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Raider 12-26-2011 11:25 AM

Official "I am looking to buy a used Mazdaspeed, what should I look for??
OK, I know a lot of people have gone and posted looking at a MS3/MS6, and want to know what to look for. I figured a mega-thread would be helpful.

This is for the possible issues that they may have, not too common, but can be $$$. These are in order of receipt, not as priority, and all are really good tips!

1) Get your own mechanic to inspect it, or get an independent to check it out. Why? Carfax is not 100% accurate. Recently, this guy almost bought a salvaged car. A typical inspection on a car can run $50-100, and should include a compression test, and inspection visually on a lift and underneath for possibly issues.

Update 10/2015: Just to reinforce the inspection suggestion. Hallaflush/stance/slammed cars can get raised up and stocked out and unless it is inspected, the damage from scraping missed until it is too late. Craigslist is a cesspool of the formerly good cars, ruined by a fad.

Case in point:
Craigslist be like: " I have babied this thing just like the original owner did. "

But his facebook (liked to the cell phone in the ad) be like:
Stance hellaflush ruined

2) Rattle on cold startup. It will last 1-5 seconds, and go away, and will not come back until cold. It's the VVT Actuator, and requires replacement of it and the timing chain, roughly $1200. $400 parts, $800 labor. Not for the average mechanic.
3) Loose timing chain. Pop off oil filler cap, and pull up. If REALLY loose, needs the $1200 replacement. $400 parts, $800 labor. Not for the average mechanic.

4) Vibrating Clutch when pressed in. Can be a bent rod. Run away.

5) Let the car idle a while, 20 minutes or so. See if it starts spewing smoke. It is a sign the turbo seals are shit and is new turbo time. LOTS of threads here about it. Unbiased, informative opinions requested for more info.

5) Look for signs of lots of modifications. Mismatched bolts holding the TMIC down, intake together. Holes in a-pillar on driver's side, lots of scratches near the OBDII port on the bottom left of the dash (possible tuner was used). mild mods like an intake or a BPV installed could be either a light tuner, or what was left from an overly modded car. If PO did it wrong, they might have had a ticking time bomb and got rid of it.

6) Google the VIN, see if any salvage auction sites pull up. Check glove box for owner's manual and any possible notes from PO. Why?
Check this gem out.

What front damage???
Used MAZDA MAZDASPEED3 2008 for sale, vin: JM1BK34M781812595 in Henderson, NV, 89014, USA, color: BLACK, condition: used, clean title car, price: 18998.00

7) from @KusteLokal's experience. Check the interior fuse box to see if any wiring was done previously. i had a random light bulb wired into my fuse box. still don't know what it was for.

8) from @ELiTeNeSs: Oil drippings on head/block, motor mounts and thump sounds on acceleration and braking as that could be a broken diff. mount

9) from @FLHXterp: I always look at tires and brakes. If they're in good shape/well maintained the PO may have been on top of upkeep.

10) from @predapio:Look for worn/mismatched bolts on dp and between the dp and cbe. Look for ripped insulation by the bolts, means work could have been done there. Look for worn bolts or missing bolts on heat shields.

11) from @Sacrilicious: pull the plugs and read them: Spark plug reading

12) from @uncorked11: Always check maintenance records (when possible).

13) From @MSFer87: For gen 1s make sure you hit bumps on the test drive to check for bad struts, and turn the steering wheel side-to-side for bad strut mounts.

14) From @RhoadBlock: On the real tho, there's been plenty of TSBs and shit for our cars. I'm just copy/pasting two threads, but make sure all of these have been addressed & done on the car before you buy.

MS6 TSB/Recall List
Gen 1 MS3 TSB/Recall List

Check the warranty status of the car.

On the smoking turbo, do as the OP says to check for that. If it does indeed smoke after idling for 10-20 mins or so, or while driving, or any time whatsoever, don't buy it without the dealer replacing the turbo. The smoking turbo was addressed in several TSBs. If you're buying from another independent dealer or private party, contact your nearest Mazda dealership and have them check the VIN for you to see what TSBs etc have been done. And make sure that they will do any the car still qualifies for - esp if the turbo smokes - after you purchase the car. You don't wanna buy it then have Mazda leave to hung out to dry. Sad to say, they've stiffed over a lot guys on stuff like this.

Another big TSB for the MS6 addressed a hard pull to the right. Lots of MS6s had a pretty hard pull to the right due to a bad passenger control arm that left caster off by .6 degrees from the driver side control arm. On these cars, the car would make a full lane change at 60-70 mph on the interstate in less than 6 seconds. Check for this during your test drive. If it pulls, verify the control arm TSB will be done before purchasing.

During the inspection, make sure the mechanic inspects all 3 motor mounts & their bushings, and for MS6s the diff mounts & their bushings as well. Plenty of mounts & bushings have failed on these cars.

15) from @rfinkle2: Not mazda specific, but used car red flags in general:

a) Bent tail pipes (sign of read end accident)
b) Sanding scratches in base coat
c) Body Panel spacing
d) looks too good to be true. (if the car has 50k on the clock, and no rock chips in the hood or front bumper, may have been repainted)
e) never look for a used car in the rain (you will never see flaws and defects in the paint you might otherwise) Always try to see the car in direct sunlight before buying.

16) from @bbode0: Something I looked over buying mine, check under the carpet in the trunk to make sure all the parts are there. I was missing the spare and tow hook which makes me think it had a flat previously and has been towed for some reason.

17) from @bbode0: Call Mazda USA and have them look up the VIN to see if the powertrain or any other warranty has been voided/blacklisted.

18) from @bbode0: Uneven tire wear/un-matching tires, Cracks in any kind of cooling lines and belts, check to see if any boost lines were tapped for a boost gauge, Remove oil cap to see if any residue is on the underside, usually a sign of leaky head gasket, Underbody rust or corrosion. Also, Gen1's should check the infamous 2nd gear pop when taking turns.

19) from @karl-hungus - bpv recirc hose clamp shows signs of being removed a bunch of times

- note behind the glovebox Input from Forum Members requested. If good info and from VIP, I will send some $ over.

20) from @Nitr0EngiE -I noticed my coolant reservoir is turning black/dirty due to my bad head gasket. You cant tell i have a bad head gasket other than a few misfires on cold starts but the evidence is in my coolant tank where carbon has contaminated my coolant system and dirtied my coolant tank. people should look at coolant reservoir for obvious screaming issues. They can also remove the spark plugs and look at the brand and see if they were OEM or replaced with aftermarket plugs, only modders do this.

21) If buying from Carmax or off some other shitty used car lot, look first at the paint. It should reflect like a mirror. Blurs will be a sign of a respray. These dealers can do this on-site, and NOT report to autocheck or carfax. Feel every door handle on the inside for rough feeling, that is overspray. Door jams and weatherstrippping can show signs of a respray, too. Bring a microfiber towel and use it as a wipe-down. Used car should be clean, and it should slide across like glass. If it feels like you are sanding the car,look further into possible repaint, or was never waxed/claybar and has all kinds of impurities inside.

22) Get an autocheck or carfax on the car. Hurricane Sandy cars as showing up at auto auctions and used car lots. Bought, got running again, but are flood cars, so subject to all kinds of unrepairable problems.

Raider 09-19-2012 09:59 AM


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