Piston Slap: Shifting In, Wiping Out, Zoom-Zoom-Zoom

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

David writes:

I am driving a 2010 Mazda3 2.5 with a 6 speed manual. 9000 miles in, the trans is still sticky, especially going into 1st while rolling. What could help reduce this?

Second, the automatic wipers are amusing to watch. How exactly do they work?

In Panther love, I sighted a sleek black Signature L, a rare one. 6 inches more rear leg room and 1 1/2 inch wider track. Should be a nice ride. The longer wheelbase helps reduce the inverted bathtub look.

Sajeev Answers:

Oh yes! The only mode of transport better than a Signature L would be yesterday’s Cartier L. Or even better, yesteryear’s Fleetwood Series 75, any vintage will suffice. These irrelevant (yet always necessary) sightings of Panther Love show how everyone appreciates a bit of classical American proportioning rollin’ down the road. Too bad FoMoCo couldn’t re-pop the 1995 Cartier so the genre could go out with a bang, instead we get that “inverted bathtub look” as you so eloquently pointed out!

Now where were we again? That’s right…

A sticky trans is a tough problem to arm chair. Perhaps it is easier to shift once the transmission warms up after a cold night of resting. Or maybe an aftermarket shifter would make the job more accurate. Or maybe a heavy-ass 8-ball shift knob would act like a sledgehammer to your quandary. My advice is to search the forums for your Mazda3 and see if a fluid change to some other design (synchromesh, full synthetic, etc) would help. My second tip is to steal one of those round things from a pool table and screw it onto your gear stick.

Automatic wipers are amusing? I rather dislike them. And I’m not the only one. These systems (not just your Mazda) use a rain sensor mounted between your rear view mirror and the windshield, thus mounting the sensor on the glass, with a clean and convenient place to run the wiring. This might be one reason why you see options like a compass or auto dimming mirror packed with said wiping system: wrap it into one wiring harness to save a few bucks! Brilliant.

Anyway, the system then manipulates the car’s conventional wiper motor much like the “mist” feature normally seen on your steering column. But instead of giving you the control via lever, the system does it for you. Which is fine, but I’ve encountered many a rainstorm where the sensor thinks everything is hunky-dory, but the portion of the windshield I use to see stuff is blanketed in water droplets. That won’t get wiped away! Much like having a manual transmission, I prefer the interval wiper system with a handful of cycle times that I can choose.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

This rant is valid because, at the end of the day, driving is all about me. Or you. It’s not about the eyeball sandwiched between your windscreen and your rear view mirror. Believe that.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Towncar Towncar on Nov 23, 2011

    We owe Educator Dan at least the top to the prize water bottle--he was close. It was the '03 Signature and Cartier TC's that had rain-sensing wipers. (Not on the Executives.) I never heard why it was only that one year. They do work, but in a mediocre fashion, IMHO. I don't think I'd miss them if they weren't there.

  • 07mazda3GT 07mazda3GT on Nov 28, 2011

    I love the rain sensing wipers in my 2007 Mazda3. They might be one of my favorite features. The auto setting works perfectly 95% of the time. It's amazing when someone unexpectedly splashes a big puddle on your car and the auto wipers kick in before you have a chance to hit the lever. How about driving into a tunnel during the rain, no need to touch the wipers. I find its one less thing on your mind and makes it easier to concentrate in big city traffic. In my previous car (2005 Mazda3) the automatic wipers SUCKED. Completely unreliable and almost useless. That being said Mazda seems to have completely fixed the issue in my 07 model. I didnt buy an 08 TL type-s because it DIDN'T have automatic wipers. :p Crappy auto wipers suck. Good auto wipers = gold. :)

  • ShitHead It kicked on one time for me when a car abruptly turned into my lane. Worked as advertised. I was already about to lean into the brake as I was into the horn.
  • Theflyersfan I look at that front and I have to believe that BMW and Genesis designers look at that and go "wow...that's a little much." Rest of the car looks really good - they nailed the evolution of the previous design quite well. They didn't have to reinvent the wheel - when people want a Mustang, I don't think they are going to cross-shop because they know what they want.
  • Theflyersfan Winters go on around Halloween and Summers go on in late March or early April. However, there were some very cold mornings right after the summers went on that had me skidding a bit due to no grip! I do enough (ahem) spirited driving on empty hilly/mountain roads to justify a set of sticky rubber, and winters are a must as while there isn't much snow where I am (three dustings of snow this entire winter), I head to areas that get a bit more snow and winter tires turns that light, RWD car into a snow beast!
  • SCE to AUX My B5.5 was terrible, but maybe the bugs have been worked out of this one.
  • Zerofoo 5-valve 1.8T - and OK engine if you aren't in a hurry. These turbocharged engines had lots of lag - and the automatic transmission didn't help.Count on putting a timing belt on this immediately. The timing belt service interval, officially, was 100,000 miles and many didn't make it to that.