Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,271 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Mazda Tribute engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Mazda Tribute Owner Comments

problem #16

Jun 012013


  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Mazda Tribute. The contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign number: 12V357000 (engine and engine cooling, vehicle speed control); however, the part for the repair was unavailable. The manufacturer was notified. The contact had not experienced a failure.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #15

Jun 102013

Tribute 6-cyl

  • 261,552 miles
On June 25, 2013 @ 11:00am I called Mazda corporation (reference call number: [xxx]) about recalls associated with my Mazda Tribute 2003 and was told that the recalls were not assigned to the VIN number of my vehicle. The Mazda representative stated that only the seat beat adjustment has been assigned to my vehicle and that I do not qualify for the recall. Mazda will not honor the recall. I bought the Tribute in 2010 from a dealership; thus, was not aware of the recalls. I have been having a lot of problems with the vehicle and have spent a lot of money trying to fix it. I have a 13 and 14 year old girls and am a single parent. According to the recall, the vehicle is not safe. I cannot afford right now to purchase another vehicle. I am only asking Mazda to honor the recalls. Please see the recall notice below from Mazda. Item affected: Engine and engine cooling date announced: 7/27/2012 description of recall: Mazda is recalling certain model year 2001 through 2006, and 2008, Tribute vehicles equipped with 3.0L V6 engines and speed control. Inadequate clearance between the engine cover and the speed control cable connector could result in a stuck throttle when the accelerator pedal is fully or almost-fully depressed. This risk exists regardless of whether or not speed control (cruise control) is used. Action needed to fix it: Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will repair the vehicles by increasing the engine cover clearance, free of charge. Remedy parts are now available. The safety recall began on September 13, 2012. Owners may contact Mazda customer assistance center at 1-800-222-5500, option #6. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #14

Apr 042011

Tribute 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
My 2003 Tribute has been leaking oil from the oil pan gasket between the oil pan and engine block. Of course after time it would leak but I have heard that the Tribute has a bad design with the oil pan and gasket. The dealership tried to sell me the new oil pan replacement for the defective one and the new gasket replacement for also that defective part. Mazda redesigned the oil pan with an embedded O ring in lieu of a gasket. The dealers want to sell the newly designed pan installed for $440 + tax (medford, NY). I would think that it is a defect and would like this agencies opinion. If the design was good from the start Mazda wouldn't put the time and money into redesigning the oil pan and gasket, and recommending the replacement. Mazda will not do the gasket replacement unless the new designed pan and gasket was used. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- East Northport , NY, USA

problem #13

Nov 182010


  • 74,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Mazda Tribute LX(na). The contact stated that when trying to start his vehicle, the engine suddenly exploded but did not ignite; parts flew and penetrated the hood. The vehicle was towed to a independent mechanic who informed the contact that the failure was due to the type of engine, which was called an "interference engine" and the design of it. The mechanic recommended that he replace the engine. The failure mileage was approximately 74,000.

- Hobe Sound, FL, USA

problem #12

Nov 182010


  • 74,351 miles
Upon starting, a severe explosion occurred, denting the hood from parts of engine. Smoke poured out from hood, but ignited gasoline did not leave engine. Engine is an interference Ford product and SUV has always been well maintained and serviced. The severity of the danger of this explosion cannot nor should be overlooked or dismissed. Had the hood been open, someone could have resulted in severe injury or possibly death. I have tried to work with Mazda for a resolution in this matter and all attempts have failed. As a previously satisfied customer for almost 30 years, I am frustrated and infuriated by their denials to work out a resolution, in either a new engine or substantial trade on a new vehicle. An engine with this low mileage exploding is unheard of and, certainly, not expected. My letter to Mazda CEO and president james O'sullivan and my mechanic's assessment is available.

- Hobe Sound, FL, USA

problem #11

Mar 282008

Tribute 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mazda Tribute. The contact stated that when driving uphill or approaching a stop sign, the vehicle would stall. The vehicle had been to the dealer several times; however, the failure could not be duplicated. The dealer replaced the battery but to no avail. The contact was able to locate a recall, in which she believed to be directly related to the failure (NHTSA campaign id number 04V175000: Power train: Automatic transmission: Control module tcm, PCM), however her VIN was not included. The manufacturer would not provide any assistance. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current mileage 82,000. Updated 11/03/10 the consumer also stated the vehicle would stall while backing up, and when it stalled, it couldn't be restarted. Updated 11/04/10

- Tracy, CA, USA

problem #10

Feb 092008


  • 86,400 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Mazda Tribute. While driving 40 mph, the engine warning light illuminated on the instrument control panel and the vehicle stalled. Immediately after the failure, the vehicle was able to be restarted. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and they stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 04V175000 (power train:automatic transmission:control module (tcm, PCM)). He would be responsible for the repair costs. The vehicle has not been repaired. The manufacturer did not assist. The failure mileage was 86,400 and current mileage was 90,000.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #9

Nov 012007

Tribute 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,438 miles
Oil pan gasket is leaking. I called Mazda customer service, received a file #115785220. My 2003 Mazda Tribute (5 years old with 35,000 miles) is leaking oil from the oil pan gasket. My vehicle is no longer under warranty. Since I purchased my vehicle, Mazda has redesigned the oil pan with an embedded O ring in lieu of a gasket. The local Mazda service center (Mazda 112) does not replace the gasket; they fix the vehicle by selling and installing the redesigned oil pan for $440 + tax (medford, NY). You can buy a gasket for the original pan and do it yourself or maybe have a local mechanic do it (I don't know if it's worth it). Mazda 112 told me they called the regional Mazda representative and they would save me the price of the parts but the cost of repair will still be over $300. I believe this problem is due to a manufacturer defect and Mazda is not addressing the issue." I have called Mazda twice and emailed them. The representatives are polite but could not tell me if the oil pan was redesigned because the original design was defective"?? then why the redesign" on the internet I have viewed many complaints of late model Mazda Tribute owners with "oil pan leaks."

- Patchogue, NY, USA

problem #8

Mar 302007

Tribute 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles
Wife drove 2003 Mazda Tribute to arby's (I was meeting her there), got out of car and walked up to the entrance. As she got to arby's door, someone outside mentioned to her that her car was smoking. She came inside to get me and as I came out a lot of smoke was coming out of the engine compartment. I unlocked the car cracked the hood slightly where I saw flames close to the firewall. Used fire extinguisher to put out flames. Fire seemed to originate towards the back of the engine close to brake master cylinder. I have many pictures of the engine compartment if needed. Seems similar to NHTSA action # PE06048.

- Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #7

May 162006

Tribute 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles
Vehicle is sometimes hard to start and it stalls frequently in traffic. A tune-up was done, fuel system parts replaced. Dealer recently reprogrammed the PCM with no change in performance. Near accident this morning with a school bus. Vehicle just cut off as I slowed to make a right turn.

- Bainbridge, GA, USA

problem #6

Nov 011993

Tribute 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles


Engine would intermittently stall while in stop and go traffic. Vehicle was taken to the dealer on four separate occasions, and they could not duplicate the problem.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #5

Nov 152003

Tribute 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Intermittently, the vehicle hesitates before starting when the keys are turned in the ignition. Also, the vehicle loses power while driving. The dealership indicated that they are aware of this problem and performed the repairs indicated by the manufacturer. The dealership also test drove the vehicle and the failure didn't occur in their presence so they are refusing to service the vehicle.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #4

Mar 172004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,657 miles
When accelerating the vehicle first hesitated and then accelerated. The dealership was notified but did not resolve the problem.

- Plains, PA, USA

problem #3

Jan 242004


  • 12,000 miles
While driving vehicle stalled without warning.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #2

Mar 162003


  • 3,942 miles
While driving 100 mph the vehicle began to buck.

- Newbury Park, CA, USA

problem #1

May 072003


  • miles
While driving the check engine light illuminated on the dashboard. The consumer has had multiple problems with this vehicle.

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

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