I have a 2003 MPV that was new last November. The vehicle has had bad vibration problem from day one. The dealer balanced tires, aligned, generally mucked with suspension and finally replaced the stock 15 inch tires with Michelins. It's better but it still shudders on the highway. I've heard that this is a common problem with all 15 inch MPV's. Anyone else heard the same thing?
We have an '03 MPV LX and have had the same front end vibration from the beginning. We had OE Dunlops for around 3,000 mi. and the vehicle was in the shop for no less than 4 times (at least a total of 12 days) for rebalancing and analyses.
Finally, the dealer could not rectify the vibration problem, so we had new tires (Goodyears -- can't remember the type, but 215/60R-16) which performed well for about 15,000 miles. We then experienced the vibration problems and routinely brought the vehicle in for re-alignments and balancing, which mildly helped the situation.
Now, we have 58,000 mi. on the vehicle and the vibration (same Goodyears) was unbearable. To rectify this, we had the front brakes done (the lateral run out on the old rotors was well beyond specifications), new tires (Nokian WRs-allweather...love'em), and new struts and shocks. As it turns out, the OE struts are crap and the rear shocks are not designed for use unless the van is loaded down. As a consequence, the rear-end shocks cannot effectively keep the rear tires on the road, so you end up with cupping or flat spots. The same happens with bad struts. So, we had to spend another $600.00 on struts and shocks and now we have absolutely no vibration.
This is the tip of the iceberg for the annoyances that we have had to deal with as MPV owners. Just this week, we had to have all of the sparkplugs and coil/wires replaced at 58,000 mi. and the dealer would not even consider pitching our case to Mazda. Basically, the OE coil/wire packs are of poor quality and go bad. I suppose we were lucky to get this far, but we had the van into the dealer at 46,000 because our gas mileage had dropped by 25%. They could not dianose the problem because there were no parts failures, but they failed to practice old-fashioned know-how, take the plugs out and inspect them. So, we have driven at least 12,000 miles on a faulty ignition system. From what I can tell on other web-sites, is that a number of people have had repeated visits to their dealer to remedy the same problem. So, to replace 6 spark plugs and the three back coilpack/plug wires cost us $600.00. This high cost is due to the labor needed to completely remove the intake manifold to access the rear plugs, and in part to the high cost of each coilpack (~$80.00/each).
In fine, the MPV has Ford's fingerprints all over it. I own two Mazda vehicles and will not be a return customer given that Mazda knows about persistent problems and will not step up to the plate and provide after warranty assistance even when you have a documented problem they could not solve.