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Mazda 323



  • @ 135k miles, old faithful needs a new clutch. It's starting to slip in 4th gear (it's a 4 spd). I will need to have a shop do the work for me. I was wondering what a typical price for this work would be. Also, should I have them replace the main seal while they are at it? (the car has no leaks.)

    I don't know if it's considered "bad customer etiquette", but I was also thinking about supplying the clutch kit to the shop. What would be a recommended brand?

  • sschmidsschmid Posts: 28
    Most shops will not let you supply your own parts. You may have a good relationship with your mechanic who will be willing to do so though. My son had his clutch done on the same car and it ran about $900, parts included.
  • girlcarbuilder,

    I believe I found your posts about working on the distributor. I've compiled them here (as a checklist for myself): Distributor tips

    Let me know if I have the right info.
  • Yes, that is pretty much part of it. If you click on someones name in a post, it will bring up their page as well as posts they have made over time. Another tip would be to use a small screwdriver on the distributor cap towers and scribe the numbers for each cylinder each one is for. On Mazda, that covers 86-89. Info begins to vary though for earlier and later years. Tracer, I am not knowledgeable of, but I know a particular engine when I see it under someones elses hood! I saw a Mazda manual transmission in a church members 2001 Escort this past Sunday for example.

    One thing I have learned all of these years, a bit of common sense goes a long way and short cuts can be applied on other models, if thought out carefully.

    UPDATE. The distributor plug system in the oil holes so far as done well in our 89 for several years now. I have not cleaned oil out since then. So that idea has panned out very nicely so far.

    That signal from the chip in the distributor also sets the timing for the fuel injectors. You can check to see if they are firing by putting a stethoscope probe on each one and listen for a clicking noise. That noise will be loud and firm in the stethoscope. Harbor Freight has a nice one for about $5.00. No clicking brings the chip in the distributor and/or the ECU into suspect.

    Congrats on your persistence. That is how I learned this stuff.....hard headed I get told at times!
  • I need to know how the plug wires match up to the distributor on a '89 323. Please describe it by matching up where the post is on the distributor - Top, Right, Bottom, Left - with the order of plugs going left to right on the engine - 1, 2, 3, 4. (So e.g. Top = 1, etc.)

  • I thought the ignitor was inside of, or part of, the distributor. If you'd replaced the distributor, wouldn't you have been replacing the ignitor as well?
  • Does anyone know how to get this pin out of the distributor (see diagram):

    The pin holds that cylindrical jobby on to the shaft, and apparently It's all part of the pick-up set. I thought the pin was the threaded kind that took a hex wrench, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

    Hey girlcarbuilder, how far should I be going with taking the distributor apart in order to clean it (per your posts about oil getting in there)?
  • Bear with me. Under the weather. To answer someone else's question, replacing the distributor will not solve the oil flooding problem caused by higher blowby from a high mileage engine. Not to mention, they do a bit less than I do! This one is for free!

    Firing order is 1-3-4-2 with cylinder #1 on the timing belt end of the engine. Number one should be marked on the cap. Number one should also be the one highest up. Rotation is counter clock wise. Whenever I tune up, I scratch the tower numbers on all towers along with date and mileage on the cap.

    Read everything below first and work the procedure in your mind second, then handle it!

    Now for disassembly. Funny, as many times I had this thing apart until I figured out the real problem was blowby, I can not recall. So much for memory, but put the spare one I set up years ago, my hands recall just fine. I assume you have removed the rotor and the top screw in the shaft at this point. Check the shaft for sideplay. None should be felt. Too much, reject the unit for another one to rebuild, but hold for spare parts. Now to remove the magnet, "star" shaped thing, I recall using two medium flat blade screw drivers between the magnet aka reluctor I believe and the pickup coil below which has a plastic case! So be careful and read first! Have a clean bench area. Turn each screwdriver like you would a screw and slowly press the reluctor off. Pay attention where the roll pin takes off to and hides! This will give you access to further disassembly. Also pay attention to which spacers come from under the pickup and under the opposing part. See view. Yup, this is the same distributor We have!

    To press that reluctor back on, I started it and the pin on the shaft then turned the distributor upside down on the bench and carefully pressed it back on. Pay attention to which is top and bottom on the reluctor. Wrong way, and it will not work. I recall some kind of mark on the top side.

    Take apart to the point where the main shaft is stripped down, but not removed from the housing. After the counterweights is the point I stopped at. I used a regular wheel bearing grease to relube those weights when I reassembled.

    Clean plastic parts with Dawn dishwashing water, old toothbrush and hot water. Do not clean the base unit because it still has bearings in it. Use carb cleaner spray on the base and other metal parts as needed. Dry and air out everything as needed. Look carefully at pickup unit for cracks in plastic case. If it is cracked, does not mean it does not still work. It does mean it will fail sometime. I have yet to have to replace one yet. I have a few from junk yard with complete distributors as spares. Last time I checked price on pickup, it was over $300, so treat it very nicely!

    As for the new oil plugs I installed in the bottom, I use cutoff brads from a basic curtain rod hanger for a valance. Call wife if needed for this! I tend to have a one up on many mechanics in this department! The nails, brads, aka pins, plugs are shortened to avoid interference with the mechanics in the base of the unit and then carefully pressed in place. I would start with one pin first to see how that does. Reassemble, reinstall. If you have to, you can always press the second one if it proves to allow too much oil flow still. I used carb cleaner spray to clean out both holes before pressing in a pin. But if you block off too much oil flow, then you will destroy the bearings in the unit and will have to replace the distributor. I also used carb cleaner to blow oil out of the base of the unit that was not disassembled any further.

    The litmus test after you reinstall is whether or not the cap stays dry, free from oil after you put the car back into service. Mine has a little still, but not enough to cause problems. Some oil is normal lubrication underneath. If it works, I have learned not to mess with it in some cases. This is one of them. Come to think of it, car has 80K more miles on it since doing this.

    Other than this, I have had to replace the vaccuum advance and the wire harness on these units. The capactor is a radio interfence part, but even after it died, I never had a problem with interference on the radio. So I never replaced it.
  • Wow, thanks for the detailed rundown. Simply awesome, as always.

    Two follow-up questions:
    1. Firing order: So the top-most plug wire on the distributor goes to cylinder #1, then going counter-clockwise, left to #3, bottom to #4, and right to #2?
    2. There's a resin-encased chip of some sort - a little black cube about 3/4" square - on the side of this distributor. I've heard mention of both an ignitor and ignition module (same thing?) and I'm wondering if that's it. Going through different posts on the no-start issue, there appears to be conflicting info about which components in, or on, the distributor are actually going bad that necessitate having to replace the whole thing.

    Hope you feel better soon! Getting a little chilly out there for drag racing with the top down. Whoops, this is a 323 forum - I guess it doesn't get that exciting for us :P
  • Well, cleaning out the distributor didn't help. Once I had it apart, I discovered there wasn't much oil in there anyway. I'm guessing you had a lot in yours. I then got to wondering if a quick visual inspection with just the distributor cap off would have told me right away if cleaning was even worth trying.

    Anyway, live and learn. I guess now, unless anyone has any other ideas, I'm going to buy a used distributor from the junk yard. I'd like to try replacing the little black chip on the side of the distributor first, but I don't suspect they sell those separately.

    Any ideas appreciated as the ol' landlord is starting to get on me to get 'er gone.
  • i figure the posts before could have answered your question rebuild the dist place in the slot, lineup power stroke in 1st pot to markers put a screwdriver in the first pot for reference sake,the dis cap stay`s off, the coil wire( using insulate long nose pliers) and rotor button should be 3to4mm away from each other, with ign on, then twist the dist in the hole until elec fires this will indicate exactly where your dist is suppose to be and number ones post from there the firing order will be1342 elect junction on top,indicator on collar should be nearly in line with no.1post a pencil away,if you didn`t get a spark between the coil and rotor button,check coil near a earthed part of the body,look for cracks in the rotor see if the transfer carbon post is in the dist cap is there, if any problem take to auto elect,and get it bench tested and take coil too hope that help you 91323 :sick:
  • and that anti clock wise firing order, from the top position,it should literally sit at the very top of the slot and only needs fine tuning, keep starting to check off,advancement with rev rate at 2000, put the plug back in before spark test i forgot to mention that, helps the elect continuity,you`ll never get it, if you dont, it will read dead,no spark :sick: .
  • Okay....lets recheck a few things. First, take your timing light and check each plug wire for a spark. Also check the coil wire. Take your stethoscope and check each fuel injector for a clicking noise. Do these tests while someone is cranking the engine. No spark and no clicking means we have something going wrong from distributor pickup, the black module with wires attached, to and possibly including the ECU. If you get both a spark and clicking noise then those systems are working and we are dealing with timing the ignition system correctly. If you get spark and no clicking or clicking and no spark, let me know asap.

    If you do not have these tools, they are a must to fix this. Harbor Freight again.

    Bear with me, doing the Vulcan mind meld with a 20 year old 323 is a bit rough long distance.....but it will not be the first I fixed that way. Hopefully it will not be the first not fixed.

    How far away are you from Baton Rouge, LA?
  • Okay, I will gather the tools together and recheck those things. In the meantime, I'll just reiterate from my first post that I was getting a weak spark. I didn't use a timing light, just the standard tests of the plugs, wires, etc, against the block. (By the way, the plugs, plug wires, dist cap, and rotor are all brand new.) Never checked the injectors - will give those a listen.

    I live in Minnesota.
  • or you can feed each pot,some fuel like a full choke, thru the spark holes put them back connect spark plug: wires in and crank, admittedly not the done thing, but this is another method to check off air meter and elect continuity,instant result, or not,i was scratching my head first up with the very same problems, just a simple wires, cap, and air meter filter replacement, just note how much you regulate in each pot,10ml-15mm is adequate, to vaporize. :sick: 91323
  • Well, I replaced the distributor yesterday with one from the junkyard (since it had already been ordered), but still no start. If I understand 91323vic's instructions from a previous post, I should try rotating the distributor while someone else turns it over? Or just with the ignition in the ON position? Or should I just verify the timing right now before doing anything else?

    RE 91323vic's post above: Is he saying I should try spraying a little starter fluid in the cylinders and see what happens when it turns over? Maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can fill in the gaps because I'm having a little trouble understanding him.

    @ girlcarlbuilder: Going to try borrowing a timing light from Autozone (and bring my old distributor in for a bench test while I'm there.) Once I have that, and a stethoscope from the surplus store, and a friend to turn it over, I'll try your tests next. 91323vic's tests caught my attention simply because I don't have the tools you mention.

    Thanks for everyone's patience and advice. Obviously, my knowledge of automechanics is limited. I understand basically what timing is and why it's fundamental, but I've never had a timing issue on a vehicle before. It occurred to me in the beginning that the timing could be off here, but so many other posts pointed to the distributor. Frankly, I just didn't know what the proper order of operations was after seeing the weak spark at the plug.
  • okay line up timing marks on motor, under drivers side wheel, so take off wheel,and cover,the screw driver tell firing stroke,because there is exhaust stroke and fire stroke, take cap off grab coil wire with ign on and twist dist this should if in the right place snap elect current for first pot it you have it right,it could be :sick: a petrol problem because you can now see spark drop 10 ml of petrol in each pot this will start it but not run for long it will tell you that your timing is correct check fuses check fuel pump
  • weak spark is fine at least you have it :sick:
  • do not touch coil wire with rotor button or it will weld together keep a pencil thickness away secondly the power stroke is the lowest stroke in the pot the exhaust stroke is the highest that`s why you need the screwdriver to show you this, if your setting to exhaust stroke your petrol its exiting to exhaust i found that when it started a plume for 3mins of the fuel((and don`t crank with ign)) turn with hand while screwdrivers in pot.91323vici am soory i didn`t get with your program sooner i figured you were in good hands, follow these methods i got my up and running :sick:
  • Vic is a bit difficult for me to follow. But I will say this, It takes four things to make an engine run. Take one of them away and it will not start. Airflow, good fuel, good spark and timing. Timing issues come in the form of spark and valve and in fuel injection systems....fuel as well.

    A weak spark in the Mazda 323 engine is going to be a problem in 323's. Oil issues in the distributor can create a weak spark to no spark and at times an erractic spark.

    If you did not verify ignition, spark timing, before taking it down. that is the next thing to do. Do not rely totally on Autozone to give you a go, no go on the distributor. I have seen too many times a part is either good or bad when they declared the opposite.

    In terms of cranking while turning the distributor, I prefer to hold the timing light at the marks on the crankshaft pulley to see which way is the correct way to turn.

    Verify your spark being present and your injectors then proceed to set your timing. Get a book to see where the marks are and how to use a timing light.
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