With Mazdas, you will never hunt for spares

A Mazda3 car.

Photo credit: File

What you need to know:

  • In value for money terms, that makes the Mazdas front runners.
  • For the complaints about parts availability to keep surfacing every other Tuesday means that parts seem to be breaking.
  • Strangely enough, nobody ever gets specific about what parts these are.
  • Toyotas offer high resale value, which is a train of thought that I strongly discourage.

Dear Baraza

Thank you for the help and entertainment we derive from your car clinic articles. I want to get the missus a car. She's enamoured by the Mazda (both 3 and 5) while I fancy the Civic.

Given the condition of our roads, climate et cetera, I am keen on your take on the Civic against the Mazdas and Toyotas in the same class.


Hi PC,

Toyotas are fairly common which gives them plenty of advantages over the other two brands, one of the advantages being ready availability of parts; a situation that has led to a hilarious back-and-forth between Mazda owners and CMC Motors whereby one side claims parts are harder to find than peace in the Middle East while the other asserts that all they have are parts, parts, parts; get them here! I sold my own Mazda a long time ago and have never needed to hunt down Mazda parts, ever, so I don't know who is telling the truth. 

Toyotas offer reliability to no end. While Hondas try to stake that claim as well, recent developments in this column would suggest otherwise. They're not as bad as, say, Alfa Romeos (or Nissans), but the frequency of sentiments hinting at brand dissatisfaction as far as dependability goes has been on the up and up, more so on matters involving automatic transmissions. That is very telling. You could get the Missus a manual, though....

Mazdas are reliable. At least mine was, to a fault. This does not seem to be universal, however, and for the complaints about parts availability to keep surfacing every other Tuesday means that parts seem to be breaking. Strangely enough, nobody ever gets specific about what parts these are.

Toyotas offer high resale value, which is a train of thought that I strongly discourage. Of course the fiscally sensible punter will always want to recover as much of their money as possible at the end of the motor vehicle's tenure as transport servant, but there is another side to this that these same punters ignore: high resale value means you are very likely to pay a lot of cash for a car in substandard condition. None of these "resale value" seekers is buying the vehicle brand new, which means that they are somebody else's resale value proposition. The previous owner will be trying to recover their money as well and if market dynamics demand they sell the vehicle at a particular price point, you as the seeker of future financial recovery becomes the previous owner's current financial recovery.

In value for money terms, that makes the Mazdas front runners. Good looks, well specced and joyous to drive, they are also the cheapest at the forecourt. Since there is a looming fear of them, the prices are not as punitive as those of a Toyota. Hondas lie somewhere in between, but the slightly rarer models like the Civic come very close to the Mazdas as well in value for money.

That being said: unless it's some sort of anniversary surprise, how about just going by the tastes of your commander-in-chief and tendering for the supply of a Mazda? The 3 would be good for city running, but the 5 is the one to go for if there is any progeny involved, incipient or existent.


Keep up the good job

Dear Baraza JM

I am a big fan of your column and hardly miss it. I once wrote to you about my car’s beams appearing yellowish and you answered me satisfactorily. I doubt you recall, it was a Toyota Mark 2 Grande-2004.

 Recently, I changed the engine of the car but a new nuisance has arisen and my long serving mechanic seems unable to sort it out. The limousine was a smooth runner but after change of engine, it developed vibrations which have left the mechanic and myself puzzled in equal measure.

 Please doctor of cars, suggest the solution to this sickness or refer me to a better repairer. Keep up the good job.


Hi Thiongo,

Thank you for your confidence in coming back to us. Yes, I know it is because of satisfaction following my previous response but I am not averse to appreciation of return business either way.

Now, your shaky Mark II problem may most likely stem from lack of quality control at the installation stage. Either the replacement engine was not placed on its mountings properly, or its alignment with the transmission is less than perfect meaning there is a driveline shunt somewhere which would cause nasty vibrations under use.

There are a number of garages that do proper installation of engines, and the Mark II unit should be one of the easier and more straightforward ones to install. I am not allowed to be explicit about which garages these are because this amounts to unpaid marketing, so sadly for you, you may have to do the search yourself. There is a way around this though: join my Facebook group and ask for recommendations. You will get them free of charge; and plenty of them at that, so all you have to do is choose.


Renault Clio RS Sport.

Photo credit: File

I can’t find spares, please help!

Dear Baraza,

I bought my first car a Renault clio 1998 from a client of mine. I used to sell him insurance products. But lately I realized that the vehicle has no spare parts, headlights, indicators, bumpers even the wind screen is hard to find please advise.



Three words: the United Kingdom.

The car was popular there so learn some internet techniques, befriend some shipping companies, load up your credit card and get to shopping. I can’t vouch for the integrity of the windscreen after it has crossed an ocean, though; but once upon a time I heard about some people who actually make windscreens locally according to specification. I cannot vouch for their work either since I don’t even know who they are...


Land Cruiser V8.

Photo credit: File

I want to upgrade to the Pathfinder

Hi Baraza

I’d like your two cents on the Pathfinder. The other day I was driving my 2007 model Nissan X trail behind a humongous Land Cruiser V8 somewhere in Kilimani. I couldn’t help a wry smile over the manner the driver of the vehicle was going over the not so big potholes on the road. The fellow was driving at maybe 2kms per hour, delicately trying to avoid minuscule potholes, sticking his head out of the window every now and then to see if there was any damage to his vehicle...what gives, man?

 The huge vehicle looked like it chews nails for breakfast, the rims must have been at least size 26, it looked like it could go up Kilimanjaro and back before lunch. Did the driver know what a formidable machine he had? I digress.

My Nissan Xtrail has served me very well for the last 6 years, clocking approximately 1000kms every fortnight between Koru and Nairobi. The wife has a similar vehicle, but from 2012, which too, has no problems. I want to pass mine down to my daughter and move higher. I’m looking at the Nissan Pathfinder (2.5 Diesel) from 2016 up. A good buy or misery?


Hello Patrick,

You may laugh at the Land Cruiser driver for pussy-footing his way through the barely intractable, but guess who gets the last laugh? The cat-walking driver of the behemoth. The fact that he is driving a dune-squashing leviathan in an up-market city neighbourhood is a discussion for another day, but that meticulousness that he is displaying can only mean one thing: his maintenance costs outside of regular servicing will be lower than a politician’s morals and that vehicle will last forever. Being a Land Cruiser, it may even last longer than forever and will still be around during the apocalypse.

The 2016 Pathfinder is not half bad. It gets good fuel economy, it has lost the previous model’s covered-pickup looks, it is now car-based rather than truck-based and the interior may be bland but it’s not a bad place to be given its roominess and ease of access which means its seven-seat practicality is fully usable. However, it’s a Nissan, from 2016, so get ready for the grim stuff.

It will rattle a lot, especially now that you seem to be the kind of driver that believes road imperfections are not to be avoided, they are to be crushed underfoot with as big a vehicle as you can get. These rattles will emanate from all over: the ball joints, the doors, the dashboard, the undercarriage... anywhere there is a joint, expect rattling after hitting a few potholes.

It goes through brakes like nobody’s business. Excessive noise and wear on the rotors as well as potential calliper problems are to be expected, given its size and weight (and construction).

The radiator fan is known to fail with some frequency to the point it is now an accepted fact, much like injector failures were an “accepted fact” in the previous model, and the CVT may or may not ac up. Place your bets on it acting up and win yourself some money that you will spend on the inevitable replacement. This CVT is annoyingly noisy when it’s working properly, just saying.

The list continues with a whole slew of problems most of which seem to be user-derived isolated incidents but the above are what to expect from your used Pathfinder. There is one last issue that you will need to watch out for, though:

The Pathfinder was the subject of a recall whereby passenger airbags were failing to deploy in a crash. Before committing money to metal, find out if the specific vehicle you are buying was repaired under this recall or if you are about to acquire yourself a rattletrap death-trap.