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Rollover risk with Mazda5

I just bought a Mazda5. I love everything about it except the way it handles on highway on/off ramps. I have never had a car before that felt so unstable when on a highway entrance ramp. If I go over 20 mph I can feel the top get ‘tippy’, yikes! Is this ‘normal’ for this auto? It has a rollover rating of 4. Maybe I am just not accustomed to driving it yet? Any thoughts or suggestions? Thank you!

Depends what you drove before.

Have you verified that your tire pressure is correct?
When cars are shipped from the factory, their tires are intentionally overinflated (40-50 psi is common), and the dealership is supposed to reduce the pressure during pre-delivery prep. Unfortunately, many times pre-delivery prep workers forget to take care of this task.

If your tires are grossly overinflated, the handling can be “squirrely”.
Conversely, if they are underinflated, handling on curves can be severely impaired–to the point of being dangerous.

If your tire pressure is set to the vehicle mfr’s recommended pressure (found on a label on the driver’s door jamb) or if the pressure is a few lbs above the mfr’s recommended pressure, your handling will be more secure than if they are underinflated or grossly overinflated. I prefer to keep my tire pressure set to ~4 lbs over the vehicle mfr’s recommended pressure, as I like the ride and handling better at that pressure, but I would never go more than–lets say–6 lbs over the recommended pressure.

Make sure that you use the vehicle mfr’s recommended pressure as your reference point.
Do NOT use the maximum pressure listed on the tire’s sidewall as your reference point.

@ Andrew- I have driven a variety of fwd and awd sedans including Nissan Sentra, Toyota Celica, and Subaru Legacy. I expected the handling to be different in the 5, but am still a bit surprised at how top-heavy it feels.

@ VDCdriver- I will check my tire pressure, but the dealership checked it when they repaired a flat tire the first week I had the car. My tire gauge light hasn’t gone on to indicate that my air pressure needs to be checked. Thank you for raising this issue, I was not aware of the need for heightened awareness of the tire pressure.

I knew that I would have to adjust my driving accordingly because of certain handling issues, but wasn’t aware there would be this much of a difference!

Shocks, Struts, Tire air pressure

“My tire gauge light hasn’t gone on to indicate that my air pressure needs to be checked”

If you rely on the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to tell you that your tires need air, you are going to be sadly disappointed in the tread life, and possibly also the vehicle’s handling and its gas mileage. Those systems are there to alert you to a sudden, gross change in tire pressure, not to be used as a substitute for regular use of a good-quality, hand-held tire pressure gauge.

If you don’t have a pressure gauge, you need to get one. If you already have one, you need to check the pressure of your tires when they are “cold”, i.e.–before driving more than 2 miles–if you want an accurate reading of their pressure.

You’re driving a top-heavy tall van. It’s going to feel different, and it’s going to have more of a risk of rollover than a car.

Tire pressure sensors are set to go off when tires are 25% UNDER inflated. Not yelling, just want to make sure everyone gets that part. This can lead to poor mileage, tire wear and rollover risk. They TPS was put there due to the Ford Explorer rollover issues. Always check it and you will be a lot safer.

Thank you everyone! Both Mazda and Nissan both assured me that the TPMS would alert me to variances of 4 lbs pressure either over or under the ideal… Given what you all have told me I will definitely start checking my pressure regularly, beginning today!

Ok, so I guess I am just in an adjustment period, just need to raise my awareness of the issues you have all brought up. Now that I know what my little mini-van feels like when turning circles, I am beginning to think that the SUV’s and vans that I see zipping onto and off freeways all have a death wish?

Thanks for all the help!

Some of those too-talls feel unstable. I had a 2003 Saturn Vue that was just awful about that. It is probably just a bad driver position. I felt like I was too close to Heaven I guess.

Is it new or used?

A rollover rating of 4 out of 5 is pretty good, especially for a minivan. It is probably something along the line of a Miata. To get a 5 out of 5, you need a kiss the ground low RX8. The van just feels more tipsy because the taller seating position amplifies the body roll. Try to push it a bit in an empty parking lot and gain some confidence in its cornering ability. It’ll come in handy someday.

Miata is a 5.

What kind of tires are on the vehicle? Do they have a funny name like Sunny Delta or normal Michelin, Goodyear, Bridgestone etc.

I think part of it may be you are not used to sitting higher. The cars you describe owning before have a much lower center of gravity(esp Subaru) so you get a nicer feeling in corners. Whether they actually cornered better is likely very little chance of that.

I do not trust dealers to properly check tire pressure, or to know exactly how a TPM system works. My father took his Caddy STS to a dealer, and even after he questioned the tire pressure, they left it at 15 PSI. Twice!

Since I now have a compressor, I have been checking and airing his tires as needed

One tip: Buy a good tire gauge. I have an Accutire MS 4021 B that I got at Sears for about $15. It was money well spent!

It’s new.