Mazda Tribute Dilemma – Auto Repair

11:29 am Consumer, TIME-SERT Kits

Mazda Tribute

Recently, I had a blog reader with a blown spark plug on a 2002 Mazda Tribute, she may have found us by using the search engines for blown spark plugs, even though our articles are mainly for specific Ford engines that do have this problem. She asked my advice about what she should do with her Mazda. While this is not a common problem with 3.0 engines, like in some Ford 4.6 and 5.4 engines I offered my advice. More than likely the spark plug had either been left loose or was cross threaded at some point and it blowing out was the end result. Below is what this reader had to say and my response.


**Since this article was first written we have started selling Mazda Time-Sert kits for this application. Follow the link for the Mazda Time-Sert Kit and the 44186 tapered insert that works in the V-6 Tribute.

Dennis, thanks for the insight. I understand clearly now what went wrong with my 2002 Mazda Tribute, V6, LX, which I understand has a Ford motor. My Mazda Tribute has 112,000 miles on it and ALL the repairs have been done by the dealership. I am meticulous with the upkeep of the car. However, one of the spark plugs blew out of the cylinder head. They could never tell me what caused this, but my opinion is that it was a human error. The dealership gave me 2 options. Option 1 for the cost of $3100 plus tax is to send the cylinder head to a machinest to repair the threads. Option 2 is to get an engine with 68000 miles on it and give me a warranty of 1 year. What do you suggest Mr. Dennis?
Thanking you very much.


Thanks for your comment. If you have documentation (receipts) that ALL of your maintenance has been done at the dealership, most importantly the spark plug replacement, you may have an argument for them to do the repair for free as good will or customer satisfaction. Try talking to the service manager or contact their corporate office and see what they will do for you. Your case would be strongest, if the spark plug replacement was done just recently before it blew out.

If you are stuck footing the entire bill, your options as I see them is to: 1. Have a shop repair the threads in the vehicle with a thread insert kit. 2. Send the head out to be repaired. 3. Replace the engine.

1. The dealership may not agree to install a repair insert, but an independent shop may be willing to do this and it’s a much less expensive repair…it might be worth doing this and taking a chance on the repair holding. This option would be the least expensive, but the gamble would be yours and not warrantied by the repair shop against failure of the repair.

2. Sending the head out for repair is labor extensive and there’s additional parts needed like gaskets, coolant and machine shop work, etc, so I would explore other options. Also, sending the head to the machine shop for repair does not guarantee that the threads will hold. This is an expensive gamble.

3. Since the value of a 2002 Tribute according to Kelley Blue Book is around $5,000 to $6000, I would be hesitant to put $3100 in an engine repair or even replacement. But, if replacing the engine is absolutely necessary, I would comparison shop other repair facilities and maybe even call the salvage yards myself  for estimates for putting a used engine in. The economy is slow right now and shops are likely to be very competitive. Make sure the engine replacement estimates are for engines with comparable miles on them and that the warranty is for the same duration. Also have the valve covers removed to inspect for sludge which would indicate a lack of maintenance (regular oil changes). And of course have a written estimate prepared once you decide, so there’s minimal surprises on the final bill. Good Luck

3 Responses
  1. Luke :

    Date: April 22, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    Strange, me finding this post now… I just dropped the right (rear) head off at a machine shop to have a time-sert installed for the center cylinder. This is the SECOND time this happened to me, on the same cylinder bank.

    The first time around it was on the driver’s side plug, I paid someone to pull the head and replace it all together, $2500. This time around I’ve pulled the head myself… a rather momentous undertaking in itself, and am going to get it repaired. This route, if it sticks should cost about $700. When the car is back together, it’s going up for sale…

    I’ll never own another ford 3.0 V6 again. And will likely steer clear of the 4.6 and 5.4’s mentioned above. Twice it’s left my wife stranded at the side of the road and for all the regular maintenance I DO perform, it’s had 2 major failures.


    Date: July 17, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

    I recently purchased tool kit 4412E and just wanted to say what a very fine quality kit it is. Highly recommend! Super fast delivery (ordered Sat 14th, received on Monday 16th) installed today (Tues. 17th) and worked perfectly! SAVED ABOUT $2000.00.Thank you so very much! Steve Hershey, HERSHEY’S AUTO REPAIR, YORK P.A.

  3. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: July 17, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

    Stephen, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m happy to hear that the kit worked well for you. I love the feedback we get on Time-Sert (makes my job easy). We are impressed with Time-Sert and all the different applications covered. In the past, stripped or damaged threads were usually a result of someone making a mistake by cross-threading a bolt or a spark plug. But with aluminum engines, damaged threads just “happen”. Aluminum just doesn’t hold up well all the time with expansion and contraction from heating up and cooling off. Time-Sert allows steel to be used for the threads. And steel is much stronger than aluminum.

    Keep us and our Time-Sert Kits in mind for any future thread repair needs. We stock thousands of dollars of kits and inserts, many of which come with free next day shipping because we know our customers need em’ fast.

    Any of our readers in the York Pennsylvania area that are in need of a dependable auto repair shop, I recommend looking up Hershey Auto Repair.

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