Mazda Bt -50 Thoughts

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 18:02
ThreadID: 100869 Views:4755 Replies:7 FollowUps:11
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New to the forum, so please excuse it question is not approved.

I am thinking about purchasing a Mazda BT-50 3.2 litre for the purpose of towing a caravan when my wife and I retire in 2 years.

I am just wanting to know from those who may own or have experience, how they have found these vehicles and if there are any things that I should know about, mechanical, Etc. How have people found them, any problems?

Your help and assistance would be greatly appreciated.


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Reply By: Member - Peter H1 (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 18:42

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 18:42
Hi Ian,
I have a Ford Ranger PX XLT 3.2 and I tow a 29' 5th wheeler with it and very happy.
So far have done about 8K and getting 17L/100K towing, and 8-9L/100K not towing.
No problems have appeared yet [water leak above right foot also goes into locked near knee]. Hopefully will be fixed in service.
With the bloody rain we have had I suppose I should be happy.

AnswerID: 505988

Follow Up By: Ian M18 - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:21

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:21
Hi Peter,

Thank you for your reply and good feedback. I am led to believe that the Ford Ranger is similar to the BT50. Good to know that it has the grunt.

FollowupID: 783008

Reply By: splits - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 20:23

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 20:23

What size and weight van do you have in mind?
AnswerID: 505995

Follow Up By: Ian M18 - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:24

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:24

I plan on looking at a Trakmaster 'Nullarbor' around 18'. Tandem axle. I do believe the Mazda should handle ok. Any thoughts or experience with the van?


FollowupID: 783010

Follow Up By: splits - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 23:27

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 23:27
I just had a look at the specifications of the Nullarbor and the BT 50. Unfortunately I could not find any weights for the van on the manufacturer's web site but a review on another site said it is 2343 kg. The Mazda site lists 2112 kg for the heaviest BT50 in the entire range.

I would be looking for a heavier car. The ideal tow car should be at least as heavy as the van and have a long wheel base with the shortest possible distance between the tow ball and the rear axle. All of the utes in the BT 50 class don't shape up all that well against those dimensions and as a result they don't have a good safety record when towing big vans. There is a discussion currently in progress on one of the major caravan sites as a result of this recent crash There are countless others on the net.

The van in that accident is most likely within the car's towing capacity but it is physically too big for the car to handle it.

Imagine two BT 50s driving along a highway at around 90 kph. One is towing a 3500 kg van and the other has a 3500 kg four wheel trailer full of bags of cement. Both are hit by a strong cross wind. One will hardly notice it while the other would stand a good chance of making the 6 o'clock news that night. Both cars are within their maximum towing capacity but one is running on a knife edge whenever it encounters a bit of speed combined with wind or anything that causes a sudden change in direction of the car. You can't go solely on the towing capacity of the car when choosing a van.

A BT 50 will certainly tow that van but a much heavier car with a tow ball a lot closer to the axle than the 1.2 metres that most of those utes have would do it with a far higher degree of safety, particularly on the highways.

There is another issue with all utes of this size and that is chassis bending. High tow ball loads combined with too much weight in the back result in huge forces bouncing up and down behind the rear axle. The result is the chassis tries to pivot on the axle and lift the front with disastrous results. This problem is much more likely to occur if the back of the chassis is sitting on after market air bags. Look up bent chassis, particularly on dual cabs, on the net and you wll be amazed at what you see.

I would suggest you read these two articles on car and van dynamics before making any decisions. They would be the best articles of their type that I have found on the net so far.
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Reply By: Rockape - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 21:01

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 21:01
Great engine, get the 6 speed auto and it is very good off road.

I have the Ranger but basics is basics. Same vehicle different look.

Put off buying it for a year so they can iron any bugs.

Happy travelling,
AnswerID: 506001

Follow Up By: Ian M18 - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:27

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:27

I have been advised by a number of people to wait, as the BT has only been out for 18 months or so. Any updated version would be slightly better than the previous models.

Good advise I think.

Any reason for the auto over the manual?

Thanks, Ian
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Follow Up By: Rockape - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 06:51

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 06:51
I drove the manual Ranger at work. It has the same clutch and gearbox as the BT 50.

I found the clutch to be either in or out and while I found the box ok to swap gears others have found them a hand full in traffic.

As said the auto is great off road allowing for great control in all conditions.

The auto is a very good box and runs through all it's gears effortlessly.
It is a very good box for towing. The auto will also greatly reduce strain when taking off or manoeuvring a van or camper.

FollowupID: 783022

Reply By: Ross M - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 22:58

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 22:58
Ian M18
G'day Ian.
Although a different forum you could look at 4wdaction which has a section for BT50 old and new, the new is accessed by clicking on Mazda/Ford and selecting the appropriate one.
Many issues and problems listed there.
Although concentrated, it is amazing some of the faults and troubles with both the vehicle and service from dealers.
However these types of problems are not solely to do with the make/model, other makes have many disasters too.
Really worth a read and allows you to know about and identify a problem if the one you buy ever has troubles. Pre warned is pre armed and it pays to know what to do and which questions to ask, even if you aren't technically and mechanically minded. Applies to all makes.

That said, the vehicle is a good one overall and most Mazda/Rangers have performed well and the new one is no exception to this.
I also think it would be a good idea to wait for a while so the parts backup and bugs have been ironed out of the model.
The waiting of a year will allow you to observe and decide what accessories you may need and these too will be cheaper as more are sold before you go to buy.
Dealers too will have been educated on how to fit accessories PROPERLY, so they don't cause trouble. Many Bull Bars and tow bars damaged brand new vehicles.

Ross M
AnswerID: 506007

Follow Up By: Ian M18 - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:31

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:31
Hi Ross,

I will visit site you have suggested. I guess the more information one has, the better the decision. I agree that all brands have their unique problems and faults. The more time taken a more informed decision can be made.


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Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 14:34

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 14:34
G'day Ian, I had a ride in the mates bt50 last weekend & was quite impressed. He
bought it to tow a 17' Avan, & has a boatloader & tinny to mount on top. It was very
comfortable & rode well, missus was impresssed with rear seat & legroom. It seems
big ,not unlike looking over the bonnet of a 200. He chose it after narrowing choice
to it or an Amorok. He liked the VW more but couldnt buy a 2L over a 3.2L for
towing. cheers...oldbaz.
AnswerID: 506040

Follow Up By: Ian M18 - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:35

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:35

My thoughts exactly, they are a big spacious unit. A bit like me, at 6'2" I need room. The Mazda does seem to have that, also can't beat a bigger cubed engine for that extra work that may be required of the motor. Van size is about what I will be looking at.

Thanks for the info.

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Reply By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 14:58

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 14:58
Hi Ian,
I was a previous BT50 owner (2007 mode Freestyle Cab Chassis) and the vehicle was great for a year or so, then the major problems started occurring.

Now the new BT50/ranger is obviously quite a bit different from my model, but it my opinion they have their limitations and are not suited for rough work carrying loads. Many people will disagree with me which is fine, I can only go on my own experiences and my own inspections of the new model. One thing I believe will definitely not change is the poor response and service from Mazda Australia.

For the purpose of towing a caravan I believe the BT50 should be fine, and I'll leave it up to other users to comment on this. Unfortunately I have no trust in Mazda or the BT50, and I'll leave it at that!

Cheers, Geoff
AnswerID: 506043

Follow Up By: Ian M18 - Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:39

Monday, Mar 04, 2013 at 22:39
Hi Geoff,

Thank you for the info, the information that you have provided is useful. One thing that you need to count on when travelling particularly with a new vehicle is responsible support from dealers.

I will take this into account, did you get rid of your earlier Mazda? If so, what unit do you purchase to replace it?

Thanks, Ian

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Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 07:51

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 07:51
Hi Ian,

I looked at several different options for a heavy duty utility, there really is only three (Landcruiser, Defender, Patrol) and settled on the Landcruiser 79 series. In my circumstance I am carrying a tray-top camper (approx 400kg plus load) so I wanted something with a decent chassis and proven record after the bad experience with the BT50.
Only had the 'cruiser for 8 months but several 4WD trips already and it's been great. It is quite different to the BT50 - not as good driving around town but hughly better in the bush (clearance, gearing, torque).

Like everything in life a vehicle choice is a compromise. Good luck with your decision.

Cheers, Geoff
FollowupID: 783023

Follow Up By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 08:20

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 08:20
Hi Ian, Like Geoff, we had an 07 BT50, ours was a manual twin cab for towing an 18 foot Jayco Pop top. It did have clutch issues, three clutches in about 65000 Ks. In all other respects we loved the vehicle, an if I needed such a vehicle again I would have no hesitation in buying the new one with an auto box.

As to Mazda service, we could not fault it here in Newcastle. Cheers
FollowupID: 783026

Reply By: Kumunara (NT) - Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 06:46

Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 06:46

My daughter and son-in-law have a BT-50 and love it. They recently towed a large trailer loaded with furniture and belongings from the Riverland to Darwin and the BT-50 did it with ease. Returned very good economy.

The motor is out of the Ford Transit van. You could google and find out if there have been any problems with it. The performance in their vehicle so far has been great. Puts out 147 kw and 470 nm. Heaps of power. They also have the 6 speed auto.

I have just bought an Amarok. I looked at most of the utes including the BT-50. I liked it but thought the VW better suited my needs. The Ranger is basically the same vehicle. It is over-priced in comparison to the Mazda. It is also personal taste but I think the BT50 looks good. The Ranger is a boring design and has no style.
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AnswerID: 506235

Follow Up By: Ian M18 - Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 00:51

Friday, Mar 08, 2013 at 00:51

Thank you for the information, I do believe that the auto seems to be the choice amongst a lot of travellers.
The 470 NM is certainly a good point and from all reports the economy is good even when towing.

Thank you for your reply. Ian
FollowupID: 783228

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