Piston Slap: A Rust-free Mazda for the Current Millenia?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap a rust free mazda for the current millenia

H.E. writes:


I recently bought a 2016 Mazda6 Touring. The salesman gave me a crazed look when I told him it absolutely had to have a six-speed manual transmission. But the dealer managed to find two manual Mazda6s within about 300 miles, one of which was 45 minutes away and painted in Deep Crystal Blue paint with the black interior I wanted. I’ve put about 400 miles on it and it’s a great looking, smooth shifting car; I’m very happy.

I expect to get flamed because it isn’t brown, diesel or a wagon, to which I respond in my best Sean Connery voice, “Suck it, Trebek!”

I was aware of Mazda’s not-so-super-recent rust history before I bought it, but I’m confident (or optimistic and naively hopeful) that they’ve solved the problem. We moved to Ohio this summer, so winter, snow and salt is now an issue I’ve been unconcerned for the last 10 years.

I avoided any dealer add-ons and rust protection, but I’m curious as to whether you have any advice on how to best protect the car in the winter. Wash the underside of the car after it snows? Any commercial products I could preemptively or reactively apply? Wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the garage until spring? Move to Arizona? Stick my nugget in the sand ostrich-style and hope for the best?

Sajeev answers:

Yes, I am quite ashamed you didn’t get a brown one, as that’d give you instant access to The Brown Car Appreciation Society. No matter, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that new Mazdas don’t rust out like earlier models from the current millennia.

Proactive treatments preventing premature rust are numerous, but (sometimes) of questionable utility. Underside washing is a great idea, provided the water isn’t from a recycled salt bath at a shady car wash. Since many car washes use water freshened every few days, ask before you spray.

My favorite (in theory) treatment is twofold: underside coatings (Ziebart, oil, etc.) and pouring water in the external seams/gaps in freezing weather to create a protective layer of ice (that must never visit a heated garage). Spray/pour water along the rear window gaps, taillights, headlights, trim panels and — if you can get underneath it — multiple applications of H20 in the wheel wheels, especially where the quarter panel welds, folds, bolts, etc. to the chassis.

Or do nothing. Especially if you don’t plan on keeping it longer than the corrosion warranty. Nobody’s gonna fault you for doing nothing for a decade except enjoying that manual transmission and the new 6’s respectable features.

[Image: Mazda USA]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 111 comments
  • Bikephil Bikephil on Mar 18, 2016

    Ahh, you poor northern suckers. Just move down South where the weather is warm, the people are friendly, and there are actually jobs available. The north died in 1972.

  • Webbrowan Webbrowan on Mar 24, 2016

    Thank you for the e excellent advice. I'm going to make sure that I pass along some of this information to my friends and clients who are looking at Mazdas. To be honest, a lot of people don't even think twice about what rust issues their car may have much less take steps to prevent it, so this is really helpful! Thanks!

  • SCE to AUX I'm almost 60, and have been wearing seat belts since I was a child (my father had them added to his 62 Beetle).Recently, I saw a parked car with the passenger seat belt clicked into the driver side latch - obviously to over-ride the alerts. You have to be pretty desperate (or large) to avoid using them.But this isn't the first vehicle I've seen where the latch gets caught somewhere. Is there some sort of standard for that now?
  • Tassos those 90s pathetic orange pixels are inexcusably lame in a 2010.The interior is filled with Grey Rubbermaid plastic and the tiny sliver of real or fake wood is an utterly pathetic attempt to pretend it's upscale (don't even THINK of "Luxury")Merc SLs with similar metal retractable roofs look so much better inside and out.Regardless of what you paid for this way undepowered near-luxury pretend-sports car, you would have done so much better with a PORSCHE BOXSTER...
  • Dukeisduke That's a cool picture (the one under the bridge) - where was it taken? Google Image Search doesn't turn up any matches.
  • Dukeisduke Okay, yeah, they should fix this, but, "URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE"? I think we're reaching Peak Idiocracy.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a great review, and very accurate from my perspective as the owner of a closely related, but longer and taller, E93 335i convertible. So much in this review is familiar. Here are the things that are a bit different about the 335i:[list][*]My car is a manual. Shifter action is good, with positive engagement, although a bit more play and rubbery feeling in the shifter than you would get with, say, a six-speed Honda. The clutch is a bit disappointing. It has a "clutch dampening valve" intended to protect against the most abusive clutch dumps. The valve throws my timing off a bit and I have had a hard time learning to drive this car with perfect smoothness, especially in the 1-2 shift. I may remove the valve at some point.[/*][*]My car has the turbo (in single-turbo N55 form). On the plus side, you get what feels like significantly more power than the rated 300 hp once on the boost, and even in fully stock form you get entertaining whooshing noises from the blowoff valve. On the minus side, there is some turbo lag, more than you get in many modern turbo cars, and fuel economy is, well, not close to what Corey is getting. The turbo car also comes with an active exhaust system that is extremely quiet when puttering while making some nice inline-six noise at wide-open throttle.[/*][*]There are back seats! I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. The six-year-old fits perfectly. The nine-year-old still fits, but that will likely change within the next three years. These seats are not usable for adults unless the front-seat occupants squeeze forward more than normal. E92 coupes are slightly roomier in back, and E90 sedans are substantially roomier.[/*][*]My car has the M Sport suspension, which does not have variable dampers. It's firm enough that I have to be careful to avoid even small holes on city streets if I don't want to get jarred. But if you can avoid the holes it feels good, navigating expansion joints and such without uncomfortable impact, while maintaining impressive body control for a porky 3900-pound convertible.[/*][*]My car has iDrive and a screen, as well as parking sensors. But it does not have a backup camera. Graphics on the screen are pretty good by 2011 standards, which is to say not acceptable by modern standards, but the system is easy enough to navigate and works pretty well. I prefer the rotary controller to a touch screen for fingerprint reasons.[/*][*]The parking sensors are by far the best of any car I've ever owned, and they are so accurate I really don't need a camera. The sensors go to a solid beep when the appropriate end is about 4" from an object, and I can comfortably cover about half that distance with no fear of bumping. They also project legimately useful graphics on the iDrive screen showing where the object is. I park in tight city settings enough that I really appreciate the accuracy. Also in the city parking mold, my car has power folding mirrors, which I wish every car would.[/*][*]Like you, I have the mid-level "Hi-Fi Professional" stereo setup, but in the four-seat convertible there is not a dedicated subwoofer. Bass is a bit on the weak side. Sound quality is about comparable with the JBL system in my Toyota Highlander, which is to say it's good enough for listening in the car but is not going to impress anyone.[/*][*]There are small leaks from the joints between the top and the A-pillars in my car. They won't soak the interior, but they will result in a few drops of water on the front seats after a hard rain. I'm still experimenting to see if regular applications of rubber protectant can restore the seals enough to eliminate the leaks. There are no leaks from any other part of the top mechanism.[/*][*]I've only owned the car for about eight months and 1500 miles, but so far nothing has broken and every feature on the car works correctly. A purchase-time inspection found only an incorrectly secured fan shroud and no other problems, and there is a mostly complete service history, so this was a well-maintained car to start with.[/*][/list]