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Who has What Car? helped this month?

Readers contact our Helpdesk every day with questions and appeals for help with car-related problems. These are just some of the people we’ve helped in the past month

Words ByClaire Evans

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This month we’ve helped three readers whose cars have suffered a range of faults, including a blown engine and a sticky gearbox

MX-5 that’s hard to get in to gear

Roger Adam traded in his Mk3 Mazda MX-5 for a Mk4 2.0-litre Sport Nav back in January 2016. Right from the start, he noticed that when the engine was cold it was difficult – often impossible – to select second gear. He contacted the dealer, Masters of Elmers End, and someone from the dealership drove the car, but said they were unable to replicate the problem. Initial discussions with the dealer resulted in Mr Adam agreeing to persevere with the car for a few thousand miles to see if it improved.

However, it did not, and Mr Adam raised his concerns about the gearbox a number of times. The gearbox oil was changed in July, but this didn’t fix the problem. In fact, by the summer of 2016, the gearbox was becoming very notchy in first, second and third gears when cold.

Mr Adam continued to complain to the dealership, but felt he was getting nowhere by October, so contacted What Car?. We reported the problem to Mazda and asked them to investigate. A customer services consultant spoke to Mr Adam and it was agreed that a head office technician would inspect the MX-5 in November.

In the meantime, Masters of Elmers End loaned Mr Adam a new MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav while their service manager drove his car. Mr Adam noted that the new car’s gearbox was easier to operate when cold and that its clutch was lighter; the service manager confirmed the notchiness of first, second and third gears in Mr Adam’s car.

After the car was test driven by the head office technician, it was decided with Mr Adam that the gearbox would be replaced with a unit from a stock vehicle. The car’s clutch would also be replaced.

A week later, he collected the MX-5 and reported that the clutch was considerably lighter and the gearbox, although not perfect, was far better than the original one.

However, Mr Adam has since discovered that Mazda USA has modified the gearbox for newer cars β€œto increase its rigidity” and issued a notice to dealers to replace sticky gearboxes in older cars with the modified unit. He believes this should also be done for UK owners.

Read more – What’s the best sports car for less than Β£60,000?

Click through to page 2 to find out how we got Seat to repair a Leon with the wrong ECU unit

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