Piston Slap: It Takes Two, Baby

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Shawn asks:

I have a 2006 Mazda5 GT which has blown it’s second rear shock in less than 87,000 km. My question is whether I should just replace it with yet another Mazda part, or whether I should go aftermarket and replace both rear ones at the same time. My concern with this option is whether or not the ride quality will be maintained. I do not want to end up with a harsh ride with an aftermarket part. Does anyone have any suggestions? What is a good brand for shocks? Does anyone have any experience with the Mazda5 or have a suggestion for shocks? I am also tempted to just rid of the car altogether :( This would be the fifth repair related to the suspension in three years of ownership.

Sajeev replies:

Everyone justifies the need for a different vehicle, but don’t do it because of this problem. Repeat after me: shocks and struts are normal wear items…even at this age and mileage.

And replacing them one-by-one is a terrible, terrible idea. If one fails, odds are it’s buddy on the other side of the axle is just as worn out. (Unless you drive on roads with potholes on only one side of your lane, of course.) More than likely, you are experiencing something normal in an aging car.

I’d recommend getting a new pair (two, please!) of rear shocks from the same manufacturer this time ‘round. There are plenty of good shock brands, and most offer a comfort shock for your needs. Not that I’d recommend an expensive pair of KONIs, but the Bilsteins mentioned in a previous Piston Slap are right up your alley. The Monroe Sensa-Tracs are probably softer and easier on the wallet, and might make you just has happy for years to come. If you like the feel of the Mazda shocks when they were new and don’t mind the extra cost, go for them. There’s no wrong answer.

Provided you change your shocks in pairs, that is. So just do it.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • FordDude FordDude on Dec 29, 2009

    I have had excellent luck with TOKICO shocks for import cars.

  • Riz Riz on Jan 05, 2010

    My '06 Mazda 5 GT only has 62k kms on it, but I haven't had the problems you describe. I just had the back driver wheel off recently (flat at the in-laws, had to drive the tire in), and no rusting on mine (only driven in Alberta, though). I did have the bushings issue, and I've heard the newer ones learned from the redesign (don't crib Mazda 3 parts for a heavier car). That being said, we're not buying it out from lease - time for a Toyonda minivan, despite our dislike for the minivan format.

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.