Mazda Bongo Maintenance Tips, Specification, Data

All advice is given in good faith and believed to be correct but is followed at you own risk..

Factsheets are at the bottom of this page.

 After 20 years as a Mazda Bongo specialist, I've decided to close.

I thank you all for your support and friendship.

I recommend PGS (Plymouth Garage Services) or Mayflower Auto Services

for Mazda Bongo repairs and servicing.

These are personal recommendations, based on many years of knowing them and how they treat their customers.

They don't frequently post on Facebook about how good they are or how many Bongos they've got in this week... but they know Bongos well and are friendly, professional garages. 

Since 2003, I've worked on Bongos every weekday and many weekends. I've shared a lot of advice on the Bongo Fury forum and Facebook groups. This page has many of the questions I've been asked most frequently. 


The Mazda Bongo was also produced as the Ford Freda. The trim differs but they are mechanically identical.

They're a versatile 8 seat MPV, suitable for everyday use. They’re built to the usual high Japanese specification.


The Bongo has two body types; The AFT (auto free top) or tin-top (flat roof). The AFT roof raises; this gives standing room in the Bongo. It also forms a roof tent, with sleeping space for two adults. The tin-top roof does not raise. 

In all models, the seats fold down into a double bed. When used as a Camper, adding a side or tailgate awning can double the living space.


The rear seat layout differs between earlier and later models. All models have 2 rows of seats behind the driver and passenger. Each row holds 3 people, with two 3-point seatbelts and a centre lap belt. The seats are adjustable and they slide. On earlier models, the rear 'gullwing' seats flip down/fold away. This allows plenty of boot space when not used for passengers. In later models, this is a bench seat which does not fold away.


All seat backs fold flat. Some have picnic tables incorporated into the back of the seat. Flip-down step seats can be added behind the driver and passenger. These flip-down, so two people can sit at the picnic tables. 

The 2.5 diesel Bongo is sold as a 4-wheel drive (SGL5 model numbers) and 2-wheel drive (SGL3 model numbers). Its turbo engine has plenty of power.  Its torque converter locks between 40-45mph, giving good pulling power. 


All petrol model Bongos are 2 wheel drives. The 2.5 V6 Bongo is a quiet engine and is noticeably more powerful than the petrol 2l Bongo.


Here are Mazda Bongo engine specifications, so you can compare performance figures: 


Mazda Bongo engine specification: 
2 5 diesel: 
Engine Power kW 88 kW/120 HP
Torque 310/2000 N*m/rpm
2.5 V6 petrol: 
Engine Power 117 kW/160 HP
Torque 211/3500 N*m/rpm
2.0 petrol: 
Engine Power 77 kW/105 HP
Torque 162/4000 N*m/rpm


The fuel consumption of all engines averages at 26mpg. This depends on use; constant stop-start around town can reduce that figure. Steady driving and a light foot on the throttle can increase it to 32mpg.


Most Mazda Bongos have 4 speed automatic transmissions. The 5 speed manual gearbox is rare. 


Mazda Bongos are approximately 4.6 metres long and 1.7 metres wide. The elevating roof model is 2.1 metres high; the tin-top is 2.0 metres.  

Many Bongos are converted to camper vans. These are either dealer converted or DIY self-conversions. There are many different side and rear conversion layouts and the specification varies. Others are 'weekend' campers with removable kitchen pods that are interchangeable with the rear seats. 


Spare parts and accessories, both new and used, are available for the Bongo.


Mazda Bongo and Ford Freda have a cult following, Facebook pages, clubs and forums. 


If you're buying a Bongo then it's good to get one with a decent Service History. Then you know if it’s been properly looked after. If you're looking at one that been previously owned in the UK, it should have service history.


Plenty of people do their own servicing and should have receipts for the parts they've bought. If it's been serviced by a garage, there'll be invoices and receipts. 


If you're looking at a newly imported Bongo, service history is rare. But you can ask to see the 'auction sheet'. This shows the general condition of the Bongo when it was sold at auction in Japan.

For more information on the auction sheet, read this page on our website.

If you have the registration number, you can check the MOT history online. You can check the mileage recorded at each MOT. Sometimes when a vehicle passes an MOT, there is still work that is 'advised' to be done. These are generally things that are OK for now, but will need doing fairly soon. You can check if there are any 'advisories' and ask if this work has been done. Here’s the MOT history link:


It's sensible to have a good look around the Bongo, inside and out.

Prepare to get your knees grubby! Get down on the ground and look underneath for evidence or leaks or corrosion. Common corrosion areas are the front and rear crossmembers, inside the wheel arches and inner and outer cills. If it is corroded, many can be welded and repaired, so you can factor the cost of repair into the purchase price.


If a Bongo has been undersealed, it will have a black or clear coating over the metal. This can be waxy and slightly sticky or look like thick paint, depending on what the Bongo was undersealed with. A few Bongos are just undersealed on the very edge of the underbody, so look further than the edge. If it's not undersealed, you'll see bare metal.

Sit inside the Bongo and check all the controls work - aircon, front and rear heating (when fitted) or climate control, all wipers, windscreen and rear screen wash etc. If it's not obvious, ask what the switches are for. If the Bongo has rear heating and air conditioning, get in the back and make sure it works via the controls on the side pocket. Bongos need a rear fog light to pass the UK MOT. Check that one has been fitted - it's surprises me to still see Bongos with an MOT but no rear fog light. 


Check that the AFT roof rises smoothly and fully; there should be no creaking noise from roof struts or bagginess in the sides of the roof tent canvas. It should beep when raising and stop beeping when fully open, unless the beeps have been disabled. Look at the outside of the roof tent to check it's fully raised and not baggy or straining. Look inside the roof tent to check for mildew or damage to the tent, net screens or zips.


Check the spare wheel and tyre. The standard one is a 'space saver', designed to get you to a place of repair. They often still have the aging, original Japanese tyre. You may wish to factor in the cost of replacing this with a standard size wheel and tyre, which will fit in the same storage space.) . The wheel is stored beneath the "boot" of the Bongo. It's lowered with a bar, that's stored in the cubby hole in the side door step. (Sometimes the bar is missing. A replacement can be pricey so factor the cost in, if it's not there.) Lower the spare wheel to check it.


You probably know that a Bongo engine is under the driver and passenger seats. There are more components under the bonnet. While the engine is cold, lift the bonnet to inspect the header (overflow, expansion) tank. It's usually discoloured so you won't see much from outside. Remove the cap and look in; it's useful to have a torch for this, even in daylight. Ensure there are no copper coloured particles or gloopy sediment. If you see any, it can suggest a ‘leak stopping’ additive has been used, so ask the seller for reassurance. Leak stopper or K-Seal is sometimes used to conceal a cylinder head problem. Check the brake fluid and windscreen wash while you're there. 


Ask what antifreeze the owner uses, as you'll need to use the same type. Most now use standard UK blue or red antifreeze. Just don't mix the two types. Once bought, you may like to flush the system, as sediment can build up in the radiator and lead to overheating. Ask when the thermostat was last changed. If it hasn't been done recently, you should change it. A sticky thermostat can cause the cooling system to overheat.


Take it on a long road test, incorporating hills. Check the temperature gauge when driving uphill. The standard gauge should never rise above the ‘11 o’clock’ position. It’s ‘dumbed down’ by Mazda and will only rise above that when it has a cooling problem. If another temperature gauge is fitted, the Bongo runs at about 82* as standard and a bit more on hills.  


Pull away on a slope; The Bongo should pull away smoothly without wheel hop or juddering. When driving, the engine should accelerate well and gear changes should be smooth. The steering should be light, not heavy or notchy. Braking should also be smooth, with no judder from discs or vibration from the pedal. Also drive it in reverse to ensure there are no problems. Check the tyres are wearing evenly across the tread and there are no cracks in the side walls. 


While test driving, listen for knock or clunk noise when going over bumps. This can suggest steering or suspension problems.


Lift the seats to check the condition of the cooling system hoses. These are rarely changed until they fail; many have been on the Bongo for10+ years. If they fail, the system can rapidly loose coolant and overheat. If a hose (or metal pipe) has a slow leak, coolant loss can go un-noticed, until the system overheats. Look for swelling or cracking on the hoses. Check for rust stains on pipes, hoses the engine block, cylinder head - anywhere where water could squirt or drip from a leak. If you notice any, ask what caused it and see proof that it's been fixed. There should be an invoice for work done by a garage, or a receipt for parts if it's a DIY repair. 


There are a couple of common oil leaks on the Bongo. You may see a very small oil leak behind the diesel pump and an oil weep around the rocker cover gasket.  They leak slightly for years and aren't an immediate problem unless the leaks are bad. Wipe them away; it'll be obvious when the leak is bad because you'll need to wipe more often, the engine oil level will drop more quickly and you may notice an oil fume smell. On the V6 petrol Bongo, the rocker cover oil leak can eventually seep into the sparkplug holes; if this happens, the engine will misfire. On the 2 litre Bongo, the oil leak from the rocker cover eventually finds its way onto the gearbox and manifold; you may notice the smell of oil fumes if this has happened. 


There should be no diesel leak from the diesel pump.


Check the engine oil and gearbox fluid (ATF) levels and conditions. A check of these might reveal either emulsified (creamy) engine oil or brown ATF (gearbox fluid). Emulsified oil suggests an engine problem. Brown ATF that smells burnt suggests a transmission problem. 


I've mentioned 'overheating'. This is said to be a common problem with Bongos. It's not. But it is a common problem with Bongos that haven't been properly maintained! Old parts, pipes, hoses, oils and fluids don't last forever. So double check the service history! If things have been omitted, factor in the cost of getting this rectified. 


You'll find more advice on buying a Bongo, on the various Facebook groups and Bongo websites. This link is the Mazda Bongo Facebook group I set up in 2008:


I've put together a comprehensive Mazda Bongo buying guide. It has more information. You can download it, from the list at the bottom of this page.


I can carry out an inspection of your Bongo, if you bring it to me in Plymouth. Click on this link for more advice on Bongo Inspections.  

My Mazda Bongo pick up 

My own Mazda Bongo custom pick-up and 2.5d Bongos in Plymouth, Devon. 



In 2006, I had a cheap black Bongo as a breaker, for spare body parts. Mechanically, it needed a lot of work. The body was the best part of. 

Then I had an idea that it might look pretty good as a pick up. Something to build in my spare time. It took me over two years... So much for spare time!


There was a lot of measuring, discussion, cutting and welding. Once the back was off the Bongo, it was too light, so I added weight.

I strengthened the chassis and body.

I rebuilt the cross member and replaced the rear quarter panels. 

Getting the Bongo tailgate to open was tricky, but I got there.

I cut down the Bongo's AFT roof as a ‘lid’ for the cabin.


I blanked off the Bongo's rear air conditioning and heater pipes as I'd removed half the system when I'd chopped the back.

I rebuilt the Bongo 2.5 diesel engine.

I carried out a major service and replaced coolant hoses and pipes, radiator and water pump. 

I fitted 4 new shock absorbers, suspension bushes and links.

I fitted new brake discs and pads all round. 

I replaced the Bongo's transmission and all it's rusted oil pipes.  

(I told you it was in bad mechanical condition.)


The weight of the Bongo, as a pick up, was radically different to the MPV it had originally been, despite increasing the chopped body weight. So I tried a few different wheel and tyre combinations until I was happy with the way it handled. Getting it tested was nail biting, but all was OK. 


I had the Bongo pick up's body resprayed black, with a subtle metalflake laquer.

The Bongo's seats were refinished in leather by Paul at Wixenford.

I stained the mats and carpets black (see details below).

I added a different steering wheel, a pod of gauges, new temperature gauge and white dials. I had a graphite style dash from another Bongo I was breaking, so I fitted that. I'm still adding to the pick-up, in my spare time...

If you're passing and would like to see my Mazda Bongo pick up, pop in. It's been SORN'd, waiting for work and a new MOT... when I find the time!

Allans Mazda Bongo pick up Allans Mazda Bongo pick up.


I get asked dozens of questions about Bongos. Some only need a short answer, others are complicated and can take hours to reply to! I need to put my customers first, so unfortunately don't have time to answer all questions. There are also several Bongo forums and groups. This is my Facebook Mazda Bongo Group.

Bongo Cooling system


The Bongo de-gassing tanks is commonly called the expansion or overflow tank. They're usually discoloured, so the coolant level is hard to see. A new tank is available direct from a Mazda main dealer and (at the time of writing) costs about £100!

Unless the tank was leaking, I'd keep my money in my pocket, and work out how to check the level on the discoloured tank. 


The level should be checked regularly, to monitor for coolant loss. Only open the expansion tank when the engine is cold. If you open it when the engine's hot, the coolant may spray out and could burn you.


I dip my finger in to check the level. If my finger tip touches coolant, I know the level's OK. With a bit of practice you'll get the hang of just how far to reach.


Or use a stick (coffee stirrer), marked 2cms from the end - see the picture. Dip the stick in until it touches the bottom of the tank. If it's wet on the the 2cms line, there's enough coolant in the system. It shouldn't be above or below this level.


If a top-up is needed, pour the correct coolant into the tank. If you overfill, some of the coolant will come out of the hole you’re filling through.


The cooling system on the Bongo is pressurised. If you put in too much coolant, the excess will be expelled under pressure, when the engine is hot. If this happens, re-check the coolant level when the engine is cold.


If the Bongo engine overheats, the valve on the coolant tank cap opens. It releases pressure and coolant. When this happens, owners sometimes mention hearing a ‘rumbling noise, then a hiss’. This is the coolant boiling in the tank, then hissing on hot metal, as it is expelled.


Do not change the tank for one from a different vehicle! The design of this 'de-gassing' tank is an important part of the cooling system. It allows expansion of the coolant, which raises pressure to allow greater heat transfer to occur. It also releases absorbed gasses into the space in the tank, above the coolant.


I can check the cooling system on your Bongo,  flush the cooling system, replace any parts, fit alarms and kits. I have bled hundreds of Bongo cooling systems over the last 18 years.


Why did the Bongo overheat?

There's always a reason why a Bongo overheats. This time, it was due to a faulty coolant temperature sensor. The temperature sensor monitors the temperature of the engine coolant. At a certain temperature, it will activate the cooling fans. If it doesn't, the Bongo will run hotter than it should. It will also use more fuel. The one I had in this time had overheated. It's now back on the road, running perfectly.

This one had an air lock, preventing coolant circulation. It had lost 5 litres of coolant and the temperature gauge had risen. It was topped up, but the air wasn't bled from the system. When driven, the temperature gauge rose again. The coolant loss had allowed a lot of air to enter the system. It prevented circulation of the coolant.

Luckily, the cylinder head didn't crack. I was able to skim it and refit with new head gasket, head bolts and coolant. I replaced the leaking pipe and hoses that caused the coolant loss.

If a garage or recovery service tells you it's OK to drive a 2.5d or V6, after losing a lot of coolant, it's sensible to ignore that advice.

This Bongo overheated because the thermostat was clogged with silicone sealant.

At a certain temperature, the thermostat opens. This allows coolant to circulate fully and cool the engine properly. Because it was clogged, it couldn't open and the engine overheated.  

There's no reason to use silicone on a thermostat. 

A thermostat will last for many years, nobody can predict when it will fail. I always change a thermostat when replacing cylnder heads or doing major work on the cooling system. If yours hasn't been changed for several years, it's sensible to change it. 


This coolant hose is old, worn out and ready to burst. Luckily I spotted it in time, during a routine service & MOT.

As you can see, the surface of the hose looks OK, except that it's swollen.


There's no firm rule on how long a hose will last. I've seen them fail after 5-10 years, depending on the mileage of the Bongo. Some last longer; they've been lucky. Check hoses regularly, get used to what they feel like, so you can recognise when they're failing.


Hoses wear from the inside out, so the wear is rarely obvious. As they age, the rubber can become very thin and you will sometimes see blisters on the outside. On this one, the wear is significant and a large portion of the hose has swollen but not cracked or blistered.


When cold, hoses should feel firm, not hard, spongy, or soft. Check for pinholes, surface cracks or abrasion. You may see weeping coolant around clips or stains left by leaks.


It's important to know that coolant hoses can fail without obvious warning, so be aware of how old yours are. 


If you're changing them yourself, I recommend you always fit good quality replacement hoses. You can buy genuine hoses from a Mazda main dealer. I don't fit silicone hoses as the quality is too variable. Hoses are held in place by compression or jubilee clips. Clips can lose compression, so may need to be changed at the same time.


This Bongo Coolant Hose Guide can be downloaded as a factsheet from the links at the bottom of this page.


Customers have often asked me to "change all the hoses". I'm happy to do this. But there are a lot of hoses and changing them all at the same time, is not always affordable. And some may already have been changed, before you owned the Bongo.


If you don't want them all changed, it is sensible to change the ones that fail most often. I can also just change just the hose that has failed and advise on the  condition of the others.  


There are also metal pipes in the cooling system. These will rust and leak. They should also be changed as required. 


Low coolant alarms are available for the Bongo, which can warn of slow coolant leaks. They are unlikely to save an engine from sudden hose failure, when a lot of coolant is rapidly lost.


There are seperate pipes and hoses that cool the gearbox and should also be maintained.


Get in touch, if you'd like me to change your Bongo coolant hoses or pipes. 


In 2011, Steve Widdowson produced animated diagrams of the Mazda Bongo cooling system. It took him two enthusiastic years, from his initial query, to producing the animations! 

He was assisted by many of us enthusiasts, behind the scenes. Temperature sensors were fitted at various key locations and the data exchanged between us, with many interesting debates.

The temperatures before and after the thermostat opens, the change of the coolant flow and the heater circuit, are clearly shown in his diagrams. Here's a link to them on Bongo Fury.

Bongo AFT Roof tent

Approximate dimensions of Mazda Bongo Approximate dimensions


The AFT (Auto Free Top) Mazda Bongo has a raising roof, with a roof tent. This provides a sleeping area for two adults. 


There are 3 different sizes of roof tents. The difference is hard to notice without measuring. The early model Bongo up to 1999/2000, has the lowest height roof tent (see image). The 1999/2000 onwards (shape change) model has the highest roof tent. And the tent of latest model Bongo is between the two sizes. 


If repalcing the tent, be sure to order the right size. My guide to removing the roof tent is below and can be downloaded as a factsheet from the bottom of the page.

Roof tent operation


The roof tent is the raising roof of the Auto Free Top model. Luckily they abbreviated this to AFT model! It's commonly known as the pop-top Bongo. Here are the most common reasons why the roof tent can fail to open. They're all problems that are easy to fix, DIY. This information is all included in the 'AFT pop-top' downloadable Factsheet, at the bottom of this page.


To raise the roof: Apply the handbrake, the handbrake light illuminates. Press the roof button that's located on the roof, between the driver and passenger seats. It will bleep as it rises.


To lower the roof: There's a double hatch to enter the roof tent. It's sensible to close the large part, before lowering the roof. I find it helps to prevent the fabric from snagging. Press the 'unlock' button that's on the light in the roof. Then press the roof button. It will stop halfway down, so you can check there are no obstructions left in the roof. Press the button again, to full lower it.  


The rubber seal which surrounds the roof provides a seal between it and the body of the Bongo. When the roof is rarely raised, the seal can stick to the body. Although eveything else is working, the roof won't raise. Simply run an old bank card (or similar) between the seal and the body. This will free it up. You can apply a seal lubricant, like that used on a sunroof, to keep it in good condition.


If you press the roof switch and it doesn't bleep and the roof doesn't rise, check the handbrake light is on. If it is, then the roof switch could be stuck. It can stick from lack of use and because dust and grime build up inside it.

Flick the roof switch several times, to try to free it up. If this doesn't work, you can remove the switch to clean it. 

The most difficult bit is getting the switch out. It's held in by a rocker tab on each end. Push the body of the switch forward, insert a small screwdriver at one end, under the roof lining and behind the tab. Lever it, the switch will come free.

Once you have it in your hand, press the two ends and the black switch will pop out of its grey moulding. You then carefully separate the switch itself, by pressing the end tabs and levering. Remove dust and clean with electrical contact cleaner, not WD40. If you search on YouTube for 'vehicle switch cleaning Bongo' you'll find a video that clearly explains the process.

If you press the roof switch and it does bleep but the roof doesn't rise, the motors could be stuck or have failed. 


The roof won't rise if the handbrake isn't applied.

If the handbrake is on, check that the handbrake light is illuminated on the dash. This light completes the electrical circuit; the roof won't operate if it's not lit.

If the light isn't lit, lift the centre consul. You'll see the handbrake switch. It has a small spring and a white clip, attached to a cable. The switch can get clogged with dust. Remove the dust. Wiggle the switch a few times, the light should illuminate and the roof will operate.


All the AFT information can all be downloaded in a Factsheet at the bottom of the page.


The insect mesh (mosquito net) in the Bongo roof tent, keeps insects out and provides ventilation.

As it ages, the fabric degrades and it can tear. 

The holes and rips can be repaired almost invisibly, using clear Tenacious Tape. This is commonly used to repair sails. It's available from boat chandlers or online.

The mesh can also be replaced. Some Bongo owners have managed this, without removing the roof tent. It takes patience! Replacement mosquito net is avaialble online. Measure, cut out the old net, sew in the new. 


The AFT roof tent can be removed to undertake larger repairs. Two people are needed to move the tent to the ground.


The tools required are: JIS (Japanese) screwdrivers or Phillips screwdrivers sizes P3 and P2. A drill, 3/8 Ratchet, A right-angled screwdriver, araldite glue or pop rivets.


Full instructions on removing the roof tent are in the downloadable Factsheet, at the bottom of this page.


Mould spreads in warm, damp conditions. Condensation inside the roof tent is perfect for it!

To minimise it, increase ventilation by leaving the roof flaps open. Open windows or doors if cooking in the Bongo. If you're sleeping in it, leave a window ajar at night, if safe to do so.


If the roof tent is closed while wet, dry it out as soon as possible. When not in use, still raise the roof on warm days and open zips, to dry and air the tent. While it's closed, Bongo owners have found that containers of moisture absorbing granules, changed regularly, can help. 


If mould is present, it can be treated. Bongo owners have found success with various products. These incluse clove oil, white vinegar and lemon juice in water and various mould and mildew removers. If using chemicals, they can degrade fabric. try to find one that's safe on fabric. Rinse any chemical cleaners after application and allow to dry  thoruoghly. 

Bongo Dash


Bongo alternator:

If the Bongo charge light and the sediment light illuminate at the same time, it means that there is a fault with the alternator. It should be refurbished or replaced.

Ensure the new alternator is rated at 90 amps. Some are only 80 amps so may fail sooner than expected. 


How to remove the speedo face

Undo the 4 screws that hold the black cover in front of the speedo. Pull the cover off. Undo the 4 screws that hold the instrument cluster. Lift out the cluster. Disconnect the 2 or 3 mulit-plugs from the back. Remove the black panel that hold the glass (push clips). If you don't have the proper tool, use 2 metal spoons to lift the needle from the speedo face. You use the bowl of the spoons on the needle and press on the handles. (It's easier than it sounds.) Undo the 2 screws that hold the speedo face on. Lift it off. Fit the new face. 

How to zero the needle on a new speedo face

Fit the speedo unit (without the glass) back into the dash, with all wires connected into the back of it.

Don't fit the needle-stop post to the speedo face yet.

Switch the ignition on. Fit the needle in the zero position.

Now fit the stop-post and glass.


Bongo cylinder head image Bongo cylinder head



I helped write a similar post for the Bongo Fury forum. I've added more detail here, as several people struggle to fit a Bongo cylinder head. Or they find the cooling system won't bleed after they've fitted a new cylinder head.


This advice is for general guidance only, to make you aware of some of the checks that may be needed.


When a new cylinder head is supplied as 'fully assembled' or 'ready to fit', do not assume that it is ready to fit. It's advisable to check it first. 

Once unpacked, check for hidden packaging debris inside the head.
The head face should be clean and free from grease.

And it should be smooth, free from scratches, nicks or damage. If it's not, you'll have to return it or fix it. Otherwise it will leak and lose compression. You'll struggle to bleed it.

A smooth surface is needed so that it will seal. 

To ensure a tight seal, check the deck of the head and block.  This YouTube link is to a 'How To' video. It shows you how to deck a block DIY, without specialist tools.  

It's possible that valves and collets will already be fitted. But you should check to ensure the collets have been fitted correctly. 
Check cam caps are tight.
Check all fitted items are tightened to the correct torque, including the rocker caps.
Check valve and tappet clearances.
Check the camshaft oil seal is in place.
Fit injector heat shields.
Ensure the oil gallery plug is tight.
Ensure the dowel pin is fitted correctly and is perfectly aligned.
If the head is supplied with a seal kit, you may not need all the seals - check with the supplier.

Mazda Bongo water elbow image Bongo water elbow

Heads are sometimes supplied with a 2 pipe water elbow. This is not standard on the Bongo and you'll struggle to bleed it. Buy a 3 pipe water elbow. The Mazda part number is: WL02-10-2EO.  The elbow is  tight to remove or fit. To remove, twist using a wrench. To fit, I add thread sealant to the elbow. The large pipe (of the elbow) faces front of Bongo. Tap it into place with a wood mallet. (You could use a block of wood and hammer if no mallet.)  


Some parts are can be transferred from the old head. This will save you money.
But I recommend fitting some new parts:

New head bolts; Old bolts usually stretch and won't tighten fully again. If this happens, the head won't seal. 

New exhaust manifold studs; These harden with age and can snap when removing or re-tightening. Number 1 manifold stud, nearest the alternator, is especially prone to snap, possibly to the varying temperature it receives. If you don't replace all the studs, play safe and have a couple to hand, in case they're needed. 

A new fan sensor; This is especially important if the previous head has overheated, as excessive heat can damage the switch and the fan won't operate when it should.

A new thermostat; The thermostat helps to regulate the temperature in the cooling system. If it’s faulty, the temperature of the coolant will be affected. If the coolant gets too hot, your Bongo could overheat again. The comparatively small cost of a new thermostat is definitely worth paying. 


We can supply and fit a Mazda Bongo cylinder head for you.

But we don't supply the cylinder head for you to fit yourself. 


This information can also be downloaded as 'HOW TO GUIDE', see below. 

MAZDA BONGO V6 cambelt, tensioner, seals

When changing the Mazda Bongo V6 cambelt, I also change the guide wheels, tensioner bearing and hydraulic tensioner.


I recommend replacing the camshaft and crankshaft seals at the same time. The seals don't add a huge amount to the parts cost. 


The failed seals leak oil onto the cambelt and damage it. The cambelt will fail. 

The oil also drips down the drivers side, onto the top of the alternator. This can eventually damage the alternator.


Replacing the seals at a different time, means changing the cambelt again. The same labour cost, all over again. In the long run, you’ll save a lot of money by having them replaced at the same time as the cambelt.


It's advisable to also change the water pump, if it hasn't been done recently. This is because a lot of the same labour is involved if changing it seperately.


A flashing hold light doesn't always mean a gearbox problem.


It sometimes flashes after it's been raining heavily. It seems to be related to the connections on the side of the gearbox. Spray them with WD40. To clear the fault code, disconnect the positive terminal in the battery. Put your foot on the brake to fully discharge. Reconnect. See if it still flashes.


Is your speedo 'chipped'? Chips can become faulty as they age. That can make the hold light flash. Change the chip or remove it and fit an after-market speedo face that shows MPH.


The plug-in wiring behind the speedo could be loose. Behind the speedo face, there's a screw on the printed circuit. It's marked as 'sp out'.  Basically it sends the signal to the ECU.
The screw works loose. So the signal fails. Tighten or replace the screw to fix it.


It's rare, but possible for the connection to the hold button itself to become loose. It's under the centre consul and runs through a connector.


But if the Bongo hold light is flashing and it's driving abnormally, it could mean a speed sensor or gearbox problem. 


If the speed sensor has failed, the flash will probably be quite slow. It will probably be staying on and off for the same length of time. 


If you need to read the gearbox fault codes, you can spark them out yourself. Use one piece of wire to connect the pins on the ECU. The hold light itself will flash out the codes. 

Or use an analogue multimeter. The long and short flashes will be indicated by the needle movement.


More information on how to read Mazda Bongo fault codes has been shared by Phil McFadden on THIS LINK


EGR systems are added to standard Bongo engines, to meet the strict Japanese emissions limits.


If the Bongo EGR system is working as it should, there's no need to do anything to it.


When the Bongo EGR fails, it usually jams in the 'open' position. Signs of a faulty EGR system on a Bongo can be a combination of loss of power, black smoke, knocking noise, excessive fuel consumption, smell of oil fumes in the vehicle.


The pipes of the EGR system can leak; the manifold or turbo will lose back-pressure. You will notice a lack of power from the engine and may smell fumes, which can cause nausea and headaches. This can all be fixed!


 As blanking the EGR is no longer legal and is checked during MOT, I no longer sell the blanking plates. The best option is to spend a few hours removing the EGR, cleaning it and checking for leaking pipes. 


While working on the Bongo EGR, you may notice a green one-way valve. This is plastic, it becomes brittle and can break. It affects the cold-start function. If the valve is broken, it can be replaced. You can either order a replacement valve, currently only from a Mazda main dealer. Or you can fit a (much cheaper) one-way windscreen washer-pump valve! These are available from most motor factors. I used one several years ago on my own Bongo and it still works fine!


When you put the EGR back, be careful to reconnect vacuum pipes, or the EGR can remain diconnected, allowing exhaust fumes to circulate into the inlet manifold, causing a 'dirty burn' and using excess fuel. 


I'm stating the obvious, but if you fit a used EGR system, clean it before fitting. 


Here's a handy Wiki link with general info on how to clean an EGR system. It's not a Bongo EGR but is still useful advice: CLICK ON THIS LINK.


I can clean or change your Bongo EGR system. Get in touch to book. 


Mazda Bongo NS mounting point Nearside NS mounting point

If you have a tow bar on your Mazda Bongo or Ford Freda, check it.


The Mazda Bongo was not designed as a tow vehicle. There are two 'mounting points' for a tow bar. They're on the drivers side (OS) and passenger side (NS) rear. The NS mounting point is only spot-welded. This means it's too weak to hold a tow bar and it's load; it will be stressed and may fail. This mounting point needs to be strengthened, before fitting a tow bar.


The OS mounting point is fixed to the chassis and is stronger, provided the chassis is solid and not corroded with rust.


If a tow bar is already mounted to the NS mounting point, the mount will need to be strengthened. You may notice a drooping rear bumper! The bumper can be removed for access before welding. It’s not always necessary to remove the tow bar, but it can also be removed if needed.


The Bongo and Freda are susceptible to corrosion (rusting) of the rear cross member. The crossmember contributes to the strength of the chassis. Any tow bar attached to a weakened chassis is at risk. A corroded rear crossmember should be removed and a new one welded into place. It will last longer if it is also undersealed.


There are now a couple of different styles of tow bars for a Mazda Bongo; they’re mounted in different ways. TowTrust have altered the design of their Mazda Bongo tow bar and it now mounts to the chassis. A1 also manufacture a tow bar that includes mounts on the chassis. Please let me know if there are other tow bars for the Mazda Bongo, that mount to the chassis, and I will add them.


I can check your tow bar mounting point and carry out any welding or repairs you need. Please get in touch to arrange this.

Please get in touch if you would like to book your Bongo or Freda in to have the mounting points checked, crossmember replaced, welding or undersealing.



Why isn’t the air conditioning working?

The most common reason is because the air con gas needs topping up. To prevent damage, the system will automatically shut down when the gas is too low.


The air con system naturally loses some gas over time. It generally needs topping up every 1 – 2 years, depending on use. 


When I re-gas (top up) the air con, I also add the right amount of PAG oil. This is vital as it lubricates the system and helps to keep the seals supple, so they don’t leak. 

When seals dry out, they leak and the gas will escape. So run the air con all year round, for at least a few minutes each week, to help to keep the seals in good condition.


Please be aware that some of the newer models take less gas, probably due to a change in the pipework. Don't overfill the system and monitor when filling.


The guideline figures we have are:

Front aircon only: 700gm gas + 14ml PAG.

Front and rear aircon: 950gm gas + 14ml PAG.

Year 2000 onwards: 750gm gas + 50 PAG.


We can drain, check for leaks, repair and re-fill Mazda Bongo aircon systems. Please get in touch to book this. 

Bongo middle seat photo Middle seat on a Bongo


Turning the seat to face the rear, gives you more space in the middle of the van. Under current MOT rules, rear facing seats do not need seat belts.

I've reversed Bongo seats many times. It's a straight forward job. The seat is heavy. Turning it in a confined space is much easier with 2 people. The rest you can manage alone. 

The only tools you need are a Phillips screwdriver, a 17ml socket and ratchet, and a hammer. 

To save me writing the instructions up again, please see the photos and advice given by dvisor on this link.

Photo of carpet dye for a Bongo Carpet dye


Several years ago I dyed the carpets in my Bongo pick up.

They were a well-worn faded grey. After dying they almost looked new! They still look good after several years. 

I used Autosmart 'midnight black' carpet dye. It's used by valeters and often availabe from them. It's also sold on EBay and Amazon. I estimate you need about 5 litres to dye all the carpets in a Bongo

Photo of hand held spray bottle Spray bottle

I decanted the dye into a cheap hand-held spray bottle  I sprayed a thin coat, allowed it to dry and applied another coat. It took about 5 coats to achieve the depth of colour I wanted.

The dye smells when wet, so spray in a well ventilated area; you might want to wear a mask. It stains anything it blows onto, so wear gloves and move anything you don't want sprayed! 

Photo of throttle pedal stop. Throttle pedal 'stop'


I'm frequently asked what the black button under the Bongo throttle pedal is for. Despite the rumours, I'm sorry to say, it doesn't operate an ejector seat or take you back to the future.  

It's simply a 'stop' for the throttle pedal. It stops the pedal being pushed any further.

If you remove it, there are no hidden controls. You'll just find the fixings that hold it (and the carpet) in place. 



The headlight lens on a Bongo is made of polycarbonate plastic (PCB). UV rays from sunlight degrade the outer layer, causing it to look dull. The light of the headlight bulb cannot shine clearly through the cloudy lens and visibility is reduced. 

Some headlights are also coated in a yellow fim, which suffers from in the same way.

Luckily it's fairly simple to restore clarity to the lens. We've found a good video from AMMO NYC that shows 3 different methods of doing this yourself. 



Or get in touch if you'd like me to do this for you.


I've been waxoyl undersealing Bongo for over 17 years. Despite being a time consuming, mucky job, some people prefer to do their own undersealing.

I recommend wearing overalls, gloves and eye protection. The fumes are waxy and you don't really want to breathe them in, so also wear a protective mask.  

Protect the ground under the Bongo with a dustsheet or tarpaulin as waxoyl is very difficult to remove!


I found a video that shows you the basics on Waxoyl undersealing.  



I've been undersealing Bongos for over 17 years and in that time, I've found it's an effective way to help to slow down or prevent corrosion. 

Click for details on my Bongo undersealing service in Plymouth, Devon. 

HOW TO GUIDES. Click links to download guides

The advice given is believed to be correct but followed at your own risk. 

The guides are listed in alphabetical order. 

If you're unsure how to fix your Bongo, please get in touch to book your Bongo in with me.

AFT pop-top roof won't raise or lower
Bongo roof not working, roof stuck, simple fix for common problem
AFT roof won't operate.docx
Microsoft Word document [42.0 KB]
ATF Automatic Transmission Fluid check
How to check the ATF level (gearbox oil level)
ATF Check.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [178.7 KB]
Beeps: How to stop a Bongo beeping.
Bongo Beeps stop without cutting wires.
How to stop Bongo Beeping.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [159.3 KB]
Bulbs; Which bulbs fit a Mazda Bongo.
Bongo bulb numbers.
Mazda Bongo bulb numbers.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [138.1 KB]
Buying a Bongo guide
Our comprehensive guide to buying a Bongo, with information from Allan's site.
Bongo Buyers Guide.docx
Microsoft Word document [32.7 KB]
Buying a Bongo guide
Our comprehensive guide to buying a Mazda Bongo, with information from Allan's site.
Bongo Buyers Guide.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [506.3 KB]
Register a Bongo Campervan
Bongo motor caravan - how to register from MPV to camper
Registering a Bongo as a motor caravan.d[...]
Microsoft Word document [43.1 KB]
Rear facing childs car seat
Bongo car seat, Group 1-2, 9-25kg, rear facing car seat.
Adobe Acrobat document [107.8 KB]
Centre consul - re-cover an arm rest in a Bongo.
Drivers arm rest cover.
How to re-cover drivers arm rest.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [459.5 KB]
Cooling System maintenance on a Bongo.
Maintaining the Mazda Bongo cooling system.
Adobe Acrobat document [181.7 KB]
Cooling hose condition guide for Bongo
Learn to recognise a worn Bongo coolant hose
Coolant Hose Guide for Bongo.docx
Microsoft Word document [1.6 MB]
Cylinder head - What to check when buying & fitting.
Buying & fitting a Mazda Bongo cylinder head.
Cylinder Head checks - Mazda Bongo.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [215.3 KB]
Fuel gauge fix for a Bongo.
Mazda Bongo fuel gauge fix, without drilling
How to fix a Mazda Bongo faulty fuel gau[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [160.4 KB]
Mirror glass removal on a Bongo.
How to replace Mazda Bongo tailgate mirror glass.
Mazda Bongo tailgate mirror.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [117.4 KB]
Paint Colour Codes for Mazda Bongo
Mazda Bongo paint colour codes
Mazda Bongo Colour Codes.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [138.6 KB]
Roof tent, AFT operation
Bongo AFT roof won't open? What to check. How to open and close the roof tent.
Bongo Roof tent operation.docx
Microsoft Word document [202.5 KB]
Roof tent removal on a Mazda Bongo.
How to remove a Bongo sleeping compartment.
How to remove sleeping compartment.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [148.0 KB]
Technical specification 2.5d Mazda Bongo.
Technical figures for a 2.5 diesel Mazda Bongo.
Mazda Bongo 2.5 Technical Specification.[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [182.5 KB]
Technical Specification 2.0 petrol Mazda Bongo
Technical figures for a 2.0 petrol Mazda Bongo
Mazda Bongo 2.0 petrol technical specifi[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [137.5 KB]
Warning Lights on a Mazda Bongo.
What the warning light symbols mean.
Warning_lights - Mazda Bongo.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [162.5 KB]


 I created a Mazda Bongo Facebook group, over 12 years ago. You can chat, ask questions, post photos, arrange meets, buy, sell & swop Bongo stuff!


Recommend this page on:

Allans Vehicle Services,

Wixenford Depot, Plymstock, Plymouth, Devon, PL9 8AA.

VAT no: 909 7647 80



Tel: 01752 403400

Mob: 07471 002034

Text: 07471 002034


I work on my own. If I can't answer right away, please leave a message & your number. I'll call you back.


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