BT50 malfunction lights

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018 at 22:25
ThreadID: 136295 Views:27324 Replies:14 FollowUps:53
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Hi, we have a BT50 (purchased new in 2014) which is towing a 2800 kg van, The ute has done 77,000 km and 45000km with the van on. On our present trip after about 600km over 3days 3 malfunction lights came on the dash,

1. Malfunction indicator lamp
2. Powertrain warning lamp and
3. DSC indicator. We stopped the ute and switched off the ignition.

When we started again the lights were out, but came on again after a few meters, we could only travel at 60km/hr. doing 2500rpm.

Took it to a Mazda dealer in town and they found all wiring ok and suspect fault within the moulded leadframe (valve body of transmission).

Has anyone had this problem before and can confirm what's wrong. Mazda rang and was told by the person that they had relaced this part on quite a few Ford Rangers.

Once the van is off , the warning lamps go out and the ute returns to normal. It appears the load when driving is causing this problem.

Any advice will be very welcome.


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Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 01:44

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 01:44
Bob, do you have a transmission oil cooler fitted? These transmissions don't like getting hot - and hauling 'vans for extended periods at highway speeds is the way to get them overheated.

Your auto transmission is the Ford-built (in the U.S.) 6R80 model, essentially the same unit as fitted to the Ford Ranger and the American Ford F-150.
These are a ZF transmission, built under licence by Ford and containing some Ford design alterations, to suit Ford requirements.

These trannies utilise electronic solenoids to move the spool valves, which selects the appropriate gear at the appropriate time (with input from the ECU and a range of sensors, of course).

The recommended maximum operating temperature of these transmissions, by many transmission rebuilders, is 200 deg F, or 93 deg C.

The simple reason for this temperature limit is because the thermoplastics in the solenoids start to soften after extended periods above this temperature - and they then fail to operate correctly, or they report faults to the microprocessor.

These electronic solenoids are also prone to develop problems when clutch debris or tiny pieces of metal from general wear start to get into their moving components.

As a result, they can be considered "finicky" devices that rely on modest operating temperature and very clean oil, to function properly.

All the manufacturers are heading towards sealed transmissions and either "lifetime" lubricant fills, or long distances between any recommended lubricant changes.

It is advisable that these transmissions have regular oil changes when they are being used fairly constantly for heavy towing.

There's a American lad, a transmission expert, who has a good video on these transmissions (as fitted to the F-150) - and it's worth just looking at this video to see what he has to say about them.

At about 4.00 mins into the video, he's on to the moulded leadframe.

This moulded leadframe also contains the output shaft speed sensor - which has been giving trouble (causing sudden downshifts to 1st gear from 5th or 6th gear, with resultant possible loss of control).

Mazda issued a recall for the output shaft speed sensor problem - but it only affected Mazda BT-50's built between Oct 2011 to Dec 2012.

Your ute has apparently had the sensor problem fixed, thanks to a later, improved design of moulded leadframe.

However, I believe the issue of transmission high operating temperature is still one that can cause problems with the 6R80 transmission.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 617070

Follow Up By: hooks - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 08:36

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 08:36
Thanks Ron,

We are about 500 kms from home, if we continue slow and stop about every 200 km or so and travel in the lower gear, is this likely to do any damage to the transmission/ car ?
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 10:55

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 10:55
Bob, virtually all electronically-controlled devices have "fall-back", "fail-safe", inbuilt protection from damage today - and I can't see you doing any serious damage to the transmission by travelling that last 500kms steadily and slowly, and keeping the transmission load as light as possible.

The transmission is basically quite a robust transmission, mechanically - they just commonly develop problems in the electronic side of their operation - and those problems can be hard to track down.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: gbc - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 11:49

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 11:49
I drove mine around with it faulting intermittently for a couple of weeks until I got it to the dealer.
It was explained to me that the lead frame keeps the unshielded wires apart and that the fault allows the wires to touch which makes the box fart about. That is the long and the short of it and my auto gearbox knowledge. My issues were almost entirely low speed issues not highway issues. Apart from that, I replaced the oil at 100,000 kms and it is all good. If it was a private car I might think about a cooler but being fleet and 'not broke', I'm not looking to 'fix' it. It's a great tow vehicle.
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Reply By: gbc - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 05:39

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 05:39
Yes my Ute got a new lead frame assembly under warranty. In and out in a morning. Mine is a 2013 ranger.
AnswerID: 617071

Follow Up By: Member - nick b boab - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 06:51

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 06:51
I was of the Opinion that Ford Ranger and the Mazda had different electrices system ???
what is lead frame assembly ?
I hav 2012 ranger cheers
Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: gbc - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 07:08

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 07:08
It is a plastic frame inside the gearbox that holds a wiring harness. Ronn’s Link shows it well.
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Reply By: Gronk - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 06:50

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 06:50
Talking to an owner a few weeks ago that had a new transmission at 6,000K on a Ranger, he said the same thing about temps.......fitted a cooler and the temps dropped a lot while fact he said its hard to get the temps to go up anywhere near the "old" temps.
Should be a mandatory fitment from new ..
AnswerID: 617072

Reply By: RMD - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 08:29

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 08:29
Besides the transmission which appears to be not very fit for purpose, if the faults disappear when van is not on and before any significant heat has developed in the transmission fluid, I would be looking for faults in the trailer plug wiring.

"Van off Warning lamps go out"
That doesn't indicate a transmission fault unless time and heat related,so:
Since the trailer plug is the thing which is more prone to faults because it is flapping about at the rear of the vehicle I would be checking it and the integrity of the 7 core lead.

AnswerID: 617073

Follow Up By: hooks - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 08:44

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 08:44

The van is a 5th wheeler and the trailer plug is in the tub and does not move around, but I will check the connections to make sure things are tight.

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 09:35

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 09:35
Try driving a short distance with it unplugged.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 11:27

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 11:27
If the 7 core cable is attached to a 5th wheeler then it has to move around when you go over bumps, turn corners etc. quite similar movement to a normal caravan. It all has to be flexible.

Because of the loading of the 5th wheeler, is there any substantial difference of tyre size due to the eight carried or the tyre wear has made the drive wheels enough difference in running dia, ie, road to rim distance is different between front and rear wheels.
A few possibles.
Does it do it with more pressure in the rear/drive tyres?
Are those tyres worn and less tread?

What is the difference of rim to road under the fronts and rears? Audi cars detect a difference of 4psi less on one wheel and subsequent drive radius change. Yours might be over the tolerance factor and so is detected.

At 70,000km I would imagine the rear shocks are cactus, especially with 45,000km of towing, and not able to control the trailer mass very well and so it may move the rig around a bit and the DSC detects it all the time. Hence the lights ON. Doesn't happen when no trailer of course as the motion is less.
Most OE shocks can't handle additional loads very well.
If it lurches with load onto one side sometimes, ie cambered road it will cause that side rear tyre to run faster, smaller running dia, and so detected as DSC fault. Accentuated if tyre size/tread wear has become a factor.

Do you have "same same" tyres front and back? different tyre brands and performance may cause it too.
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Reply By: DiggZ - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 10:56

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 10:56
I realise yours is a BT50 and mine is a DMax but.....

Odd lights coming on in a Dmax , usually traction control, is an indicator that the battery is on the way out. I know it sounds weird but it happened to me and was same as I read about. The battery still had plenty of power even to start the motor, maybe getting a bit slower but this light would come on sometimes. I was a bit skeptical at first when I read about it but it was as others had said. Changed the battery and all is good now. 2013 model and about 65000km on the clock.
AnswerID: 617077

Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 12:34

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 12:34
Yes, the microprocessors quite often have very precise, and somewhat narrow operating parameters, between their high and low voltage settings.

So the high setting might be say 14.8V, and the low setting might be say, 12.2V.

Outside these set parameters, the mocroprocessors go into protection or warning mode, and will send out signals switching on warning lights, and log fault codes in their flash memory.

The fault codes can be read by workshop diagnostic computers or laptops connected to code readers, connected to the vehicles OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) connector plug.

These codes will give a lot of clues about what went wrong. Having knowledge of how the system works and what sensors or sources can produce the fault is important.

A battery should normally not drop below about 12.6V or close to that. A failing battery will be seriously low on the voltage it's producing.

A failing battery can drop the voltage that its producing, below the microprocessor's low-voltage parameter, and initiate warning lights, and log fault codes.

I've had an alternator voltage regulator fail on the Missus' old Camry (2001 model) and the battery voltage fell to 11.6V before I realised what was happening.
The car still ran O.K., it just failed to re-start after we stopped at a shop.

The voltage regulator failure didn't result in a bright battery warning light, it only glowed dull, and was hard to see in bright sunlight. This is a common result when you have a diode failure in an alternator.
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Reply By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 13:12

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 13:12
Hooks, Little bit late in answering as I just got back from a trip.

I would join the newranger forum or the Australian Ford forum and ask the question there. New vehicles engines and gearboxes are very closely linked and what may appear to be a box problem could be coming from the engine ecu or as stated even low voltage problems. Things like a small split in a intercooler hose or intercooler it's self. I know an automatic transmission specialist and he said it is amazing how many times the problem comes from an engine sensor or fault.

With a lead harness problem it is normally accompanied by harsh gear changes.

I believe it maybe best to leave it with Mazda to sort out as it is easy to take the wrong path.

Hope they find it quickly.
AnswerID: 617080

Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 16:37

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 16:37
Dealers employ "technicians" today - not mechanics. These dealer technicians are taught how to read electronic diagrams and diagnostic computers - but they are generally pretty shy on just pure, old-time diagnostic skills.

A good mechanic is one-half, good trouble-shooter, and one-half good repairer/overhauler.
Dealer technicians are rarely taught to repair or overhaul anything - it's straight-out component replacement - because the dealer makes more from brand-new component replacements - and if anything goes wrong with a new component replacement, he can sheet the blame straight home to the factory.

If one of his technicians does an overhaul and makes a stuff-up, it then become a dealer "re-do" at his expense.

After having thousands of mechanical repairs carried out by dealers over several decades, I can tell you this much - I wouldn't mind a dollar for every "re-do" that went back to the workshop, and had to be rebuilt again.

The best person to fix automatic transmission problems is an experienced transmission specialist, who can disassemble and reassemble these complex devices - and who does so on a regular basis.

I've seen these blokes virtually able to re-assemble these highly complex units in their sleep - and they know how to identify, and where to go, straight to the problem areas - and exactly what to replace, when they get it apart.

A dealers fix is to tell you the entire transmission is shot, and the only fix is a complete new transmission.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:14

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:14
Gee Ron, you must have lots of problems to have thousands of repairs and some redone as well.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:59

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:59
Well Ron, pretty general statement about mechanics that work for dealers.

What dealers have, is a wealth of knowledge available to them on brand specific faults that 3rd parties don't have access to.

Now no one knows where the problem lies, unless you believe you can diagnose it without going near the vehicle. So when the fault is found you just might not have to go to a transmission expert to have an engine fault repaired.

Now how does a non dealer mechanic diagnose problems with all the different makes, models past and present unless he specialises in one make.
FollowupID: 888565

Follow Up By: GREG T11 - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 20:45

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 20:45
Been down that road Eagle, sounds so simple.... until your dealing with

1/ a vehicle that's out of warranty.( process of elimination just like anyone else )

2/ A crap dealer that employs crap techs . HO HUM.

Perhaps you have had a golden run but some others have most defiantly NOT !.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 21:57

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 21:57
RMD - When one owns a lot of equipment and a lot of vehicles, as a contractor, one has lots of problems, and lots of repairs.
Now I've got lots of years behind me, and lots of experience - and not all of it is good.
There's a lot of people out there calling themselves mechanics, and I wouldn't trust them to repair a Victa lawnmower.

Cheers, Ron
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 02:08

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 02:08
Greg, you have to start somewhere. To start with I would thing Hooks is not in his local area so he will either have to go to Mazda or use a local mechanic that he has no idea if they know much about his model.

There was a local mechanic here that was excellent, but in the end he said he was only going to work on one brand of vehicle, as he couldn't keep up with all the makes and models. Now dealers are only as good as their principal and you take pot luck if you don't know them, what they do have is all the information on the manufacturers vehicle data base at their disposal.

I and others have definitely had miss diagnosis by both dealers and independent workshops.

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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 16:50

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 16:50
Geeez, I'm glad I drive an 'older' vehicle. The only 'microprocessor' is in the beer fridge, and I keep a close eye on that. lol

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AnswerID: 617081

Follow Up By: Member - mark D18 - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:29

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:29
Allan .
I am with you , keep thinking I should update but after reading the Ranger and the Mazda dramas suddenly the old HZJ79R and the 100 series turbo diesel are looking great .
My biggest drama is which one will I take this year on my next Simpson trip .

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:40

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 18:40
Mark, just make sure you have the fencing wire and the gaffer tape onboard. lol

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Reply By: hooks - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 21:09

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 21:09
Hi Ron,

We drove 81 kms today without the van on and this time unlike the previous times we could not get out of 2nd gear and 60km/hr. So the ute on its own is now functioning the same as will the van on. However at this slow sped it is easier to let traffic pass us when not towing.
I will let you all know what Mazda finds.

AnswerID: 617088

Follow Up By: Member - Supersi - Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 21:45

Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 21:45
Hooks, check the intercooler inlet hose, kerb side of the engine, top. Very common for bt’s and rangers to have a split in this hose with the results that you have described.
Ideally replace with an aftermarket one such as one from plazmaman. Temporary fix with foil and tape should get you to a major town.

The comments re transmission cooler are all valid and will have a benefit increasing longevity. Wyong Automatics have a good kit which I fitted to mine with temp now never going over 92 degrees when towing.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 10:20

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 10:20
Supersi - Hooks has visited a Mazda dealer to try and find the fault.

"Took it to a Mazda dealer in town and they found all wiring ok and suspect fault within the moulded leadframe (valve body of transmission)."

Now, if the Mazda dealer and their technicians were worth half a grain of salt ...

1. They would have hooked up a diagnostic computer or laptop to the OBD plug in the vehicle and looked for, and found, fault codes - if there were any recorded - which there most definitely should be, as the vehicle is displaying warning lights.

2. The ECM in the vehicle should have recorded any split hose, because this would affect pressures and vacuum readings, picked up by sensors. There are sensors for nearly everything in vehicles today.

3. The technician should have carried out a physical check, to find physical faults, such as pinched wiring - damaged, corroded, or partly disconnected connectors in the wiring harness - and split hoses - which will all produce warning lights and faulty vehicle behaviour.

If the problem is found to be a split intercooler hose, as you indicate - then Hooks needs to have his Mazda dealer charges refunded, due to total incompetence at fault-finding.

Dealers should have access to every piece of diagnostic equipment for the vehicles they sell - and they most certainly have access to all the vehicle repair information - and they also have access to factory advice telling them to look for potential problems found by company engineers and other dealers.

In addition, dealers have full access to all the latest updates, modifications, design changes, and all other technical information, that effectively gives them a "leg-up" when it comes to repairs and fault-finding.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 11:52

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 11:52
Isn't it rewarding to know the manufacturer has endurance tested their product before sale so customers don't have internal auto problems.
It is strange how customers are now the actual testers of a product and the factory only fixes what they find.
Zilch product testing to find the auto plastic and solenoid valves are damaged by normally expected heat of fluid is very poor production quality.

Note to dealers from manufacturer. "As long as only a few autos melt their innards while being driven we are in front with $$$$$. We got away with rubbish quality again".

If Mazda has not found codes, and it is happeneing with just the vehicle, no towing NOW, I would be looking at the earthing to body of ALL negative side tags where they bolt to the body or chassis. Just a look at wiring doesn't fix those.
Often the tag is bolted by a 6mm dia bolt, but is insulated from the body by paint and has an intermittent fault because of this situation.
I know of a similar thing with a D40 Navara which stopped and the dealer has no idea what they did, but after fiddling with wiring and removing "stuff" the multiple sensor faults were registered by test gear, to use a subcontinent phrase, "no more there". PS, dealer had ALL the required test gear too.
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 12:58

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 12:58
Hi Bob, Can't help you with any fault finding, but I can pass on to you an experience a mate of mine has had with a Ranger. He owned the vehicle from new, and for the first few years, he was very happy with it. The he started to have similar on going problems with his transmission for over two years. He tows a 3.5 T van when on holiday, plus various equipment trailers as it is/was his work vehicle. It didn't matter if he was towing or not, vehicle would go into "limp" mode at the slightest sign of needing extra power. Tranny was rebuilt twice, once by Ford, and once by transmission specialist. Neither rebuild fixed the problem. The last 12 months he owned the vehicle, it was off the road for a total of 8 months. After so much frustration and money not only in actual dollars spent, but in the loss of the vehicle for his business, he cut his losses and traded it in on a 200 Series LC.


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AnswerID: 617099

Follow Up By: Ron N - Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 16:47

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 16:47
"He tows a 3.5 T van when on holiday, plus various equipment trailers as it is/was his work vehicle" ...

McLaren3030 - IMO, the above statement, gives a pretty good pointer to the cause of his headaches.

The Ranger's towing capacity may be 3500kgs - but that is, as long as the total gross combination weight is not exceeded - and also - that rating is for moderate temperatures, moderate speeds, and relatively flat country.

As soon as I hear of someone towing maximum tow capacity, and having reliability problems - I wonder what their total gross weight is.

It's not uncommon for the towing vehicle to be loaded up to the hilt, and extra items thrown in the 'van - and before long, the gross combination weight is well outside the manufacturers rating.

Then these people barrel along in excess of 100kmh, in hilly country, trying to "keep up with the traffic" - and then they do this, on 40 deg days as well!

The manufacturers are clear on stating that as soon as adverse conditions arise when towing - constantly hilly country - high ambient temperatures - and maximum loads - then the load ratings should be adjusted downwards, to prevent problems caused by working the vehicle at it's extreme limits - or over them.

A lot of people buy 4WD's, and then complain they aren't reliable when they want them to do the work of a truck.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Hoyks - Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 19:35

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 19:35
A powertrain warning light with a malfunction indicator light is often a split intercooler hose.

I also had the DSC lamp when my EGR valve sprang a leak.

You do need an OBD2 reader to get the code and then clear it though. I have a $15 ebay job and a $7 iPhone app that does the job.

Another thing to check is the wiring loom that runs across the front of the motor. The pressed metal timing chain cover can cut into the loom and cause shorts that create some random codes.
AnswerID: 617109

Follow Up By: RMD - Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 19:42

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 at 19:42
Isn’t it lovely that a DSC lamp is signalling for all sorts of reasons other that what it is called.
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Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Friday, Feb 23, 2018 at 19:57

Friday, Feb 23, 2018 at 19:57
Any updates hooks ?

AnswerID: 617146

Follow Up By: hooks - Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 at 10:30

Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 at 10:30
We limped back home without the van on. Was much better to allow traffic to pass us, although once we got onto the duel highway it overcome this a little. The ute is booked in to our local Mazda service centre on Monday. Will let you all know. Some very useful suggestions have been posted over the past few days.

Thanks Bob.
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Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 08:28

Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 08:28
G'day Bob

Got your car sorted yet ?

If so what was the problem ?


AnswerID: 617268

Follow Up By: hooks - Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 13:47

Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 13:47
Hi Gazz and others,

Our Mazda dealer has just contacted us about a hour ago. They found that there were metal fillings in the transmission oil. I asked why and they said there was probably and faulty part within the box.
They have received the authority from Mazda to fit a new transmission and oil cooler free of charge to me. Because they will fit a new transmission the exact problem cause will now not be determined. The time and cost to do this would therefore be eliminated and apparently this is the kind of way things are dealt with these days.
As the ute is one year out of warranty I could not have received a better outcome. The oil cooler should prevent this occurring again, I hope. Someone has just recently suggested that its better to drive in sports mode when towing a van than in auto, I will confirm with Madza, but in the mean time your comments will be most welcome.

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Follow Up By: Genny - Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 14:24

Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 14:24
Bit of a Google located a 2012 Ranger manual online. I suppose it'd be the same for the BT50?

When towing heavy loads, or in hilly
terrain, it is recommended that sport mode
is selected. This will result in cooler
transmission temperatures and additional
engine braking.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 17:56

Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 17:56
Yes, that advice is in the Mazda owners manual.

I think it would be wise to consider combination weight rather than just "towing heavy loads". The load on the vehicle's transmission is the sum of the weight of the vehicle plus the trailer. If you have a heavy vehicle and just a moderate trailer your combination weight could still be high enough to consider using sports mode.

And I interpret the advice as also meaning "recommended to use sports mode in hilly terrain regardless of load".


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Follow Up By: hooks - Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 19:01

Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 19:01
I can confirm that the GVM for the BT50 is 6000kg and in our situation the combined weight is 500 or so kgs under this. We weighed every thing including ourselves and confirmed with Mazda and the van manufactures what was included in the tare weights. eg radiator water, engine oil etc and with the van, gas in bottles and water in the tanks.
I am happy we were under the GVM specifications. I have not though, been over a weigh bridge. After this experience and in view of the recommended advise on using the sports mode, we should now drive in this mode .

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Follow Up By: Member - Supersi - Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 21:13

Thursday, Mar 01, 2018 at 21:13
Bob, towing that sort of weight with a BT requires an aftermarket transmission cooler, I hope that is what has been proposed, not just the standard BT50 cooler.

Also, change the transmission oil every 40,000kms.

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Follow Up By: hooks - Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 11:28

Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 11:28
Hi Supersi,

What is the difference in the 2 coolers and is the aftermarket one a Mazda product?
FollowupID: 888867

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 14:10

Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 14:10
Mazda don't do an upgraded or aftermarket cooler.

The OEM one is a water to oil heat exchange back at the transmission. All the aftermarket ones are air to oil mounted in front of the radiator/intercooler/aircon condenser.

The OEM type used by Ford and Mazda takes coolant back to the transmission, whereas the more conventional approach used by most other manufacturers takes the trans fluid forward to a loop in the radiator.

With the Ranger and BT50, if you install an aftermarket air to oil cooler up at the radiator you have to remove the OEM heat exchanger at the transmission and "short circuit" its coolant circuit to preserve coolant flow. Then plumb the trans fluid forward to the cooler. It is not possible to have both in series without a lot of bother. That has some implications which I can expand on if you wish.

Cheers Frank

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Follow Up By: hooks - Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 15:50

Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 15:50
Thanks Frank,

I understand that my 2014, BT50 did not even have a cooler and as they are going to fit one with this repair , its likely to be the OEM type. Even though its not the after market one, I hope its better than nothing.

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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 18:25

Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 18:25

It always had a cooler - ie the heat exchanger that is on the transmission. I suspect it comes as a standard part of the new transmission you are about to get.

My BT50 and van combo weighs similar to yours when loaded, about 5500kg. I found the OEM heat exchanger to be inadequate, with the transmission temp too often around the 115 to 120 mark, sometimes 130. When cruising under light load it sat on 97, never less.

With the aftermarket replacement it cruises at 84 and under load maxes out around 110.

My Mazda dealer will not touch anything not factory. I hope yours is a bit more flexible.

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Follow Up By: hooks - Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 20:31

Friday, Mar 02, 2018 at 20:31
Thanks Frank,

A couple more questions, what brand of aftermarket cooler do you recommend and how do you measure the temperature? How easy are they to fit?

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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 15:04

Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 15:04
Hi Bob,

I had a Wholesale Automatics (WA) kit fitted by their Sydney fitter.

WA for some reason don't believe in using a fan. I believe their kit without a fan is inadequate, so I fitted one at extra expense. You can see some discussion about WA's kit in the Forum here..

There is more generic discussion on the problem here. I raised my issues about halfway down page 3, but there's plenty of good reading (and some rubbish) in all the pages.

My installation is described here, again beginning on page 3.

You may have to join the forum to view the links. It is well worthwhile doing so as most of the discussion on Ranger mechanicals applies to the BT50.

Given I had to spend extra to get the WA cooler working the way I want, I don't know that I can recommend it - it became an expensive exercise which I think could be done cheaper. Like others, and given my experience, I think it the WA product for the Ranger/BT50 is on the small side, but maybe they chose the smallest reasonably possible to minimise impact on the intercooler which sits directly behind. IMO it MUST have a fan - 10 or 11 inch diameter. Anyway, mine works pretty well now, so the end result is ok.

I measure ATF temperature with a Scangauge. It gets its info from the diagnostics OBD2 port behind the storage compartment in front of your right knee.

Ease of fitment? I don't directly know - I had mine fitted. But I know what's involved - nothing too scientific if you have some basic mechanical skills and some common sense. I think you'd need access to a hoist though as there is a fair bit of rooting around under the vehicle threading hoses etc.

Email me if you want at frankp129 at gmail dot com.



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Follow Up By: hooks - Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 17:04

Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 17:04
Thanks very much Frank,

I picked up a loan car today from Mazda and asked if they would consider fitting at my expense, the after market cooler system and they declined as it would affect the warranty of the transmission that they will fit.
I will tow the van in sports mode from now on as this is said to lower the temperature a little.
Once the warranty period is over, I could then reconsider things.

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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 17:20

Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 17:20
Bob, bit of advise, if your not going to fit a cooler until warranty runs out, get yourself a scangauge and you can monitor the temp of the box. You can mount it with either velcro or double sided tape on the steering column. At least then you can back off on hills or don't push the vehicle to hard when towing to keep temps down. You can also monitor engine temp although that doesn't move to much.

With your load you will regularly see 100 to 110C or even higher. The atf being synthetic is a lot more forgiving than mineral oils but I would be looking at a flush and replacement around the 40 to 50000k mark for piece of mind. Don't worry if the fluid comes out black when this is done as Mercon LV is dark to start with and turns black fairly quickly. Ask about the box warranty as it might only be 12 months been a replacement part.
FollowupID: 888931

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 18:15

Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 18:15

I agree 100% with Eagle. About $200 well spent.

My rig is about the same all-up combination weight as yours, 5500kg or so. A long pull up a hill or mountain area on a warm day will see engine coolant temp rise to around 110 or a bit more. With the OEM trans cooler system, this becomes the starting point for your ATF - it cannot get any cooler and will warm up from there with the load. That increases the engine coolant temp, and so on. I have had mine go into limp mode due coolant temp once - that occurs at a water temp of about 115 IIRC, well before limp mode for ATF temp, which is 140.

If you get a scan gauge you can monitor both temps and adjust your driving as necessary.

With the after market cooler, the ATF is out of the coolant heat loop. In most situations (engine and transmission under load) that is a benefit. The ATF doesn't get pre-heated by the hot engine, and the hot engine is not heated further by the contribution from the ATF.

There is a downside to the aftermarket air to oil cooler that I have found. I like the Snowies and Vic High Country and playing around on the tracks. I have found that extended downhill under engine braking in 2nd and 1st, both high and low range, induces increased ATF temps, to the extent that on a couple of occasions prior to installing the thermo fan mine went into limp mode at ATF temp of 140. I believe it's because

- speeds are much reduced, so there is little airflow from roadspeed through the cooler,
- the engine coolant is cool because the engine is under no load. Therefore the thermo clutch in the engine fan is not driving the engine fan hard, preventing the fan from pulling much air through the front end, even though engine revs may be up,
- and, of course, the aftermarket cooler bypasses the engine coolant altogether.

This is where a thermofan on the aftermarket cooler is essential, as well as on slow uphill pulls with low roadspeed and natural airflow. However, in this downhill situation the OEM heat exchanger that you have is ideal!!!

You really need both in series, but on the Ranger/BT50 it is a difficult thing to do.


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Follow Up By: hooks - Friday, Mar 16, 2018 at 14:19

Friday, Mar 16, 2018 at 14:19
Hi all interested folk,

I got the ute back yesterday. No charge for a new transmission and labour which now has a 2 year,40,000km warranty. I will drive in sports mode with the van on from now on and keep my fingers well and truly crossed. Will also consider changing the trans oil much sooner, than the 250,000km that Mazda applies.

thanks for all your advise and replies.
FollowupID: 889321

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Mar 16, 2018 at 14:35

Friday, Mar 16, 2018 at 14:35
That's a good result, Bob.

Having done one full flush after the overheating event and them not finding any nasties in the fluid, and given my cooler keeps everything cooler (LOL) FWIW I will just do a partial fluid change every 50k now - just what comes out when they drop the pan. If it's within your budget it might be worth doing similar if your rig is always heavy.



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Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 23:47

Saturday, Mar 03, 2018 at 23:47
I can't believe people pay $60,000 plus for a new 4WD dual cab, with all the bells and whistles - yet it can't effectively tow its rated load under Australian conditions - and you have to start buggering around, laying out thousands of dollars more in aftermarket cooling accessories - just to make the vehicle perform like it should perform, from the factory??

These people have been building vehicles for anywhere between 80 and 115 years - and yet they still treat their buyers like suckers - and still use them as a test bed??

I'd be outraged if I was forced to do that, after spending all that money - and I would consider the product, "not fit for purpose", as described under Consumer Law.

I'd expect to have to modify an older, used vehicle, that was suffering from age - but an almost-new $60,000 vehicle?? No way. This is bloody pathetic.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 617351

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Sunday, Mar 04, 2018 at 05:59

Sunday, Mar 04, 2018 at 05:59
Ron, yes you shouldn't have to add bits to tow heavy loads, the vehicle should be up to the task straight off the showroom floor.

There area few things that are neglected also. Most people will tell the salesman that they are going to tow with the vehicle, the salesmen then should know the product and advise the customer on what is required when towing, like using sports mode and servicing the transmission more frequently.

Many don't know what their auto transmissions are doing regarding temps and that goes for all tow vehicles no matter what make. In fact most vehicles of all makes need extra cooling if they are going to tow heavy loads over long distances.

Costs are under $1000 to have a cooler fitted but the greatest problem is the manufacturers won't warrant the trans if you fit an aftermarket cooler. They don't offer a oem cooler so the owner is is caught between a rock and a hard face.
FollowupID: 888941

Follow Up By: hooks - Sunday, Mar 04, 2018 at 12:51

Sunday, Mar 04, 2018 at 12:51
Hello Ron & Eagle,

I had this same discussion last night and totally agree with you. I wonder whether a manual transmission would heat less and would have been a better choice. Sales staff are only really interested in getting that sale and although I made it clear the ute was to tow a 5th wheeler they said it would do the job without any worries.
The other discovery I have just made is that the service staff including the manager are not really up with the technical issues for this particular problem and cant really answer my questions. Its easier to replace the whole transmission and therefore don't ever understand what really caused it.
I also contacted Mazda head office and the person that I spoke with was not technical and had to go away and ask. This was in spite of being put through to the technical department.
My Mazda dealer wont fit the aftermarket cooler even at my expense, If this overcomes the problem, I would have thought that Mazda would do the upgrade on all manufactured vehicles in future. I wonder if there is something that is stopping this and we are not aware of.
I am going to contact Head office again tomorrow.
FollowupID: 888959

Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Mar 04, 2018 at 13:21

Sunday, Mar 04, 2018 at 13:21
Yes, a manual transmission is better than a torque-converter-style transmission, when it comes to really heavy loads, and constant, steady loads under high ambient temperatures.

Planetary-type automatic transmissions with a torque converter develop substantial amounts of heat, and the transmission oil has to have the capability to deal with it.
You do this by substantially increasing the oil capacity of the tranny, and/or installing adequate heat-dissipation systems, by way of oil cooler/s.

In America, aftermarket manufacturers are already producing a deeper-profile cast aluminium sump ("oil pan") for the 6R80 transmission.

This aftermarket fitment is of advantage in two areas - one, it holds nearly 3 litres more in oil capacity - and it possesses increased heat radiation capabilities due to its increased surface area, and the good heat-transmission abilities of aluminium.

The extra oil capacity gives the ability to absorb more heat. Oil is not only a lubricant, and the operating fluid of the transmission - it is also a coolant, carrying away heat. The bigger the quantity of oil, the cooler the transmission runs.

Manufacturers specialise in reducing the amount of oil needed for the transmission to operate effectively, to keep costs down.

Then they reduce or eliminate oil changes to keep costs down again, and to remain "competitive" with other manufacturers - as oil change costs are factored into annual running/maintenance costs, when comparisons are made.

All this penny-pinching works against those who buy a vehicle to work, pulling maximum loads in what are many times, adverse conditions.

The manufacturers brag about "tested under Australian conditions" in their marketing hype - but the reality is, they are testing to see what is the minimum they can spend, to get a product onto the market, that will work under average load/speed/ambient temperature conditions.

I'd suggest purchasing one of the American cast aluminium deep-profile transmission oil pans, for your new transmission, might be a good move.

Cheers, Ron.
FollowupID: 888960

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 15:15

Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 15:15
Below is the link to the manufacturers website of the cast aluminium 6R80 transmission oil pan.

If you scroll down the page, you will find photos of one of these pans fitted to an Australian BT-50 Mazda.

So it's obvious, someone else in Australia was having problems with his BT-50 transmission temperature - or else he choose to avoid the problem, before it became a problem.

The manufacturer sells direct, or off eBay, but the price is the same, regardless.

Cast aluminium oil pan

Cheers, Ron.
FollowupID: 889001

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 15:50

Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 15:50
Ron, some go that way but because the vehicles are 4wd's most are fitting front mounted coolers as the fluid pans is lower under the vehicles. Those pans were originally manufactured for the go fast fellas in the States driving big bangers.

For me, they don't seem to address the problem with temp, at low speed there is little flow over the fins under the vehicle. I know Tri drive Mack Tridents coupled with low profile tyres put the diffs closer to the ground and had to have coolers fitted.
FollowupID: 889002

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 16:25

Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 16:25
Eagle, the cast aluminium pans project only slightly below the lowest part of the original pan - because the cast aluminium pan utilises the same transmission oil pickup pipe.

The original pan has a projecting portion that contains the oil pickup pipe.

Cheers, Ron.

Stock pan -

Cast aluminium pan -
FollowupID: 889004

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 18:11

Monday, Mar 05, 2018 at 18:11
I've been looking at that one too, Ron. My only reservation is that I play around a bit on the tracks. A bump from a rock would be devastating for a cast alloy pan, whereas a pressed steel on would just dent.

Some armour would help, but I'm already pushing weight issues so continue to procrastinate LOL


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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 08:20

Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 08:20
First thing I never do is compare photos taken from a different angle and especially when those photos come from a site that sells those pans.
Truth is, my lowest part of the transmission pan is 30mm above the main chassis rails and the main area of the pan is 60mm above the chassis rails. from the angle the deep pan photo was taken from I can't see my trans sump.
With the photo taken of the deep pan and fins they are about level with the body support chassis brackets. This now makes the oem's pans lowest point 60mm above the deep pans bottom and 80mm to the main area of the oem pan.
There is also a much greater target area for things to hit the finned pan.
I will be sticking with my original pan as the temps are good with the front mounted trans cooler.
FollowupID: 889012

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 10:00

Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 10:00
just a little more on deep pan and this is from a supplier.

Quote "The standard depth of auto pan is 40mm from top lip to bottom of pan.
The high volume pan we have is 150mm in total from top to bottom"

I would think the 30mm for the standard pan would have to be added which would make that pan 70mm top to bottom
FollowupID: 889013

Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 11:12

Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 11:12
Eagle, the manufacturer is talking about the flat portion of the pans when they discuss the difference between the "bottom" of the standard pan, and the "bottom" of the alloy pan.

You obviously missed the part where the manufacturer says they utilise the original oil pick-up pipe with the alloy pan - so there's little difference in the depth between the two pans - but the alloy pan is deeper over a larger area.

I'd suggest if you are running over rocks or obstructions big enough to damage an alloy pan, then you're going to damage a standard pan as well - and I'd suggest any pan damage is possibly going to cause transmission damage, by damaging the oil pick-up pipe or filter.

The photos were taken by the Australian owner and the manufacturer had little say in the angle of the photos.
They certainly could have been much better photos for comparison purposes.

FollowupID: 889017

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 17:05

Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 17:05
Like I said Ron, the standard pan sits much higher than the high capacity pan. That reduces the risk of damage no matter how it is looked at. This is the reasons people put 50mm lift kits in vehicles, I know the difference that makes.

I know what mine looks like underneath and I can tell by the photo taken from the rear how much difference there is. Don't think I missed anything as I stated with the flat part of the oem sump and the oil pickup bump the total depth is 70mm and they stated depth is 150mm for their deep sump. The only difference is the 70mm versus 150mm.
FollowupID: 889029

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 18:01

Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 18:01
The pan that Ron posted hangs about 35mm (1.35 inches) lower than the lowest point of the standard pan:

I just checked how that looks with a straight edge and ruler on my BT50. The pan would be 5mm lower than a straight line across the bottom of the chassis rails.

If you take a fore-and aft line between the bottom of the front cross member near the engine sump and the bottom of the rear cross member to which the transmission is mounted, the pan would be 40mm above that line.

If someone came up with a pressed steel alternative I would take it in a flash.

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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 21:07

Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 21:07
Yes Frank it also sits way to low for me and as you said if it was pressed still I would consider one. I never even considered the front crossmember as it is way lower than the trans crossmember. With your figures from that sump it would hang 5mm lower than the gearbox crossmember. This is the same reason I don't have the larger long-range fuel tank that hangs below the chassis rails.

Not doubting you, but I am doing a pickup down south at the moment and might be home late tomorrow and measure for myself. I have the dimensions of another pan on the history of my home computer and will post the site if I get time as I am off again the next morning.

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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 23:28

Tuesday, Mar 06, 2018 at 23:28

That pan would sit about 40mm ABOVE the gearbox cross member. I'll try to take a photo. Need 3 hands to do it but only have two lol.

CORRECTION to the above. I think we had different reference points in mind. I just measured again with reference to the transmission crossmember. The alloy pan would be about 5mm above at its lowest point.

What concerns me ATM is it sitting 5mm below the chassis and the big fore-and-aft gap between the front crossmember and the gearbox crossmember. Plenty of room for a rock to come up if you dropped a wheel into a hole, say on a river crossing.

EDIT: All in all, I think I have convinced myself that for what I like to do with my ute the risks associated with a low slung cast alloy pan are too high. ATF temps get a bit warmer than I prefer, but are reasonably controlled by the after market cooler and fan. I think I need to be satisfied with that until I can find a larger pressed steel pan.

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Reply By: TigerHesso - Sunday, Apr 29, 2018 at 12:34

Sunday, Apr 29, 2018 at 12:34
Hey. Just found out some very interesting info on the DSC on my BT50.
Up until the incident the DSC light was off and the car wheel alignment was perfect.
The apparent problem was causes when my right hand front wheel side swiped a concrete boulder and did some body damage to the guard and door (the panel damage is incidental).
After the damage and a lot of swearing for being so stupid, I drove off and noticed my wheel alignment was pulling to the right, ie the steering wheel was at about the 10 o'clock position when the car was going straight ahead. When my speed got to about 40km/h the DSC warning light came on continually. slowing to a stop and at any speed it remained on. Switched the engine off and restarted the warning light was out and came on again continually at ~40km/h.

My initial thought was I bent something (tie rod?).
I put the car on my hoist and inspected the steering. Nothing bent but noticed the RHS tie rod inner was a little sloppy, enough to want to replace it.
Got the new tie rod and installed it. Did a toe in/out wheel alignment. Its easy to do on the concrete with a BT as you can get a tape measurement behind and in front of the tyre. I picked a specific in line tyre groove reference to measure the front and rear. The vehicle specifications 0mm toe (makes it easy).
When the alignment was done I went for a short drive to settle the adjustments in and check my steering wheel alignment thinking I would remove the steering wheel nut and straighten the wheel.
The vehicle drive straight nut the steering wheel was still at 10 o'clock and the bloody DSC light came on again.

After a lot of research and thought, the main sensor controls for the DSC system are 1. the ABS sensors and 2. the STEERING WHEEL ANGLE SENSOR.

NOW to all readers of the article. Stop and think about this.
The DSC or Dynamic Stability Control is a process that looks at the steering angle and wheel speed (from the 4 wheels ABS sensors). The definition of "out of control" is an imbalance between these sensors.

In my case, the car was going straight ahead ie all wheel at the same speed but the steeling wheel was at 10 o'clock. Guess what, the computer system thought I was out of control.

Knowing this, the solution was easy.
The old way of doing a wheel alignment was adjust the toe in/out then remove the steering when and refit to the 12 o'clock position. WRONG WRONG WRONG

You need to set the steering wheel to 12 o'clock and adjust the toe angle to match the steering wheel.

Since I had already adjust the toe to 0 mm I loosed off the tie rods and shortened the RHS rod by a certain number of turns and increased the LHS rod by the same number of turns.
Go for a test drive to see if the steering wheel has straightened up. It took about 6 goes to get it right and you must also keep an eye on the toe angle (0mm).

The result was BT running dead straight with the specified 0 mm toe. The steering wheel was at 12 o'clock and NO BLOODY DSC warning light.

Not saying this is the only cause for the DSC warning light but if the vehicle is driving straight ahead and you have a steering wheel over to an angle (left or right), this will cause the DSC warning light to come on.

Good luck with it. Regards Hesso
AnswerID: 618601

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