OP back again.
Just turned over 100k miles the other day, and I was busy crowing about how durable the Mazda has been. Short of some minor things like brakes, tires, signal bulbs and wipers, I've had very little to do.
Then the transfer case failed.
It appears that the TC on this car, as well as the Ford Flex and Ford Edge, had a problem with the seals and would leak the gear oil. Most people experienced a "puking" effect, where the vent would get plugged and the oil would puke out all over the garage floor, and provide a warning as to what was going to happen if they kept driving. I was not so lucky. I had a VERY slow leak that would hit the exhaust. Thusly, no spot on the garage floor, no evidence of a problem. Only when the TC failed did I realize anything was wrong. The 4wd light in the dash started flashing when I attempted to ascend my snow-covered driveway and the front tires spun helplessly. I put the car up on stands, put it in drive and spun a rear wheel. The driveshaft did not turn. I started the car and put it in gear. The front wheels turned, the rears did not. The driveshaft was not turning and it's my evidence that the TC is now dead. I have yet to take it anywhere, but I will shortly, as I can say this car is quite helpless without AWD. Got stuck on a few snowy hills that it would normally just run right up. Gives you an idea of how much better this car is with AWD vs FWD.
I called a Mazda dealer and they quoted a rough $1600 for the replacement (parts and labor). I will likely source something through Jasper, which should ease the sting a bit.
Though this repair is disappointing, I would otherwise stress that this car has had no other significant repairs at all. Just brakes, tires, rotors and other wear items. I've not owned a car that's gone 100k without repairs. If the TC issue is the only thing that comes up for a while, I can live with that.
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