Need help with "End of life" decision - Transfer Case + Transmission 08 CX-9 AWD

We had this same thing happen, and it was infuriating. Took it to the dealer, they said "uh, we hear a noise in the transmission, it needs a whole new transmission". What? My mechanic said the problem is with the transfer case, are you sure it's the transmission? "Yup, completely sure". Needless to say we didn't believe them and took it to our transmission guy.

He said that, yes, the transfer case was the problem, transmission fine, but the differential is bad and for some reason isn't sold separately from the transmission. So Mazda compounds their awfulness but not even letting you buy the solution to the problem without a big expensive part that doesn't actually need replacement.

I had my guy grind down the splines on the shaft, turning it into a FWD. It's been fine. We put expensive tires on it, and while it's not as good as AWD in the snow, it's better than the cost of the transmission replacement and we can limp along like this for a few more years.

Will never buy anything from Mazda again, ever. It's one thing to have a design flaw, quite another to treat your customers like garbage when your shoddy design got them into the mess they're in.

Hi jwarrend,

Please when you have a chance could you please help me a little with some information, I have a CX9 2013, that I have already changed the PTU few months ago and it is failing (making noise, whole vehicule shaking, transmission fluid smell inside and showing AWD light on dashboard) again that at some point very near I think will break completely. So I'm thinking about converting it from AWD to FWD (I live in a place where we never get snow). But I have some questions as follow:

Will AWD and/or traction control lights show constantly or at some point on the dashboard?
Will I need to do any computer reprogramming, module or relay removal?

Your help and any advice you can privide, will be much appreciated.

Thanks
 
yes you can remove the driveshaft, in fact, you don't really have the choice... The light won't show on the dash as long as you keep the rear diff in place. The light will flash for 10 seconds if it needs the awd and realises it doen't work (like if you accelerate quickly on slippery road) but then it will go off. You do not need any reprogramming of anything or anything else special other than taking out the PTU and the driveshaft. You have to remove a part of the exhaust in order to remove the PTU and the driveshaft so you will need new exhaust gaskets when putting it back together.
 
yes you can remove the driveshaft, in fact, you don't really have the choice... The light won't show on the dash as long as you keep the rear diff in place. The light will flash for 10 seconds if it needs the awd and realises it doen't work (like if you accelerate quickly on slippery road) but then it will go off. You do not need any reprogramming of anything or anything else special other than taking out the PTU and the driveshaft. You have to remove a part of the exhaust in order to remove the PTU and the driveshaft so you will need new exhaust gaskets when putting it back together.

Thanks a lot for your answer, very helpful. have a nice day.

Regards
 
I'm having the transfer case replaced on my 2008 CX-9 now, at about 88K miles (Bought the car brand-new, but I don't drive it that much). I have towed light trailers with the car maybe a couple times in all the years I have owned it, so this has nothing to do with Mazda's warning about towing heavy loads. I had noticed a burning oil smell off and on for the last couple years, but I couldn't find any oil leaks to explain that. Likewise, for the last 4 or 5 years, you hear a "clink" sound when the car starts moving away from a standing stop, and neither mechanics or I had been able to find what was causing that. Not sure if the clink was the transfer case or not. I guess I will find out once the new one is in place.

I had the transfer case fail "gracefully", where I could drive the car to the mechanic. The final failure sign was this degraded lubricant that had been reduced to a tarry sludge dripping out of the car. And while it doesn't look like there is any transmission damage that will require a super-expensive transmission rebuild, I am on the hook for $1800-and-change to replace the transfer case. I am going to call Mazda today and ask for them to cover some of the cost, but I am betting they will tell me to go away.

Not cool, Mazda. The transfer case was located too close to the catalytic converter/exhaust, so the case heats up and the lubricant breaks down into this sludge and ultimately the transfer case wears out from lack of lubrication. This is a Mazda design problem, that they should take responsibility for. The transfer case is a "lifetime" sealed unit that is hard to access (My mechanic is having to remove several items to get to the case so it can be replaced) and has no drain or refill plugs , so even a conscientious CX-9 owner cannot replace the transfer case lubricant. The transfer cases should not be regularly failing on cars with less than 50K or 100K miles on them. Car forums are full of stories of CX-9 owners with bad transfer cases losing power to the rear wheels, having the rear wheels lock up on the road (!), or having the case fail and take the transmission with it.

My CX-9 has been pretty good, even with the control arm and underseat wiring harness recalls. However, if Mazda gives me the run-around on this later today, I will not be buying Mazdas in the future.
 
Last edited:
:
2007 Mazda CX-9 Touring
There was a forum memeber by the name avidien who was on this site. He had detailed a procedure to suck out the old fluid and put in new fluid. He never had a problem with his transfer case. You should search for those posts.
 
:
2007 Mazda CX-9 Touring
avidien said:


here's a quick write up on how I changed the CX-9 (AWD models only) transfer case 75W140 gear oil,


Step 1.

need to get some front ground clearance to get under the SUV, so I got some 4" thick solid cement blocks (they run about $1.44 each per block) from Home Depot or Lowe's and rolled both the front wheels up using the 2" high red bricks as a helper to get the wheels up the 4" thick blocks. I then chocked the rear tires just as a safety precaution in case the truck rolls back (highly unlikely but can never be too safe).

*note: you must use the 2" red bricks to help get up the 4" cement blocks otherwise the truck gets stuck and just pushes the cement blocks. You may also do the same setup for the rears to be absolutely level front and back but I felt it was unnecessary since it was just a slight 4" rise up front.





I find it easier and safer to just roll up the blocks then jack up the car on one side.
also it keeps the car level on both sides at the same time and the 4 inch rise provides just enough clearance to get under the CX-9 without too much incline, since we need to fill the transfer case and it needs to be as level as possible w/o too much incline.



WARNING !!! DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT CONTINUING WITHOUT WEARING SAFETY GLASSES !!
YOU DO NOT WANT GEAR OIL IN YOUR EYES EVER.
SAVING $1.83 is not worth your sight !!




Step 2.

need to locate the transfer case fill plug (it's the one with a 3/8" square drive cavity and orange thread sealing compound)

a led light with a magnetic base will help, it's very dark down there



the transfer case is located underneath approximately between the driver and passenger seats, it is near the engine oil drain plug,

follow the U pipe you see in the photos below and you'll be able to see it ,
you'll need a short stubby ratcheting 3/8" socket driver (make sure it is the low profile type);
the head of the 3/8" drive can just barely fit ! there is a metal plate on the opposite side of the 3/8" drive
we got lucky, if any more tighter, we wouldn't be able to get the plug out due to the stack up tolerance
of the loosened plug + ratchet head.

http://www.amazon.com/TEKTON-14902-8-Inch-Profile-Ratchet/dp/B00KLY18VK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443194694&sr=8-1&keywords=stubby+3%2F8%22



there's a stupid black cross beam right under the plug, so I had to access the plug from the left side of the beam and cross over to get to the plug with my stubby ratchet, it is hard to explain, you'll understand when you see for yourself.
 
I'm having the transfer case replaced on my 2008 CX-9 now, at about 88K miles (Bought the car brand-new, but I don't drive it that much). I have towed light trailers with the car maybe a couple times in all the years I have owned it, so this has nothing to do with Mazda's warning about towing heavy loads. I had noticed a burning oil smell off and on for the last couple years, but I couldn't find any oil leaks to explain that. Likewise, for the last 4 or 5 years, you hear a "clink" sound when the car starts moving away from a standing stop, and neither mechanics or I had been able to find what was causing that. Not sure if the clink was the transfer case or not. I guess I will find out once the new one is in place.

I had the transfer case fail "gracefully", where I could drive the car to the mechanic. The final failure sign was this degraded lubricant that had been reduced to a tarry sludge dripping out of the car. And while it doesn't look like there is any transmission damage that will require a super-expensive transmission rebuild, I am on the hook for $1800-and-change to replace the transfer case. I am going to call Mazda today and ask for them to cover some of the cost, but I am betting they will tell me to go away.

Not cool, Mazda. The transfer case was located too close to the catalytic converter/exhaust, so the case heats up and the lubricant breaks down into this sludge and ultimately the transfer case wears out from lack of lubrication. This is a Mazda design problem, that they should take responsibility for. The transfer case is a "lifetime" sealed unit that is hard to access (My mechanic is having to remove several items to get to the case so it can be replaced) and has no drain or refill plugs , so even a conscientious CX-9 owner cannot replace the transfer case lubricant. The transfer cases should not be regularly failing on cars with less than 50K or 100K miles on them. Car forums are full of stories of CX-9 owners with bad transfer cases losing power to the rear wheels, having the rear wheels lock up on the road (!), or having the case fail and take the transmission with it.

My CX-9 has been pretty good, even with the control arm and underseat wiring harness recalls. However, if Mazda gives me the run-around on this later today, I will not be buying Mazdas in the future.
Yes, Mazda told me that they would not be willing to help me financially on the repair, unless I had the car towed to the local Mazda dealer and the dealer diagnose what is going on, and then MAYBE Mazda would grant a warranty extension or some other kind of financial help with the repair.

So I told Mazda that, given this is a Mazda design problem, that I would not be doing business with them in the future if they won't take responsibility for the problems stemming from their design issue.
 

sm1ke

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'18 CX-9 Signature
Yes, Mazda told me that they would not be willing to help me financially on the repair, unless I had the car towed to the local Mazda dealer and the dealer diagnose what is going on, and then MAYBE Mazda would grant a warranty extension or some other kind of financial help with the repair.

So I told Mazda that, given this is a Mazda design problem, that I would not be doing business with them in the future if they won't take responsibility for the problems stemming from their design issue.

Why wouldn't you let the dealer diagnose the issue? I mean, it makes sense for them to want you to bring it to a Mazda dealer for diagnosis, because otherwise they're going off your word, or the diagnosis of an independent shop that is competing for your business for the repair. Sounds like they're just trying to cover their bases, perfectly reasonable if you come to them asking for financial assistance with a repair. You are WELL out of the warranty period, so regardless of your thoughts on the design issue, you have to play ball with them in order to get anywhere - they aren't just going to fork over some money without making sure that there actually is a problem in the first place. I'm actually surprised they even entertained the idea of warranty extension or partial financial assistance - most brands would probably just tell you to pound sand.

It's a shame you're writing off all current models based on this issue, because all of the current models are actually quite good, and Mazda as a brand has even earned recognition for their reliability. But I can understand how a bad experience can tarnish the relationship. It happened to me with Toyota 🤷‍♂️

PS. If you aren't happy with your experience after contacting MNAO, file a complaint with the BBB, and file a vehicle safety complaint with the NHTSA. If they get enough complaints, they may investigate the issue, which could lead to a recall. A future recall may allow you to recoup some/all of the money spent on the repair.
 
Why wouldn't you let the dealer diagnose the issue? I mean, it makes sense for them to want you to bring it to a Mazda dealer for diagnosis, because otherwise they're going off your word, or the diagnosis of an independent shop that is competing for your business for the repair. Sounds like they're just trying to cover their bases, perfectly reasonable if you come to them asking for financial assistance with a repair. You are WELL out of the warranty period, so regardless of your thoughts on the design issue, you have to play ball with them in order to get anywhere - they aren't just going to fork over some money without making sure that there actually is a problem in the first place. I'm actually surprised they even entertained the idea of warranty extension or partial financial assistance - most brands would probably just tell you to pound sand.

It's a shame you're writing off all current models based on this issue, because all of the current models are actually quite good, and Mazda as a brand has even earned recognition for their reliability. But I can understand how a bad experience can tarnish the relationship. It happened to me with Toyota 🤷‍♂️

PS. If you aren't happy with your experience after contacting MNAO, file a complaint with the BBB, and file a vehicle safety complaint with the NHTSA. If they get enough complaints, they may investigate the issue, which could lead to a recall. A future recall may allow you to recoup some/all of the money spent on the repair.
Whether or not Mazda's newer models are good or not, I do not care for their abdication of responsibility on their design flaws that lead to failure and replacement of transfer cases on old CX-9's. And as I told Mazda, they can be that way, but don't be that way and then expect me to continue forking over money for their newer products that are backed by the same poor attitude towards responsibility and customer service. I have an adage that I use when it comes to customer service--"You know what you get when you pay for bad customer service? More bad customer service."

As for having the inoperable, disassembled car towed (at my expense) to our local Mazda dealer, so it can go into their service queue to be inspected and diagnosed, so that I can MAYBE get a little love from Mazda corporate, that is not a reasonable expectation. As romantic as it sounds, I bought a car because I actually want to use the car to get stuff done. Taking the car over to the Mazda dealership means that AT BEST, I will not have the car back until next Tuesday or Wednesday. As it is, I got the car back from the independent mechanic, which is quite large and reputable, today.
 
avidien said:


here's a quick write up on how I changed the CX-9 (AWD models only) transfer case 75W140 gear oil,


Step 1.

need to get some front ground clearance to get under the SUV, so I got some 4" thick solid cement blocks (they run about $1.44 each per block) from Home Depot or Lowe's and rolled both the front wheels up using the 2" high red bricks as a helper to get the wheels up the 4" thick blocks. I then chocked the rear tires just as a safety precaution in case the truck rolls back (highly unlikely but can never be too safe).

*note: you must use the 2" red bricks to help get up the 4" cement blocks otherwise the truck gets stuck and just pushes the cement blocks. You may also do the same setup for the rears to be absolutely level front and back but I felt it was unnecessary since it was just a slight 4" rise up front.





I find it easier and safer to just roll up the blocks then jack up the car on one side.
also it keeps the car level on both sides at the same time and the 4 inch rise provides just enough clearance to get under the CX-9 without too much incline, since we need to fill the transfer case and it needs to be as level as possible w/o too much incline.



WARNING !!! DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT CONTINUING WITHOUT WEARING SAFETY GLASSES !!
YOU DO NOT WANT GEAR OIL IN YOUR EYES EVER.
SAVING $1.83 is not worth your sight !!




Step 2.

need to locate the transfer case fill plug (it's the one with a 3/8" square drive cavity and orange thread sealing compound)

a led light with a magnetic base will help, it's very dark down there



the transfer case is located underneath approximately between the driver and passenger seats, it is near the engine oil drain plug,

follow the U pipe you see in the photos below and you'll be able to see it ,
you'll need a short stubby ratcheting 3/8" socket driver (make sure it is the low profile type);
the head of the 3/8" drive can just barely fit ! there is a metal plate on the opposite side of the 3/8" drive
we got lucky, if any more tighter, we wouldn't be able to get the plug out due to the stack up tolerance
of the loosened plug + ratchet head.

http://www.amazon.com/TEKTON-14902-8-Inch-Profile-Ratchet/dp/B00KLY18VK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443194694&sr=8-1&keywords=stubby+3%2F8%22



there's a stupid black cross beam right under the plug, so I had to access the plug from the left side of the beam and cross over to get to the plug with my stubby ratchet, it is hard to explain, you'll understand when you see for yourself.
There was a forum memeber by the name avidien who was on this site. He had detailed a procedure to suck out the old fluid and put in new fluid. He never had a problem with his transfer case. You should search for those posts.

FYI, the mechanic I used for the transfer case repair/replacement is kind of a transmission specialist. They agreed with me that Mazda offers no guidance or recommended maintenance on the CX-9 transfer case and that Mazda therefore assumes that the transfer case will be pretty much a lifetime part. Given the design flaw with the transfer case placed too close to the catalytic converter, they recommend bringing the car in every 15K miles to have the lubricant in the transfer case replaced, before it breaks down due to heat from the catalytic converter. They can access the transfer case fill plug from underneath the car, vacuum out the old lubricant and replace it with new lubricant. It only takes about half a quart of 75W-140 (They used synthetic in my new case, to better deal with the heat) to properly refill the transfer case.

So if you have a pre-2016 CX-9, you might adopt that transfer case maintenance schedule with your mechanic.
 
:
2010 CX-9 GT
Whether or not Mazda's newer models are good or not, I do not care for their abdication of responsibility on their design flaws that lead to failure and replacement of transfer cases on old CX-9's. And as I told Mazda, they can be that way, but don't be that way and then expect me to continue forking over money for their newer products that are backed by the same poor attitude towards responsibility and customer service. I have an adage that I use when it comes to customer service--"You know what you get when you pay for bad customer service? More bad customer service."

As for having the inoperable, disassembled car towed (at my expense) to our local Mazda dealer, so it can go into their service queue to be inspected and diagnosed, so that I can MAYBE get a little love from Mazda corporate, that is not a reasonable expectation. As romantic as it sounds, I bought a car because I actually want to use the car to get stuff done. Taking the car over to the Mazda dealership means that AT BEST, I will not have the car back until next Tuesday or Wednesday. As it is, I got the car back from the independent mechanic, which is quite large and reputable, today.

While everything you say is true about the flawed design and implementation of the transfer case, if you wanted Mazda to extend the warranty, I'm not sure expecting them to pay a third party mechanic to perform the work was realistic. They would never do this if you were within the standard powertrain warranty period, so why would you expect it now? The only time I've ever seen a manufacturer compensate a third party mechanic is in the case of a recall or TSB that is issued for a part after the work had already been done.

Mazda did take a degree of responsibility for this issue, but I would agree that they did not do enough. There was a "special service program" for these transfer cases, but it didn't cover your year (2010-2014 only, even though the parts are identical). The text of the SSP clearly states that Mazda would pay to replace these things but only if you brought it to a Mazda dealer.
 

sm1ke

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While everything you say is true about the flawed design and implementation of the transfer case, if you wanted Mazda to extend the warranty, I'm not sure expecting them to pay a third party mechanic to perform the work was realistic. They would never do this if you were within the standard powertrain warranty period, so why would you expect it now? The only time I've ever seen a manufacturer compensate a third party mechanic is in the case of a recall or TSB that is issued for a part after the work had already been done.

Mazda did take a degree of responsibility for this issue, but I would agree that they did not do enough. There was a "special service program" for these transfer cases, but it didn't cover your year (2010-2014 only, even though the parts are identical). The text of the SSP clearly states that Mazda would pay to replace these things but only if you brought it to a Mazda dealer.

Thank you, this is exactly my point, and I share this opinion.

@skraft16@gma It's possible that the dealer/Mazda is aware of the SSP and would reference it if they were to financially assist you with a dealer repair. But they wouldn't know without having the vehicle on hand for diagnosis. As I said earlier, it is unreasonable of you to expect them to pay for a repair/replacement if you do not give them the opportunity to verify that a repair/replacement is necessary.
 
WRONG, i currently converted my awd to fwd without putting back the PTU because i have the exact same problem as yours, splines shot in the transmission. i am now running it in FWD as it is not worth putting money into it. I can tell you fwd sucks in the snow with such a heavy vehicule but i can live with it until the car dies completly.

Also, it makes putting it back together so much easier than if you try to put back the PTU in there. It shouldn't take them more than 2 hours to put the car back together once the PTU is out.

let me know if i can be of anymore help
Hey I believe I am having the same issue. My 2009 Mazda Cx-9 transfer case went out. I have done alot of research about this issue and have gotten mixed answers. After coming across your post, you answered some key questions. I have just a few for you. If I take out the transfer case and put my car back together my car will be drivable again? I am in a bit of a bind and would appreciate and feedback.
 
Yes like I said, I drove it like that for a couple of years so is it going to be drivable? Of course...
 
Ok so last question. I'm a bit green to this car auto mechanic thing. I have already removed the drive shaft, all is left is the transfer case, replace exhaust gauge and possibly transmission fluid. I won't have to do anything else?