Question about 2003 Mazda MPV

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Replacing headlight bulb on a 2003 MPV

I have to change the bulb on my 2003 MPV - how easy will this be?

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  • Anonymous Nov 22, 2008

    Not silly at all. I also am frustrated to no end that I cannot affect simple replacement maintenance like changing a light bulb!

  • biinins Dec 25, 2008

    Official Mazda manual requires to "detach the electrical connector from the bulb by squeezing the tabs and pulling it to the rear".
    This connector has three tabs: 3, 9 and 12 o'clock, the picture shows that tabs at 3 and 9 o'clock have to be pressed in horizontal direction - most likely by thumb from one side and index (point) finger from another side. Neither me nor my 25 years old son could do it: the material is too hard; a normal man hand does not have enough room there. However there was enough room for Mazda to make these tabs bigger and more convenient to operate by owners of this car. So I agree that it is shame on Mazda - not for "allowing this happen" but for design of this part in this way. However I would not base decision what car to buy solely on this relatively rare happened problem.

  • Anonymous Jan 07, 2009

    I have the same problem, remind me not to buy a Madza again! Totally a real sham!

  • Anonymous Jan 19, 2009

    I just try to replaced the head lights of my 2003 Mazda MPV. I was able to pull the bulbs out and replaced with new, but I couldn't install it back the way it should be. The spring is so hard to install.

  • Anonymous Jan 29, 2009

    Amen

    This is absolutely infuriating. When removing the weather protecting gasket the spring came off. Now I have spent 2 hours trying to get the spring in. It is as counter intuitive a process as I have ever done. 2 spring toggles for 30 cents would have worked much better.

    Talk about ripping cost out of a product that ruins a customer experience.


  • Tim Madsen Apr 23, 2009

    how to replace driving light on drivers side ????

  • Guest2 Jul 07, 2013

    You have to remove the battery to get at the drivers side light. Then ask someone in your household with tiny hands to help. Don't bother trying to remove the bloody fusebox, the air filter won't let you move it far enough. We managed it after a lot of cursing. Keep track of the relative orientation of various clamps to the bulb, it will be important in reassembling. Short answer is that this is possible, but you need a lot of finesse AND strength applied at the right times.

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I just replaced my driver side halogen bulb in my 2005 Mazda MPV. I took me close to two hours - though the next time will likely take less than half of that. I'm not terribly mechanically inclined.

The instructions above are technically correct - however - here's a few tips.

1) Pull of the rubber boot gently without disrupting the bulb seating. Keep the bulb and clips in place!!!
2) Observe carefully how the metal clips are situated. Putting them back is the hardest part of the job if you don't understand this. The clips will attach at 3 o'clock (hooked part) and 9 o'clock (sqaure part). You might need to remove the screw slightly at 9 o'clock with a stubby Phillips in order for the clip to catch with it. Work the hooked part UNDER the catch at 3 o'clock and it will spring up in place. Trying to force it in proper will only hurt your finger.
3) Remove the small fuse panel first to provide more working room before you begin
4) You'll see a small rectangular hole crimped into the metal of the light base. This is at 6 o'clock (bottom) as you insert the bulb back into the socket. The bulb will rest in place but is easily knock out so mind how you insert the clip.
5) Have patience. If I could do it.. so can you!

Posted on Dec 14, 2008

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I was able to replace both headlights on my 2003 Mazda MPV in about an hour using only a needle-nose pliers and a stubby phillips screwdriver.  Along the way, I learned a few tips that may be helpful.
My driver's side light needed to be replaced, but I purchased two lights and began on the much roomier passenger side.  This turned-out to be a crucial decision since I was able to easily view the inner assembly, and gain understanding and confidence before attempting the extremely cramped driver's side headlight.
The first step is to remove the black plastic electrical connector.   The connector has two tabs (3 and 9 o'clock) that need to be pressed in.  You really need to push your fingers into the rubber boot to feel the tabs, and once depressed, you can pull the connector off the headlight. 
The next step is to remove the rubber boot.  There is a molded-in finger pull tab on the boot located at 6 o'clock that is helpful in removing the boot. The boot might be a little sticky - just be patient and gradually work your way around the circumference, prying it off with your fingers.
Once the boot is removed, you will be able to view the headlight which is radially retained by a formed wire clip.  Study this area carefully before doing anything.   The clip is horizontally retained by a phillips screw on one side, and is spring-loaded under a metal tab on the other side.  The trick others missed on this site is to just slightly loosen the phillips screw.  DON'T REMOVE THE SCREW!  Now you can unhook the spring tab on the opposite side with your finger, and pivot the spring clip out of the way.  The light should now come out easy.  Note the orientation of the three metal tabs on the old light so that you replace the new light correctly.
Place the replacement light in the metal frame being careful not to touch the glass bulb with your fingers.  Pivot the retaining clip, and spring-load the wire tab in place to secure the new light.  Now re-tighten the phillips screw.
Replace the boot carefully so that the pull-tab is positioned at 6 o'clock, and push the wire connector back on the headlight conductor tabs. One headlight installed.  Congratulations!
The driver's side is a little more challenging, but at least you have gained an understanding of how the headlight is retained having tackled the passenger side.  Some people on this site advocate removal of the battery and the fusebox.  I didn't remove either, but can understand why it might be necessary if you have large hands. The issue here is that the plastic wire harness from the fusebox is situated in the way of the headlight connector, making it impossible to access anything.  The trick is to get the wire harness out of the way.  The harness is retained to the car frame with two radial plastic clips that have a male feature protruding upwards through holes in the car frame.  Using a needle-nose pliers, I was able to grip the male feature and press downwards, thus freeing the harness assembly.  Now you can push the wire harness out of the way.
Follow the same procedure as you did on the passenger side.  You may find it challenging to remove the black plastic wire connector from the headlight, but just be patient.   It is also difficult to loosen and retighten the phillips screw that retains the wire clip.  I had to "feel" for the screw head as my line of sight was blocked by my hands. Remember, just loosen the screw slightly and don't remove it!
After replacing the headlight and boot,  reposition the wire harness and push the male features on the wire harness retainers upwards and through the holes in the car frame!
Congratulations!  

Posted on Feb 21, 2009

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  • lbraasch Nov 14, 2010

    Im a 53 year old female with no car knowledge and found this easy to follow. Thanks I'm sure it saved me heaps of time. Done in about 5 min

    Leilani Braasch

  • kipster69 Mar 29, 2011

    this was the easiest to understand and provided the most insight (look at the old bulb/spring setup before you remove anything! and having a small mirror to look in really helps. and even if your not replacing the passenger side, remove the rubber boot to look at the spring setup before attempting the driver side bulb.) thanks for the write up and the help it provided.

  • Jeff Postlewaite
    Jeff Postlewaite Feb 12, 2016

    I had replaced the passenger's side easily without looking anything up but, after half an hour of "My hands won't fit there!" on the driver's side, I stopped and read this explanation. 5 Minutes later, I was done.
    Thanks specifically for the exact locations of the clips on the electrical connector and clamps on the wire clip.

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OK guys, what's the big deal? I just changed both headlamps in my 2000 Mazda MPV in 15 minutes, and that included just looking at the situation to see what I was up against. After reading the horror stories here, I was braced for a rough time, and it was already 9:30 PM. The only thing I removed was the fuse box on the passenger side so I could get a better look see. That was just one nut. Squeezing the power connector off wasn't that bad, and then gently pulling the rubber boot off was probably the part that I was concerned with so it would not tear. DO NOT loosen the phillips screw as others mentioned. Just push down on the wire clamp and release the bulb. The clamp will swing away like it's on a hinge. Put the new bulb in place (note that the two closer prongs are on the bottom) and make sure you do not handle the bulb itself. Close the clamp, Replace the rubber boot, and plug in the connector. Same on the driver side. You do not have to remove the battery or anything else. Lest you think I'm some guy with skinny hands and fingers, lets just say that I'm vertically challenged and according to the charts I should be about 8'2"! I don't understand the big deal that some of you guys made over this. And I Love my MPV!

Posted on Sep 10, 2009

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Ok here's the solution! but first-the clock position i will describe is looking from the engine side to the front. ok?
the only problem really here is if you didn't see how the clip was installed or you forgot how it looks like installed and you cannot put it back. here's the trick - the phillip screw at 9 o'clock position will hold the flat side of the spring in place so loosen it a bit. put the light bulb in position - the middle tab is on top. position the flat side of the spring against the phillip screw. - one end of the spring (without the hook) will be positioned at 6 o'clock and sitting inside the recess ( flat side) of the light bulb metal frame. now, the other side of the spring where the elbow is should be on the 12 o'clock position. note: only the open end and the elbow part of the spring is in contact with the light bulb metal frame and is pushing it in place. because of these two contact it will hold the spring in place while you push the hook end at 3 o'clock position. i suggest you practice by pressing your thumb against the flat side of the spring and the bulb metal frame. if the two contact are in place you can push the hook part and it will stay in position. once you got the spring in position you can put back the rubber boot - the position of the rubber pull tab is at 6 o'clock. connect the electrical - done!

Posted on Dec 18, 2009

  • Rozinator Oct 25, 2010

    I am an original owner of a Mazda MPV minivan and have replaced the bulb four times since I purchased the vehicle. Why do they burn out so quickly? That's another story.

    For those of you working on this yourself, don't fret, I am not a 'car guy' at all and I've been quite successful with this procedure, I'm sure if you take a deep breath...you will be too. The only tool I used was a good quality light that I hung inside the engine compartment so I could clearly see what I was doing. I also had safety glasses on as halogen bulbs can burst and I word basic surgeon type rubber gloves so as not to get any skin oils on the bulb. Oils can severely limite the life of the bulb and then you'll be back here again doing it all over...you don't want that do you? So here is the procedure I used to replace the passenger side headlight bulb.

    1. Get your owner's manual so you can see a quick diagram of what you're about to do.
    2. Disconnect the electrical plug going into the headlight bulb. Key here is the release tabs are roughly in the 6 and 9 o'clock positions. You may need to put your fingers into the rubber ring protecting the bulb a bit to get your fingers in position, but no tools required. Press the small tabs at the 6 and 9 o'clock positions to release the electrical connector and pull the connector out and put it to the side. If you look at it is is really no different looking than a standard electrical connection you'd expect to see on the female end of an extension cord.

    3. You'll see a thin, flexible rubber ring around the headlight bulb area. Run your finger to the bottom of the ring and you'll find a tab to help you lift the ring out. Don't worry...it basically snaps back in so taking it out should not scare you. Simple to put back at the end of this procedure. pull the ring completely out and set to the side. Now STOP for a minute.

    4. This is the most important step. Before you do anything else, lean your head in and study the way the bulb is positioned and how the spring is keeping it in place. You'll notice the bulb has three metal tabs -two at the bottom at roughly 4'oclock and 7'oclock position. Keeping an eye on this before you remove the bulb sets you up for success when you put the new bulb back in. NOW. Also pay attention to the spring. You'll see that one end of the spring sits slightly under a phillips head screw. You shouldn't need to mess with the screw, just notice how the end of the spring sits under the screw. Notice as well that the opposite end of the spring is going into a little metal slot. Now here we go...
    5. Push down slightly on the end of the spring to move it out of the metal slot and slowly pull it back away from the bulb. Note the ownes' manual says it should operate like a hinge in this case, but it never did for me. I pulled it back slowly and lifted it out from under the Philips head screw and removed it completely and set it next to my rubber ring away from my workspace.
    6. carefully remove the old bulb and discard.
    7. with your gloves and safetly glasses on take your new bulb and insert it into the headlight chamber and make sure the tabs noted in step 2 above line up properly. The bulb will still be loose at this point. That's where the spring comes in.
    8. Take the spring. Insert the end back under the Philips head screw, fold the spring over the bulb, and with a little tension put the other end back into the sloted fitting on the side opposite the Philips head screw. That's it. Almost done.
    9. Replace the flexible rubber ring.
    10. Plug the electrical connector back into the bulb.
    11. Turn on your headlight to make sure everything is working.
    12. Clean up and enjoy night driving again.

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I took the plug and rubber boot off the other headlight then used a small bathroom mirror to get a clear view of how the clip was attached. Seeing it in place made all the difference. It then took me 15 minutes of fiddling to get the other one on but having seen how the clip fits allowed me to stick with it and get it done!

Posted on May 25, 2009

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I agree completely with the last message. I JUST finished replacing the driver side headlight on my 2002 MPV and as I was going through the painful exercise, I was also swearing I'd never buy another mazda.

A couple of tips to assist the next guys stuck in the same predicament.

1) Remove the battery completely to gain some working room

2) Before removing the clip, DO LOOK CAREFULLY to see how it's installed. Note how the screw holds the clip at 9 o'clock and note carefully how it's help in place at 3 o'clock. I did not do that and it was a struggle to figure out how it went. I had made the incorrect assumption that the clip just swung out and stayed in place, but nooo, it just falls out pretty much as soon as it's unclipped. The manual does not show the entire view of the assembly. It's difficult to look, but having the battery out helps. Use a mirror if need be.

3) It's just about impossible to keep the bulb in place while trying to put that darn clip back exactly as it's supposed to go. What saved the day for me was to put small pieces of duct tape on the bottom two metal tabs of the bulb (at 5 and 7 o'clock) to keep it in its proper spot as I was manhandling the clip in place. Once the clip is in place, just remove the tape and the rest is easy.

Posted on Jan 03, 2009

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Not fun, especially on drivers side, so consider whether you really want to do this... but if you get lucky, it won't take very long.
1. if you are changing the drivers side, do a dry run on the passenger side. 2. I suggest not worrying about the electrical connector first, get the bulb loose first and the rest is much easier: a. peel back the boot, especially on the passenger side of the bulb (it's the same configuration for both the left and right bulbs, no need to transpose for one side or the other) b. release the clip from the 3 o'clock position (passenger side). I will likely come completely loose before you get a sense of how it goes back in but keep reading... put the clip aside c. pull entire assemble out, bulb, boot, connector and all, then squeeze the connector sides to release from the bulb... discard old bulb. 3. insert new bulb, middle connector post to top... the bulp will "key in." might be a good idea to wear disposable rubber gloves to avoid touching the glass of the bulb. 4. bulb will get loose... deal with it... here is how the clip goes back in: a. the metal of the clip goes along the top of the bulb... and the longer flat end of the clip goes toward the drivers side of the car, so position accordingly b. the flat end (drivers side) fits under the little phillips screw c. you just have to get all of this positioning rights and push in the small end of the clip (you will fell some spring load) on the passenger end until it seats properly... when that happens you will know that the clip is reinserted properly. 5. install the boot (see the word "top" on it for positioning and make sure it's all the way in and sealed around the assembly 6. attach electrical connector... nothing to squeeze.., it will lock when inserted properly.
that's it... not really a fun repair at all.

Posted on Oct 11, 2009

  • mithrill911 Dec 12, 2010

    i reviewed all the comments here and it helped great deal. only took me 5 min to replace the bulb on passenger side. the hardest part was to disconnect the cable by pushing on 3 and 9 o clock - you have to really see when you are pushing.
    the spring stayed hinged after I release it from the side opposite to the screw and I just had to gently push if back into the groove after installing the new bulb. not sure why some many people have problems.

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I dont see what the big problem is unless there is a huge difference between the 2002 and 2003 model
on our 2002 its pretty simple, pop off the retaining clip
pull off the plug
pull out bulb and rubber seal
put rubber seal on new bulb
plug in
put in socket
and snap the clip back in

its not as easy as home lighting but its not very hard

Posted on Nov 24, 2008

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About as easy as nuclear physics.

I know that this may sound silly, but based on the impossibility of changing a headlight with this vehicle has made me promise to never buy another Mazda again.

You shouldn't have to take your vehicle in and pay shop rates to fix something that should be rather simple.

A total scam if you ask me.

Shame on Mazda for allowing this to happen.

Posted on Nov 04, 2008

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OK, I have to agree with dcunsolo. I thought this was going to be a major problem, especially after seeing the space I had to work with (driver's side). But, it only took 15 minutes. The secret?

  1. Look at the diagram in the owner's manual. That REALLY helps (it even tells you how to take off the retaining pin/spring w/ directional arrows).
  2. (here's the kicker). Use your wife. I'm not a big guy, but my wife's hands are much smaller. She was able to work around more easily than I was (including pressing the pieces at 3 & 9 o'clock). Between the two of us, it was actually a really pleasant experience (nothing like experiencing success with your spouse).
BTW, the only tool we used was a pair of needle-nose pliers to pinch the supports that held the wires to the chassis. I can't believe that with the already limited space, they'd actually plan for those wires to pass right in front of where you need to work.

Posted on Jan 20, 2010

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Just replaced headlight on 2005 Mazda MPV Driver Side. Take about 20 minutes.The clip is a bit frustrating indeed to deal with.1. Removed the fuse box (just pinched 2 holding clips and slide it upward. This give you a bit more room to work with. 2. Disconnect the power connector. Press at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock and wiggle it out gently.3. Gently pry the rubber water seal with your fingers. Go in circular motion, a bit at a time.4. You should see the bulb and clip that hold it. DO NOT unscrew the clip. If anything, tightened it. Press on the other ends inward and down slightly. This will release the clip. It will swing out like a door, with the other end holding down by the screw like a door's hinge.5. Remove the bulb and install the new bulb without touching the bulb. Align it the same way you take it out.6. Press the clip back and upward just a bit until it click into the groove, securing the light bulb.7. Install the rubber cover and then the power connector. Slide the fuse box back in place. You're DONE. This shouldn't take more than 10 minutes 2nd time around.

Posted on Jan 31, 2012

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I'm struggling with the headlight power connector, what is the proper procedure to disconnect this power connector, first time doing this I haven't been able to replace a bad headlight bulb any help will be appreciate

Posted on Jul 26, 2010

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I've just been through a bit of a nightmare with this, and I hope if I share my experience it might help. I needed to replace a burned out driver's side headlight on my 2002 MPV. It's very hard to get in to the space behind the bulb to do it, so I had a look at the passenger side first. The truth is I didn't really want to do it, it was late, cold, and anyway, I tried to get the bulb out and in doing so pulled off the little spring clip that holds the bulb in. I couldn't figure out how to get it back in, so I decided enough was enough and asked my wife to take the thing to the Mazda shop to have them do it. They put in the new bulb on the driver's side for $20, but told her the other assembly was broken and the clip could not be replaced, requiring a whole new headlight assembly which would cost almost $200 plus that much again for labour! She agreed to that, and I had a fit when she told me, and didn't believe that could be true, and perhaps that we were being taken for a ride as it where. Well, I have just had to eat a large piece of humble pie, because I just visited our Mazda dealer, and one of the mechanics took an inspection mirror and showed me the intact driver's side, and then the passenger side, and indeed there is a tiny little flange beside the screw which helps hold that clip in place that had been broken off the assembly on the passenger side (by me of course). The design is a bit weak in being so vulnerable, but no doubt it was my fault. Now you are probably wondering if I ended up paying $400 to replace the bulb. No, instead I am going to get a bit of epoxy and stick a new one in, and hope it lasts another 8 years, by which time it will be someone else's problem.
So here is how to change the bulb if I were to do it again:
1. Read FixYa first. 2. Decide if you might be better off paying the $20 to have the shop do it properly. 3. If you go ahead:
Give yourself enough time Get a mirror and flashlight Disconnect the electrical connector first, but pinching at 3 and 9 o'clock and gently pulling off. Brace the bulb part if you can, otherwise the clip will take the force, and you'll risk breaking the assembly. Gently remove the rubber boot from around the bulb. After it is removed you will be able to see the clip that holds the bulb in (a mirror will help with this). Get a good look, draw it, or take a photograph. If it falls off, you will be glad you did later. The next part is speculation, as I didn't actually do it, but I think you would next gently detach the clip at the 3 o'clock position, then rotate it toward you. The screw/flange part at 9 o'clock would probably act as a hinge. The old bulb would then come out easily, then get the new bulb, don't touch the bulb, or wear gloves, and put it in with the horizontal connector on top. Swing clip back across to hold bulb, in, reconnect at 3 o'clock, gently replace the boot, reconnect, test.
Go and treat yourself to dinner as you have just saved $400!

Posted on Mar 25, 2010

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Is the clip only being held in place by the phillips head screw? The dealer informed me that when I removed the clip too forcefully a plastic hinge was damaged which will require the replacement of the entire light assembly. Seems like overkill to me. I haven't been able to get a good view of the assembly. Thoughts anyone?

Posted on Feb 27, 2010

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Thanks dcunsolo and jkb229. With your descriptions I replaced the passenger side headlight in 5 minutes with nothing but a flashlight. It's cold and rainy, so special thanks!

Posted on Dec 07, 2009

  • Craze Boris
    Craze Boris Jan 03, 2014

    My drivers bulb went and after reading everyone's comments, I was "good grief" since it is minus 40 Celcius in Saskatchewan right now. Fortunately with the help of my wife who held the flashlight, we had the drivers headlight bulb replaced and were back in the house in about 6 minutes and this was us takikng our time in every step. The passenger side should only take a couple minutes when its time is up.

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I can e-mail you a diagram that may help if you'd like. e-mail me at jeremyscudder@gmail.com

Posted on Sep 25, 2009

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I thoroughly recommend that you shell out the $20 to get someone to do this for you. Get both done at once to save a little money on the labour.
On my 2002, the driver's side head light is inaccessible unless you first move the battery, computer system and a several important looking wires. Forget about it.
I have changed the passenger side light on my own, but will never do it again. It is that much of a pain in the ****.

Posted on Dec 28, 2009

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Just tape the new bulb to the front of the headlight, no scews, twisting, wasting time. It won't work, but you will legally have a headlight.

Posted on Jan 07, 2009

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1 Answer

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If similar to 2002 MPV, you detach the whole side light module, then pop out the bulb-socket, then you can replace the bulb. You need a philips screwdriver, medium size. Open the back hatch. Remove the two screws on the inside edge of the light-assembly. Now pull the whole assembly *sideways* not back - it is held by two detent-pins that face out. You can swing it out a bit and then carefully lever it at top or bottom edge. Lower the assembly face-down, you can see three bulb-sockets. They can be turned a part-turn, I think counter-clockwise, then they pop out. Replace bulb(s), re-insert socket, push assembly back onto pins, replace screws. Just did this for brake/tail light 10 minutes ago.

Oct 26, 2009 | 2003 Mazda MPV

1 Answer

Where is the cabin filter on a 2003 MPV?


It should be on the passenger side of the firewall below the plastic windshield trim.....easy to change.

Jul 23, 2009 | 2003 Mazda MPV

1 Answer

How do I remove the tail light assembly of 2003 Mazda minivan?


open up the hatch and go inside and remove the panel close to the light and remove the nuts or screws to get access to the bulb inside the light assembly

Jan 29, 2009 | 2003 Mazda MPV

2 Answers

ECT Sensor location on MPV 2003


Find the thermostat housing a little left of the bottom of the battery base plate. It is a junction point of three coolant hoses. Then, diagonally to the upper left about 2.5 inches you'll find the L-shaped sensor. Unclip the wire feed from the top part of the sensor. Then turn the piece to the left and pull it out. Have the other one ready quick as coolant will come out fast so place a catch basin under the car to catch the coolant. I just did mine an hour ago and it was easy.

Danny K

Nov 26, 2008 | 2003 Mazda MPV

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