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Mazda 323



  • First I will assume the rest of this car is like the 323 for the injection system. Go first and verify that you have good correct fuel pressure with a gauge. If so:

    Welcome to the world of electronics. One of the biggest problems I have dealt with on our 89 323, also very related to the 86-89 323's very similar to the 90's and up units, has been the airflow meter. Ah, this could also be a hard too start or rough idling problem for other people out there. Now for procedure. Take out a good sharp new utility knife. Cut the silicone around the little black plastic top on the air flow meter which is located just behind the air intake. Take a volt meter, refer to a wiring diagram for that meter from either Mitchel's profession manuals or maybe the dealer can supply info. I do have a factory service manual for this one if need be. You want to check that the fuel pump switch is working to turn on the fuel pump relay. If the switch is working, then check at that point to see if you are getting power from the main relay, which is located by the battery on 323's. The main relay gets its power from the ignition switch looking at my book. The main relay looks like an old Chevy horn relay from the top side. While you are in there, check the carbon track on the rheostat for wear. If it becomes worn it will cause a somewhat rough idle or a no start. If the carbon track is worn, like me you you want it cheap, loosen the screws to the circuit board and slide it a little bit to make new contact on unworn track area. If this fixes it, look for another air flow meter not so worn out in the junk yard for a spare until that part of the track is gone. Another 100 miles hopefully! Sure beats spending $300 for a reman! Oh, before you close up at this point, make sure you reseal that black top on the air flow unit with new fresh clear silicone. You do not want any dirt in there.

    Okay, lets assume a no start at this point. Go the other direction in the wiring diagram and inspect the fuel pump fuse, relay and last of all the pump. If the pump was not working in the first place, there would of been no fuel pressure, which means for some reason the first test failed! But that never happens right? Not exactly!

    Never hurts to have double tests! Remember I said correct fuel pressure! Our Mazda 323 had a no start with low pressure at 200K miles. That prompted replacing the fuel pump with a Carter brand unit which brought it back to life. The other no start was the mass airflow unit at 150K. Another because the battery cranking voltage was a bit below 10 volts. And the real humdinger of all the no starts was the distributor.

    Distributor. We run synthetic oil in ours now. We breakin frist 500 to 1K miles. then switch to synthetic. Nice stuff. Your gas mileage goes up as well as part wear. The problem I have found with synthetic is it is so good, too much of it gets into the distributor and shorts out not only the cap/rotor but also the pickup chip. Just pull the distributor, disassemble and clean it out. If your distributor is like mine 86-89 Mazda, it will have two oil holes in the base of it. Later Mazdas do not have those holes. Take a small brad that will fit tightly, cut it short enough to fit tight and not jam up the other mechanical parts and close off those holes. After all of this is done, she should start up. If not, check to see if you are getting a signal from the pickup chip, easily verified if you are getting a spark. If no spark, take off to the junk yard and grab another whole distributor and ECU while you are there.

    Back to the synthetic oil. I have not been totally successful in keeping the synthetic oil out of the distributor. I will keep the oil because the car does almost 40mpg on it and the wear is very low. I do keep an extra distributor I rebuilt ready to go in. I have both units with scribe marks to the head and distributor base for a correct timing line up. That way I can pull one unit, slap in the next one right on the side of the road!

    I think you have plenty at this point to get you going. If not, holler, I will put the thinking cap on again.
  • The rough idle you describe is very much similiar to a air flow meter I wrote about too someone else just a few messages above. I will also add that you should check the throttle position sensor. This is not an easy part to adjust either. You will need a good knowledge of electronics or someone else who does for the troubleshooting. This will be a good start for you.
  • Yup, the 323's are becoming more scarce. Windsheids very often damaged in junkyards out of anger from some overly upset male. Check for U-pull it junk yards in your area. Last year I have seen only one 323 in the yard. Year before that several. Check the library for the Hollander book for cross references for what fits on what. Like one guy said, the Mercury Tracer is related to the 323 for many things. Time for us to make another run just to see what is out there that I have on the car "grocery list." Keep looking, hopefully one will show up. Check on the internet for a yard that may have what you are looking for. Google is a good start with the key words 'U-Pull-It."
  • Try for the bumper, they may have just the cover. I have seen a few things there.
  • des357des357 Posts: 2
    I recently bought a 1988 Mazda 323. I have had a new transmission, a new engine, and a new heat pump put in it. With all of this done, it is now running hot sometimes, even though the radiator is full and flowing properly. I am sure that the thermostat is sticking, and is something I can repair myself, but where is the themostat located?
  • Yes, you can do this repair yourself, but it is a bit tedious. READ EVERYTHING FIRST before you do anything! I suggest you print it out as well.

    First of all, you mentioned a new engine. New engines give off a lot of heat. If you have an old radiator, GET A NEW ONE! Old radiators will ruin a new engine every time. Even rodding them out is not enough. Also, when we installed a our new engine back in 2000, I put in the 192 degree stat. That was what was called for by the OEM book. The motor was always hotter than usual and blew a few new radiator's out under warranty as well. Well, when this engine reached a 120K mile service point and the whole cooling system was redone, we went to a 180 degree stat. That unit does a much better job even with the a/c running. Before hand, the a/c was just a bit too much. If your mechanic is worth his salt, he would have installed a new thermostat. See if he can tell you which one is in there. Check to see what the story is on the radiator as well. That info will tell you what you need to do. This information may even be on the repair invoice.

    Stat testing is easy. Get a pot of cold water if you do have to take it out, put the unit in it with a thermometer. Bring it to a boil and note the temperature it starts to open at. That is the temp that should be stamped on the bottom of the copper bulb. Pay attention to whether that temp is in F or C degrees. Most stats are marked in F degrees, but some units from over seas are marked in C degrees.

    Location of the device. I still can not stress enough, get a repair manual here. It will cook book the procedure much better than I could do on the net. Locate the distributor on the end of the engine by the drivers side. Underneath it is the thermostat housing. Look carefully at the switch in the housing. Many of those switches are broken by people who are not careful when pulling this thing out. That switch is a dealer item only at about $40! This engine has about 4 thermo switches on it and this one is the only one that is dealer only item! I find it easiest to pull the distrubtor out to access the thermostat and not break that stupid switch. First, lets really make your life easy on that distributor part when it comes to pulling it and re installing it. Take a chisel to the top part of the distributor base and make a scribe mark on the flattest section between the engine head and the base of the distributor lining up with each part. That is your line up timing marks when you reinstall! The distributor will go one way in. Look at the base of the unit when you remove it and you will see that the flat drive part is off center. When you go to reinstall pay attention to how that lines up with the camshaft inside the opening in the head. You may wish to have that distributor cap off so you can turn it to fit it in properly. Good time to inspect the cap and rotor as well. They should also be new after a good rebuild. Check while it is out to make sure the distributor base o ring is in good shape. If not, your mechanic has cut corners on your rebuild. Another trick. Take a permanent marker before you pull the spark plug wires and mark the cylinders numbers on the top of the valve cover. Refer to repair manual for which is which. Take a small regular screw driver and scratch those same numbers on the distributor cap by each wire tower that wire goes to before you take those wires off. This will save you a lot of headaches later on misfires, no starts and backfiring troubles.

    Believe me, I have had that fun, because our new engine from Mazda is 180 degrees opposite from the book! I finally got smart and tagged everything there because I keep forgetting that one fact! Now I can tear that part apart and put it back in less than 30 minutes on the side of the road if our distributor gets synthetic oil flooding after a while. Mentioned in another message.

    Okay, distributor is out, now you can get to the thermostat housing easy. I recall it being two 13 mm bolt heads. The bolts are two different lengths. Pay attention to where each goes. If you forget, the trick for that is to slip each bolt in and check to see if the ends sticking out are the same length before reinstalling. Oh, speaking of bolts, the distributor is held down with two same length 12 mm bolt heads. Remember this is an aluminin head so pay attention to how tight you tighten stuff later one.How much force you have to use to remove something will give you some idea as to how tight you have to be when reinstalling. That does not apply though if the threads are dirty. Not too tight or you will break a bolt! Clean those bolt threads and use antiseize when reinstalling both of these bolts sections.

    Side mounted thermostats are a bit tricky to install. First cafefully scrape off the old gasket from the head. Use a fine wire brush on a tool to finish up, but be careful not to get any little broken wires from the brush into the head. Block it off by stuffing a rag into the opening deep enough to not get into the spinning brush but where you can pull it out with a pair of needle nose pliers. Repeat the cleaning procedure on the housing piece. If you have a stick on gasket for the new one, you can apply it to hold the stat in place in the head before replacing it in the head. The thermostat goes in one way, bulb part into engine and turned in one position only. So pay attention which way it is in there. If need be, get that permenant marker again and mark it with line up marks again. Just like the distributor, but you are using a marker instead.

    Another trick to make clean up easier on the next tear down, coat the other side of the non sticky gasket side with a THIN coat of black silicone. Wait 10-15 minutes and bolt up. Removal will be easier next time.

    These tips should make the job a lot easier, but like I said first, find out what was done by the mecahnic. Go into based on that info. If you need to go into it, get that book Chilton's Mazda 323 1978- 1989 from a parts house. Pay great attention to what you are doing and make notes on paper if need be. Permanent marker and a scribe chisel will help you out a lot as well. Also note, that I am assuming you have some basic knowledge of tools. If not, that chilton's book will help there as well. My favorite tool "toy store" is Harbor Freight. Great for this car, because this car has a way of taking your tools when you drop them and you can not get them back easily!
  • des357des357 Posts: 2
    Thanks for the information. I will definitly make sure to read everything first and I think I will invest in a Chilton's.
  • dan189dan189 Posts: 2
    Hi, we have a 1991 323 and just my husband is trying to put in a new stereo.... We are looking for a color code for the speaker and stereo wires so he will not have to pull all the panels off! Can some one help, I would rather not pay for just that, we do have a repair manual, but it doesn't have what he is looking for. Thanks for the help. Missing my tunes in Sacramento!!!!
  • Well, sad to say, I do not have the color code for the 91, but I do have a way to figure out what is what! First, lets start with the new radio to see what connections you need. Look at the installation info for that. Write those down on paper. Second you need to decide if you want it to play when the key is on only or if the key is off. This will tell you whether you want to wire the switched B+ to a switched battery source or to constant B+. B+ means battery voltage. That way you can play the radio with no key in the car connected to the battery only.

    3rd, you need a digital volt meter ideally, or a 12 volt trouble lamp, the trouble lamp would be more headache to use than a meter. Harbor Freight is a great source to pick up an item like this for a first one to learn on. Read the instructions for that DVM, Digital Volt Meter. Try it out on the battery voltage connected to the battery directly to give yourself some idea how it works reading voltage. Switch it to ohms, the upside down horseshoe and connect the leads together, the almost zero reading is what you get with a dead short or connection. Depending what you are looking for.

    Now, for the fun. Find the locations for the factory speaker locations. Whereever they are, there is usually a factory wiring already in there for a radio. If the radio is being replaced, then all you have to do is see what the colors of those wires are. Wait until you are completely finished before re installing this stuff and everything works. Once you have the color codes written down for each location, you can return to the dash radio location. Look for a connector/connectors/wire harness with those same wire colors. Never a radio in dash, you should find a plug. If there is an old radio being replaced you should find the old wiring system easily. Do the next step if you are not sure the wires are correct or to verify them. Take an old extension cord that you do not want that is about 15 feet long. Cut off the ends, strip them and if you have or can get some alligator clips install them. Also available from Harbor Freight. Clip one end to a bare connection by the speaker location and go to the front to locate the same wire color. Now you want to switch the DVM to ohms which will have what looks like an upside horse shoe. Switch it to the lowest number on the scale for that purpose. Check owners manual for DVM for more info. By the radio location, when you connect on DVM meter lead to the same color wire you are checking at the speaker location and the other meter lead to the extesion cord wire, the reading should be less than 10 omhs. If you get this reading, that means you definitely have the same wire or that if it is the same wire, it is broken somewhere. Any way, you want to check each of the front wires ends to each of the wires at the speaker locations. Make notes as you go on paper what is what.

    Next, you want to verify your power leads. Chances are very good that will be the last few wires in that harnass. Check on DC volt scale with a number greater than 12 volts, but close to it. For example, my meter has 20 V with a straight line to indicate volts DC on it: that is the scale I use on most car stuff. Check each wire until you find one with battery voltage with key off. Use the positive, red wire to check while you or someone is holding the black lead to ground which is some metal frame somewhere. Then check each one until you find the other one with battery voltage when the key is turned on accesory or when the car is running. That should locate most of the lines you need short of ground. That can easily be accessed using some screw some where that is in metal. Don't make the mistake of screwing in a new sheet metal screw for a ground connection unless you know for sure what is behind it. I have seen heater cores and owners get screwed over that one! No fun to replace heater cores either!

    If this works out for you great, that should cover it unless someone has tampered with the original stuff. Holler back if that appears to be the cas
  • dan189dan189 Posts: 2
    Thanks for the info, but someone has already dyked of the original connectors at the dash, guess I still have to pull the panels!
  • pascalwpascalw Posts: 1
    can someone give me the head torque setting for a Mazda 323F 1006 engine 1489cc with twin cam
  • You really need a service manual for this to be done correctly. Again, as I say over and over. Chilton's Haynes, Mitchel, so on. For example, some year engines the bolts are tighten from inside out, then other years, turbo/non-turbo, are tighten from outside in. Then to add on top of that most head bolts are tighten in three steps. Make very sure the bolt threads are clean and not stretched. Also, if they are torque to yield bolts, replace the head bolts with new ones. Not sure what kind of bolts they are, check with a machine shop or your dealer. One mistake in this department and your work is ruined.

    Without year, model type, non-turbo versus turbo I could only begin to give you a correct answer. For 1978- 1989 book I have, I show two different but very close ranges. 1.5 which is usually called a 1.6 as being 56-59 foot pounds, usually the non-turbo unit. The 1.6 as being 56-60 foot pounds. The latter is usually the turbo model. Always be sure, because my replacement crate engine does not fit the book!
  • I'm having a heck of a time trying to find used/new rear lateral link(right) for my 1988 Mazda 323 Hatchback. Any suggestions as to where may I look? :sick:
  • sschmidsschmid Posts: 28
    If you are talking about rear sway bar link, it is a dealer only item. They sell esch part separately bushing spacers bolt and nut. One side will cost about $25 after they nickle and dime you to death. Just had to do mine!
  • Okay, sounds like you already know about junk yards. Check with several dealerships. Don't take no for an answer. Many dealerships will say no because they want to sell you a new car. Have a body shop contact? Find out which dealerships will sell whatever to you. Deal with that dealer after you let them know you will buy from them as long as they can get you a part. High price you may think. Well, think how many car notes that part would equal! That always changes my mind about an older vehicle. Some dealers have wised up that some of us will rebuild no matter what and that old running car gets attention! Just like my Toyota dealer knows! Check as well. Last time I checked a lot of the suspension parts were still available for our 89 about 2 years ago to my surprise. There is a change in design sometime in 1989 models, so do not rule out an 89 in junk yard searches. Looks like I may be in the yard myself this weekend for our 86 Tercel looking for a rear bumper.

    Hmmm, maybe we should all get together and set up an old car buff network on Edmunds. That would put more eyes out into the junk yards across the country! Anyone else out there game for this idea? It has been awhile since I was out in the yards last, but then again that only lasts until something breaks or someone hits me. Send me a vin and date of manufacture, I'll check my favorite hunting grounds if I have to go out.
  • Oh, one more thought. Moog makes a kit for the front sway bar. Not one I would use on a good sway bar that is not wallowed out. But one I could rebore the ends on a drill press and use that kit on it. The height could be raised by adding washers or lowered by cutting the tube shorter. Personally, I am not beyond buying that kit and possibly considering a modification to make it work as a last resort.

    Not availble part at all just means some additional shop time to make a suitable replacement part. Make XXXXXX XXXXX sure that the replacement redesigned part will do the job, because if all hell breaks loose in an accident, it becomes your butt on the legal line! You are on your own for this one! As for me, it would not be the first time I came up with a remaned shop part!
  • Just had to post this here.
    Managed to find my rear lateral link with these guys - North Penn Mazda( They seem to have a lot of suspension parts readily available. Got the link and some bushings, now I'm waiting for the shipment on Monday in order to start working on the car. Thanks to everyone who replied!

    Edit: Btw, there are some real nice illustrations in their mechanical catalog. For example a decent exploded view of the rear suspension on a 323 Hatchback, that you can't find in Chilton's.
  • Very good imaginapolis. This is exactly what I was saying earlier. Many dealers do not want to fool with the older cars. All of them have access to the same pool of parts in the country. My dealer here has been good, so now that I am thinking about it, let me pass this on to our group. Diamond Mazda, Baton Rouge LA. 1-800-527-0189. The manager is a woman named Kelly. I rarely see her much any more, but the front desk help is great and they give me exploded views when I ask. My joke is that piece of paper will cost me down the rod! It almost always does! On the other hand, when you need that part and they have it, they got me!
  • My 86 finally broke down after 2 years of virtually zero problems. It has 240,000 miles and a radiator/hose leak let it overheat. I got it free from a friend....hand painted over the nasty paint job.

    I live in the mountains and it takes the curves and hills great (or did until a few days ago) There's hills around that in any other car I'd need to downsift-but this handles in top gear (4th) no problem.

    I'm praying I don't need to do a timing belt.

    My sense is that the 323's are very low terms of how oftwen you fuss with it. However---some repairs can be pretty complicated. I used to do a Pinto timing belt in less than a half hour. My Camry? about 2 days of profanity. I hope if I need a belt on the Mazda it's not an ordeal. I do think-well maintained-300,000 miles is a pretty good target for the engine.

    good luck
  • ah, someone else out there in the high mileage bracket! Okay, 323's do have a few dogs out there, like breaking crankshafts. If you made it to this mileage, yours is not one of them. We have redone ours once already at 138K and it could very well get another engine planned overhaul at 300K plus. The first engine died when the crankshaft broke.

    First, never ignore that timing belt. That engine is an interference engine, meaning valves will hit the pistons if it breaks. Always change the crank and cam seals when you go into it. Every 120 k change out the belt tensioner and the water pump as well.

    The gear boxes hold up well from what I have seen so far. The original made it to 238K when we changed it out for a 5 speed because of gas prices.

    Last of all, you have reached a mileage that anything goes so to speak. But I am way ahead of you on that game. Ours has tossed a few good fuel injection problems at me in the past few years. Recently she has been well behaved.

    As you noted, with the newer cars, this one is easy to work on. We would drop another 2-3K in a heartbeat to overhaul the engine correctly. I can not stress that last word enough! Ask around for who has a good rebuilding machine shop. Who do the dealers use? What about other trade contacts? Be ready to pay their price, because it will not be cheap. In the end, you will have a good rebuilt engine. Never cut corners on these engines, because they are like dominoes. One thing breaks and it could lead to major damage, like over heating a head! I still am seeing a one or two in the junk yards. Saw an 87 Labor Day with 219K on it.
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