start the next day and perhaps even the next day after that, before I have it towed to a garage to get checked out.

It’s going to be a fun time waiting for it to leave me sitting somewhere at some unknown time in the future.


Just a quick update…Starting issues still ongoing. But my current “work-around” is to NOT CRANK THE ENGINE. Instead, I simply wait for the fuel pump to “come back online”. I turn the key and listen for the fuel pump to spin up (best heard in a garage or with the driver’s side door open). If I don’t hear the pump spin up then I know it’s not going to start. Once I hear the pump I know I can turn the key to “start” and it fires right up.

I’m coming up on the 1 year anniversary of the 1st time this problem started happening. It seems to be happening more often but really there is nothing that can be done until it completely dies and won’t start. At least, for now, I know to “sit it out” and wait for the fuel pump. (the last 3 times it was less than 10 minutes). Continued cranking must have caused a “shutdown” in the past.


Make that 4 times. Last night around midnight, as I was leaving work, I heard the fuel pump spin up, I turned the key, it started then quickly choked out. I turned the key again but this time no fuel pump. I turned the key every few minutes until finally after about 10 minutes I heard the pump again and I fired it up.

I have noticed recently that until it’s warmed up (say a few minutes of driving) that the RPM’s occasionally drop to like 250 when I come to a stop. Say I’m coasting to a stop sign leaving work, the RPM’s drop to like 1000, then as I slow down further they drop to idle speed around 650, but then I noticed a slight drop to 250 or so and they bounce right back up to 650. First time I saw that I thought it was going to stall. It never has and it’s pretty much a daily thing. After it’s warmed up though, it doesn’t happen.

I know this has become a one-way conversation but I’ll keep updating until it’s fixed.


Happened again. This time I got stuck. Tried for half an hour to get the fuel pump to make a noise but no luck. Had to leave it sit for hours before I could come back and fire it up on the first try.

That’s 3 times it happened in the past week. I guess things are looking up since it’s getting worse! HA

I’m hoping to leave it with my mechanic next week while I’m away on vacation. I hope he figures it out while I’m away.


Hi Tribute, Sure sounds like a fuel pump that wont quite die. or a bad relay. I presume you can get at the wire going to your fuel pump by removing a plate likely in the cargo area. Unplug that wire ,then turn the key & check to see if you have power on that wire with a volt meter. Leave your vehicle parked at your house, Then go out every once in awhile & try the test for power. If you get power sometimes & not other times then you could figure it is the relay acting up. Will be watching when you finally find the real problem. Good luck.


Thanks honda.

Having switched relays a few months back didn’t solve the problem. So I kind of discounted that it was a bad relay.

It really does act like a fuel pump “going” bad. But I need it to DIE! Please DIE! haha

I’ll keep updating until the problem is fixed.


Two more times this week I couldn’t get it started. Once I had to leave it and come back the next day. Last night it took a few turns of the key to get a fuel pump response. I’ll be dropping it off at the garage later today. They will have it all next week. I’m hoping the problem is finally diagnosed.

Until then, I’ll be at the beach!!


My mechanic was able to get my Tribute to “not start” last Tuesday. He had a fuel pressure gauge hooked up and said there was zero pressure when trying to start. So he’s changing the fuel pump…when he gets one. Apparently it’s a SLOW go on fuel pumps from Mazda and Ford. He ordered one from the dealer on Wednesday and it “might” show up Monday. I can wait. I’m just hoping this puts an end to this year long event!

I’ll continue to update. (hopefully that there is no further problems!)


Tribute_guy, I can’t count how many times we’ve had “crank but no starts” towed in to our shop, only to have them start up continuously. Sometimes with shaky fuel pumps, just being jostled around on the back of a tow truck is enough to put them into second wind stage. As I’ve said before, “Ain’t electrical problems grand?”


1 year after the first signs of trouble, I have a new fuel pump. ($639 installed)

I’m crossing my fingers that this solves the problem. It’ll take some time for me to not expect a “stall and die” when I go to start my Tribute.

Thanks for all the help guys!


Zero issues since the new fuel pump was installed.

This thread is closed. I hope it helps someone else.


Hi there!

I know it’s been 6 years, but I just found this thread and am having very similar issues with my 2004 Mazda Tribute. Curious if the new fuel pump resolved your problem long-term.




Did you read OPs last entry?


Yes I did. His last post was a month after the pump was replaced. I was curious if the new fuel pump resolved his issue long-term.


“Tribute guy” hasn’t posted anything in this forum regarding his Mazda (or anything else, for that matter) since April 2011, so I tend to think that he isn’t monitoring this thread any longer. Maybe you will get lucky and will receive a response from him, but I think it is… unlikely.


Make sense. I’ve been experiencing similar symptoms with mine and am getting the same type of response from auto shop (can’t do anything unless they can replicate), so I’m just wondering if I should proactively replace the fuel pump or try something else first. Mine isn’t happening nearly as often though - only twice so far in 5 months…but still enough to be annoying.


If you want to increase your chances of getting a reply, you need to click on tribute guy’s avatar, and then you’ll have the opportunity to send him a message. I believe it will show up in his email inbox, assuming he’s still got the same email account.


Try the key on listen for pump prime starting procedure or just change out the fuel pump relay first.
May get lucky.