Category Archives: Mazda

Ignition Coils – Everything you need to know


Look under the bonnet of a modern vehicle and there is no doubt that the scene appears different to that of one of yester-year. With regards to ignition, distributors and lead sets are now a rarity – replaced with ‘plug top’ coils and ‘rail’ coils.

The ignition coil sector is now a significant part of the business of NGK Spark Plugs (UK). Although we recognise the importance of still catering for the earlier vehicles, many of which utilise the old metal can type ignition coils which incorporate oil to provide insulation and cooling, we also supply coils for the modern vehicle models that are venturing out of the main dealer network for repair.

What causes the demand for ignition coils is the harsh environment in which they work, which in turn creates a greater possibility of failure. As a result, although not strictly service items as such, many technicians view them in that category.

Coil manufacture has to be of a very high standard these days, mainly due to the high temperature fluctuations they’re subjected to. Many are mounted directly on the spark plugs and the severe cooling/heating cycles that prevail are a test for even the best quality item.

It is worth investing in suitable coil removal tools, not only to make removal easier upon servicing, but to ensure that the body or housing is not twisted or distorted – which can cause unseen damage internally.

Strict quality processes
Compromises on coil quality due to choice of materials used or production costs should never be made without recognising that there is inevitably a significantly greater possibility of premature failure.

The ignition coils in the NGK range have been through strict quality processes, from the initial design stage to assembly and testing. The testing carried out prior to launch ensures the items meet or exceed the vehicle manufacturers’ OE items.

The quality processes also encompass the packaging in which the items are shipped. Attention to detail means that items are safe in transit and, to ensure correct fit first time, the NGK ignition coil packaging includes a label with a schematic diagram of the coil contained inside – so selection can be verified easily without removal from the box.

Coil selection can be made using NGK Partfinder found on the website and the current NGK ignition coils application catalogue is available in paper format, which includes enhanced coil images to further aid selection.

The most recent additions to the NGK range, which was launched in 2013, were 22 new coil types covering vehicles including the VW Up, Mini, Vauxhall Adam, Vauxhall Astra J, Vauxhall Mokka, Mazda 6, Renault Clio IV and Dacia Sandero II. Range expansion is on-going, with emphasis revolving around demand. In total, the range now comprises 340 ignition coils, thus offering a part for a high percentage of the UK car parc.

You can talk to the NGK Spark Plugs (UK) technical team and find out more about its ignition coils range by visiting Stand C28 at Donington Park.

Air filter fitting tips

Air filter element installation on some Ford Focus/C-Max/Kuga, Mazda 3 and Volvo C30, C70, S40 & V50 models is simple, provided certain fitment points are observed.

The MANN-FILTER air filter for this application is the OE design. However, you can ensure optimum sealing and installation by following this fitment guide.

First, lightly lubricate the seal.

1. Before inserting the filter element, lightly lubricate the seal. Then ensure that the alignment post on the filter end cap is correctly located in the ‘notch’ on the filter housing.

2. Ensure that the edge of the filter element end cap completely fits into the groove of the housing.

3. Pull the end of the housing away from the element and, at the same time, push the filter element in the opposite direction.

4. Once located, the filter element end cap has to be positioned behind the filter housing lip.

How to replace a timing belt on a Mazda 6

Launched in 2002, the timing belt system on the Mazda 6 may look ominous, but with a little know-how and the appropriate tools, it will prove to be an ideal repair for any UK garage.

Engine type

The engine has been identified as an interference type so, in the event of a cambelt failure, the likelihood of engine damage is extremely high. It is important to install a new timing belt system on an engine at ambient room temperature.

Always adhere to turning the engine in the normal direction of rotation, unless advised otherwise by the OEM installation instructions. Recommended torque values should always be used, and it is recommended that all the tensioners and pulleys are replaced at the same time as the cambelt.

A two-post ramp is ideal for the work to be carried out. If the vehicle has alloy wheels fitted, then the chances are they will have antilocking theft bolts installed, so make sure that you have the key available to remove them.


Open the bonnet and, for safety measures, disconnect the battery earth terminal. Remove the engine top cover, which is held with three 10mm nuts. Remove the RH front wheel and remove eight fixings from the front of the wheel arch liner and underneath the bumper. It is advised to remove the liner completely, but we found this not necessary as the liner can just be supported away from the work area (Fig 1 below).

Fig 1

Remove the engine under shield and support the engine with a trolley jack. Remove the RH engine mount, which is held with two nuts and one bolt (Fig 2 below).

Fig 2

Remove the upper timing belt cover; this is held by seven bolts. Release the auxiliary belt tensioner and remove the auxiliary belt. Remove the crankshaft pulley cover by unclipping it from its position and unbolt the six bolts that hold the crankshaft pulley in place.

Rotate the crankshaft clockwise and align the three timing marks on the camshaft, high-pressure fuel pump and crankshaft pulley (Fig 3 below).

Fig 3

After alignment, install an 8mm bolt into the camshaft pulley, taking care not to overtighten the bolt as damage can be caused to the pulley (Fig 4 below).

Fig 4

Unbolt the automatic tensioner retaining bolts and remove the tensioner unit from its position. Remove the tensioner pulley and bracket; this is a little tricky to get to so we used a normal allen key from underneath to remove the retaining bolt (Fig 5 below). Remove the guide pulley and, finally, the timing belt.

Fig 5


Install the new tensioner pulley and idler pulley, taking care to leave the green seal facing towards the wheel of the idler as this is an offset pulley and could cause the belt to misalign inside the drive system.

Verify the timing marks are correctly aligned. It is advised to use an alignment tool on the high pressure fuel pump, but in this example we could not see the benefit of using the tool. The timing marks were correct on the fuel pump pulley, so we then installed the timing belt in an anti-clockwise direction, starting from the crankshaft pulley.

Remove the 8mm bolt from the camshaft pulley and install the new automatic tensioner and two retaining bolts. Using a torque wrench, tighten to a correct torque of 25Nm (Fig 6 below).

Fig 6

Remove the retaining pin from the tensioner body to release the pushrod (Fig 7 below) and rotate the crankshaft two turns clockwise. Check the timing marks are aligned on the camshaft, high-pressure fuel pump and crankshaft.

Fig 7

If they are not then the tensioning process will need to be repeated, taking extra care to compress the push-rod into the tensioner body vertically and holding in place with the retaining pin.

The installation of the remaining parts is the reverse order of removal. It is strongly advised to check the condition of the auxiliary belt and driven components for excessive wear and consider replacing them.

Finally, it is advisable to rotate the engine by hand a number of times before starting the engine, to check for any interference or noise.

Front wheel bearing replacement – Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 was introduced in 2003 to replace the aging 323. Over the years it has forged itself a reputation for high reliability and quality and has now sold over 77,000 models in the UK. Now, as the manufacturer’s warranty is expiring, we are starting to see more and more coming into the aftermarket.

Premature damage
In this article we are going to look at how to replace the front wheel bearing on the Mazda 3 and give you some handy hints and tips to help you on your way. The type of bearing used on the Mazda can be a little tricky to fit because it has to be pressed into the hub and during this process, if done incorrectly, you can damage the bearing prematurely.

Firstly check to see if the vehicle has alloy wheels fitted, if it has it may be fitted with anti-theft bolts so you’ll need to find the key. Raise the vehicle on a ramp (although the job could be done on the ground if necessary) and remove the wheel on the relevant side. When possible we recommend that you replace bearings in pairs, as chances are the bearing on the opposite side could be just as worn as the one you are replacing.

Undo the large hub nut securing the driveshaft and release the shaft from the hub. Undo the two bolts (pictured below)  securing the calliper to the hub, remove the assembly and secure it out of the way.

Remove the brake disc and disconnect the ABS connector (pictured below).

Undo the lower ball joint bolt (pictured below) and release the lower arm from the hub.

Undo the nut (pictured below) securing the steering rack to the hub and release it.

Undo the bolt securing the hub to the suspension strut (pictured below) and release it from the strut.

With the hub released use a press or a puller (pictured below) to remove the flange from the hub assembly.

Remove the large circlip (pictured below) retaining the bearing into the hub and push out the bearing assembly from inside the hub.

Depending on how the bearing separates you may need to extract the inner race from the flange; a puller was used in this example to remove the race from the flange.

Check the hub
Once the bearing components have all been removed, take the time to check that the hub profile is perfectly round and not damaged. The outer race of a bearing will always take the shape of the hub its being pressed into, so if the hub has been damaged and is not perfectly round this could prematurely wear the bearing over time.

This particular bearing comes with an ABS encoder ring on one side so you need to make sure you are pressing the bearing in the right way round, otherwise the encoder side of the bearing will be facing the wrong side. The seals on an FAG bearing are normally colour coded – black is the encoder side – however if you are unsure you can always use an encoder card to check.

Press on the outer race
When you fit the bearing into the hub make sure you press on the outer race. By doing this you ensure that the pressing force is not transmitted through the balls or rollers, but only through the outer race. The same applies when pressing the flange into the bearing. Ensure no force is transmitted through the bearing by supporting the bearing on the inner race and pressing on the flange directly. Fitment of the remainder is the reverse of the removal.

Finally its worth pointing out that the clamp load is essential on these types of bearings, so make sure you use a torque wrench when tightening the hub nut or bolt. Failure to do this could lead to premature failure of the new bearing.

How do Stop-Start systems work?

The last few years have seen the introduction of Stop-Start systems by many manufacturers across various vehicle models to improve fuel consumption and reduce exhaust emissions.

One of the main problems the introduction of Stop-Start systems has caused is that when the starter is operated the voltage in the vehicle’s electrical system can drop. In normal circumstances this is not a problem, the vehicle is not usually in “driving mode” and it doesn’t matter if some of the vehicle electrical systems do not function during starter motor operation (exterior lights, heating & air conditioning and audio systems, for example). However, during driving this is not acceptable for reasons of safety and driver convenience.

To counter this problem most systems use an additional power supply to ensure that voltage-critical equipment will not stop operating during starter motor operation. For some models this consists of a large capacitor that is charged by the alternator using engine power, or kinetic energy generated during deceleration and braking.

Considerable thought has been given to the safety mechanisms; most, if not all, Stop-Start systems will not operate if any of the doors or the bonnet is open and will only operate if sufficient vacuum is available to ensure the normal operation of the braking system.
As the use of Stop-Start technology is increasingly adopted, there are now as many systems as there are manufacturers, but they can be categorised as follows:

  • Those using a “conventional” starter motor
  • Those using a combined starter motor/alternator

Although some models use a conventional starter motor for cold start and Stop-Start operation, it is usually modified to ensure it can withstand the extra use it will encounter. However, the time taken to start the engine with this system is thought by some to be too long so other models are using a different approach.
Battery technology is also changing, with the extra starting cycles requiring a more robust battery construction. Absorbent glass matt (AGM) batteries, Gel batteries or the slightly cheaper enhanced flooded batteries (EFB) variants can be found in most vehicles with Stop-Start systems. Replacement of these batteries may necessitate programming of the vehicle’s computer system to allow the battery degradation process to be monitored. On many models the Stop-Start system will be disabled for up to 24 hours following battery disconnection or replacement to allow the battery condition to be evaluated.

Which Stop-Start Application Do They Use?
Toyota Yaris

The Stop-Start system of the Toyota Yaris has its starter motor in constant engagement with the flywheel ring gear and then the ring gear is connected to the engine flywheel with a one way clutch. This, together with recognition of the engine’s static crankshaft position, allows instantaneous ignition of the correct cylinder, thereby reducing starting time.

It is interesting to note that the number of starter motor operations is recorded and the calculated “end of starter lifespan” is indicated by a flashing warning lamp on the instrument panel. After replacement of the starter motor the counter has to be reset.

PSA group

Using a conventional type of starter motor for cold start, the Peugeot/Citroen group employs a combined starter motor and alternator assembly (so called reversible alternator) for the Stop-Start system. Connected to the engine crankshaft with the auxiliary drive belt, it provides silent operation and short starting time.

Unlike conventional alternators, diodes are not used; instead voltage rectification and motor operation use metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs). Presently, it would appear that it is only the “e-HDi” models that use the aforementioned capacitor.

3 Essential Items That You’ll Need When Servicing Stop-Start Systems

Starters & Alternators 

Used in many modern vehicles, StARS (Stop start Alternator Reversible System) consists of a reversible alternator that replaces the conventional alternator and starter motor. The reversible alternator provides the function of alternator and starter combined with the new design allowing the conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy, and visa-versa.

StARS works similar to the conventional alternator where the later applications would have the charge rate controlled by the vehicle ECU (computer controlled and smart charge systems). The new variation now has a separate ECU which administers the reversible alternator and the vehicle’s engine.
When the vehicle is slowed down by the user the ECU analyses the speed of the car and if/when the speed falls under 5mph the ECU switches off the engine. Once the brake pedal is released the ECU then gives an order to start the engine again. The reversible alternator plays the part of the starter motor to achieve this.

The system is designed to work in 5 phases:
1. The vehicle is switched on and the ECU will crank/start the engine. This is achieved by the battery providing electrical energy and the reversible alternator then acts as a starter motor to help crank the engine.

2. During normal driving (when the vehicle is not being slowed down) the reversible alternator then acts as a conventional alternator by converting the mechanical energy into electrical energy and charging the battery.

3. Once the vehicle speed has been reduced below 5mph by braking the StARS ECU gives a command to stop the engine.

4. Once the brake pedal has been released the StARS ECU then gives a command to start the engine again. The battery provides electrical energy and the reversible alternator plays the part of the starter motor and cranks the engine.

5. The vehicle is switched off and the ECU will stop the engine

AUTOELECTRO provides a whole array of replacement starter motors and alternators for modern Stop-Start systems and applications.

Servicing Data 

AUTODATA has enhanced its online product offering to include technical information on vehicles with Stop-Start technology.
The technical information provided by Autodata on its online system enables technicians to identify the specific location of key elements such as the main battery, additional battery and the Stop-Start capacitor.

Procedures for disconnecting and reconnecting each element are clearly explained along with additional information for servicing the system.

Replacement Batteries
EXIDE has expanded its coverage of the UK car parc with new AGM and ECM batteries. The new products cover vehicles from VW, Audi, Toyota, Ford and a slew of other brands.
Exide’s AGM batteries are claimed to have around three times the lifecycle durability of standard batteries. Parts of “matching quality”, they are designed for cars with Start-Stop and regenerative braking systems. They are also used in standard vehicles to increase endurance and performance.

AGM battery coverage: Audi A1, A4, A5 and Q5; BMW 5, 6, 7, X5 and X6; VW Golf, Polo and Touareg; Chrysler Voyager; Dodge Caliber; Jeep Cherokee and many others.

ECM battery coverage: Ford Fiesta, Galaxy, Focus, Mondeo, B-Max, C-Max and S-Max; Toyota iQ; Mazda CX-5 and a range of other models.