Mazda MPV transmission failures JATCO JA5A-EL zoom-zoom splat

When zoom-zoom goes bad

This is a place holder for a longer investigative article I am writing, and I am hoping that if yours failed too that you will leave some comments.

My experience was a total failure of a Mazda MPV 2002 automatic transmission (JATCO) with less than 100,000 miles and Mazda denying that there was any kind of known issue with them. The quoted price for a replacement from Mazda Canada was $5,500 installed which is outrageous. I opted for a used junkyard transmission but the first one the dealership installed slipped between gear changes to they had to find a second junkyard transmission and I had to rent a car for two weeks. I suspect a lot of Mazdas are just sent to the junkyard when the transmission fails.

Mazda Canada states “Regarding your transmission inquiry, there are no known manufacturing defects that will result in the failure of your transmission.” . However, in the literature link below, there is a update handbook available that refers to “many engineering changes” that need to be applied in the rebuild process. Mazda needs to recall these transmissions and apply these updates, or at the very least, offer them to customers with failed transmissions. Of course “should” doesn’t improve short term profit and recalls look bad on the financial statements, so I am not holding my breath. The only real cost to Mazda are the thousands of people like myself that will no longer be loyal customers. If I had done a Google search and found nothing out there, I would have written it off as bad luck and not bothered with this page — but there are thousands of complaints out there and the issues of lemon laws, class action law suits and recalls have been mentioned numerous times.

I also had a look at the JATCO site and saw that you could ask them questions provided that you agree “We send email replies only for the purpose of responding to specific questions from customers. We strictly forbid transfer, secondary use or disclosure to any third party, of all or part of the contents of such replies without our permission.” Outrageous – now customer service comes with prearranged gag order.

Technical Literature
Automatic Transmission Service Group

“The JATCO 5 speed automatic transmission is known as the JF506E in the Jaguar X Type and Land Rover’s Freelander. In the Mazda 6 and MPV it is known as the JA5A-EL and with VW’s Golf, GTI and Jetta it is the 09A. Overseas it is known as the 5F1J or the Durashift -5-Tronic transmission used in the Mondeo vehicle starting in 2002.5 model year. This manual contains the procedures necessary to diagnose, overhaul and/or repair the Mazda JF506E transaxle, and is intended for automotive technicians that are familiar with the operation of automatic transmissions.

Note: There have been many engineering changes in this transaxle since its introduction in 1999. ATSG also has available an “Update Handbook” which includes the many changes and is required along with this manual for a proper overhaul or repair.”

… more soon

Example Repair Costs

  • Feb 2011 – CDN$2300 for a local junkyard replacement, installed with 5 year warranty on part only. Dealer claims it is a nightmare and they are on their second used transmission 10 days later.
  • Feb 2011 – CDN$5500 for a Mazda Canada replacement, installed

Links that have discussions of Mazda failures and some quotes:
There are a lot of horror stories over at too.
“I purchased a 2002 Mazda MPV mini van brand new. I had taken it in a couple of times for a problem of when i pressed the gas it would stall and then jerk and make a clunk sound. the dealer could never replicate the issue, and the problem continued. now i justed turned 70,000 miles and the transmission failed and needs to be replaced at a cost of 2500-3000. As i look online i see hundreds of complaints on this same issue. there needs to be a recall on the transmissions. K of MT PROSPECT, IL Oct. 22, 2010 ”

APA (Automobile Protection Association) – 2004 Mazda MPV complaints
– there should be a lot more by now –
“Forty-one complaints concerning the 2000-2002 Mazda MPV have been filed by the public since November 2002. The owners who contacted the APA complained mostly about vibration and transmission problems. From November 2002 to March 2003, complaints were filed at the Toronto office using the short one-page form; twelve such forms were filled out by consumers. From May 2003 until today, complaints have been filed using the two-page form available on the web site and were sent to both the Toronto and Montreal offices. Twenty-nine such complaints were sent to the APA. All of the consumers who sent the APA completed forms identified themselves and left us their telephone numbers and, in most cases, their e-mail addresses.” Mazda MPV Transmission Problems (this thread has 170+ messages)
“My 2002 MPV with 68,000 miles started having problems with the transmission slipping into neutral. I took it to the local dealer who and service manager indicated there was an “internal failure” in the transmission and repair cost would be $3,500. They would order a rebuilt transmission from Mazda and install it. A transmission failure at this low mileage is not acceptable. My first and last Mazda! I’d strongly advise any MPV owners out there to get rid of their vans before it is too late.”

“I called Mazda today. They were useless. They said because I was out of warranty based on mileage and time of ownership ( 45 months and 68,000 miles) they could not do anything. It is annoying that the tranny would go at such low mileage and equally annoying that the repair is so expensive. Anyone reading this that owns a MPV, dump it now!”

“On Sept. 7th, 2010 at 97174 miles the transmission gave out. I lost the 4th, 5th, and reverse gears. I was able to get around at 25 mph in gears 1-3. Up until now shift shock had always been present. I didn’t get the recommended reflash because according to what I’ve read on various MPV blogs and forums most people that had it done still had shift shock. I concluded it wasn’t worth it. I had never changed the transmission oil because it isn’t recommended by Mazda. Why? I’ve pondered that for a long time. This repair in out of my league. I got quotes from $1200.00 to $3500.00 for rebuild or remanufactured (there is a difference). I contemplated a used transmission from the junk yard. Then the dreaded thought of sending my beloved MPV to the scrap heap. This year MPV qualified under the Cash For Clunker program. I should have done it then. I decided on a $2000.00 local rebuild buy a reputable well established transmission shop that was well acquainted with this type transmission and its flaws. I learned it is a JATCO (Japanese automatic transmission company) JF506E transmission. Used in certain Jaguar, VW, Mazda, Ford, Landrover models and other manufacturers. Excessive valve body wear and cracked and/or broken reverse piston seem to be the major and very common problems. Jaguar actually had a recall on the transmission. According to the transmission shop, all the new rebuild kits come with upgraded parts. all part flaws have been addressed. My MPV is on the road again. ”

Where to file complaints

Government agencies

Comsumer Protection sites

.. convenient links coming soon

Please leave a comment if you want to be notified of any future recall or action. I won’t publish your e-mail address so you won’t be getting any spam. If you leave failure details (mileage, age, year of the vehicle and repair cost or salvaged perhaps and some comments) will add them to a table.

About Administrator

My interests are medicine, sustainable living, and research in the basic sciences.
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26 Responses to Mazda MPV transmission failures JATCO JA5A-EL zoom-zoom splat

  1. I have a 2000 Mazda MPV. There have been various problems with the car but I enjoyed driving it and found it very comfortable. However, at just over 170000 kilometres I started hearing strange noises and discovered the transmission was the cause. I am angry that the transmission is giving out at this mileage. There are may older cars out there with good transmissions. My van looks like a new car because I have taken very good care of it but apparently it is now useless. I’ve been warned by various other comments that installing a new transmission is costly and I might very quickly have a repeat of the same problem. If there is ever any way to make Mazda replace my transmission with a reliable on then let me know. If there is no recourse I won’t be buying another Mazda ………..ever!

  2. Melissa Harris says:

    2004 MPV: first went to dealership with transmission concern while stilled covered by warranty. They said it was a special “smart” feature in 2004 models that was supposed to sense different driving styles of diff. drivers, but it didn’t work correctly. They reassured me it was not a big deal, and would not lead to larger problems. June 2009, approx. 58,000 miles: Car stalled while driving down steep mountain in Yosemite. Proceeded to die several times during that road trip. Dealership said they couldn’t find any problems or codes. Over next few months, check engine light started flashing a few days at a time, then would go away, then back. Car continued to die frequently, especially at stops, when accelerating quickly, or going up hills. Mechanic replaced Mass Airflow Sensor, problem not solved. Cleaning throttle body head seemed to fix problem for a while. No more engine light, surging, or stalling, for a few months. Then it would slowly return…first with a few stalls, then the engine light flashing for days at a time, then engine light on all the time for a few months. After a few months of car dying intermittently, it would stop dying completely, but problem became shuttering, especially at stops. Again, when throttle body head was cleaned (now on my third mechanic), all would be well for a few months…no engine light, shuttering, dying. But it always comes back. Mechanic #2 said he checked PVC hose for crack but didn’t see anything. Not sure he truly checked it, as he was short on time and I hear it’s located in a difficult spot in the engine that requires some work to access properly. All the mechanics have had a difficult time finding a code from the engine light. Once, mechanic #3 found a code, which I believe was 56. Don’t quote me on that. Today (approx. 82,000 miles) I took it into mechanic #4. Solid engine light for past couple of months, lots of shuttering, not dying. He’s worked on a few MPVs with similar symptoms lately, and so far he’s concluded it goes back to transmission being the problem. I’m sure I’ve put unnecessary wear and tear on the shifter and ignition, as well as other parts, as I start up the engine over and over due to this problem of the past couple years. I hope the dealership is held accountable if this is in fact a wide-spread problem that should have resulted in a recall, or at least some level of repair service.

  3. JOSE MARTINEZ says:

    my van 2002 mazda mpv has the same problem bad tranmission.
    more of the same.

  4. Tony Chan says:

    I have a 2003 Mazda MPV with 69861. The last few days , I noticed that my van jerked a little when I’m doing from 40 to 50 miles. Took my car to my mechanic today and did a test drive. He told me is the transmission problem and asked me when is the last time I Change the transmission fluid. I told him I did it on Aug/09. He further stated that the dealership may had replaced the new transmission fluid, but did not DRAIN all the old fluid out completely. He performed a power drained , replaced new fluid ( 12 qt ) and the cost is $149. Then he advised me to test drive few more days before making any other repair/plan.

  5. John Kuzniarz says:

    I am from Ottawa, Canada and I have a 2002 MPV with just over 103K. First the engine check light came on back in the fall of 2010. The dealer could not find any issues so they just reset the sensor and the light went off. A few months latter the light came back but it was intermittent. The dealer checked it again. Changed me $150 and found nothing. Just few days after I had brought it in the key in the ignition would not come out. I had this problem before and they had to replace the whole ignition switch which cost me over $500! I was able to remove the key after waiting about 5 min and turning car on and off. It only got worse after this. The O/D off light started flashing as well and the transmission jerked at low speeds. I brought the car to the dealer again and it has been in the shop for 2 days now. They have not found problem or will not admit what is causing this problem. They have told me that they have contacted Mazda “pretending” that the car is still under warranty to see if they can get some answers. Very strange! I have taken good care of this vehicle, having it serviced by the dealer at the required times. It is not acceptable to see this problem so prematurely. I am sure Mazda is aware and is trying to cover themselves by not admitting that they installed a bad transmission. I am expecting the worst and hoping for the best. If they say it’s the transmission and they do not admit fault, I will not give them opportunity (and money $4500) to replace it and I will go to a reputable local transmission shop to give them the chance to see if they can fix it for less. I will no longer purchase a Mazda and will pass the word around that this problem exists.

  6. N Buckwalter says:

    My 2002 MPV Tranny went bad at 84,000. Took to reputable tranny repair shop. They checked and said all internal parts are fine, must be the computer. Took to dealer. They first said simple repair. After that didn’t work plus many other things didn’t work, I was told the only solution was replacement. Cost $3400. So I had no other choice. Found it interesting they couldn’t tell me what was bad, just that a full re-build would fix it.

  7. rafael says:

    Hi, I have some questions and problems with my Mazda MPV 2000. The shift gear doesn’t work at all. Like when i try to turn my car on i have to play and move the shift to try to turn my car on…people say i need to change the whole part of the steering wheel but i don’t have enough money to get one, is there any way i could fix this?? Like i already tried and took everything off to see if i could fix it but i can’t!! If anyone knows how to please help me out cuz i really cannot afford for a new car or a new piece so if anyone knows or can give me an advice i would appreciate the help!!

  8. rafael says:

    Hi, I have some questions and problems with my Mazda MPV 2000. The shift gear doesn’t work at all. Like when i try to turn my car on i have to play and move the shift to try to turn my car on…people say i need to change the whole part of the steering wheel but i don’t have enough money to get one, is there any way i could fix this?? Like i already tried and took everything off to see if i could fix it but i can’t!! If anyone knows how to please help me out cuz i really cannot afford for a new car or a new piece so if an

  9. Andy Baptista says:

    I have a 2000 MPV that was having the typical shift-shock problem. I took it to a local Mazda dealer after reading everything on-line about the problem. They charged me a $120 diagnostic fee to tell me they thought it was a 2-3 shift pack problem, but said they couldn’t confirm it and didn’t even give a quote to fix it – they actually told me to go to a transmission shop! I went to two local transmission shops, who both told me it needed a new valve body. I had it replaced (about $980 + tax), and now it shifts much better (not perfect, but much better).

  10. Matthew Grossman says:

    2002 MPV ES purchased new from the dealer. Brought in numerous times to complain about transmission issues. Sold car to a friend in Jan 2011. May 2011 the transmission failed completely and requires a rebuild that will cost more than the value of the vehicle. Am furious and feel ripped off by Mazda. Called the dealer. No help there. Someone needs to do something about this…

  11. john says:

    2002 mpv transmission just went bad @ 115k. $2632 to rebuild. what a piece of crap this car has turned out to be. already spent $800 on 2 plug coils this year. 4 more to go at any time i expect, probably one at a time, for $1600 more. just spent $450 on new tires too. i hate this car & mazda.

  12. Xianghong Qi says:

    I have Mazda 2002 MPV. The transmission almost out. Now this MPV only can forward, not backward. The repair cost is estimated between $2500~$3000.

  13. micah lemay says:

    The 2002 model is what I am speaking about.
    The 2000 is still good with the 4-spd tranny.
    I buy Japanese so I DO NOT BUY FORD- THAT’S THE REASON!!

  14. wilson carter says:

    gear box is same as jaguar x type also land rover free lander,it is jatco box loads of problems in uk,why dont they do something about the tranny jatco should do it check out jaguar x type transmission in the states loads of problems.

  15. Karen Sferra says:

    I have a 2002 Mazda MPV LX, bought it brand new in 3/02 and paid about $25,000 for it. The van is not driven much, but spent a lot of money on coils being replaced. In October of 2010 the transmission went while my husband while driving off the Walt Whitman Bridge in Philadelphia, Pa. We had it rebuilt to the tune of $2500 and the van only had about 43,000 miles on it! Granted it was 8 yrs old, but it still looked brand new and we took very good care of it. We still have and just keep our fingers crossed! Just can’t afford a new car payment, yet!

  16. Eliseo Orellana says:

    I bought a 2002 Mazda MPV ES. It had 88k miles then at 100k miles the reverse gear suddenly stopped working. It would act as if it was in nuetral and when I pressed the gas pedal fervently, it would move slightly. Took to mechanic and needed a rebuild, $1250.00 – OUCH !

  17. Jey says:

    My 2002 MPV transmission failed around 80K+ KM and dealer replaced with junk yard one (cost around 2.5K) and again I am having transmission like problem @130,000 km. I think we should write a petition to maza for reimbursement + fix any new issues.

  18. DJIBRIL CISSE says:

    I have a 2004 Mazda mpv with 120 k miles on it. Last year I had the same transmission issues you all talk about. The mechanic changed the fluid and filter and it worked for a year but other issues came up too. When I hit and hold the brake the car is jumpy. Now the transmission issue is back. I just spent $800 to change the one coil, the PVC pipe, the air flow sensor, the thermostat… This took care of the engine problem. Now I have to take the vehicle to a transmission shop to rebuild it. After, I’m selling it and will never mess with Mazda again.

  19. ak says:

    I have mazda MPV 2002 at 100k miles the all gears suddenly stopped working. It would act as if it was in nuetral and when I turned engine off then restart it does not restart. Took to mechanic and…………..WAITING FOR ANSWER

  20. Jennifer says:

    I own a 2004 Mazda MPV and have had nothing but problems with it. I have replaced all of the coils and I have been having the problem with it slowing down and stopping while it sounds as if the engine is revving. I have been in drive while it has started going in reverse as well. I brought it to be checked a few separate times and they could never replicate my problem. I finally brought it in to Mazda again yesterday and they are saying that it needs a new transmission and radiator. My car only has 54K miles. Book value is just over $5K and the repair was quoted at $6K. I am so frustrated and upset by this and Mazda is not helpful at all!!!

  21. Greg says:

    In 2007, we bought a 2006 MPV LX with 17k miles on it. It has been an excellent vehicle with a couple minor problems…maybe $400 in non-regular maintenence/repairs. We just sunk $600 into it for front brakes, inspection, replace rear license plate bulb assemblies(!). A week later the transmission died at 115k miles. Granted that’s a decent amount of miles, but it still feels like it failed too soon. There are a ton of older vehicles around with more miles that don’t have tranny issues. I’ve always been a loyal Mazda guy, but this makes me think twice about another Mazda…

  22. Ron Davis says:

    My problem is a 2002 LandRover Freelander with 52,000 miles. I read that the transmission is the same, a Jatco JF506E. One can tell from the mileage that this suv has not been abused, with maintenance performed at regular intervals. Even changed the ATF at 96 months as reccomended-didn’t have a chance to get to 96,000 miles. The fluid was crystal clear and bright red–looked really good.
    The transmission is slipping slightly now; I am told by the dealer that there is no fix and of course Jatco does nothing. Anyway, LandRover-Scottsdale, AZ takes this as a matter of fact and can do nothing. And, of course Jatco defers to the dealer. This is bullshit-no? Seems like they could tell me to change a sensor or two and make some money–this is really a lost cause-when they won’t take advantage.

  23. Bernard Capurro says:

    My Jatco 5-speed transmission also failed at 35,000 miles. The car is a Rover. Rover has gone and there are no longer any dealers, so I contacted Jatco to ask for advice. Their reply was ” We are not responsible for supporting customers… contact your dealer..We don’t have any way to help you..”

  24. KP says:

    We have a 2002 MPV ES purchased used from a Calgary Mazda Dealer in 2006. It’s great when it runs but on top of failed transmissions we have had plenty of problems (cracked exhaust manifold, bad ignition coils, bad O2 sensor causing periodic CEL’s, failing catalytic converter, extensive body rust, binding front wiper arms, etc.) Van has been checked at least twice a year and all major service has been done by the Mazda dealer.

    First transmission failure at approximately 117,000 km in 2007; fortunately it occured in town. After doing some research and discovering that transmission problems seemed to be too common, had AAMCO rebuild the transmission and purchased a lifetime warrantee for it (good for as long as we own it and have it checked by them every year). Second transmission failure at approximately 168,000 km a few days ago (left us stranded on the side of the highway just short of the top of a big hill on the way back into town from a road trip – fortunately on the way back from our vacation and not too far from town). Van is now in the shop while they search for parts to rebuild the transmission again, thankfully this time at their expense. A major inconvenience for the wife and kids however. Time for a more reliable family hauler. It will not be a Mazda.

  25. Diamond says:

    I’ve just joined the club. 2002 with 115,000 miles. Internal failure with a $3400 repair bill. Transmission had been slipping but then it just went out. Won’t go at all.

  26. Carolyn Naegele says:

    I have a 98 Mazda MPV AllSport 4×4 Van…bought at about 169,000 miles for $3k. Since then (had for about a year) I’ve spent five hundred or more getting tune up, oil changes, valve covers changed, trany fluid/filter changed, & approx 30k miles later, it’s junk. Bought right before winter set in 2011, noticed cold made the changing of gears drag out. This summer 2012, it’s fine. I let my vehicles warm up when they are cold too. The transmission recently started messing up (Fall 2012) when I put it in reverse & it acted like it was in neutral, only a moment or two, then acted right. About a month later I went for an oil change & afterwards I noticed a new smell which turns out to be transmission oil burning. A few days ago the transmission started slipping between 2nd & 3rd or 3rd & 4th gears…now I’m reading all over the internet that lots of ppl are having problems just like me. Was getting ready to call about getting it fixed, now I’m thinking about parting mine out instead too. That would be my only way of recouping what I have in this piece of Mazda muck.

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