If your options were owning a Mazda Tribute or participating in Hanabals attempts to invade Italy buy climbing the alps with elephants, I’d advise you to start pushing your elephant up a seriously steep hill. The Mazda Tribute is not much chop and we advise people to steer clear of them.
The Tribute was a combined manufacturing project with the Ford Motor company and as a result the Mazda Tribute and the Ford Escape are almost the exact same car. They were released on the same date and apart from a few visual variations, is basically the same car.
The Tribute boasts a list of “common faults” longer than the list of pervious English monarchs. The V6 option available was particularly troublesome with common faults such as major oil leaks from sump gaskets, air conditioning compressors failing and running rough caused by some ridiculous vacuum line set ups. The V6 also had extra maintenance costs with a simple spark plug replacement job requiring the removal of the inlet manifold.
Interestingly the body shape of these is so perfectly designed that if you lose your petrol cap and it happens to rain, the water will run straight down the body of the car and trickle off the contour line of the rear guard and straight into the fuel filler neck. If you have a Tribute and you lose your fuel cap, replace it immediately or you will gain a tank full of water.
Misfires in these vehicles are known to cause damage to the catalytic converter in the front bank if left unattended too long, and we have also experienced the V6 model burning out valves causing the vehicle to misfire.
These cars have also presented with an array of air bag faults in both the Tribute and the Escape and we have seen several automatics have shifter cable faults resulting in vehicles unable to get out of park.
The four cylinder options available in both vehicles appear to be less troublesome, however this may be because they are not as popular as the V6. They may be just as ordinary but we are seeing them less frequently due to limited numbers on the roads.
The long and the short of it is these cars are about as exciting as a photo collection of twentieth century telegraph poles. We strongly advise avoiding purchasing, owning, acquiring or even been accidentally given a Mazda Tribute.