My sister-in-law knows about my mechanical skills and exploits them when she wants to save money. She would prefer to give me money instead of the dealership, and I don't mind most of the time.
She came to me with the task of replacing the alternator in her 2003 Mazda Tribute with a 3-liter V6. How difficult could that be?
Well, the alternator is located on the firewall side of the transverse mounted V6. I got the serpentine belt off and the bolts to secure it removed. It was loose in very little time.
Then I tried to get it out. A couple hours later, I was on the Internet looking for clues to its removal.
That is where I found that it requires removal of the passenger side front axle. I was in disbelief. I tried for an hour or so more with no results, so I gave in and looked into what was required to remove the axle and did so. The alternator was finally free and the new one in its place.
It was obvious that someone from Mazda Marketing said: "Hey, why don't we just slap this V6 into this Tribute without changing anything. It'll give the service department something to do."
The dealer wanted more than $400 to replace the alternator. I understand why.
What adds to the frustration is that the AC compressor is on the other side of the engine with easy access (because it needs replacing more often than the alternator).
More recently, my sister-in-law tasked me with doing a tune-up: oil/filter change, air cleaner and spark plugs. The front three plugs were a piece of cake. Then there was the back three (firewall side). Again, after consulting the Internet, I found the only way to access the back three spark plugs-- the intake manifold upper plenum had to be removed. Of course there is hardly anything attached to the upper plenum (save the kitchen sink).
I got it all done and I think she has been convinced to get rid of the thorn-in-my-side Tribute.
Tell us your experiences with Monkey-designed products. Send stories to Jennifer Campbell for Made by Monkeys.
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