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Car Repair Problem Shortly Turning into a Legal Problem

I have a 2005 Mazda Tribute bought in Tulsa. I had 4 of 6 coils replaced and computer replaced 2008 then MOVED far away. I did not find out until recently that he didn’t replace all of the coils, I have no idea why, very disappointed with that dealer, $2,400 in repairs.

The car was running rough, took it to the local neighborhood guy who diagnosed coil #5 was bad, swapped it with #6, cleaned, tightened and car worked fine with no problems. He then changed oil, drove it around the block to make sure it was good and car died. He brought it to the shop, blew fuse, swapped fuse, blew another fuse, swapped it with a BIGGER FUSE and fried computer. The local guy replaced it with a 2006 Mazda computer and sent it to the dealer for key programming and final: $600 in repairs.

Dealer tried to get the 2006 computer to work but had to scrap it and put in a new 2005 computer and he replaced all of the coils. $500 in trying to fix the local guy’s problem and $2000 for a new computer. The dealer has also taken his sweet time fixing it and has racked me up 3 weeks of rental car at about $600.

Here’s the summary:
$600 in local guy repair in 2011
$2500 in dealer repair in 2011
$600 in rental car while dealer repaired

Am I crazy or does this seem like I should send the local guy a well worded letter asking he covers the repair cost?

What makes it worse is that the car has 160,000 miles on it, I was just wanting it to get fixed up and sent in for trade for a new car. I have lost my faith in Mazda and especially the dealership who repaired it for being so difficult to work with and charging me an arm and a leg. The Mazda consumer guys won’t help me, I figure two computers in five years is out of the ordinary. I also asked them about the poor repair job in both cases (not replacing all of the coils for the first guy and the second guy gouging me) and they won’t help.

Any thoughts or advice is appreciated, thanks.


Regarding the original coil replacement back in '08 there is no reason to replace every coil. Only the ones that show a problem should be replaced and 4 of 6 is a handful. It’s unknown to us how or why even the 4 of 6 were changed.

The newest dealer may have your vehicle for this length of time not because they want to clutter up the shop but simply because they’re chasing gremlins due to what sounds a like a backyard hack guy. (The one who threw fuses at it and installed a likely non-compatible computer.)
Going over and trying to straighten out what someone else butchered can be a mind-numbing PITA at times and some shops who are aware of a story like this will justifiably turn away and refuse to even work on a vehicle like this.

Corporate Mazda will not get involved with something like this nor should they.

A note about coils. Coil failure is usually a case of murder rather than their dying a natural death. Aged, high miles spark plugs, plugs gapped too wide, and/or moisture in the plug wells can all contribute to coil failure.

From what I see the problem here is the backyard hack guy for sure. I’m up in the air over the original dealer way back when simply because the symptoms and reasons for the multiple coil replacements are not known.
JMO anyway and hope it helps.

As to coil f

Putting a 2006 computer in a 2005 car is bad. You should have rejected this fix if the repair shop informed you in advance. They messed this job up and they should be responsible for the costs to put the job right. Putting in an “oversized” fuse is another clue of a bad shop, this is just stupid. Since it sounds like a “back yard” job to me I’d talk to person financially responsible for the shop, but I expect you’ll have to threaten court to get any relief.

Likely more to the story, but it seems your effort to use a “cheap” shop has backfired.

Make mine another vote that the backyard guy greatly exascerbated the problem the moment he put in an oversized fuse. The fuse is the protector of other things. By putting on an oversized fuse he eliminated that protection, and in this case apparently froed the ECU.

You took a risk to save some bucks. We all do it occasionally. That does not justify what he did, especially since he’s representing himself as a mechanic, but it certainly has cost you dearly. You’re right in seeking justice. First detail the situation in writing, along with what you’d like as resitution, and forward it to him supported by copies of your shop orders. That’ll give you more “weight”.

Sincere best.