Tribute top-end 'refresh' with pics

Not open for further replies.
Sep 8, 2005
My 2003 Mazda Tribute with the 3L Duratec started running bad a couple of months ago. It was an occasional miss in wet weather that I suspected was a bad ignition coil, and I hoped to ride out for a while instead of spending $$ to track and replace said coil. Problem is, it got worse and worse, and the truck started to burn a lot of oil, got harder and harder to start, started to smell like burnt oil and gas all the time, and started shifting really badly until finally the vehicle would not move under its own power. I figured with 175k on it, it was done. Wife and couldn't afford a new vehicle, but we decided t go without until we could figure something out. Not so fast, says BIL. He shows up with a tow dolly, and tows away our truck. We agree to pay him for parts, and let him take his time fixing what we still figure is a bad coil and a new set of plugs. Well....ahem...$1300 worth of parts and pizza later, we almost have a new truck. A simple fix turned into one thing after another: - 1 new coil and 6 new spark plugs; - new IM and valve cover gaskets, b\c the ones on the engine had completely let go and leaked oil into the intake valley and the spark plug holes; - new throttle cable b\c oil, junk and age did in the old one; - new catalytic converters and exhaust flex pipe, which is why the engine actually stopped running; - new EGR valve as it was shot with the converter; - oil and coolant both dumped and changed. Along the way, BIL took some pics as he took apart the top of the engine: {removed photos for now per OP} As you can see from the second pic, engine is heavily varnished, but my BIL said there was not much sludge in it, just some junk in the corners. So its going to get more frequent oil changes to try and clean that up. I'm so thankful for my BIL; he saved us a bundle by freezing his butt off, burning his hands, and going from one problem to another on this job for two weeks. Truck runs like new now, and has definitely been given a new lease on life!
Last edited by a moderator:
I'm sorry, I can't get the pics to work, and that was the whole point of this post! Mods please delete if possible.....
Just goes to show you that the little things can add up to a big thing. Glad you're back on the road.
Have you tried diagnosing the problems using a vacuum gauge? Misfire and cat restriction can be diagnosed by watching how the needle moves. Lucky you were able to fix the problem. $1300 is a couple months car payments if you were to give up and get a new car which most people would've done.
There they are! Engine is dirtier than I'd like it to be, but I guess with 175k and the problems I've been having I should be thankful its not worse.
Update: Truck appears to have fried another coil on a trip to the in-laws today, hopefully BIL can fix tomorrow...
Not open for further replies.