2004 Mazda 3 Windshield Wiper Repair
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. Of course, we're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver, as voted by their customers in 38 years of servicing and maintaining vehicles in Vancouver. And we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, today's victim is a 2004 Mazda 3. I actually had one of these. This has a wiper problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah. So, the wiper problem, basically when the owner turned the wiper switch on they wouldn't work, which is absolutely a problem.
Mark: What test did you do to diagnose this issue?
Bernie: So, with any wiper issue, of course, everything's electric. Actually, that makes me think way back a long, long time ago there actually used to be vacuum operated wipers. They used to use engine vacuum, which was really not a good way to do it but they did. It's kind of like free energy. But, anyways. Wipers, the whole system is electric with a few mechanical parts. Obviously, you can see, the wiper arms and blades. But, when you turn the wipers on nothing would make any noise, there was no movement. So, we test the electrical circuits, test the switches, the motor. Everything checked out good, which left only one thing and that was the wiper relay as being the fault in the issue. Kind of process of elimination. So, yeah.
Mark: So, with that being just the relay, I've replaced relays in my pickup trucks a long time ago. But, so that was a pretty simple fix. Was this a simple fix?
Bernie: Well, of course it wasn't a simple fix other wise we probably wouldn't be talking about it today. No, Mazda in their wisdom decided to actually incorporate the relay into the passenger side fuse box unit. It's a very complicated... It's not just a fuse box, but it's actually a complicated unit full of relays for a variety of different items. The relay is not just a pull out unit, which it could be. It's actually incorporated right into the circuitry of the relay. So, that actually involves... That actually makes the repair much more complicated. You actually have to replace the whole relay unit. So let's just have a look at some pictures.
All right. So, there's our '04 Mazda 3. Here's a wiring diagram, just kind of gives you an idea just of what we work with when we do a diagnostic on something like this. This, you know, it's hard to see it because I know the screen's small. But, this is the switch. So there's basically five wires going in and out of the switch. The motor is over on this end of the circuit here. So there's a ground, which is one side of the circuit. Then the other power items are here. Everything else comes out of this fuse box. So there's power in the fuse box, there are... If you can read it this says front wiper low relay, and the front wiper high relay. So there's two relays, they get the information... You get the signal from the switch, and there's also, if you note, there's a little micro computer here as well. So there's quite a lot that goes into this.
So, this is what we're faced with when we do a diagnostic on a vehicle. Especially on the electrical circuit. It's a matter of verifying all those items. So, our fuse box is... There's a view of the fuse box removed from the vehicle. The fuses, we actually took the fuses out before we dispose of the unit. It's always handy to have some spare fuses to use for test purposes. But the fuses sit in here. There's a number of... These are where relays normally sit. But, there were actually no relays in this fuse box. There's the option to put them in, but I guess various cars they use for... Depending on options. But, once... Anyways, there was and actual external replaceable relays. Everything is located inside the fuse box. So, we'll look at a couple other views here.
Here we have one of the circuit... This is one of the circuit boards here. One view of the circuit board. So, we took the relay box apart. So this gives you an idea of the complexity that's inside. I mean, there's a micro processor here. Actually, several of them. These are the back side... There's a couple of relays here. Some capacitors.
Again, I'm just showing you... There's a lot of electrical pieces. This is the other side of the circuit board. Again, several relay's here. Undoubtedly a couple of this are for the wiper. But you can see, again, the complexity. It's not like we can just pull something out, or solder something in. It's a much more complex... Oh, yeah. I was going to say about soldering in, of course. Then there's one other view here. I just got to find my picture. Maybe the picture never made it on the list. Okay, we don't have it here. But that's okay. You get the gist of it. This is actually two circuit boards soldered together. I wanted to show a view of that, and you can see when you look on this one here. You can actually see all these soldered joints here are actually connections all the way around to another circuit board on the other side. So, they put a lot into this box,
Mark: So, what part options were available then?
Bernie: Well, there's new or used. There's plenty of these cars around. A used part was pretty attractively priced, and the car is pretty old. A new one is quite expensive. I believe it was somewhere around the $900-1,000 range, Canadian. The owner opted to go with the used part, which was substantially less expensive.
Mark: How often do you recommend used parts?
Bernie: Well, we look into it for certain things. Again, when you look at a price differential with something like this, between used and new, it's often an attractive idea. Things like brake parts, for instance, you never get those used. Because they're just a wear out item and there's no cost savings. But, certain items it's worth looking at. We do a lot of used engines. The thing with used parts is the warranty is much lower. So there's more risk to the consumer, the customer, our client, if the repair doesn't go well given time that it's going to cost more money to do again. But, we do recommend them a fair amount. At least give the option and someone can choose. There are times where we would never recommend a used part based on we know that something is such a common failure item that it's not worth spending the money on a used part because the risk is too high.
Mark: So, once you replaced this old fuse box, and the relay was working properly... Did this vehicle have the rain sensing wipers? I know mine did.
Bernie: No, this one doesn't have that. Yeah.
Mark: So that might have been one of those other relays.
Bernie: Yeah. The rain censure usually, I mean... Well, that micro computer that we saw in the wiring diagram, which is in that... Of course, you saw in the pictures as well. I mean, it's not hard to just send a... This is the great thing about modular computers is it's easy to just add for the manufacturer. Like, let's just add this sensor, reprogram something and away it goes. It just works with the rain sensor. But, I think the rain sensor is something that comes on newer models. It's a nice feature.
Mark: So, and everything worked, obviously, after you got this together?
Bernie: Yeah, it worked fantastic. Yep. The next thing I was going to say about electrical parts like this used is we can plug them in and right away we know that they work. Now, actually I know a couple podcasts ago we talked about a Mercedes air bag module where you couldn't use a used part because it had to be programmed for the car, and it's... So, it really varies from car to car. Some of them are harder. That's why this auto repair business, it's kind of a custom business. You need to know what works in what car, and what doesn't on the other. What repair works for a Mazda doesn't necessarily work for a Mercedes. Not because a Mercedes is so much better, it's just the way it's made, so.
Mark: So that's from a Mercedes owner as well.
Mark: Mazda 3 is getting on in years. These cars are... They've been around for awhile. They've gone through many iterations. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: They're really good. You know, I've been servicing for them years, and years, and years. Through all the different generations. They keep getting better, and better. But, there are good used, I mean it's a good used car to buy. Even these older ones are still good. As time has gone by for certain problems that didn't exist come out... What do I want to say?
They come out of the woodwork so to speak. Like, the 2.3 litre engine seemed so reliable for many years. Then all of a sudden they all started failing. So, if you wanted a better buy a 2 litre engine is... In these older models a 2 litre engine's safer, they don't seem to fail. But, I mean, any old car, and this is 15 years old now, so it's a little long in the tooth so to speak. But, I mean, a really good reliable car. I would highly recommend them.
Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Mazda in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead, they're busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube Channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, 320 plus videos on there about all makes and models, on repairs of all sorts of vehicles. Cars and trucks. Thank you, so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate, and thank you Bernie.
Bernie: Thank you Mark. Thank you for watching and listening as Mark said, we really appreciate it.