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Psychic Mechanic
Psychic Mechanic, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
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Experience:  ASE Master L1 20 years experience
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1988 Mazda: Extended Cab..speed transmission..Speedometer cable

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1988 Mazda Extended Cab Truck - standard 5 speed transmission - Speedometer cable continues to break into. My mechanic has replaced the cable 10 times and all ten broke after driving the truck twenty to thirty feet. the cable always breaks at the speedometer end. Does anyone have any ideas what I can do to fix this problem short of the getting a new truck?
Well it sounds like the speedometer is locking up casing the the cable to twist apart. I would make sure your speedometer spins free. Try taking one of the broken cables and use a power drill to test the speedometer operation.It may have been what broke the cable in the first place. don't replace the truck replace the speedometer. Also make sure the cable is run with no sharp bends the cable can only flex so much.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

PM, could this happen with two different odometers since I have replaced it once. If it locked up would it not stay that way? Or would a slight drag cause the cable to break. With the first odometer, I did turn the odometer by hand and it seemed to be free. If you still want me to check it out with the drill I will. Oh, I also checked the routing and it is routed as it was when I originally bought the truck in 1988. Do u think that the transmission could cause this problem? I know that I am probably asking too many questions, but I really would like to fix this problem. so, thank you in advance for your help. I will wait for your response.



Hi Henry,

I wish I could say this was a common problem. I don't think it is a transmision problem because the transmission is doing the twisting only resistance on the other end could make it snap. Are you sure you are installing the correct cable? Did the original odometer cable break in exactly the same way? Why did you replace the odometer? How slight is the drag you should be able to move it with your fingers.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Yes I am installing the cable correctly. And the new cables (obained from Mazda dealership) are suppose to be the correct ones. Side by side the cables look identical. I replaced the odometer (including cluster) for troubleshooting purposes only. the drag felt on both odometers was minimal. The previous mechanic (who is also certified and works for Ford) tried to find the problem but was not able to. After he had 10 to break, I tried 4 more myself and they broke also. I am not a mechanic by any means, but i use common sense. Then I ran across and thought I would give it a try. so far, I am excited. I can not think of anything else that I or the mechanic have done. However, I am open to any suggestion/s you might have.

Ok this is a tough one. It does sound like you have used common sense. I do usually find and easy answer for problems such as these although it may not be easy to find. I will run the problem by some other techs an let you know what we come up with.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thank you. I appreciate anything you can do!
Ok after asking around I realized I never asked you if you were replacing the whole cable and sheath or just the cable inside. If its just the cable The core of the sheath can get damaged when the cable snaps, and can damage the replacement cable at the same point by abrading it and letting it flop around slack in the wide spot. Replace the entire assembly, and be careful to route it as originally built - no shortcuts, don't kink it while putting the new one in, don't change the routing. Clamp it down solid with the supplied clamps, and seat the seals where it goes through the body. Also make sure that the cable is not too close to the exhaust excessive heat can cause the cable to bind. One other thing I should mention is to check your engine and transmission mounts. Excessive movement can cause the cable to move and possibly kink. I hope this new information helps. Let me know how you make out.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thanks! I can't recall right now if the mechanic changed out the sheath with an old or new one. However, following the replacement of the sheath, only the cable was replaced 13 times. As I seem to also recall, the routing of the cable is sort of pre-determined. The cable is only long enough to just reach the back of the odometer with only enough room to reach in with fingers to screw on the nut. Any other routing would make the cable too short. But I will purchase all new parts and try the things you suggest and get back with you. I took my truck to the body shop yesterday to correct some work that they had done. Should have it back by saturday. Meanwhile I should have the parts by then also. Thanks again! I will be in touch!



Ok Henry let me know how you make out.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Sorry to report that My truck was not ready for pickup yesterday. However, I did get a new speedometer able and shealth. Could only find a used meter cluster for the dashboard. But the odometer turns really smooth with fingertips. The shop is saying maybe tuesday for sure (right). But I think I am ready to go. Oh one additional thing I thought about this morning (may not mean much), when the speedometer cable breaks the strands of the cable wrap around the broken end of the cable as you would wrap the tip of a fly rod. Oh well, I will let you know. Thanks for being so patient.



ok Henry keep me posted.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Well, I finally got my truck back yeserday evening and started installing the cable. to make a long story short. the speedometer problem has been fixed. After repairing a defective odometer cable and making slight adjustment to the cable routing I stumbled on to the fix. I truly think that my mechanic or his helper ran the cable over the near the emergency brake cables instead of under the frame. the actual path length is the same but my way resulted in one less transistion point. I also checked the amount of cable rotational drag before and after every action I did. I think that it was your recommendation to ensure cable routing was correct that led e to try this alternate path. Since I never saw the original path pryor to my mechanics involvement I thought it was the correct one. So, thanks for your patience and knowledgable advise. We did it! So, now I am off to pay you. Take care!!