bongo Archives 3

This is where you can find responses to all the enquiries that nurse has received over the years here at the Bongo Clinic. We have broken the information down into categories.

Please select the category you require.

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Q: Perhaps it’s me, after all I am from Essex, but I’m very confused about the dipsticks found under the seats. Is there an idiots guide? (Liz from Maldon)

A: There are two dipsticks on all engine types, the dipstick under the driver’s seat is for the Automatic Transmission Fluid (NOT the engine). The dipstick under the passenger seat is the engine oil dipstick for all engines. However, the oil filling point for a V6 is the one under the Drivers seat, on a diesel it’s under the passenger seat.

Q: I have an engine bay temperature sensor installed and have noticed that, after a long run, the engine temperature goes up after I have turned everything off. Is this normal? (Leon from Belfast)

A: That’s not unusual. The coolant has stopped circulating around the system so the engine temperature will go up a few degrees. This is why, in hot weather conditions, you should leave the engine idling for a few minutes before turning it off.

Q: Do the different variations of Bongos have different dipsticks? (Bob from Leeds)

A: Yes, there are differences in length and shape. The diesel version is 54.5 cm long, from top of plastic to the tip, and entirely straight, except for a small kink about 6.5 cm from the bottom. The full indicator is 4 cm from the bottom. The V6 version is 58 cm long, again entirely straight, except for a kink 5.5 cm from the bottom. The full indicator is 3 cm from the bottom. The 2 litre petrol version is not straight, is a lot shorter, with a full indicator 2cm from the bottom.

Q: I have a 2WD Bongo and my garage says that there appears to be some play in the prop/diff area. Is this normal? (Ben from Twickenham)

A: (Thanks to “Bongolia” for this response): If he is referring to play when you rotate the prop backwards and forwards then there will be some play. It shouldn’t “clack” as you do it though and the play should not be excessive. But if he is referring to play in the Universal Joint then there should be no play there. Also if you drive the vehicle at varying speeds and you hear a whine from the back, especially as you take your foot off the throttle, that would indicate some wear in the Diff.

Q: What are the tightening torques and sequence for the bolts on the diesel rocker cover? (John from Petersfield)

A: Cover bolts should be tightened in 2 goes, starting with the driver side at the front and working clockwise. 1) 1.5 to 2.9 Nm. 2) 5.0 to 8.8 Nm.

Q: I’ve heard it mentioned that after a long punishing uphill run in hot weather, whn you come to a halt, you should not shut the engine down straight away because the engine needs to cool. Is this true? (Peter from Swindon)

A: Twice this summer (2013) we had reported problems from people on European jaunts where this happened. In both instances they turned the engine off prematurely and the temperature gauge, usually steady at 11 o’clock, shot up. It would have been better to let the engine idle for a while.

Q: My V6 engine starts easily and runs well from cold with full power but as soon as it begins to warm up it starts to misfire. The spark plugs seem OK. What else could it be? (Chris from Bristol)

A: If it’s not the plugs, then test the HT leads. If it’s not them, then check the Distribution Cap for worn contacts. While you are at it, make sure the Rotor Arm is not damaged in any way.

Q: I’ve just been reading about Throttle Position Sensors. Don’t ask, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands at the moment. Is this the same thing as a Potentionometer? And where can I buy one? (Derek from Fife)

A: Yes, it’s the same thing. You can obtain an after-market version from Hampshire based Autolink (website here) or phone them on 01489-877770

Q: I have a 2.5TD 1995 and having trouble diagnosing a fault with our Bongo, it takes a while to start and when it does start it chugs and puffs out white smoke for roughly 15-30 seconds during which the revs are constantly high. After this time, it seems to correct itself and the revs drop and all settles down as it should be. Any idea what causes this? (Paul from Swanage)

A: Pop up the drivers seat when she’s stone cold, with the seat up turn the ignition on and you should see the cold start mechanism activate, turn the ignition off, in the end of the c/s mech is an idle adjustment screw held in place with a 10mm nut, slacken off the nut and wind the screw out till there is just a few mm sticking out the business end, before locking the nut turn the ignition back on and wait till you hear the solenoid “click” then fire her up, now adjust the cold start idle screw till she’s on 900 rpm and tighten the lock nut, if your bongo is set above 950 rpm on cold start the ECU will prematurley shut the glowplugs off as it thinks it’s being driven. (Thanks to Peter Thonhill for this)

Q: I have a year 2000 diesel Bongo and it starts fine. But once the engine is up to temperature, it suffers from a loss of power. My garage have had a look at it and think that it is something to do with the turbo or vacuum electrics. But as the electric circuit diagrams are not available, they are stuck. Have you come across this before? (Stuart from Lincoln)

A: I mentioned this to Ian Taylor, Bongo mechanic extraordinaire, who said it was likely to be a faulty turbo wastegate vacuum pump. He has seen it occur before, when the engine warms up, the valve in the pump sticks open or closed. The pump is situated by the side of the turbo on the chassis leg.

Q: I need to get a new Lambda sensor for my V6 Bongo. The Mazda ones seem incredibly expensive. Are there any alternatives available? (Terry from Essex)

A: There are universal ones at a fraction of the cost available on eBay, called “VOS-2 Oxygen sensors”. These will fit OK but you will have to re-splice the connection.

Q: Recently my diesel Bongo has developed a juddering problem. The engine starts first turn as usual but engaging Drive on the auto box leads to unpredictable results. Moving forward initially is fine but then slowing or stopping e.g. at end of road, is a problem. At this point it attempts to surge forward in the ‘wrong’ gear and stalls when I hit the brake. Restarting is easy enough in Park, but moving to Drive causes another stall. These problems stop once the engine/gearbox warm up a little and then everything is back to normal. I have checked the transmission fluid and all seems fine. (Jon from Doncaster)

A: Northern Bongolow says: ” I would check the fan switch on the rear drivers side of the head, check the connections, and replace the switch itself if the end plastic bit is at all wobbly, it breaks off the main brass bit. This bad connection is possibly sending mixed messages to the ECU that the engine is up to temp, then not, then is, etc. This would activate the cold start solenoids then not etc, this also controls the glow plug temp message so they also are confused, hense the problem rearing its head in the now colder weather.”

Q: Help! I have turned off the ignition but my engine has kept running. It’s been going for over an hour and I’m really worried! (John from Leeds)

A: Your fuel-stop solenoid, which is situated at the top of the fuel injector pump, is probably jammed open. To stop the engine disconnect the solenoid wire.

Q: I own a V6 Bongo. The symptoms are that everything works fine but there is smell of burning. I can smell it after 5 minutes or so and it seems to come and go. I’ve run the engine with the passenger seat up but I can’t see anything or smell it coming from any particular place. Any ideas? (Henry from London)

A: In all likelihood it is leaking oil falling on to your exhaust. It has been reported to us that 10+ year old V6s are prone to a leak on the cam shaft seals. These may need replacing. There is a discussion (with photos) on the Bongo Forum here

Q: What cruise control unit would you recommend and how easy is it to fit to a ’96 Bongo ? (Iain from Aviemore)

A: Members report that either an Audiovox CCS100 or a Waeco MS50 will do the trick.

Q: My Bongo started making a massive racket. I had the valve clearances checked, but it wasn’t that. Is it possible that the bottom crank pulley (which drives the Waterpump) is faulty? Is it expensive to replace? (Michael from Chersterfield)

A: Although not a common problem, it has happened to some others. The pulley is a 2 piece design with a heavy iron outer ring (pulley) – the 2 parts are bonded together with a rubber “sandwich” filling and the idea is that the pulley acts as a vibration damper – the outer “oscillates” with the firing pulses and smoothes out crank vibration. In theory, the outer part of the pulley will have smooth motion as opposed to the inner part experiencing the crank pulses…. when they start to deteriorate a vibration is felt through the vehicle. (Thanks to Dandywarhol). You can obtain new ones (about £200) via the Partfinder Service in the members-area of this website, but if you phone someone like Bell Hill Garage (01373-834252) or one of the breakers, they can usually supply a second hand one for about £65 plus postage. Or ask in the ‘Stuff wanted’ section here.

Q: Could anyone please tell me about the clearances? (Muddy from Ipswich)

A: The way I understand it is that lots of poor Scots people were forcibly ejected from the Highlands to make way for sheep. But I think you should look this up for yourself.

Q: Sorry. There must have been something wrong with my keyboard. What I should have asked is; Could anyone please tell me about the valve clearances on my 2.5 diesel Bongo? (Muddy from Ipswich)

A: Inlet 0.1mm +/- 0.005mm
Exhaust 0.2mm +/- 0.05mm

Q: Could anybody tell me where to locate the engine temp sensor? (Kev from Stockton)

A: The engine coolant temperature sensor is on the on the driver’s side of the head, positioned above the starter between cylinders 2 and 3.

Q: The tick over on my bongo seems a tad low. I’m sure it should be around 800 rpm. Is it possible to adjust it yourself? (Alf from Bodmin)

A: The idle tickover speed should be between 700-780 and this can be adjusted via the idle control. On the end of the pump there’s a 12m bolt in the middle of injector pipes, try a 1/4 turn at a time. (Thanks to ‘antique’). Also, if the throttle cable has stretched, it can affect the idle. The linkage for adjusting the cable is at the end of the cable, under the driver’s seat. It’s a long threaded bolt with nuts attached either side. You adjust the nuts a little, but take care not to over tighten the throttle cable as this will affect the ‘lever stop’ (idle control).

Q: From time to time, my engine over-revs, as if the gear box is hunting for the correct gear. This can happen at any time, but always after the vehicle has been warmed up. I have been told that this may be a problem with the throttle position sensor, but can you tell me where it is located, and where I can obtain a new one? (Berkely from Totnes)

A: The sensor is located on top of the fuel pump under the driver’s seat. You can get sensors from various suppliers including Autolink here.

Q: How and where are the controls for the scavenger fan? At present it will not switch off even after the ignition key is removed. (Grant from Glasgow)

A: The sensor for the scavenger fan is by the handbrake. There are wires going to a little black gadget that protrudes into the engine compartment, this is the device you are looking for. Disconnect the sensor while the fan is running… if it stops, you have found the problem.

Q: We have just returned from a trip to Germany where our Bongo was on her best behaviour, but whenever I’m driving I always got the horrible feeling in my stomach that the engine is running too hot. It doesn’t overheat and the temp gauge doesn’t fluctuate at all it just sits at 11o’clock. But under the bonnet and by the reservoir the coolant seems to be red hot to touch and we get the occasional smell of something unpleasant. We check the coolant regularly and it doesn’t alter, so I’m sure there are no leaks. Does it sound like we have a problem or am I just being paranoid? (John from Harrogate)

A: The temperature gauge rarely moves until there is a more serious over heating episode, when it can move rapidly to 12o’clock or even higher. If you think you smell something hot, it’s possible that you have a gunged up radiator. When this occurs, the coolant flows poorly, it won’t be cooled properly and the system will work harder to push it through. If I was you, I would take it to someone familiar with Bongo coolant systems to get the system pressure tested, flushed through and refilled. It is also possible that you will need to replace the radiator. But only an expert will be able to tell.

Q: Where can I find the engine number for my Bongo? (Snowy from Newport)

A: The engine number is stamped on the front of the engine block, on the driver’s side, just below the cylinder head.

Q: What’s this strange button, by the driver’s knee? (Stuart from Essex)


A: It’s an engine “pre-heat” button. Your vehicle comes from the North of Japan and had to be started in extremely cold conditions. It’s probably got 2 vehicle batteries as well. The button closes a valve in the exhaust, so all the gases go back in to the main engine compartment to heat it up more quickly. Unless you live in somewhere where the temperature regularly goes below minus 10C (like Barnsley for instance), you will not need to use it.

Q: What are the valve clearance settings on a WL-T engine? (Derek from Caversham)

A: The standard value when cold is IN: plus/minus 0.05mm, OUT: 0.2mm plus/minus 0.05mm.

Q: Help! My Bongo won’t stop! No, it’s not the brakes. It’s the engine….it won’t stop, even when following the usual drill of turning it off and removing the key. My mechanic stopped it eventually, but before doing anything else, wonders if you have any advice. (Neil from Towcester)

A: It is due to a fault with the fuel cut-off solenoid. You need a new solenoid.

Q: My SGL5 has a problem with the main engine and/or scavenger fan. When the revs go over 3000 the glowplug light signal continually flashes and engine power ebbs. After switching the engine off for 20 minutes the signal no longer flashes after the engine is running and I carry on until the engine has to go over 3000 revs. I’d like to know the cause and possible remedy before handing the vehicle over for a possibly expensive repair. The 20 minute rest suggests something overheating or a thermostat problem but I’d like to know if others have experienced the same. (Mike from Torpoint)

A: We have heard of this happening before. It is probably the thermostatic switch which controls the main engine fans. It is found under the drivers seat towards the rear of the engine block and is bolted into the side of the engine.

Q: My beloved bongo ‘Keiko’ has cracked her cylinder head and I am drastically trying to find another one for her. Any ideas? (Jamie from Longtown)

A: You have 4 options.
1) Find someone who is breaking a Bongo. Check with dealers here or also ask in the ‘Parts wanted’ section on the forum.
2) If the crack is very minor, you may be able to get the cylinder head reconditioned (see the members-only area of this site).
3) New cylinder heads are readily available, try one of the suppliers on the club.
4) Try a Mazda main dealer. They may be more expansive then the other options.

Q: When driving up a steepish hill the engine suddenly loses power and struggles to reach the top, at the same time the glow plug light starts flashing on and off and the engine bay fan can be heard running. There are no indications of overheating and the temp. gauge reads normal. Once these symptoms have started they usually continue to the end of the journey. After leaving the vehicle stationary for an hour or so everything goes back to normal again and the Bongo will have no trouble on the same hills until the fault re-occurs. Any suggestions as to the cause? (Rod from Weymouth)

A: I have seen these symptoms, once when I had a vehicle with a missing temperature sensor and once with an overheating problem. As you appear to have ruled out overheating then I would think it’s the sensor in the top of the engine bay or failing that, the ECU.

Q: A bloke down the pub told me that on turbo engines you should let the engine idle for a few moments before switching off. Is this correct? (Athers from Norfolk)

A: Yes, that’s what’s recommended. It’s to let the turbo cool down. If not, there’s a possibility that the oil can get too hot, carbon-up the oilways & block the oil feeds to the turbo. Its a judgement call but maybe if you have done a short run, let it cool down for 30 seconds or so on tickover, if it’s worked hard pulling up a long incline, let it tick over for a couple of minutes. This is for any turbo, not just Bongo/Freedas.

Q: My Bongo seems a lot noisier on tick over. I’ve held my hand over exhaust to check for exhaust leaks but it seems ok, it doesn’t seem to lack power, but it used to be so smooth now it sounds like a bag of nails. I have changed the filters thinking this might help, but still no joy. (Nigel from Reading)

A: Assuming you have also changed the oil, this is difficult to diagnose but might be a stuck hydraulic tappet (if it’s a rattle) or maybe a manifold stud has snapped. You may need to go to a garage for diagnosis.

Q: We wish to change the timing belt, and need to know whether the injector pump is driven from the cam shaft or the crankshaft. We think the camshaft is chain driven from the crankshaft, but we are not sure where the injector pump is driven from? (Sheila from Woking)

A: The injector pump is gear driven from the crankshaft and the camshaft is belt driven. The engine is an ‘Interference’ engine meaning that if the cambelt breaks, the momentum of the crankshaft continues to drive the pistons and damage is likely to occur to the valves. (Update 13/4/04: Further to my emails on this subject. we have now replaced the timing belt on our Bongo. The whole process took 2 hours. The cam shaft is driven from the injector pump which is driven from the crankshaft, making the belt somewhat easier to change. If the cambelt fails not only will the engine stop but you will almost certainly have an expensive coming together of pistons and valves. Not worth taking the risk, replace on schedule. Hope this helps. Philip (Honorary Technical Advisor and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer to Sheila) Further info on cambelts can be found on the members-only area.

Q: Do you know where I can get a ‘print out’ of the cambelt timing for the Ford Freda 1996 2.5 turbo diesel WL engine? (Ron from Holyhead)

A: As far as I can recall, there are marks on the two pinions, with corresponding marks on the engine block. If these are aligned, the timing is correct.

Q: What are the Bongo Power & Torque figures? (Bloke from Durham)

A: Max.POWER:130PS(135Bhp)/4000rpm

Q: Does the Bongo have an oil cooler fitted to the gearbox as I want to tow with it . (Neil from Kent)

A: Yes, it’s at the bottom of the radiator.

Q: I’m a little bit concerned about radiator protection. On looking at my Bongo from the lower front there doesn’t seem to be any, has this ever been brought to your attention and what would you advise? (Pete from St Helens)

A: The radiator you can see there is for the air conditioning system; the engine radiator is behind it, safe from anything short of a tactical nuclear weapon. (Update from Pete: I’ve fixed some galvanised steel grilling around the front anyway, just to be on the safe side).

Q: What’s the fuel consumption like? (Various)

A: On a 2 wheel drive 2.5 automatic, about 23 mpg urban, and 29 mpg motorway. (Update from the Bongomaster 5 September 2003: Recently I did 800 miles in a 2000 low-top SGL5 and averaged, over a mixture of motorway, B Roads and traffic jam, an average of 32 mpg. In my two wheel drive 96 Freda, I average about 28mpg. I suggest this is because the later engines are more fuel efficient.)

Q- My acceleration is a bit sluggish. What can I do to improve things? (Nigel from Reading)

A: If it’s just sluggish with no accompanying smoke, there are several possible causes. Check fuel filter, air filter, turbo to intercooler pipes, inlet manifold studs (these occasionally shear), & put some injector cleaner through it. Alternatively you could put a horseshoe in your boot.

Q- When I changed my oil, I poured the full 5 litres in, but my dipstick still showed the level to be low. What’s going on? (John from Didcot)

A: It’s because the sump has a 6 litre capacity.

Fact sheets on the following related subjects are available in the members-only area of the site. 

Cam Belt

Cam/Timing Belt (2.0)

Cam Belt V6

Diagnostic Outputs

Engine Diagnostics

Engine Pre-Heater

Black Smoke

Engine Removal

Head Gasket

Idle Problems


Wastegate Actuator

Engine Electrics

Q: My V6 keeps misfiring. I changed the spark plugs and all the leads and checked that the ignition coil was OK. Things were OK for a day or two and then it happened again. It’s driving me nuts. Any ideas? (Tom from Lewes)

A: It could be a number of things, but you could see if  the cam cover seals have perished. If they have, engine oil will leak in to the spark plug wells and cause electrical issues.

Q: I’m fitting new HT leads to my V6 Bongo. Can you tell me the firing sequence? (Dan from Wincanton)

A: It is 1-2-3-4-5-6. Looking from the rear of the engine 1-3-5 are on the right bank and 2-4-6 are on the left bank .

Q: I have a 2 litre petrol Bongo. My garage have told me I need a new MAF Sensor but I can’t find the part number in the online catalog. Can you point me in the right direction? (Roy from Radstock)

A: Confusingly this part is not shown on the “Relays & Sensors” page but is on the page entitled Air Cleaner (page 1330). It is listed as an Air Flow Sensor and has to be imported from Japan (massively expensive!), although there are some listed on eBay at a lower price. Note that Bongos with a chassis number higher than SGE3-500001 and SGEW-600001 have a different part number. Also, get your mechanic to check for air leaks. Many garages make the mistake of assuming the sensor is faulty when in fact there is a post MAF intake leak, faulty breather valve or similar.

Q: I was hoping to pick someone’s brains re an electrical problem we have. At the weekend we had to jump start our bongo as the starter battery was dead. Since then the van electrics for the fridge, spot lights and pump only work when it’s connected to mains power. Previously we could switch it to leisure battery on the control panel in the van and they would all work (the leisure battery is only 2 months old and is showing fully charged). I got a new starter battery today thinking that may have been the issue but still can’t get 12v power to the habitable area in the van to power the fridge, lights, water pump etc. It’s like you just flick the switch to leisure battery on the control panel and nothing happens. Any ideas? I have checked the fuses for the both the leisure and starter batteries and visually they don’t appear to have blown. (Nick from Nuneaton)

A: Geoff Mather responds: The LB is charged in parallel with the SB via what is called a Split Charge Relay (SCR), this relay has a connection to both batteries via fuses which should be located close to each battery and then wires directly to the SCR. If the batteries were low then it’s quite common for the surge of current between batteries to blow one of the two fuses which then means that the LB doesn’t get charged at all. Check both fuses and if one has blown then replace BOTH fuses as the other one will be damaged as well and is likely to blow at the slightest provocation at the most inconvenient time!

Q: I have a V6 Bongo and I have a problem with starting, especially on damp mornings. Although it turns over I’m not getting a spark. Any clues?  (David from Diss)

A: It’s an electrical issue, and more than likely it’s a distributor problem. Lift the passenger seat, dry off the distributor (front near-side), good spray with WD40, then check each plug well (both sides) for any accumulated oil. Also clean the rubber seals around the spark plug caps as they accumulate dirt.

Q: What’s the spark plug gap on my V6? (Tim from Broadway)

A: It’s 1.1 mm. It’s the same for the 2 litre version as well.

Q: I have an engine bay temperature sensor installed and have noticed that, after a long run, the engine temperature goes up after I have turned everything off. Is this normal? (Leon from Belfast)

A: That’s not unusual. The coolant has stopped circulating around the system so the engine temperature will go up a few degrees. This is why, in hot weather conditions, you should leave the engine idling for a few minutes before turning it off.

Q: Can you help me with an issue that’s recently just developed on my 1996 2.5l auto diesel Ford Freda. A few miles after starting my van, the rev counter sometimes moves erratically and can drop to zero at which point the Hold light begins to flash. The problem often corrects itself and when it does occur it doesn’t appear to affect the engine in terms of moving through the auto gearbox. If I stop and start the engine it usually disappears. Any help in identifying the issue much appreciated (Carlos from Cardiff)

A: We have had this reported before and it turned out to be a faulty diode on the alternator. But it could be the sensor which received a signal from the injector pump.

Q: I have a long standing issue where my main vehicle battery drains within 8 hours. I’ve checked all the usual, nothing is left turned on. Any pointers? (Alastair from Sheffield)

A: Assuming the battery itself is still OK, this is likely to be caused by somethjing called “Parasitic Ampergage Draw”. If you search on You Tube there is an excellent video about possible solutions, but in brief it is possible that one of the many relays is not switching off correctly. To find out which one is a complex procedure whereby you connect a multi-meter to the battery and measure the “draw” in milli-amps. You then remove the bonnet and the interior fuses one-by-one until you find the culprit.

Q: I am installing a leisure battery but currently have second battery fitted in parallel as van has the cold start kit. What’s best thing to do with positive cable that joins battery I am removing to the parallel battery? It disappears into a loom and obviously I don’t want a positive cable floating around by new leisure battery. (Chris from Rutland)

A: Disconnect the original cable at both ends if possible and replace with the two fused cables feeding into the Split Charge Relay.

Q: Sorry, I forgot to ask. Is there a particular recommendation for a brand of leisure battery. (Chris from Rutland)

A: Japanese Auto Locators fit 75a/h Numaz batteries and have never experienced any problems. Product code LV22MF

Q: I went to start my Bongo this morning but just got a succession of rapid clicks. Battery or starter motor? Or alternator? (Marc from Birmingham)

A: If it was the starter motor it would try to turn over. But if it is rapid clicks (or nothing at all) it is either the battery or the alternator. Try jump strating your car with another battery. If it does not start, it is the alternator. If it starts, your battery has died.

Q: The “hold” light is flashing on my dash, but it does not appear to be blinking a sequence. And sometimes it is OK. I am aware that this could indicate a problem with the gearbox, but everything seems fine. Is there anything else my garage should be looking for? (Peter from Redcar)

A: If your speedo has been rechipped to read in MPH rather than Km/h, then the pulse generated may interfeer with the ECU, which sends a message to the hold light. Apparantly.

Q: Is there any way of checking the length of your glowplugs without removing them altogether? (Simon from Newcastle)

A: You dont need to remove them to size them as the difference is all above where the main thread finishes. this thread is visible. Long ones have about 37-8mm above the last thread, short ones have 27-8mm above the last thread to the tip.

Q: I’m about to replace my main starter battery and I’m a bit confused about the types, ampage etc. Do you have a particular make and model that you recommend? (Patrick from Belfast)

A: You could try a Motaquip VBY44, type 249, 90 amp hour. You can get these for about £90.

Q: My mechanic is reluctant to fit my new starter motor because he says that it only has 9 teeth, whereas the one he is removing has 10 teeth. Are there 2 different types? (Pam from Salisbury)

A: Bongos with cold start packs, like yours, have different starter motors. But the 9 tooth motors are interchangeable with the 10 tooth motors, so they will not experience any problems.

Q: Any idea where I can get a throttle position sensor without going through Mazda? (Alan from Edinburgh)

A: These are available from many parts suppliers including Autolink for around £100. Their website is at or by phone on 01489 877770.

Q: Both my charge light and sediment light are lit very faintly on the dash, they have been like this for a couple of days. What does this mean? (Dawn from Stockport)

A: I bet you have a leisure battery installed, because this sounds like the split charge relay is causing the problem. Some split charge relays tap directly into the alternator, which causes a slight current draw…it’s this that makes the light(s) glow ever so slightly. It shouldn’t cause any damage though. Or there could be a fault with the Alternator. (Allans Vehicle Services).

Q: When I turn the key to ignition, all I get is a single click and no crank of the engine. It appears that the electrics and the battery terminals are OK. (David from Leamington)

A: It will be the starter motor, or possibly the starter solenoid. This is the small round device attached to the starter motor. On the end of the solenoid are two terminals one goes to the battery via a heavy duty cable the other is a short cable that goes to the starter motor.
If you can, try shorting them together. If the starter turns then your starter is ok but your solenoid is not. If you get sparks on the terminals and nothing else then your starter is jammed.

Q: Where is the starter motor situated on a V6 Bongo? (Don from Southampton)

A: It is located under the main block of the engine. It is very well shielded by the plastic undertray. With the tray removed it is easily accessible from underneath.

Q: My rev counter is dropping to zero intermittently. Is there a particular faulty sensor that would cause this to happen? (Iain from Maidenhead)

A: Tom replies: I had these symptoms and in my case it was a defective switch on the cambelt housing which senses the revs, it is a Mazda part, generator pulse WL0120H10B. Or there could be a loose wire/bad earth problem, check the connections behind the face, the red wire to the alternator and the sender unit from the diesel pump. (Allans Vehicle Services).

Q: What is the amperage output of the alternator fitted to a 2.5 TD Bongo? (Tony from Berwick)

A: The alternator returns 40 amps when idle, and 91 amps at 2000 rpm.

Q: Why would my speedo be behaving erratically? (Alison from Chelsea)

A: Commonly, if the speedo is not ‘chipped’ (speedo reads in kms or miles, odometer reads in kilometres), this is caused by a bad earth or loose connection, so check the connections behind the speedo. If there is a chip fitted (both speedo and odometer read in miles) then the chip is commonly faulty. You either need to replace it or remove it, reconnect the cables and change the speedo face again. (Allans Vehicle Services).
“Grumpo” reports:- The speedo is driven by a low voltage square wave frequency generated by the gearbox transmitter. As it’s virtually impossible for anything else to simulate this signal I can only assume that that the speedo head can also respond to a DC voltage and drive it full scale. If this was the case then you should also get a hold light error, flashing 1 second ON and 1 second OFF, although a DC signal may confuse it.
If your odometer reads in MILES then a frequency converter “Chip” must be fitted behind the instrument panel and I would suspect that this is faulty and sending DC on the output to the speedo. I would not suspect anything prior to the “Chip” because the circuit only responds to the rising edge of the frequency and it would not pass a DC voltage if it was in good condition.
If you do have a converter “Chip” fitted I would first remove this and re-connect the original cables, this will then convert the speedo back to reading kilometers and with a bit of luck solve the problem.
If you don’t have a “Chip” fitted and your odometer reads Kilometers then you will have to use an oscilliscope to test the actual input to the speedo head to determine if the speedo head or gearbox unit is the faulty part. A modern electronic volt meter would not reliably block the DC component whereas an old moving iron meter may give you some indication.

Q: My key is stuck in the ignition. I’ve tried wiggling it, woggling it, putting my foot on the brake and moving through the gears. The steering wheel lock is not activated. Help! (Neal from Elgin)

A: (Thanks to Bell Hill Garage for this):”Take the column cowling off and you should see a metal cable with a round eye on/in it, if you move the gear lever in and out of park the end should move!! As you put it into park see which way its moving and give it a little bit of gentle persuasion in that direction to see if its a problem with the cable and not releasing properly so as to let you remove key.”

Q: I’ve got 2 batteries under the bonnet of my Bongo, but neither is a leisure battery. What’s going on? (David from Northampton)

A: You have 2 vehicle batteries working in parallel. This is to allow cold starting in particularly cold climates (like northern Japan. Or Leeds). They both discharge at the same rate. The second battery is surplus to requirements in Northampton. When fitted in Japn, the ‘cold climate’ system includes the twin batteries, and a ‘cold start’ switch on the dash which operates a valve in the exhaust, allowing exhaust gases to re-circulate and heat the engine more quickly.

Q: If you use a leisure battery, is it possible to hook up a battery charger that will not only charge the leisure battery, but run the 12 volt stuff (fridge, lights, TV etc) inside the van at the same time? (Ian from Cornwall)

A: If the leisure battery is being charged from the mains (or by the alternator) then it will share the charging current with anything that is loading the leisure battery. If you are taking more out than the charger (or alternator) is putting in then the battery is not being charged. Waeco do a battery charger that has a main output for the leisure battery and a secondary lower current output to keep the engine battery just trickled charged when connected to the mains. They are called Compact switch-mode chargers.

  1. What type of main vehicle battery do I need? (Amanda from Doncaster)

A: You need a minimum of a 95a/h battery. The more the better. There are 3 references you can quote. Either a UK 249 or a Euro 068 or a 335.

Q: I give up. Where is the alternator? (Alex from Cheshire)



Q: I’m thinking of installing a second battery. How do I earth it? And should it run in parallel to the main battery? (Tim from East Yorks)

A: It is OK to earth the battery through the chassis. The earth strap is best bolted straight to the chassis underneath the coolant expansion tank. It’s best to use a split charging system rather than run in parallel. If it just connected in parallel, that means it will be charged by the alternator in parallel and both batteries will be run down equally by starting the vehicle and also by using power for running stuff inside whilst parked like lights and TV, so if you’ve run down the battery with the telly, you’ve run down both batteries and it won’t start in the morning.

Q: Sometimes my Bongo refuses to start and yesterday it would not restart after a short journey to the supermarket. I have taken readings with a voltmeter that shows 12.63 volts while off, and 13.91 with the engine running, but these have fluctuated on different occasions of checking. The battery is rated at 60amp. Is the battery weak or is it the alternator? (Dean from Tamworth)

A: The battery isn’t man enough for the job. For a single-battery vehicle, the battery needs to be a 335E, which is a lot more than 60 amps. Generally I have found that fitting the biggest one you can is cheaper in the long run. Alternatively a second battery can be fitted, as in some Bongos.

Q: How difficult is it to remove the starter motor so I can clean the contacts? (Expresso from Southampton)

A: It’s a breeze. On the right hand side of the engine, at the rear, unship starter motor (disconnect power cable, solenoid line, earth connections, then three mounting bolts). Make certain power cable cannot touch any chassis/engine part (if in doubt, disconnect battery first!) The starter motor is switched on by a basic cylindrical contactor. It lives under a roughly rectangular cover plate on the bottom of the motor body. Remove three screws, remove plate, examine contacts therein. Mine were very dirty. Clean them up with fine abrasive paper and a little methylated spirits on a rag to remove the dust. Don’t forget the copper washer on the moving part of the solenoid, and stick it all back together. The only loose part is the return spring on the inside of the solenoid-and there’s a gasket on the cover plate which will probably stay in place. When removing/replacing the starter motor, take care not to damage the injector fuel feed pipes which are located just forward of it-there’s just enough room for easy manoeuvre

Q: My rev counter sometimes returns to 0 revs and flicks back to the correct reading whilst bowling down the road. I suspect there is a duff connection. Do you know which connectors to check and where they are located? (Tom from Edinburgh)

A: Check the following:
1) The connector plugs from the engine to the gearbox which sit on top of box. Undo them, clean them up & WD40 them.
2) Try the red wire from the alternator.
3) TDC sensor on the fly wheel. It’s mounted on the front edge of the gearbox.
4) The alternator’s diode may have deteriorated.
(Update from Sean, 22/11/04: “The rev counter takes a pulse from the diesel pump sprocket. It is a black sender unit with 2 wires and held in place by a 10mm bolt.”)

Q: Unfortunately I’m having starting problems. When I turn the key it will just go “click” with no attempt to start or nothing, then after a few attempts or a few hundred depending how many cars I’m holding up she’ll start just like that. I’ve been told it’s my solenoid and it’s quite simple to replace or clean the contacts but where is it and what does it look like? (Jason from Norfolk)

A:It’s the lump on the side of the starter motor… once the starter motor is removed, it comes apart quite easily but you have to be careful bits don’t spring out and get lost or damaged. There’s also a possibility the starter motor brushes are worn down and aren’t making good contact with the commutator.

Q: My Glow Plug coil light keeps flashing on and off. I changed the plugs not so long ago, so I don’t think it’s that. (John from Dorset)

A: This sounds like the temperature sensor that lives under the centre console. I know this causes the glow-plug light to flash if there’s something wrong with it. In fact it’s not unknown for this to be missing entirely. If that area has recently been disturbed, the sensor may have been knocked, so check it for a tight connection.

Q: My temperature gauge doesn’t work – it’s permanently stuck on just below halfway. Any ideas on how to fix this? Is it easy to fix? (Paul from Goring)

A: It sounds like the sender is faulty. To prove this you need to earth the lead from the sender unit (located left side of cylinder head), with the ignition on. If the gauge goes to hot it means the sender is faulty, if not it suggests the gauge is faulty.

Q: My fuel gauge has stopped working. What’s wrong? How can it be repaired? (Anna Rexic from Nuneaton)

A: Member Les Walshe says “I had the same problem. I took it into the dealer and this is how the mechanic fixed it. On most vehicles the fuel tank has to be dropped, but not on Bongos. In the rear between the 2nd and 3rd row of seats on the drivers side there is a plate in the floor under the carpet. (See photo). There are 3 phillips screws that secure it to the floor. Undo them, remove the plate and there is the sender unit. Apparently the electrical connections (I assume they are spade connectors) on the wires leading from the gauge to the sender unit are not very good at all. He cut them off and put on new connectors that were better fitting and that sorted the problem out, it’s working fine now. The mechanic does suggest that the rear seats are taken out first as it was a bit of a squeeze trying to do the work in between the seats.

Q: My Bongo is a poor starter on cold mornings. This is annoying the neighbours at 5.30 in the morning. What do you recommend? (Mike from Stroud)

A: If the poor starting is accompanied by white smoke, you need some new Glowplugs. These little devices sit in the cylinder head and super-heat to 800 degrees centigrade to aid the ignition sequence. Unfortunately, it is a fact that many Bongos are not used to cold weather, and therefore original glow plugs will loose their capabilities in the English winter. Glow Plugs are now stocked by the Owners Club and are available on the Merchandise page.

Q: I’ve tried all that, but I still get a problem. Any other advice you can give me? (Olly from Bath)

A: Yes, there are 2 further considerations. Firstly the plugs must be charged to 10 volts, or they will not reach the required temperature on ignition. And secondly, you may wish to ensure that an anti-seize compound (such as Coppaslip) is used on installation. If that doesn’t help, check the glow plug fusible link,

Q:- What is that strange looking button to the right of the steering wheel do, the one with a picture of an engine and a heater on it? (Mark from Belper)

A: It’s a switch for the ‘cold climate’ system. It helps the engine to reach operating temperature more quickly. (Member Martyn May offers this observation) In cold weather once the engine is started you flick the switch and it will help heat up the engine quicker. But having suffered replacing the glow plugs on my vehicle twice in the short time I have had the vehicle I do not recommend this process without further investigation, as I suspect that this keeps the glow plugs glowing for longer than normal, and I already know that the glow plugs can function up to 5 to10 full minutes after starting the engine in cold weather to help with the emissions. Now when I start my vehicle I maintain the revs at over 1,200 rpm which keeps (we think) the glow plugs from glowing too long, after about 5 minutes I let the engine settle down to it’s normal tickover speed and it would appear that the glow plugs do not kick in again, and since I have started this process I have not had any trouble starting the van in these cold mornings….roll on Summer.


NB: Fact sheets on the following related subjects are available in the members-only area of the site.

Alternator Belts

Alternator/Aircon Belts for 2 litre

Battery Drain

Glowplugs & Starting Problems

Lambda Sensor

Starter Motor

Starter Motor Repair Kit

Wiring Diagrams

Wiring Diagram Colours

External Accessories

Q: Any idea where I can obtain a leisure battery tray? (Vicky from Middlesbrough)

A: Derwenthaugh Motors on Tyneside can supply these. Phone Tony Chrisp on 07596-862711

Q: I was parked at the shops the other morning and nipped in to the Newsagents to get twenty Bensons. When I returned to the Bongo my whole driver side mirror unit was on the ground smashed to bits. It had been clipped by a passing bus. Do you have any advice? (Eric from Redcar)

A: I don’t know where to start really. Obviously you should consider stopping smoking, or at least take up vaping. Also, I find it’s best not to park on a bus route. And as to getting a replacement mirror unit these are available second hand from specialist Bongo breakers and on eBay. If you want a new one they are still obtainable but incredibly expensive. Finally if you want to know how to fit a new unit, including the complicated business of the electrics, then Lindsay Foyle has posted an excellent video on YouTube.

Q: Can you recommend someone to supply and fit solar panels for my Bongo? (Phil from Malvern)

A: This firm have fitted out loads of Bongos and have a good reputation. They are called Solar Camper Solutions and are based in Taunton. Their website is but their phone number is not listed. Bongo kits cost £329.

Q: Elsewhere on this website I’ve seen the Sheffield based firm Bongodecals mentioned. But they seem to have closed down. Can you recommend another firm that could re-produce original Bongo stickers and decals from digital photos? (Steve from the Isle of Wight)

A: Try this Worcestershire based firm: A few members have used them and have received good service. Their telephone number is 01299-827309

Q: It’s me again. Anyone know how to remove the mirror glass? (Dave from Carmarthen)

A: It just snaps off. Best to use a panel beater’s suction pad. It has retaining clips, see picture below.

Q: Can anyone tell me how to remove the interior rearview mirror from it’s mounting? (Dave from Carmarthen)

A: Take a very narrow bladed flat headed screwdriver, and insert into a small slot at bottom of the mirror base (look from underneath, you’ll see a small tab with a metal flange). The screwdriver needs to go quite far in at an angle, then lever the mirror upwards off the metal mount.

Q: I’m thinking of buying some wheel arch trim. What were the differences between the 1996 shape & the 2002 onwards Bongo wheel arches? Was it a cosmetic update or were there body panel differences? (Mark from Bristol)

A: Simon Jones responds: “In terms of wheel arches, the body panels are identical, but the contour of the front bumper & sill covers is different after 2001 so if the trims extend below the bodywork, the wheel arch trim may not fit.”

Q: I went to the local car wash and the reversing mirror lens broke….thankfully not the housing. I’ve ordered a new lens but the question is; does it just snap into place and do I need to remove the housing first? (John from Bridlington)

A: Break the old mirror glass to remove it. Heat up the plastic surround until it expands – a hairdryer is probably safest. Once expanded the new glass will drop into place. Don’t turn it upside down until it’s cool or the glass will drop out!

Q: We have just failed the MOT because the headlights are not bright enough. It appears the plastic lenses are too yellow. Will they have to be replaced? (Jenny from Harbury)

A: Replacing the full units could be costly, around £200 per unit. It’s possible that there the original Japanese owner inserted a yellow film on the inside of the lens to aid city centre driving in smoggy conditions. If he has, peel it off. Alternatively they may need a good clean. Try Auto Glymm.

Q: How do you remove the chrome mirror covers? My mirror has failed, I have got hold of a mirror but want to put my mirror cover on my new mirror. (matt from Truro)

A: The chrome covers are difficult to remove but it can be done if you’re careful. There is a siticky pad about 4 inches square between the chrome cover and the plastic mirror housing. You then need a heat shrink gun and constantly move it over the whole chrome area until you can hardly bear to touch the surface, then immediately grip the top and bottom edges of the chrome cover and pull as hard as you can.

Q: I have failed my MOT due to yellow stains on my front headlamp lenses. Any idea how to clean them? (Pete from Falmouth)

A: Although some people have reported that nail varnish remover will do the trick, this is not to be recommended as most of them have plastic dissolving solvent in them. Instead, we recommend using Metallic T-Cut.

Q: Do you know where I can replacement decals for the side of my Bongo? (George from St Ives)

A: You have 4 choices.
1) You can use the Partfinder Service in the members-only area of the website. You need to refer to EPC page 5080A. We can then try and order them from Japan, but the originals are very expensive, and not always available…..expect to pay around £200 upwards for a full set of side graphics (and that’s for one side only!!!!)
2) AVA Leisure ( have some sets on their shelves, but you will have to supply them with a digital photo of your precise requirements
3) First Stop Decals in Manchester can do copies (
4) County Signs (run by member Tim Cockings in Cornwall) can also supply copies & replacements. 01726-67597

Q: I recently got my bongo and the headlights do not illuminate the road in front at all well, either on main beam or dipped beam. Looking at the lights from the front of the vehicle they seem to be at a normal brightness. Has anyone else had this problem? (Dave from Sheffield)

A: The spring clip that holds the headlight bulb in place is barely up to the task on a bongo. It sounds like your headlight bulbs aren’t sitting flush in the headlight aperture. If this is the case, the light can bounce off the bottom of the reflector, then bounce upwards, causing a lot of light refraction that obliterates the defined beam. Before you splash out on new bulbs, it may be worth checking that they are indeed sat properly in the headlight unit.
The connector for the headlights is quite tricky to remove and replace. It’s just possible to upset the balance of the bulb jiggling the connector back on….carefully replace the connector! As a test, see how much movement there is in the bulb after the spring clip has been locked, you’ll be suprised that the bulb will still quite easily move! (Thanks to Stephen Cain for this)

Q: I’ve got an aerial attached to the roof gutter near the tail gate that has a long wire through the back with a small jack plug at the end. the wire is almost 8 feet long. Does anyone know what this could be for? (Paulo from Cheshire)

A: You have inherited a very rare item, the Japanese electronic clothes line. The inventor of the Mazda Bongo, Takeashita Inamoto, originally designed the Bongo so that Japanese travelling salesmen would be able to save money on hotel charges. But following the initial prototypes, feedback was received that businessmen had a) nowhere to watch pornographic TV channels, and b) nowhere to dry-clean and press their business suits (there is no such thing as the Corby Trouser Press in the Far East). Although the TV side of things was quickly rectified, the issue of where to hang your suit has still not been fully addressed. The wire (and jack) to which you refer was one of a number of doomed attempts to address this problem in the early part of 1995.

Q: I quite like my tits, but I am worried about the legality of them. What is the law? (Tina from Turnham Green)

A: As long as you keep them covered in public, I think you should be OK.

Q: Sorry about that. Sometimes I type too fast. What I should have asked is this. I quite like my tints, but I am worried about the legality of them. What is the law? (Tina from Turnham Green)

A: The front windscreen and side front windows must allow at least 70% of any light to be transmitted through the glass. There are no restrictions on other windows. Note that it is also an offence to try and sell a vehicle with excessively tinted front windows.

Q: I note from elsewhere on this site that you can get windscreens from Autoglass & National Windscreens. But do you know where I can obtain side windows and quarter-light windows? (Ted from Malton)

A: 321 Away (Wokingham) stock these. You can contact them on 01784-482158. Their website can be found here: Or try one of the breakers on the Bongo Fury website.

Q: If I buy one of those splendid looking Fiamma roll-out awning things, which fixing kit should I use? (David from Wakefield)

A: You need a VW T3 2 piece awning adapter kit. No drilling necessary! It simply clamps onto your gutter rail with 2 brackets, and each bracket is bolted to the back of the awning box. If you need to remove the awning it is a simple case of undoing the clamps.

Q: I bought an awning through the club shop, and although it is excellent in all respects, I find that when I attach it to my Bongo there is a distinct flapping noise at night, and, far worse, a gap of about 3cm where the awning adjoins the passenger door. There is also a through draft from underneath the Bongo, and the groundsheet is not an exact fit. I have only used the awning about 4 times (not including when the kids put it up in the back garden) and I was wondering if I can send it back? (Ruth from Windsor)

A: It’s a drive away awning for f*** sake, not a ******* house! Of course it has some gaps and a draft! You are meant to be camping and experiencing the great outdoors! If you don’t like the fresh air, stay at home! No, you can’t send it back!

Q: What size are the number plates on a Bongo? (Dave from Heysham)

A: 332 x 178 mm front & rear.

Q: Is it lawful to have bull bars on the front of your Bongo? I read somewhere that it is legal on a 4×4, but illegal on a two wheel drive. (Bill from Brighton)

A: You have been misinformed. There is no law against bull bars at all. You can fit them on a Smart Car if you wish.

Q: Despite there being a distinct demarcation between the road and the pavement, children at my local school, aided and abetted by a suspicious looking character in a green vest and carrying a lollipop, have an annoying habit of running out in front of me when I am rushing to work. Not only is this dangerous (for me), but there is a very real possibility that my Bongo might get scratched by a buckle on a satchel. I have therefore decided to buy some bull bars, but can you please advise how I fit them? (Richard from Dunstable)

A: Because bullbars are not standard Mazda fittings then there are no standard fittings available to my knowledge. But any good metal fabricator should be able to knock you some up fairly cheaply. Pajero and Land Rover owners do this all the time.

Q: I have bought a ski rack, but in order to fit it I need to remove one of the rear door handles. But I can’t seem to find a way of doing this. What is the secret? (Stephen from Blackheath)

A: Bob from Imperial Cars (a man of few words) responds:


Q: I have a fresh water tank suspended underneath the Bongo. Should I drain this out over winter? (Lee from Dave on Solent)

A: You should drain the water tank at any time of the year if you are not using it. This is a sensible health precaution. But during the winter months, special care should be taken because freezing water can split the tank and pipes. If you are doing any winter camping, you may wish to consider purchasing a small 12v immersion thermostatically controlled water heater to ensure that it does not drop below freezing. But if you have cabin heating in the rear, you do not have any cause for concern.

Q: I’m currently in the process of fitting a f45i roll out awning to my van. I have seen a set of brackets for £60 to fit the awning. Can you tell me how these brackets fit to the van as I’m a bit reluctant to use them if it requires drilling holes and thus not being able to remove them at later date It looks to me that some sort of bracket could be made to clamp on to the gutter rail , I think this is what they do on VW T3. (Jon from Hertfordshire)

A: The Fiama roll-out awning you refer to is very heavy, and requires a special type of bracket which are available from AVA. The sills on the SGL will not take the weight, so there is no option other than to drill in to the van.

Q: An over-zealous valeter has high pressure-hosed the transfers away from the side of my van. Is it possible to get any more? (Ron from Newquay)

A: Yes. If you supply a photo and the chassis number to AVA Leisure, they should be able to help you out.

Q: My other half had a jousting match with a Transit on Thursday and lost a wing mirror glass in the process, any ideas on whether this is a part used on any other vehicles? (Gary from Caterham)

A: No it’s not. You can either get a new one from AVA Leisure, or, according to member Graeme McMurchie, what you can do is……. I tried this once when I had an old Alfa and couldn’t find a mirror glass the right size and it worked really well. Use the exisiting mirror as a template. Trace it through onto a piece of paper. Take it along to your friendly glazing shop and ask him (Tell him what it’s for) to cut a piece of mirror for you. A couple of spots of mirror glue stick it onto the backplate. At the very least it gets you by until a replacement can be found. Mirror glass is also readily available from parts suppliers on the main website.

Q- How much would it cost to fit a roller-blind to my Bongo? And which one do you recommend? (Sarah from Stratford Place)
A: We recommend the Fiamma F45i. Typically these cost upwards of £260. Fitting is about £150.

NB: Fact sheets on the following related subjects are available in the members-only area of the site. 



Bike Racks


Easycamp (How to erect one of these awnings)



Number Plates

Roll Out Awning


Roof Rack System (fitting instructions)

Wheel Arch Trim (fitting instructions)