Piston Slap: Ingenuity in the "6"

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap ingenuity in the 6

TTAC Commentator Supaman writes:

Hey Sajeev, I drive a 2006 Mazda 6s and as cheesy as it sounds, I love this car. No better combo than a V6/manual for driving pleasure, plus the car is practical and has given no mechanical problems (current mileage is 47000). My problem is twofold.

First, the headliner: I noticed around the top corners where the headliner meets the rear window, the material is slowly peeling away.Whenever I power down the rear windows, I can just about see the headliner fluttering away in the wind, perhaps peeling away even more. As a result I try not to drive with the rear windows down, but it’s becoming a nuisance now. I’ve researched the Mazda 6 forums and seen all types of recommendations from 3M glue, to staple guns to a complete headliner replacement. I’m a DIY guy but a complete headliner swap sounds a bit out of my league. The jarring thing (as I’ve found on the forums) is that this is a widespread problem that Mazda has failed to acknowledge (seems to happen right around my car’s age and mileage).

The second minor problem is the dashboard storage bin. It’s a practical place to store stuff but the door itself is quite flimsy and one of the hinges broke off. Again I inquired at my local dealership and was told it can’t be fixed (!?). Any suggestions?

Sajeev Answers:

You’ll never need to apologize for loving your car ‘round these parts. Especially if it’s a Mazda6 with a V6 and a stick. Uber cool, extra stealth: this is one ride that will stand the test of time, be historically relevant, and worth your time to keep pretty looking and functional. So let’s do this thing.

I’m also surprised that a four-year-old car needs a headliner, but they tend to fail sooner if you cruise with the windows down and/or smoke in your ride. Anyway, using thumbtacks works for a while, but look totally ghetto. Glue (3M’s Super 77 comes to mind) is an alternative, but its only a short term solution: the glue can’t replace the (failing) bond between the fabric and the padded foam that’s glued to the backing. Headliners are cheap to re-do, especially if you pop out the liner yourself. Which isn’t has hard as it sounds, fold the seats down, unbolt the seat belt harnesses (usually a Torx head bolt) and pop off the plastic trim around its perimeter. Many places will re-do a headliner for less than $100 if you do the “tough” work yourself.

The second concern isn’t as easy for me to swallow, since I wildly praised it in a previous TTAC review. Which saddens my heart, since an OEM replacement will fail in the same way. The only way to “fix” it permanently is by replacing the failing plastic part(s) with metal instead. Sound ridiculous? One guy did just that for the ashtray in the now famous 1987-1993 Ford Mustang, and not only did he make a healthy profit, he inspired several competitors. If you aren’t mechanically savvy (or don’t want to buy sheetmetal, a dremel, and misc manly-man stuff) I would encourage someone in the Mazda6 Internet community to do this. Because it will pay off, in a couple of years. If not sooner.

Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com

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2 of 21 comments
  • SupaMan SupaMan on Sep 09, 2010

    Thanks for the help B&B! I'm going to take a Saturday to tackle the storage bin. However, I think I'm going to go with a replacement OEM bin instead of the sheet metal route (not that mechanically savy). I've browsed more forums and a few more parts sites and found the bin is actually pretty easy to switch and takes an hour or two. The headliner will be my own DIY project from start to finish. I've already made some calls and found one guy who can do the refinish for $115.

  • Snavehtrebor Snavehtrebor on Sep 09, 2010

    This is funny. Just last week, the headliner in my 2004 V6 5M started flapping around. I am a windows down/roof open driver too. I've been able to secure it with a healthy application of spray adhesive (not sure which brand, it was $5 at HD) but it seems the whole thing is delaminating so I need a longer term solution, as I have no plans to sell this car. 73k miles, replaced the battery twice, front struts once, but other than that it has run like a top and still makes me grin like an idiot. I've never driven another front wheel drive car with better steering feel and cornering poise. It's tempting to just leave it in 3rd gear around town. Mazdas seem to catch heat for reliability but I guess I've just been lucky with mine- 626, Tribute, currently my 6s and wife's CX-7. I know, I know, lots of Ford running through the fam but who cares? Zoom.

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