Mazda BT50 (Ranger) not suitable for carrying loads on rough roads

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:12
ThreadID: 94799 Views:38373 Replies:25 FollowUps:36
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After the last catastrophic failure on my BT-50, I have come to the conclusion that the vehicle is not suitable for consistently carrying loads on rough roads or travelling to remote locations. The loads carried on the BT50 have been below the GVM, yet the failures have still occurred.

The latest failure was the wheel and axle from the LHS rear of the vehicle becoming dislodged. Photo below:
Image Could Not Be Found

After the vehicle was trailered back to my local mechanic, the complete axle assembly was sent to a specialist workshop in Melbourne for assessment and repair. The report back was that the actual housing was bent and was not capable of carrying the load. In fact the repairer stated that little effort in the press was required to straighten the housing.

This is the second major failure on the BT50 in the past 12 months. In a remote location last year, the chassis cracked on both sides.

A summary of the various faults and problems that have occurred on the BT50 over the past 4 ½ years is as follows:

1. Crack in weld on rear axle housing (new housing replaced under warranty)
2. Broken rear spring (replaced by aftermarket supplier of springs under warranty)
3. Stuck injectors in engine (replaced under warranty)
4. Faulty throttle sensor (replaced at my cost)
5. Installation problem with rear differential lock (fixed at my cost)
6. Chassis break (fixed at my great cost)
7. Axle dislodgement (fixed at my cost)

The purchase and build-up of the BT50 was supposed to be a long term proposition, to allow us to travel to remote locations and enjoy camping at these places. Unfortunately the BT50 is not the vehicle that can reliably be used for this purpose, so I will need to find a different vehicle that can meet my needs.

It is disappointing to investigate, purchase and enhance a vehicle for touring then find that it is not up to the task. It has cost a lot of money, caused inconvenience and holiday plans to be changed, and been a stressful experience at times.

Mazda have been connected on several occasions (dealer and head office) and have listened to my story, but have offered no suggestions or even seemed interested in helping.

By relaying my experiences I am hopeful that perhaps other owners will not have to go through the same experiences and expense that I have had to. The roads and tracks travelled have been typical outback fare with corrugations - I have not taken the BT50 in places that my previous vehicle had been! Also the load was kept to a minimum - we selected one of the lightest slideon campers on the market and tried to minimise what we carried.

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Reply By: Member - MUZBRY(Vic) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:32

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:32
Gday Geoff
That's not to good . I had them on my list for my next vehicle, but just removed them. Murray R has one with a slide on camper , but I don't think he has been out bck on the rough roads yet.
I hope all goes well for you.

Muzbry
Great place to be Mt Blue Rag 27/12/2012

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AnswerID: 482702

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:46

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:46
Hi Muzbry,

Thanks for the reply. The new meduim duty utes (like the BT50) just don't seem to be strong enough to carry a camper on corrogated roads. Now I need to decide on a replacement and save up some dollars.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 757974

Reply By: Will 76 Series - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:43

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:43
Geoff,
That is not good. Surprisingly they have been reported on quite favourably in most of the magazine reviews. Perhaps this model has not been out into the outback much so such issues as you have raised are not well known.
Thanks for the heads up as the Mazda BT50 certainly look the goods.

Regards Will
AnswerID: 482703

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:49

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:49
Hi Will,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, I thought the BT50 would be a vehicle that would serve as a great touring vehicle, but unfortunately I have been proven wrong. It looks like only the heavy duty 4WD utilities will cut it in the outback.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 757975

Reply By: Road Warrior - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:59

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:59
What model/year BT50 is it?
AnswerID: 482708

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:10

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:10
Mazda BT50 Freestyle Cab Chassis with steel tray. Build date Nov 2007.
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FollowupID: 757979

Reply By: Ashez H - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:18

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:18
Hi Geoff,
Just wondering about the chassis. Did it break after you put the extension on? Do you run air-bags to assist the rear leafs? These issues you have had are a real concern for these 4 cyl utes.
Ash
AnswerID: 482710

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:25

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:25
Hi Ash,

No I don't run rear airbags - had been warned against these in the early days and had seen plenty of chassis breaks. Unfortunately this didn't help me.

I did the chassis extension as part of the full repair of the chassis. I had though of doing it when I first purchased the vehicle but was put off by the high cost. In hindsight, probably should have done it.

Talking with the specialist repairer, they are seeing plenty of bent axle housings coming through their doors. Cause in their opinion - overloading. First sign is premature failure of rear bearings. Right across the range of 4 cylinder utes but particularly Hilux's.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 757983

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:39

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:39
Very disappointing story Geoff. Hope you're fixed now and able to trade it.

Unfortunately, similar catastrophic failures happen with the other major brands. The following I've either witnessed or have happened to friends:
A GU Patrol's rear diff crack in half on the Anne Beadell Hwy. And they have the problems of cracked chassis too.
Seen 90series Prado's front end fall apart from ball joint failure.
Seen 100series front arms break on the Madigan line and Canning. Had a friend's 100series torsion bar break on the Canning.
Seen a few bent chassis on dual cabs - a hilux in the Simpson desert towing a Kimberly camper; a rodeo on the Anne Beadell Hwy with a traytop camper, and on another forum a Triton bent in half on the Anne Beadell Hwy.

So what's left???? I guess there's a reason why the 76/78/79series landcruisers remain popular - strong chassis and solid axles, but the V8 has had its fair share of issues with the low alternator, hidden starter motor, common rail injectors, oil consumption, wider front track etc and its pretty easy to break the front diff.

I'm looking to upgrade my 10 year old HDJ79 but haven't found a worthy replacement yet. Maybe the new BT50 might be a different proposition to the old one. Wonder whether you'd get a sympathetic changeover to a new BT50 freestyle cab chassis - I'm guessing you don't want another Mazda though!

Cheers
Phil
AnswerID: 482715

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:57

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:57
Hi Phil,

Thanks for the reply. The BT50 is all fixed and good as new - unfortunately good as new just doesn't cut it!

I am looking closely at the Landcruiser and are well aware of their problems (several friends have them), but they seem the only viable option for carrying a slideon camper at present. Yes, I've looked at the Patrol and Defender but they both have greater potential issues than the cruiser.

I've looked at the new BT50 (prior to this last failure) and they do have a larger chassis, but they seem to still have the same rear running gear and Mazda have struck me off their christmas card list! No new Mazda for me.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 757987

Follow Up By: Kelvo - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:27

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:27
Hi Geoff,

Not wanting to start anything, but what greater potential issues do you see with the Defender?

Kelvin
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FollowupID: 758002

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:47

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:47
Hi Kevin,

A good friend I regularly travel with has a defender. While it is a great vehicle off-road, it is uncomfortable to travel in especially if you are taller. Also Land Rovers (in my opinion) require specialist treatment - need servicing at dedicated outlets - whereas Toyota's/Nissan's are pretty well known throughout the country.

I think you are either born a Land Rover fan or not - unfortunately (or fortunately) I am not.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758004

Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 08:31

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 08:31
Like Phil we've seen some horrible things happen to most of the midweight utes on outback roads and tracks. It scares me when I see twincab utes loaded to the gunnels and then towing another 1500kg's of camper off the back as they are an accident waiting to happen.
The worst we've ever seen was on the north coast of NSW earlier this year we caught up with a vehicle towing a caravan on a hill (a mean feat in an Oka!) and as we went past noticed at least a 250mm gap between the top of the canopy on the ute and the cab.
About 20 mins later we both pulled into a rest area and when I came back from the loo he was standing looking at his very new Ford ute with a look of horror. We had a squiz underneath and the chassis had bent under the rear of the cab.
He remembered hitting a dip on a back road earlier in the morning but this was the first stop for morno's.
He didn't seem to be overloaded as the only thing in the ute was a little gennie and some fishing gear and the van was an older single axle poptop about 16' long.
Wasn't helped by his wife's comment that they should have kept the 60 series!!
Peter
1996 Oka Motorhome

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Reply By: rags - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 22:49

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 22:49
I wonder how the new current range of BT50 and ford ranger will fare in similar use. I think if you can believe the marketing hype then it should be better,as it has been designed and engineered here in Aust from ground up,and appears larger and more heavier built than the model you speak of which has a heritage that goes back to the late 80s,with some tweaks to get into this century.
AnswerID: 482722

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:54

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:54
Hi Rags,

Hopefully other's will have a better run out of their vehicles than I. I believed the marketing and reviews when I bought my BT50, unfortunately to my detriment.

The bottom line is that if you are going to load a load in rough conditions, any of the medium duty 4WD's such as the BT50 will not cut it.

Cheers, Geoff
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Follow Up By: Member - Jo Q (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 09:06

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 09:06
Hi Rags,

The above story is all a little worrying! I recently bought a 2010 Ford Ranger & are in the process of planning a Simpson Crossing in July, including Birdsville, Oodnadatta Tracks etc.

Fingers crossed it fares better than the above mentioned BT50. I do not have a slide on camper, but will obviously "living" out of the car for 2 weeks, carrying additional fuel & water etc.....

Will keep you updated upon my return.

Cheers,
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FollowupID: 758013

Follow Up By: Member - There Yet - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 10:32

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 10:32
High Geoff and Jo Q

sorry to hear that you have had such a bad experience with your Mazda. We purchased a 2008 Ford Ranger XLT twin cab and have had no concerns what so ever.

Last year we travelled the Oodnadatta, Birdsville, Camerons corner etc fully loaded and towing a fully packed trailer. The Ranger did what we needed it to do and we had no troubles what so ever. It's a shame, maybe you got a Friday special.

Cheers Steven and Kerry
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FollowupID: 758017

Follow Up By: Member - Jo Q (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:44

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:44
Hi Steven & Kerry - good to hear. I am looking forward to the trip with hopefully no car problems! :)

Cheers,

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FollowupID: 758023

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:47

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:47
Hi Steven & Kerry,

I wish you well with your Ranger. My BT50 has been a great car to drive, and the extra cab terrific for space on trips. Unfortunately the vehicle has not been up to the task of carrying our camper in the outback, so it is time to move on.

Keep a close eye on the chassis and suspension components, minmise the load you carry, and hopefully you don't have the same experiences I have had.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758024

Follow Up By: Member - There Yet - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:08

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:08
Thanks Geoff,

Shall keep an eye out for any problems. Will be off on a 3 month trip this June, mostly sealed roads this trip with some outback adventures. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

Cheers and all the best with your new vehicle.

Steve and Kerry
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FollowupID: 758030

Reply By: Member - Wamuranman - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 06:35

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 06:35
For anyone interested there is a more general thread that is complementary to this one posted recently.
Have a look at Thread 93028.

Cheers
AnswerID: 482729

Reply By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:02

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:02
Hi Geoff,

What a terrible story. Like others, I had the BT50 on my list as a replacement vehicle when the time comes, but I will be very careful now!
I had a lot of problems with my NS Pajero, but they were nothing in comparison to the issues you have had.
I hope you get a good run out of your car now.

Leanne
AnswerID: 482731

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 14:04

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 14:04
Hi Leanne,

Thanks for your reply and comments. The BT50 is all fixed but no good to carry our camper - unfortunately time to look for another vehicle!

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758035

Reply By: Sacred Cow - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:53

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:53
Geoff,

Judging by the very uneven wear on the tyre in your photo, it would appear that there was something drastically wrong with the rear suspension long before the catastrophic failure. Alternatively the loading may have been far in excess of what you believed.

Glenn
AnswerID: 482732

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 08:20

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 08:20
Hi Glenn,

I have had the vehicle weighed and re-engineered when getting the chassis extended last year. The weight with all accessories fitted (bullbar, winch, side steps, roof rack etc) was 2300kg. The GVM of the BT50 is 3050kg and the slideon camper I carry weighs 400kg. Fully loaded I am still well below the GVM.

The tyres have even wear, perhaps it's just the photograph. After this event the suspension was also checked and no problems found.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758007

Follow Up By: Member - Craig F (WA) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 18:50

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 18:50
Hi Geff,
To Clarify you coment.
2300kg plus 400kg for the camper then two people Fuel water, fridge and food etc. Wouldn't this put you close to your GVM. Then corrigations...
I am to the understanding that the maximum GVM is based on on-road higway conditions and when taking the car off road one should make allowances for the conditions.
I have a 2003 Hilux duel cab with rear airbags (used when towing my caravan on sealed roads to a maximum of 20psi). My car is used for severe off road driving and has never to date had a issue. Its limitation is that when I pack I never come close to the GVM.

Craig
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FollowupID: 758057

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 19:24

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 19:24
Hi Craig,

Yes, you are right about all the extras but it still comes out below the GVM. In hindsight I have expected too much of the BT50 - it (and other medium duty utes) are just not suited to carrying a slide on camper in the outback.

I pushed my previous vehicle (dual cab Hilux) a lot harder than the BT50 and basically had many trouble free years of travel with it. The places we have taken the BT50 are pretty sedate compared to stuff I've done before, and we have really used the BT50 as a light duty tourer. Unfortunately the new vintage of utes are designed differently and not as strong as before.

Hope you get many more years out of your Hilux - I managed 15 years from mine before I changed to the BT50.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758060

Reply By: GT Campers - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:59

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 07:59
you have had a very bad run there Geoff, but I think it needs to be said that slide-ons' centre of gravity sits a long way ABOVE (not on) the floor level of the vehicle tray. This high centre of gravity places enormous strain on the chassis - especially off-road - that have not been considered, designed for or tested during vehicle design/engineering phase. There is an assumption that a heavy load will be wet sand,or full fuel drums, with the weight down relatively low. Also, Australia's 'typical outback fare with corrugations' are extreme conditions to a vehicle engineer, and by international standards.

As far as I know, GVM is designed/tested/calibrated for on-highway driving only (no extreme stress due to corrugations) ...but I'm not sure if any manufacturer ever publishes a 'reduce by' or percentage (eg: reduce weight by 50%) figure for off-road conditions.

The previous Mazda by its class standards (especially D-Max/Colorado and Hilux) was a lightweight with quite shallow chassis sections. I haven't had a good look yet but the new series should be significantly stronger. As another person hinted, look hard enough and you find failures with EVERY brand in arduous conditions.
AnswerID: 482733

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 08:29

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 08:29
The new BT50 does look a little stronger, but my opinion is that it will not hold up much better than my model. The drivetrain still looks the same, so I doubt that anything has changed there.

I agree that all brands and models have problems. My main point is that the BT50 and other medium duty 4WD utilities are not suitable for carrying slide on campers in rough (outback) conditions - you need a heavy duty 4WD to do this task successfully.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758010

Follow Up By: rags - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:17

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:17
I think in the current model the new drive train bears little resemblance to the old,new 3.2 motor ,6speed auto or manual ,locking rear diff. I think it has been unfortunate the problems that have plagued you with a now superceeded model, and may be a good warning for people who may be looking at one of these models as a used vehicle, but to make the assumption that the new current models may also be no different is a little unfair, i do beleive that these new models are a vast improvement over the old
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FollowupID: 758019

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:42

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:42
Hi Rags,

From what I've seen the new model looks better, however time will tell on how robust it is. I still believe that it will not be suitable for carrying loads in rough conditions - again time will tell. I certainly will not be taking that risk.

Another point is that Mazda have not been interested in assisting me in any way once the warranty expired. I suppose I expected that, nevertheless it is disappointing.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758022

Follow Up By: splits - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:17

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:17
"As far as I know, GVM is designed/tested/calibrated for on-highway driving only (no extreme stress due to corrugations) ...but I'm not sure if any manufacturer ever publishes a 'reduce by' or percentage (eg: reduce weight by 50%) figure for off-road conditions. "


Your comment reminded me of the email below that I received from Mitsubishi after asking a few questions about the towing capacity of the Triton. I would say that would apply to all vehicles, unless specifically stated by the manufacturer, and would include carrying capacity as well.

---------------------------------------------------------------
We acknowledge receipt and thank you for your recent enquiry regarding the Mitsubishi Triton.
Please be advised that Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) only release towing specifications for vehicles being used under normal conditions such as highway driving. We would not recommend towing this amount while driving on 4WD tracks or surfaces of this nature. The 3 Tonne towing capacity is a statement of the maximum permissible towing weight possible for this vehicle.
Thank you for your enquiry.
Kind Regards,
Simon
Mitsubishi Customer Assistance Centre
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Back in my National Service days, I drove an old WW2 6x6 Studebaker truck at a driver training school. It was rated at only 2.5 tons carrying capacity despite having three axles, ten big wheels and a chassis like a tank. I initially thought it was an over cautious limit placed on it by the Army. I discovered years later on the net that it was the capacity specified by Studebaker. It was the maximum it could reliably carry in the worst conditions likely to be encounted.

This is just common sense. You can't expect a vehicle to carry and tow the same loads along a bush track as easily as it will do it on a highway.

The Army's solution to carrying a lot of gear with its Landrovers was to use a trailer instead of trying to beef them up. The little number 5 that has been in use since the mid 1960s weighs about 360 kg and will carry 500. That means it will carry close to the entire capacity of a Landcruiser and, when fully loaded, is only one quarter of its towing capacity. You would have to go out of your way to try and break a Cruiser in the bush with one of those hooked up behind and just mum dad and the kids and about 100 kg in the back. If you put the lot into and on top of the car and strengthened the sagging suspension, that is when you can expect chassis cracks, broken wheel studs and cracked diff housings.

The other issue is the weight/mass problem that Collyn Rivers was stressing in those links I posted in thread 93028. Weight is static only. It is way above that as the car is bouncing along rough roads or is swinging at the ends of a long caravan. I think Collyn said it increases by the square of the rate of acceleration or something like that.

Whatever is behind the axle on those utes becomes a huge moving mass and slams down hard on the suspension and diff housing when the wheels drop into a depression in the road. It then has to be caught by the housing and heaved back up again a split second later. The further it is from the axle, the worse it gets.
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FollowupID: 758032

Follow Up By: brad1972 - Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 19:21

Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 19:21
We had a Colorado at work that carried a constant , but under GVM load that suffered from spring sag and the bump stops sitting half an inch off the spring. When taken to Holden to ask what is going on we were told that loads on or near the GVM should only be intermittent and definitely not long term. We informed them that it was 300kg's under the GVM, they measured and ho-hummed and pronounced it within specs. So if you want to carry a decent load for extended periods I don't see many of these light 4wd's being usable.
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FollowupID: 758132

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 20:27

Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 20:27
Splits , far as I know the 'Green Machine' still follows a rule that they have allways had ,,, If a manufacturer claims 10 ton carry weight for a truck the Green Machine calls it a 5 ton truck and pity the poor private who dares to overload it .....
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FollowupID: 758855

Reply By: Member - Tezza Qld - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 09:18

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 09:18
G'Day Geoff

Sorry to hear of all your troubles with the BT50. I had a extra cab courier and carrying a slide on that weighs less than the Trayon, also had major chassis and rear end problems.

I replaced it with a leaf sprung Patrol trayback and have had no issues to date, 5 years and 180,000 k's

The vehicle is only used for touring, both private and conducting tag a long tours
and as such had done all the major, must do's, several times.

Also does it's fair share of offtrack work.

Whilst the leaf sprung wheel track is narrower in the rear this has not presented any problems. The huge rear diff and driveline take care of any back end weakness. Pity you can't buy a new 4.2 but there are still some low k's one's to be had.
You will miss the extra space given by the extracab and with the Trayon nearly all the trayspace is taken up. I had a custom ally tray made 2400mm x 1800mm as a standard tray for the patrol is 1950mm to 2000mm wide. Something to consider with the camper.
My travelling companion has a Trayon on a 79 series and this seems a perfect match The camper model has a upswept rear which overhangs the tray leaving about 400mm in front of the camper for storage boxes.
He fitted ARB constant 400kg suspension and all works very well.

Hope you get everything sorted and back touring as soon as possible


Cheers Teza
AnswerID: 482740

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:54

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:54
Hi Tezza,

Thanks for your reply and good wishes. Have started weighing up the various options and seeing how far the finances will stretch. Our plans for any trips in Autumn have been shelved for the moment, hopefully can get something sorted in the near future.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758027

Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 09:23

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 09:23
Sad to hear , but I agree Geoff

Unfortunately a mate is today picking up his new dual cab version which now comes in auto.

He traded a GU Patrol - I fear bad times ahead as he drives his cars hard.

For us nothing less than solid live axles with an RTA of at least 500 and then ensuring the car is always under its real GVM is the way to go.

Hope things take a turn for the better.

Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 482741

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:59

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:59
Hi Robin,

Thanks for your reply and good wishes. The vehicle failures on the BT50 could have been much worse - at least we were not injured and have managed to get things repaired in the end. It's just the bank balance that's taken a hit.

Time to look for something more suitable for outback travel.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758029

Reply By: Member - Ralph & Anne C (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:42

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:42
G,Day Geoff,
We have one of the best work horses on the market a 2006 Nissan Patrol 4.2lt. which we carried a Heaslip slideon camper (weight is about 1ton loaded) for thousands of miles on rough dirt roads as we do not like the black stuff, the patrol still looks a preforms like new. I have had many people on the road tell me to never sell it as you will never get another one as good. I was talking to a chap on Monday who has the current 3lt. Patrol Ute. same vehicle different motor he is very happy with it.

So my suggestion is go to a stronger ute, even a good second hand one.

Ralph
Ralph and Anne C (NSW)

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AnswerID: 482749

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:51

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:51
Hi Ralph,

Thanks for your reply. The last failure on the BT50 was the straw that broke the camels back - time to move to a stronger ute. I was hoping to get a few more years out of the BT50 but that is not going to happen. Time to save up and start looking.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758025

Follow Up By: The Original JohnR (Vic) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 21:53

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 21:53
Geoff, you always have to wonder which straw it was. Ralph, there have been bent or cracked Nissan chassis talked about on EO many times in the past. Coil ones in particular have bent spring towers, but one notable member was towing his CT to the start of a Simpson crossing cracked near a tray support. Nissan differentials have caused our family some pain too, as well as bent spring towers.
Cheers,
Who?
John

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FollowupID: 758071

Reply By: Mazdave - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:56

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:56
Hi Geoff,
Whilst I sympathise with your issues you have had on the BT 50, I think it is important to point out that your BT 50 is the older model and not the new fully new BT 50 / Ranger. I have recently bought the new model in a freestyle cab and did a lot of research on the strenght of the chassis of this new model. I was aware that the previous model did have issues with an understrength chassis and I went to great pains to determine if the new model was sufficiently strong enough to handle the 2100mm tray and carry my slide on carry me camper. You will notice on the new model BT 50 and or Ranger that the chassis beams are significantly larger and stronger and this was indeed pointed out in every test that I read in the applicable tests done by 4 x 4 magazines, NRMA etc. Whilst unfortunatly this doesnt help your predicament, I think it is important that people read your article in the context it was intended and not deter anyone from buying the "new" Mazda BT 50 or Ranger.

AnswerID: 482751

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:08

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:08
Hi Dave,

I wish you luck with your new vehicle. As I have stated in other replies, the new BT50/Ranger does appear to have a stronger chassis, but I still believe that it will be unsuitable in the long term for carrying a camper on the rough outback roads. Again time will tell.

My model BT50 won the 4x4 car of the year when released, and all the magazines were full of praise for the vehicle. I too did a lot of research on what vehicle would best meet may needs - unfortunately I was wrong. I think that the new BT50/Ranger matches up well with the other meduim duty utilities on the market, however I don't believe that any of this class now has the strength to cope with outback conditions.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758031

Reply By: Member - Ralph & Anne C (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:08

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:08
G,Day Geoff,
We have one of the best work horses on the market a 2006 Nissan Patrol 4.2lt. which we carried a Heaslip slideon camper (weight is about 1ton loaded) for thousands of miles on rough dirt roads as we do not like the black stuff, the patrol still looks a preforms like new. I have had many people on the road tell me to never sell it as you will never get another one as good. I was talking to a chap on Monday who has the current 3lt. Patrol Ute. same vehicle different motor he is very happy with it.

So my suggestion is go to a stronger ute, even a good second hand one.

Ralph
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AnswerID: 482753

Reply By: Member - wicket - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 13:26

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 13:26
not sure if you're interested butearthcruiser do a ute only version
AnswerID: 482758

Reply By: Member - RobnJane(VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 20:49

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 20:49
Hi Geoff and others,

It is certainly sad to learn of events such as you describe.

It seems that earlier responses have picked up on various potential influences to the failures experienced, and some have pointed to the real/ dynamic loading of the total vehicle when in operation.

If I was asked to comment on possible causes I would be asking questions of total weight once in operation, it is essential that rear axle axle weight be seperated or known as well as GVM, this means it is necessary to remain within both the constraints of the GVM and individual axle weights, then it is important to know whether a chassis extension was undertaken or a wheelbase extension. In the case of say a chassis extension, then it is possible the maximum allowable/legal overhang was achieved at the expense of chassis integrity in demanding operational conditions.

An earlier response queried centre of gravity and this in conjunction with what is noted above is all vital consideration.

To others reading this post I recommend that any major deviation to a foundation component, ie chassis, be checked by a professional engineer prior to parting with your hard earned dollars.

As a thought to all I would be confirming my own experience and travel/car performance expectations before knocking any vehicle off my shopping list, as long as we all remain realistic in our expectations of the vehicle we choose, and in this case a medium duty 4x4 was chosen, and it has proved inappropriate in this particular instance.

One way or another I think we are all likely to be exposed to concerns where we are disappointed in aspects of the performance of the vehicle of our choice, but this does not necessarily mean the manufacturer is at fault.

Hope this is of interest, and might not be what some want to read, however remain truly sorry to learn of your experience Geoff.

egards,

Rob.


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AnswerID: 482799

Follow Up By: Ashez H - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 21:34

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 21:34
Well said Rob,
Vehicle choice is usually a compromise of one one thing or another and we need to be realistic with expectations. We would all love a bullet proof rig that can go anywhere, run on the smell of an oily rag, carry everything including the kitchen sink and have the turning circle of zero turn ride-on mower - but it just aint gunna happen. I'm happy with my BT50 and understand its limitations (which is pertty similar to its other stable mates D-max triton etc) but in general, the compromise suits our needs.
As Geoff has said many times in this thread - the BT50 & other medium duty 4x4 utes are not up to the job he has asked of it. A lesson that I'm happy to learn the easy way rather than try for myself.

Ash
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FollowupID: 758069

Reply By: Mogul - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 21:49

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 21:49
So you modify the rear suspension and then blame Mazda when things break.

items 1 & 3 were fixed under warranty, item 4 obviously out of warranty. All the other items as a result of your modifications !!!!
AnswerID: 482806

Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Friday, Apr 13, 2012 at 09:38

Friday, Apr 13, 2012 at 09:38
To be fait to Geoff he has stated that the chassis was modified AFTER it broke.

Peter
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FollowupID: 758184

Reply By: Rockape - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 22:14

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 22:14
Geoff,
It is a shame in a way that I am going on long service leave and then retiring as I was told a new ford ranger was going to be given to me to use underground.

I would have loved to have tested the vehicle in the harsh underground.

To test it there would have been a true test of a vehicles endurance. An example of this is twice yesterday and once today I drove a vehicle through bonnet deep water. 24 hours a day in a wet and muddy conditions + drives that are as rough as guts. Dust in many areas is right up there with following a road train.

The average live of one of our u/g vehicles is between 3 and 4 years. The old girl I drive is in her seventh year (75 series cruiser ute) now known as the "Rustic Maiden". Same motor, diffs, gearbox, clutch. Many springs, cv's, brakes and welding up the running gear before it falls out (RUST)

Ford are supplying these vehicles very cheaply to the people I work for. They must have some faith in the Mazda/ford range so it will be interesting to see the result.

I will keep in touch with work mates and report how these vehicles are going.

In a quiet day underground you can here the old girl rusting.

RA.



AnswerID: 482808

Reply By: nickycohen - Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 08:04

Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 08:04
Hi Geoff,

I am assuming this is not the new 2012 M.Y. BT-50 which is an entirely different vehicle to the one I think you own.

I'm not sure how the new one will measure up (I've just bought the dual cab) but I hope it proves to be stronger than the previous model.

I have to admit that when I climbed under the vehicle, I was not overawed by the apparent strength of its components. Compared to the 100 Series Landcruiser, everything looked to be "in miniature".

One thing is for sure, corrugations would not be easy to endure in the new BT-50. I'm thinking of swapping the shocks for those that come standard on the Ford Ranger (almost the same vehicle) which has much better damping.
AnswerID: 482826

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Monday, Apr 16, 2012 at 08:20

Monday, Apr 16, 2012 at 08:20
I hope that you have a better run with your vehicle than me. The chassis does look stronger, but I would be ensuring that you keep your loads down especially in rough conditions.

I used Tough Dog shocks which have been good - maybe give them a try.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758496

Reply By: wombat100 - Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 11:33

Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 11:33
Hiya Geoff

Where (on the chassis) did you 'cut n shut' for the chassis extension??
And how much did you extend it??

Cheers
J&D
AnswerID: 482842

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 19:07

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 19:07
Hi J&D,

The chassis extension was done by wide bay motors, and they cut the chassis just behind the cab on the freestyle. It was then extended and re-inforced by more than a metre both sides of the cut point - they did a really good job.

The extension was approximately 400mm to bring the rear axle into the centre of the 2200mm tray.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758453

Reply By: Member - Murray R (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 22:51

Thursday, Apr 12, 2012 at 22:51
Geoff
Ive got a PK Ranger but in cab chassis and have a slide on camper on it as well and done little out back work. I hope that the problems that you have had don't happen to mine as I brought it for out back travel and long time investment. Prior to the Ranger I had a Bravo extra cab similar to your set up and on problems with plenty of dirt road work. Also had a Mazda b2600 4x4 with the camper on it and no problems there either with both the Bravo and B2600 going 350,000 kl before selling.Most of the chassis problems that you hear are with twin cabs and extra cabs and are over loaded or towing with air bags. I agree that all the light 4x4 may not be as strong as a cruiser ute but if driven to the conditions and are aware on your GVM and don't have to much over hang over the rear axle they can do the job.I went back to a cab chassis to get my weight square over the axle even though I under GVM with camper on in touring mode,but I miss the extra space in the cab. As I said you have had a bad run with your ute and can see what you are saying, so hope that you get a better run out of your next vehicle.

Murray
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AnswerID: 482914

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 19:11

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 19:11
Hi Murray,

Thanks for your reply and comments. I think you have done the right thing going back to a single cab and getting the load central - I was hoping that the chassis extension would do that for me but last failure with the axle has tipped me over the edge.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758454

Reply By: Mick E1 - Friday, Apr 13, 2012 at 14:40

Friday, Apr 13, 2012 at 14:40
Hi Geoff,
It's interesting that you post your information about issues with the BT-50. I am interested to know what work loads you have put the vehicle under in the last 4 1/2 years? It seems that you do quite a bit of off roading, and in any case this is going to cause failure to mechanical parts in any vehicle over time (including structural mods' where welding is concerned - "welding of spring steel anyone???").

Sadly, for those of you not looking at BT-50 based on the original post, it may be prudent to note that the info' presented is for a vehicle currently in work and that has been for some time. The newer model, like any vehicle has had a few upgrades, however, I would argue that all makes/models of vehicles have their share of mech' faults over time, with "a" variable being driver ability. (No offence intended, just forward a few thoughts).

As you would well know, the best place to get a list of "common faults" is through your local "friendly" mechanic .

But luck with your next choice of vehicle.

Mick.
AnswerID: 482999

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 19:22

Sunday, Apr 15, 2012 at 19:22
Hi Mick,

Thanks for your reply and comments. The idea of this post was to highlight the problems that I have had that perhaps others may learn from my mistakes. The main mistake was thinking that the medium duty ute such as the BT50 would handle rough conditions with a constant load of approximately 600kg.

I have taken the BT50 in rough areas but no-where as tough as I put my previous vehicle through (Hilux Dual Cab 89 model 2.8 turbo) and it lasted 15 years. The majority of the BT50's life has been travelling to work and back unloaded, but 4wd trips include the Simpson desert, CSR and a few vic high country trips.

Hopefully anyone looking at carrying slideon campers will steer away from the medium duty 4WD utes if they are thinking of travelling to the outback - my experience is that they just don't cut it.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758457

Reply By: carlo p - Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 16:20

Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 16:20
I have a 2011 tray top 4 by 4 i use it for work so when i put my canopy on,it weighs 700 kg with tools,the leaf springs started going south now every time i go over a bump on the road it bottoms out
AnswerID: 483552

Follow Up By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 16:28

Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 16:28
Hi Carlo,

Keep an eye on the chassis - mine cracked on the bend section just past the cabin (have an extra/freestyle cab) and I was carrying about 600kg. As mentioned in this post, the axle housing also gave up the ghost.

The BT50 seems OK if you mainly do the black-top, but it's a different matter if you hit the outback roads.

No warning for either big failures.

Cheers, Geoff
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FollowupID: 758811

Reply By: Tonyfish#58 - Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 17:54

Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 at 17:54
Sorry you had a bad run

My 07 Rodeo has copped a flogging and always Fully Loaded

No issues to date and would buy another one.

Its cuts the mustard, so I would not put them all in the same boat as the BT 50

Regards Tony
AnswerID: 483567

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