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2002 Mazda B3000
Dual Sport P/U

Dependable Hauler
3.0 Liter V-6/Automatic

A/C, PS, PW, AM/FM/CD,  Antilock PB, Heavy-Duty Suspension, Tow Package

May 11, 2023 - After about 8 years, the truck's headlights were starting to get a bit dull again.   You can clean them up with polish, but that doesn't last long, so I sprung for a new set that included new bulbs for $158 with free shipping.  As with the set installed in 2015, I ended up swapping over the original hardware. It didn't take long and really brightenes up the look of the truck.  I kept the old lights and will have them as backups if I can't get new ones when these get dull.  After 22 years, I am figuring parts sources will start to dry up. I also painted a flat black trim section on the passenger door that had gone bad due to sitting in the sun more than two decades.
February 19, 2023 - The Mazda turned over 158K today as I drove to buy yet another vehicle.  I would have taken the van, but it started missing badly a few days ago and I didn't want to take it.  (Just a bad coil pack as it turned out).  The truck continues to be a great vehicle.  I just got in the bulbs to redo the instrument panel, which has had a couple of bulbs out for a few years.
November 9, 2022 - After 21 years, the Mazda is starting to show a bit of its age.  Luckily, you can spruce an old car up with NOS parts.  The original wheel centers (left) were getting dull and showing deterioration of the plating.  I was able to find a full set of new old stock (NOS) centers on eBay.  They even came with new screws. 
August 23, 2022 - No entries in more than a year and a half because the truck just hasn't needed anything.  To be fair, it has been relegated to 'second' status, covering just over 6K miles since March of 2021. I decided to replace the spark plugs today with NGK Iridium plugs - supposedly some of the best on the market. The old NGK Platinum plugs only have about 30k miles and five years on them and look good.
December 5, 2021 - Some time back, I discovered that the third brake light mounted on the back of the truck's roof was leaking, which sent water down the backside of the headliner and onto the seat.  This created water stains that I have not been able to remove, and have been an annoyance for years.  I was at the point where I planned to take it to a professional detailer and have them try extraction cleaning - where you apply cleaner and suck it back out instead of the surface cleaning I have tried in the past.  Checking out videos on YouTube, I watched a professional detailer use the extraction process, and discovered that he was using a Bissel Little Green Machine, available from Amazon for about $136.  Since that would be about what it would cost to take the truck to a professional detailer, I ordered the extraction cleaner and tried it myself.  The results are impressive even after just one treatment.  You can see the water stains are almost completely gone, and the 20-year-old upholstery is bright and clean-looking.  And I have a great tool I can use int he house or garage!
November 5, 2021 - When I had the windshield replaced 8 years ago, I noted pitting and a rock chip low on the passenger side that had happened right after I got the new glass.  Well, yesterday I duplicated the process, getting Binswanger Glass in Chesapeake to install a new windshield because of pitting and - you guessed it - a rock chip that has been there since the day after I got the new glass. I did drive it today, and no stone chips.  I think I will keep it in the driveway today so I can at least break the tradition!
October 21, 2021 - The tailgate handle on the Mazda was originally made of black plastic, so when it broke ten years ago I went to a metal version. That one broke about a year and a half ago, and I got a fancy chrome one. The chrome has gotten pitted, so I ordered a black metal handle that was supposed to arrive today. The one I ordered got sent to the wrong address, but the company had already discovered the issue and sent a note a replacement was on the way.  I responded back that there was no rush, as this was just a spare.  Then I realized it really was just a spare, as I had ordered the correct black handle back in 2020.  A check behind the seat of the truck turned up the new handle still sealed in its bag.  Then it was out with the tools and an exchange of handles.
July 18, 2021 - No issues as usual - the truck went through its inspection easily and has performed flawlessly.  About the only thing that stopped working was the low note for the horns - I replaced the high note some years ago, and decided to get a new pair.  While they are the same size as the old ones, the wiring setup was different and required some new connectors. The provided crimp blade connectors were terrible and bent apart too easily.  I installed all new ends and adapted the existing factory wiring so I could keep the original quick-connect plug. The new horns were less than $20 delivered and sound just like the originals!
February 17, 2021 - The last element of the Mazda's Mustang encounter back in July was a rotating squeak that started getting worse recently.  There was no vibration that might come from a bent wheel or driveshaft, so I surmised the universal was going.  Besides having 150K miles on it, the universal joint was out of line for months thanks to the bent spring mount.  I had the job done professionally, both because it was too cold and wet outside to do it myself, and also because I needed to have the back end inspected to make sure it was the only damage.  Happily, my diagnosis was correct, and the new universal fixed the problem.
January 17, 2021 - The truck crossed over 150K this afternoon - I just happened to glance down as it hit the magic number and was able to get a quick shot on my camera phone before it got to 150,001. Coming up on 20 years old and still looking and driving great.
September 24, 2020 - Mizzels discovered that the right front spring mount had been bent in the accident, which was throwing the rear axle.  Luckily, there was no actual damage to the frame and they were able to get a used part from the junkyard. The repair took a bit longer as they had to drill out rivets in both my truck and the donor frame section to swap the mounts out.  They also re-centered the axle assembly and did a full alignment.  The truck tracks normally now, with a straight steering wheel.  While the repair wasn't cheap, the total still falls below half the settlement from the accident and the truck is better afterwards.  And yes, I am going to clean and paint the inside of the mount that Mizzels ignored.
September 16, 2020 - The truck is not quite done yet - I had noticed the steering wheel was a little off center, and then Buddy Chip told me the truck was 'crabbing' badly.  After trying to loosen and reposition the rear axle to get things fixed, I dropped it off at Mizzels' Body and Frame Shop. It turned out one of the rear spring mounts got bent, which was throwing the rear axle off.  They are replacing the mount and are 98% sure that no frame work will be needed.  No new parts could be sourced, but they located what was needed at a local junkyard.  I should have it back sometime next week.
September 9, 2020 - The last detail to finish up was the 'Dual Sport' decal on the back of the bed.  A little thing, but it is a bit of color that looks nice.  I was really lucky the painter was able to find the decal - Mazda hasn't made the DS version since 2007.  The decal was probably at least that old, as it took some real work to separate it from the carrier sheet.  However, he prevailed, and the truck actually looks even better than before thanks to the NOS taillights and perfectly matched paint.  For anyone who wants to badmouth the use of decals, the original Dual Sport' logo on the other side looks just as good as the new one after 19 years!
August 27, 2020 - I picked up the Mazda today and am really happy with the result - not only is the damage from the accident fixed good as new, he also repaired a small dent on the upper bed from a wayward log and for a small additional fee, repainted the front bumper!  It was the only part of the paint showing wear from debris and rocks, and I have been wanting to get it redone for years. The bed was actually removed from the truck to get access to the corner of the cab, and he had to disassemble the front bumper to paint it - a lot of work and a terrific job!  The new nerf step rails were identical to the originals, which meant I only had to swap out the bars themselves.   I also installed a set of New Old Stock taillight lenses which I bought from a dealership years ago - the originals are showing a little wear, and go into storage as backups.  I need to wait a few days before putting the bed cover back on, and the truck goes back in about two weeks to get the 'Dual Sport' decal installed. That will finish it up!
August 21, 2020 - Being stubborn, I kept searching eBay for replacement nerf bars, and struck paydirt when I included descriptions in the search.  It turned out that a set of correct polished stainless steel step bars had been listed as 'chrome' by the seller.  Chrome rusts, whereas the polished stainless steel bars I have on the truck look new after 7 years (other than the dent).  Not only were they on sale with free shipping, but they arrived in just a couple of days!  The truck is due to go into the body shop on Sunday - fingers crossed!

August 24, 2020 - I dropped the truck off yesterday for the bodywork.  Supposed to be a great shop, and they are pulling the bed off to do the work.  Hope to get it back by the end of the week.

August 14, 2020 - As promised by the Geico agent, the settlement check arrived today and has been deposited.  The truck goes into the body shop next week, and should be good as new afterwards, save the dinged nerf rail.  As I have never used them anyway, I may opt to just pull them off and return the truck to the way it looked new.  In any case, Geico has been terrific - fair and quick to act, making the entire process as painless as I could have hoped for.
August 12, 2020 - Good news and a touch of frustration today - I got a call from the company I'd ordered the step rails from - they don't have the polished stainless in stock, even though they are advertised on the web site.  I have a few choices - there is a black stainless version available, I can remove the step rails (That are just there for decorative purposes), or live with the admittedly minor ding.  On the good news front, the truck is scheduled for bodywork and paint.  The shop is pulling the bed off to properly repair the cab and will have the truck for over a week, but the finished job should be really good.
August 11, 2020 - It looks like things are working out well - the Geico adjuster was very helpful, and arranged a fair buyback price that will leave me plenty to get the truck fixed and offset the reduced value of an accident.  I turned in the rental car and picked up the truck this afternoon - almost missing the ironic twist of seeing the Mustang that hit me parked next to it! It suffered more damage and is likely not drivable.  Anyway, I have an appointment tomorrow to get an estimate on the bodywork, and have ordered a new set of polished stainless step rails.  These were surprisingly hard to find for the regular cab - only one place had them.  Everyone else only carried painted black step rails, which tend to rust and show wear.  Mine still look new (other than the dent) after seven years!
August 10, 2020 - The Geico adjuster called tonight with what may be good news of a sort.  Although the truck is being totaled, Virginia law won't require me to turn over the title or have a 'Salvage' stigma attached to it.  He also was very complimentary about the truck and said he had rated it the highest in condition of any he has done this year - the result may also be good news - a value of $4700.  I expect he was hoping for a more enthusiastic reaction, but the CARFAX report puts it at $4940.  I won't quibble if the buyback is reasonable. The shop estimated damage at $3100, which the adjuster explained was because they can't just paint an area and blend.  The entire cab and bed have to be repainted, which also means decals and trim.  Once we settle on things, I can go pick the truck up and get it fixed. Oh, and arrange for a new windshield - that was the only negative tick against the truck - minor glass pitting.  I had actually planned on getting the windshield replaced - the truck is on its third.  Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!
August 7, 2020 - The accident damage was not really bad, as you can see from the picture.  I was pleased when Geico, the other driver's insurance company, called to let me know they were accepting 100% responsibility and had made arrangements for me to drop the truck off for repairs and have a rental car.  All went well until today, when the Geico adjuster called - apparently they are thinking of totaling the truck because of its age.  According to NADA, the truck has a $4,225 retail value, which is what I would have to pay for an equivalent truck.  Even allowing a 60% of total value cap on repairs, I can't believe it would cost $2500 to repair the damage - the plastic fender flare didn't even crack! Obviously, I will keep the truck - it is in better shape than most similar vehicles a quarter of its age.
July 30, 2020 - Alas, poor truck. After nineteen years without a scratch, a girl in a Mustang decided that stopping at a red light gave her right of way over my green left turn light and pulled into me. The bed is damaged and there are dents in the cab corner and the step bar, but nothing that can't be fixed. No one was injured, though I was annoyed that the police officer didn't write her a ticket 'because the courts are all blocked up.' It was reported and will go to the state police, and the picture pretty much tells the story.
July 25, 2020 - The bed cover I put on four years ago is still in nice shape and looks good, but some shrinkage was making it start to pull up a little in the corners, and the flat frame allowed water to pool up on it every time it rained.  So I decided to splurge on a new Extang TuffTonno  cover with convex bows.  It arrived last night and installed easily.  Where the previous cover had soft snaps that were much nicer than the old-style metal snaps, this one uses a rigid single-piece locking system that is even easier and cleaner looking.  Better yet, it rained last night and there were no water reservoirs to be dumped.
June 3, 2020 - There is something to be said for the old adage 'If it ain't broke don't fix it.'  When I had the timing cover fixed, I asked the shop to install the new water pump and fan clutch I had bought since it would cost no more.  Right afterwards, the truck started continuously roaring like a major turbo spinning up.  My first guess was a bad fan clutch, but research showed that the problem was the 'package deal' of water pump and fan clutch I had bought included an upgraded heavy-duty fan clutch.  You can see the substantial difference between it (upper clutch) and the new standard duty (lower cutch)  I installed tonight.  The resistance is much stiffer - it took real effort to turn the heavy-duty mount.  The biggest issue was how to unscrew the clutch base from a free-spinning water pump pulley.  After finding advise online to use an air chisel, vise grips, or a pipe wrench, I tried the rubber strap oil filter wrench (orange tool) on the pulley and an adjustable wrench on the mount.  Success!  I cleaned up the fan blade and installed the new assembly (counterclockwise and spinning the pulley behind it).  The truck is now quiet again, and I expect more power and better mileage!
May 26, 2020 - I guess that close to twenty years is long enough to be trouble-free.  After last month's expensive repair to the timing cover, another leak started up, this time coming from the right side of the radiator.  I had pretty much determined that the plastic tanks had developed a crack like the Dodge had done, but it was so close to the top radiator hose I thought I'd replace that first.  When I went to start the truck, the battery had died. As in gone to the battery scrap heap in the sky.  Happily, there was a 3-year replacement warranty on the battery I bought in December 2017, so the new one only cost me gas money.  Alas, once the truck was started and running, the leak returned. The radiator turned out to have a 1-inch crack in the right side plastic tank.   However, I'd had enough faith in my original diagnosis that a new radiator was already sitting in the dining room.  An hour later the new radiator was installed, as was a new serpentine belt.  Not bad for a total outlay of about $150 and maybe two hours this afternoon!
April 10, 2020 - With the mechanical issues all caught up, I decided to spend this afternoon and early evening giving the truck a good cleaning.  After a thorough bath, I used polishing compound to remove scratches and then clay-barred the entire body, followed by a coat of Meguire's wax.  The 19 year-old paint still shines up great - the truck looks almost new, especially with the tires and tonneau cleaned and treated.  My arms are a bit sore, but it was well worth the effort.
March 25, 2020 - A very long term (as in maybe 7 or 8 years!) minor coolant leak finally got fixed today.  I had planned to do the job myself, which I thought would be a simple water pump replacement, this weekend.  A water pump and fan clutch assembly were delivered early this week, and I almost followed through.  But still bearing scars and burns from putting a new radiator in the van, I decided to use the money I had planned to spend on the now-postponed Charlotte Auto Fair to have someone else do the work.  And boy am I glad!  It turned out that the water pump, even with 145K miles on it, was fine.  The timing chain cover was the culprit, a common issue with the Ford 3.0 that powers this Ranger clone. The job was much more involved (and expensive), but I ended up with a new water pump and clutch fan, the leak fixed, new oil and filter, and a new inspection. Considering the truck is 19 years old (bought in 2001), I really can't complain - it has been very reliable, and still looks and runs great.
March 15, 2020 - The Mazda's tailgate handle snapped on one side today, which meant I couldn't open the tailgate to load groceries.  Happily, I had a new handle on hand, bought after the original handle broke about ten years ago. It took a bit of persuading with a screwdriver and needle nose pliers, but once I got the latch open the replacement was a quick and easy job involving a T-30 star bit and a 10 mm socket.  I also ordered another handle so I'll have one handy if it happens again.
January 12, 2020 - I clipped the driver's mirror on an unseen trashcan while backing into a driveway a couple of weeks ago and broke the swivel point.  Duct tape held it on  until I could glue it back, but I ordered a replacement mirror immediately ($33 for a new power mirror assembly on eBay!).  While the mirror has been fine, 70+ degree weather encouraged me to get the new one installed.  Thanks to a You-Tube video (you can find almost anything there), the job was quick and easy.  I also ordered a new mirror switch for $19 to make a long-overdue fix - I haven't been able to move either mirror to the right since shortly after I bought the truck 19 years ago!  Since I am the only driver, it isn't really an issue, but I like to have everything working. The switch came in from Amazon and was installed in about 4 minutes.  I read several other comments online about the mirror switch failing the same way, so it must have been a defective part.  All working now!
January 8, 2020 - The 3rd brake light on the back of the cab is apparently a common leak point for the Ranger/Mazda pickups, and mine was no exception.  I fixed it about ten years ago with sealer, but it started leaking again recently.  The water runs along the back of the headliner and drips on the passenger seat back.  I replaced the old bulb-type with a new LED assembly tonight.  The LEDs are much brighter than the bulb, and it came with a new seal.  I did pay for my shortcut last time - it took about 20 minutes to get the old sealer off the truck!
August 19, 2019 - One of the accessories that the Mazda came with was a bed extender that has proven very useful for oversized loads and carrying things like yard waste.  After 18 years, however, it has suffered the loss of the pivot clips and one of the locking handles. I started looking for a replacement a few years ago but had no luck until tonight.  I found this one on Craigs List advertised as a generic mid-sized pickup bed extender.  The seller said it would fit a Ranger, but when I got there I discovered it was off a 2002 Mazda B3000 Dual Sport just like mine!  Better yet, the extender showed almost no use. 
April 14, 2019 - A slow leak developed in the right rear tire, which turned out to be a finishing nail in an area that the tire place did not want to patch.  The Michelin white-letter tires were not available in the same pattern, so I decided to replace all four.  After 40K miles they still had good tread so I replaced the original spare tire and also put one on a matching rim I picked up on the way to Charlotte for the auto fair.  The new tires are Falken Wildpeak A/T3W 235/75R15XL 109T radials with no white letters to match up.  They were very highly rated online by both commercial and owner reviews, and came to about $420 installed.  They ride quiet and smooth - now to see how long they last!
January 20, 2019 - The truck continues to be my daily driver, and the miles are starting to pile up.  Still, after going on 18 years, 140K is not all that bad.  I did a recent oil change and was flipping through my maintenance log I have kept up since the truck was new - one items was notably absent - spark plug wires!  The Mazda has been running fine on the originals, but I decided it would be a good idea to replace them.  The Motorcraft set came from Amazon, and when I opened them today I thought I had been given someone's mismatches cast-offs!  some of the wires had gray ends, some had black, and one was orange.  I actually started to return them, but decided to check out the picture on the ad first.  Sure enough, it showed the mix of wire colors.  And when I pulled the old ones, they were a mix of gray and black - the orange indicated the #1 plug.  All of the plug wire loom clips came apart without breaking, and I was able to get the job done during a very brief bit of summer (69 degrees) before a front dropped temperatures 25 degrees in a couple of hours!  No difference in the running - I may get a boost in fuel mileage.
August 18, 2018 - Back about 1992 I took an A/C system certification course for mechanics on the new R134 air conditioning systems.  The purpose was to get my license so I could continue to buy R-12.  During the class, it was noted that Ford and GM would be using quick-release couplings that were sure to leak.  The Mazda is actually Ford Ranger and has the 'dreaded' quick couplings, and I can say that the warning was somewhat exaggerated.  I had noticed the A/C compressor cycling on and off and suspected that the R-134 level might be a tad low after nearly 17 years. Sure enough, I put about a third of a can of R-134 in the system.  The A/C is cooling better and I have not noticed the compressor cycling, so it did make a difference.  But anyone who wants to say the system was badly designed will have to show me any other 17 year-old vehicle with an A/C system as tight as this one has been!
August 3, 2018 - The center radio surround has taken a beating over the past 17 years, and is almost the only area of the interior showing its age.  Mazda chose to paint the surround a darker gray metallic, which is unusual since all the other trim is black.  I've been on the lookout for a good one in the junkyard, but have not been able to find the right one.  That's because the panel is unique to deluxe models with 2-wheel drive and the 4x4 suspension, with fog lights.  Happily, an NOS Ford Ranger panel showed up eBay in the factory box, and arrived at the house yesterday.  It looked like another easy job, and actually was!  You undo two 7mm bolts and then pop the assembly out.  Unhook wires, slide the radio out of the old panel and into the new one, and hook it all back up.  Maybe ten minutes total.  The new panel includes the vents and power outlets, and I like the Ford black better than the old gray one.  The truck also got an oil change - about 1/4 quart down after 5,000 miles!
May 9, 2018 - I took the truck out to Chesapeake last weekend to haul the Morris parts car engine and tranny back home, and saw the airbag warning light flashing on the way back.  It presented a code, flashing twice and then seven times, then repeating.  '2-7' is the code for the passenger airbag switch warning light (the dark spot just to the upper right of OFF on the console picture at left).  The entire switch assembly (old one shown highlighted in red) was $71 new, though there are some $5 repairs you can jury-rig.  I opted for the new unit which arrived today.  I replaced it in 15 minutes - undo the cup holder console by releasing two twist-clips, pull the gray cover off, undo three 7mm bolts, release the electrical connector, undo two Phillips head screws to swap out the switch unit, then reverse.  For once, a job that was supposed to be easy actually was!
April 29, 2018 - The trip to Charlotte went off without a hitch, and the EV Warrior got its award.  The truck was great, turning in about 21 mpg over the weekend.  Yesterday, however, I went out to find the right rear tire getting very low.  A roofing nail had found its way into the center of the tread, and I had to drop down the long-unseen spare tire.  This is the trucks original spare tire, about 17 years old, and it still has the 'hair' on the tread.  No cracking, no dry rot and though it was a bit low after many years of neglect, all it took was a quick boost from the compressor to get it back to full pressure.  It got a good cleanup before being stowed back in its cubby.
March 31, 2018 - I am using the truck to take the EV Warrior to the big show in Charlotte this week, so it was time for some maintenance.  Just over 5K miles on the oil, which still looked clean and was only down a half quart.  I also rotated the tires and cleaned the wheel backs.  The truck got new factory floor mats earlier this month - otherwise, it continues to run and drive great after nearly 17 years!
December 17, 2017 - More general maintenance for the truck.  Although it has not given me any issues, the battery was more than  7 years old.  Not the best plan with winter coming.  So I picked up a new one at Sam's Club this afternoon and swapped it out.
September 16, 2017 - The truck's mileage has been down some and I decided to install new spark plugs.  The last time was right at 60K miles back in 2008.  Nine years later the truck is just past 122K, so it was definitely due.  The electrodes were showing wear, but all were nice and clean.  I expect fuel efficiency will go up a little.  Anyway, it was an easy and inexpensive job - $21 for the NGK platinum plugs and about 30 minutes with a ratchet wrench and spark plug socket.

September 19, 2017 - Follow-up - My first tank of gas shows a marked improvement - from 18 MPG to 21 MPG!  Some of that is not getting stuck in traffic as much, but the new plugs still added a good 2 MPG.

June 16, 2017 - I took off today for my birthday and decided to give the truck a present - an oil change!  At 120,088 miles, it has gone 11,000 miles on the synthetic oil from last time, and used less than a half-quart.  The mileage is actually low for a truck I got in late 2001 - roughly 7,500 miles a year.  The original paint still shines and everything still works great.  The next item is likely to be a battery - no issues, but the one in the truck is seven years old, which is pushing the envelope a bit.  Then again, I got over nine years out of the original battery!
March 9, 2017 - One of the better accessories I have gotten for the Mazda is the tonneau roll-up bed cover - it keeps the inside of the bed clean and dry, and also provides easy access when I need to carry something large.  However, that much black vinyl tends to deteriorate over time, and while it functions well, it looked a little tired after more than ten years.  So I ordered a new cover off of eBay last week and it was waiting for me when I got back from a car show yesterday.  Installation was easy and it appears to fit well.  It also uses different fasteners that are much easier to work with.  The old one was still in good shape, and I sold it for $40 on the local Craig's List!
February 28, 2017 - The Mazda has had a puny-sounding horn for many years now - the low note quit working leaving just the tinny high note to signal with.  However, access to the horns was really tight.  The repair manual suggests removing the grille and headlight assembly to get to them.  I decided to order a set of horns off Amazon, and they came in today.  Then I struggled with getting my oversized hands down into tight places to get the old ones out.  The new horns are Fiamm, and as it turns out, the original Ford horns are also by Fiamm!  One complication turned out to be unique wiring plugs.  I ended up using the still-working high note and changed the low note connectors to spade push-on type.  Took some more juggling to get the assembly back in place, but the truck can now be rude and obnoxious with the best of them!
January 26, 2017 - After 16 years and over 115,000 miles, the Mazda finally needed a moderate repair.  When I took the truck in for inspection, one ball joint failed due to wear, and the other 3 no longer had their rubber boots protecting the joints from weather.  The factory items were 'lifetime' lubed with no provisions for greasing, and none of them would last another year.  I bit the bullet and had all four replaced by the garage - the lowers are press-fit and require a tool I do not have, and you have to disassemble the entire front end.  The uppers are an assembly with the A-arm, and all of the replacements have grease fittings.  The garage also replaced the front disk pads at no additional labor cost as they were close to failing.  Just under $600 for everything, and the truck was done the next day.  With rain, cold, and snow only occasionally broken by dry days above 40, I am glad I took the coward's way out!
July 10, 2016 - It's been a few months since I gave the truck a really good cleaning, so I took a couple of hours today and gave it a wash, compounded out some light scratches, scrubbed the bed, and shampooed the interior.  A fresh coat of wax is called for, but that has to wait for another day.  Even so, the truck hardly looks it's 15 years!  Still runs and drives like new with almost 110K miles.
June 5, 2016 - The Mazda has become my daily driver again, racking up 9K miles in the past year.  That is still not a lot, but I also drive the Sonata to work and often use the antiques on the weekends.  The mileage sorta crept up on me again, and I checked the logbook to discover that the oil has not been changed in nearly 9,000 miles!  Granted, that is all highway driving, but I need to pay closer attention.  The truck got something different this time - Quaker State 10w30 full synthetic.  Better for folks who forget oil changes.  The truck did not use any oil over the past 9K miles - it will be interesting to see how the synthetic holds up. 
May 7, 2016 - A large azalea bush on the side of my house has been an obstacle to getting in and out of the right side driveway space for years now, and I finally decided to cut it all the way back to the garden bed border. After I did that, I spotted a familiar logo - Mazda. This is a promo film camera that came with my Mazda pickup truck when I bought it in 2001 - it vanished shortly afterwards. My best guess is that I set it on top of the bush while I was cleaning the truck and it slipped into the branches and was forgotten. Fifteen years later it is still looks good despite the dirt, but as you might expect, the electronics inside are corroded away.  Still, it makes a neat item to stick back with the showroom sales folder and factory touch-up paint tube.  As for the truck itself, it is approaching 108K miles and continues to be a great vehicle.
November 11, 2015 - The Michelin radials I put on exactly 9 years ago today still had decent tread, but the inner sidewalls were all cracked and checked from dry rot.  Since I drive the truck mostly  on the Interstate, I decided it was smart to replace them.  This time the price was a pleasant surprise.  Thanks to a Grand Opening Special and some instant rebates, the tires that cost me $495.96 nearly a decade ago only cost $432.52!   The previous set lasted about 55K miles and 9 years, which is not too bad.  And the truck rode and handled well with them, so I am hoping to get the same service from this new set.
September 11, 2015 - Another victim of age, the cruise control switches on the steering wheel started to break apart.  This was a surprise, since I rarely use cruise control at all.   The sun had dried out the rubber cover.  I had a lot of trouble finding replacements on eBay until I did a parts number comparison and discovered that the Ford Ranger and Mazda B-series trucks use the same parts.   Curiously, the parts sellers do not seem to know that, and only show the Ranger applications.  I ordered a new set of Motorcraft switches and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the job went.  Maybe ten minutes from start to finish, and I don't have to look at cracked switches any more.  And yes, I did take the truck out and test operation to make sure they worked.  Safety note:  make sure you disconnect the battery before you take a modern steering wheel apart so there is no chance of accidentally setting off the air bag!
August 23, 2015 - After nearly 14 years, the Mazda has been suffering from the hazy headlight syndrome that plagues most older vehicles.  You can polish them up, but the results don't last.  I also had bits of amber paint in the side marker lights where the bulbs had shed their covering.  I bought new headlights off eBay a while back, but did not do the actual work until today.  I had to buy a special tool to undo some locking clips, but after that it was not too bad a job.  You can see the difference in the old and new headlights at right.  I cleaned out the side marker housings and installed new bulbs, and the headlights came with new bulbs installed.  There was a moment of concern when the new headlight mounting hardware did not fit, but I found that the factory hardware swapped over without any problems.  Even though I spent a few hours getting the job done, it wasn't as bad as expected.  Glad to have it done!
June 27, 2015 - The Mazda flipped over 100,000 miles this week!  Still low for a truck I bought nearly 14 years ago.  It was due for an oil change and tire rotation.  I had an Advance DriveWorks oil filter in stock from a sale last time, so I bought 5 quarts of Castrol 20/50 (yeah, thick for the 6 but it has served me well for 100K+ miles).  I did my usual drain hot and then replaced the filter and plug, added oil, and started her up with eyes on the oil gauge to make sure it got pressure.  It didn't.  I turned the engine off, started it again, and still no oil pressure.  A blip of the throttle to clear air blocks did nothing.  So I turned her off and then saw the pool of oil around my feet.  The oil filter gasket had fallen off the filter when I pushed it through the access flap!  Never had that happen with a filter before - it is my LAST DriveWorks product, for sure.  All five quarts came out, which meant an nasty mess to clean up.  However, a new filter and 5 MORE quarts of Castrol oil (Why can't I like the cheap stuff?) and all was well.  Oh, and 20 pounds of absorbent.  Anyway, the truck still runs like new and had not used a drop of oil since the last oil change.
February 25, 2015 - I've had an occasional squeaking from the drive belt pulleys over the years, but a few days ago one of them started protesting continuously.  Since the serpentine belt is original, I went ahead and replaced both pulleys and the belt this afternoon.  After almost 100K miles and more than 14 years, the old belt still looked fine, but I am glad I got a replacement.  Even better, the weather cooperated, giving be a sunny and relatively warm day between two winter storms (The white background in the picture is snow on the bed cover).  For once, an 'easy' job really was, and I got the whole thing knocked out in about 30 minutes, including time searching for tools.  And when I started the truck up, it was nice and quiet.
January 19, 2015 - The truck got inspected today with no issues - I also changed oil and filter, this time getting it done after 5K miles.  Still doing great and looking good.  I ordered new headlight assemblies even though I've kept the originals clear enough to pass inspection with no issue.  The slight clouding makes it look old.  Plus, the Mazda lights are harder to find, so I figured I'd get them while I can.
May 11, 2014 - While giving the truck a good cleanup today, I decided to check the maintenance log.  Good thing - the last time I changed oil was in 2012 when it had just turned 80K miles.  It just turned 90K miles!  BAD BOB!  The Mazda doesn't get used a lot normally, and I tend to take it for granted.  However, it was just down a half-quart after all that time and mileage, and it still looked good.  Whew.  I gave her an oil change this afternoon, plus checked all fluids.  Coming up on 13 years old!
December 18, 2013 - I decided to finally replace the truck's windshield after about a year of looking at a stone chip in the driver's line of sight.  There was also a rock chip on the bottom passenger side that has been there since one week after I had the windshield replaced ten years ago, plus a decade's worth of pitting.  The new windshield was only $186 installed, and made a huge difference.  Well, not so much to look at, but this morning as I drove into  the sun on the way to work, it made a huge difference to look out!  Oh, and I realized that the step rails were NOT supposed to be angled and swapped them around.  Nice and straight.  The rails had been mislabeled and I followed the directions - after two step rail sets that were mislabeled for the wrong body type, I should have learned. 
December 14, 2013 - The Mazda just celebrated its 12th birthday, and I decided to spruce it up a bit with some step rail bumpers.  That turned out to be easier said than done, as the first set I bought had missing parts, and the replacement set the vendor sent was for a 4-door.  I just got a third set from a different vendor yesterday which was both correct and had all the parts!  It installed quickly and easily, and looks good.  I've put just over 7,000 miles on the truck since August 2012.  Though it sits outside, it is still looks, runs, and drives pretty much as it did new!  I just ordered a serpentine belt to replace the original that still looks perfect - after 12 years, it's time to take precautions.
December 30, 2012 - I spent the past couple of weekends cleaning up the main garage - and filling up the back of the Mazda.  It continues to be a great vehicle.  Other than the fuel pump, it has needed nothing.  I am trying to drive it more, but it still sits in the driveway most of the time.  The Inspection is due next month, but I don't expect any issues.
August 7, 2012 - The Mazda rolled off the assembly line in mid-October 2001, so it is just shy of it's 11th birthday.  That noted, it just passed the 80,000 mile mark on the way to work this morning.  (Conveniently where I could stop and get a photo).  For a vehicle that has never seen the inside of a garage, it it holding up remarkably well.  I spent all last Saturday cleaning, shampooing, vacuuming, polishing, and waxing, and the truck looks pretty close to new.  The 2007 Sonata has actually accumulated more miles in the 5 years I have owned it, so I have started using the truck as a daily driver.  Everything, from the A/C and CD player to the cruise control and power windows works perfectly.
January 30, 2012 - OK, so I didn't wait.  A cold kept me home today, and this afternoon I called the shop just on the off chance they were not swamped.  Sure enough, they could take me right then, and I was there in 5 minutes (It's just across the street).  The truck sailed through inspection with flying colors.  So it should be good to go for another year.
January 29, 2012 - Finally!  Another reasonably warm and clear day gave me the chance to get the truck back together.  I used Chip's pump to transfer most of the gas into cans, which then got dumped into the Aspen and the MGB-GT.  It took a bit of maneuvering to get all of the wires and hoses set up the right way, but It all went back together without too much fuss.  I have to say it was a relief when the truck started up, though.  There was always the chance some obscure sensor or computer chip had gone bad.  Anyway, no leaks, drips, or other issues.  I took the truck over to get gas again - it was almost completely empty.  Looking at the picture, I'm impressed with the condition - that's a 10 year-old underside there!  Next step is to get the truck inspected.  I found out about the fuel pump the morning I was going to take it in for its Virginia State Inspection, and it's now almost February.  I'll wait until the end of the week - no point in fighting the masses with January inspections running out.  This was a lot of work, but I probably saved the cost of the Sonata's new tires putting the fuel pump and filter in myself!
January 17, 2012 - It's been a busy year so far, so I didn't really get anything done on the truck until today.  It's a workday, but with 69 degrees and mostly sunny skies in the middle of January, I took the day and got busy.  Multiple attempts to drain the tank have been thwarted by internal anti-siphon baffles, so I had to do it with a full tank.  Getting the tank out wasn't too bad, though the so-called quick-disconnects only released when I broke the ^%$#@! plastic locking tabs.  I also broke one fuel line end.  With the tank safely on the ground, I discovered the sending unit is held in by a large plastic locking ring that requires a special tool to remove.  Or a large C-clamp - I closed the clamp up until it fit between opposing slots and it turned off just fine.  I picked up a new fuel pump at Advance, along with a Dorman 800-053 clip replacement kit.  It seems I'm not the only one who breaks the clips.  That still left the broken fuel line.  Chip stopped by in the afternoon, and we went out to the local Pick N' Pull, a junkyard that lets you gets small parts yourself.  We searched the Ford products until we found some usable ends and an assortment of clips.  A big $2 plus tax later (Well, plus $2 each getting in), and I had everything I needed.  I have the pump installed, and the tank is ready to go back in.  The weather looks good for the weekend, so I'll plan on getting her back together then.
January 1, 2012 - Further troubleshooting has pretty much pinpointed the fuel pump.  It will be a somewhat difficult job thanks to the so-called -quick release' fittings that Ford saw fit to use on the gas lines.  Plus the gas tank is full.  I plan to attack the job next weekend while I have the empty space in the main garage.  (Wildflower will be off at the big car show).  I can't really begrudge the truck - this is the first real trouble I have had in over ten years of ownership!
December 29, 2011 - I went out this morning to take the truck over for state inspection, and for the first time in over ten years, it wouldn't start!  It cranks fine, just doesn't do anything else.  Either no spark or no gas - I suspect a bad fuel pump (naturally, since I just filled the gas tank, which is where the pump is).  I don't hear any sound of pump operation from the tank, and when I pressed the pressure relief valve on the fuel rail,. nothing happened even with the ignition on.  I'll have to do some more troubleshooting before buying a new pump. 
July 24, 2011 - I gave the truck a good cleaning today and checked fluids.  I was surprised to find the oil down more than half a quart.  At least, until I check the service log and discovered I had not changed the oil in almost 10,000 mile!  BAD BOB!  I use the truck so seldom I tend to forget service intervals.  I replaced the oil and filter, and also put in a new air filter and checked the other fluids.  Other than a top off of windshield washer fluid, she was fine. 
December 11, 2010 - I was checking over the truck today and noticed that the 'eye' on the original battery has gone from Green to Red.   A turn of the key confirmed the engine was cranking noticeably slower, thought she fired up quickly.  With winter knocking at the door and the original battery having lasted well over 9 years, I figured it was time to buy a new one. Advance had a 6-year warranty battery for about $100, so I drove over and traded away the faithful, but failing original.  I was lucky to catch it now instead of the next time I wanted to use the truck on a cold morning.
August 28, 2010 - Nine years old and over 70K miles - the Mazda has required nothing more than oil changes, one set of tires, a transmission oil change, one set of spark plugs, and front brake pads (didn't really need the plugs or pads).  It even has its original battery!  I decided to rotate the tires today.  That also gives me a chance to check out the underside (clean and solid) and scrub down the inside of the wheels and tires. 
April 18, 2010 - I put the truck to the test this weekend - a trailer, MGB-GT, and a mess of spare parts including a spare engine and tranny, all the way from Raleigh NC.  She worked a little on hills, but made the trip with no fuss, no overheating, and about 17 mpg!  Not bad for a V-6.
November 29, 2009 - The leak is definitely fixed - a lot of rain today, and the truck stayed dry.  After some disappointing results with expensive fabric cleaners, I was considering having the interior professionally cleaned.  Today, I picked up some Blue Coral carpet and upholstery cleaner from Advance Auto - I've used it before with great success - and had...  well, great success!   Woolite and Renuzit cleaners had done nothing, but the Blue Coral cleaned the seats right up like new.  I'll go ahead and get the truck cleaned and detailed,  and I am going to start keeping a cover on it.  After more than 8 years she's still hard to tell from a new one.
November 23, 2009 - Another year has come and gone and the Mazda soldiers on, now showing just of 66K miles.  Last year's trip to Hilton Head was uneventful.  The truck did great and also pulled the MG TC on a trailer up to a big antique import car show in Richmond, VA (about 100 miles away) in September.  The original battery shows no sign of getting tired after more than 8 years, and she still runs like new.  I was annoyed to see stains on the seat upholstery that didn't make sense.  I've kept them cleaned and vacuumed.  Then I found out they were water stains!  The first suspect was the sliding rear window seal, but putting sealer around that didn't help.  Then I took a closer look at the third brake light mounted on the back edge of the cab.  The leading edge had bowed from heat warping of the plastic body and had opened up a gap.  I pulled the light assembly and ran a bead of clear sealer all around.  It rained most of today and the inside stayed dry.  Now I have to figure out how to get the ^%##! water stains out!
October 17, 2008 - The Mazda has been flawless for seven years - she hasn't been driven too hard, given less than 60K on the odometer since 2001, but she's never so much as hiccupped.  She looks great too - the silver paint still shines like new, and the interior stays nice.  She'll be getting a workout in a couple of weeks, though.  I'm going to tow the 1929 Model A Ford pickup to the Hilton Head Concours d'Elegance.  That's 420 miles, but I am using a tow dolly and the Model A is pretty light.  Overall, it will be less strain than towing the 1973 MGB to Boston, and quite a bit less distance.  Still, I decided to go through the tuck and do some service.  She was due for an oil and filter, and I also replaced the air filter, plugs, front brake pads, and coolant, and rotated the tires.  The old spark plugs were still in great shape - for that matter, even the brake pads still had a lot of life left.  However, I'd rather go ahead and take care of things before they cause trouble.  The next item is likely to be the battery - it' still the factory original after 7 years. 
January 5, 2007 - The replacement cover showed up in short order, but weather and other activities kept me from getting it properly fit until today.  This frame has adjustable snaps which had to be repositioned for the new cover, but once I got them in place the cover fit very well.  Quite a bit better than the old cover, which I had to struggle to get on on a cool day and had to forget even trying if to put it back on if I took it off on a cold day.  We had an unusually nice day today - high 50s and sunny - so I also got the vehicles washed. 
December 10, 2007 - I'd let the truck go further than usual between changes - almost 7,000 miles (Bad Bob!), but the oil was still in good shape and right up to the level.  I got a new soft tonneau, but the cover was too small to snap - that's the issue I had with the 6+ year-old tonneau I am replacing!.  The company is sending me a new cover - if it doesn't fit, I'll have to send the whole kit back for a refund and try something else.
December 3, 2007 - The truck had an uneventful year.  The only thing I've done other than gas is replace the tailgate handle (for the second time) a couple of weeks ago, and tonight I had to replace the third brake light bulb.  Not bad for 56K miles and 6 years.  She still runs, drives, and looks like new.  With the house work and the Sonata currently in the body shop, the truck is getting a lot more use than usual.  She's due for state inspection this month, and an oil change.
January 24, 2007 - Nothing new to report, other than what appears to be a gain in mileage from the new tires.  I started driving the truck to work the past two weeks, and noted that the mixed driving number was just over 23 mpg!  That is surprising, given previous figures of 19 mpg.  In any case, the truck continues to be a great vehicle - reliable and nice to drive.
November 11, 2006 - I had an unpleasant surprise this past Sunday - I went into a store, and when I came out the left rear tire had gone flat.  Luckily, the spare (which I haven't checked since I bought the Mazda in 2001) was good, and I stopped by to have the tire fixed.  Turns out the Goodyear Wrangler, which has always had correct air pressure, never been overloaded, and had plenty of tread left, had dry-rotted and split open on the inside sidewall!  At least it popped in the parking lot, rather than the last time I used it - pulling the 1950 Jeepster back from North Carolina.  The next unpleasant surprise came when I found out how much a good 235/765 R 15 LT tire is.  So much for ordering Jeepster parts this month!  After the poor performance of the Goodyears, I opted to spend $20 per tire more and get Michelins.  The white letters look snazzy, and the truck rides and drives a little better.  When I wrote the tire purchase in the truck's service log, I noted that I've driven it only 4,000 since October 2005!   I plan to give her some more exercise this year.
April 3, 2006 - With well over a hundred cars in my past, this silver 2002 Mazda B3000 Dual Sport pickup truck is only the second one I purchased new.  The first was a dark green 2001 Mazda (below right) that lived less than 6 months and 5,000 miles before getting T-boned by a 1984 Buick going about 50 mph (below left).  The green truck was a 5-speed that I bought after a lot of hard looking and test drives.  Mazda trucks are Ford Rangers with slightly upscale trim.  Curiously, they sell for quite a bit less than the Ford version despite being identical except for grilles and taillights.  As an example, a 2001 Ranger with not quite as many options as the Mazda was $20,000, where the nicer Mazda was under $16,000!   The fit and finish are excellent, and it is very solid feeling. 

The solidity got tested by the afore-mentioned Buick in October of 2001 up on Skyline Drive.  Thanks to the 4x4 suspension, the truck sits higher than usual - I went airborne and did a full 360-degree rotation sideways, landing back on my wheels in a parking lot next to the road.  The glass blew out, air bags went off, and I wasn't sure if I was going to live.  Happily, I got out without a scratch, though there wasn't a straight body panel left on the truck.  The insurance company, no doubt grateful to be spared medical expenses, paid off the truck including my down payment and trade-in.  The dealership, Hampton Mazda, was terrific - I had bought the 2001 as part of a year-end-clearance deal, but they sold me the 2002 hot off the delivery truck for the same price.  And the 2002 had an automatic transmission and the bed extender! 

I have been very happy with the Mazda - it gets good mileage, rides comfortably on long trips, and I have towed an MGB from Virginia to Boston with it. It has about 46K miles on it now, and after a polish and wax, still looks brand new.  I have done nothing to it but change the oil and rotate the tires - can't ask for better service than that!

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