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Mazda 323

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  • 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 partstrain.com 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 partstrain.com 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(http://www.northpennmazda.com). 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 maintanance....in 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.
  • reremrerem Posts: 2
    I have now ruled out timing belt....she gets spark,cranks over,I think I may need to start worrying about fuel injection or damaged heads. Probably some cheap sensor will turn out to be the hassle....but I've always been able to figure out what's wrong--and this has me stumped for now.
  • sschmidsschmid Posts: 28
    I would sure like to know where these are in a junkyard. I am in need of a driverside windshield moulding and a fuel sending switch for a 92 and have not been able to find one for ages. For now i just reset the tripometer every tank and just have no moulding there.
  • Seems that not all e-mail is reaching me.
    Okay, check your fuel pump pressure and regulator. How many miles are on it? Be patient, you are in the stop and think a while zone.

    Remember, it takes air, fuel, fire and timing to run an engine. What about the mass airflow sensor? There is a switch in there that controls the injectors on the 89, I think the 92 has one as well. There is also an on/off switch for the fuel pump in it. Have you tried an alternative fuel source to see if it runs on that? If so, then timing and spark are good for sure then it is clear that fuel is the problem. Get a wiring diagram for the injection system from the library because you are not going to get this from a regular auto parts store. You now need the professional level info to trouble shoot.
  • Junkyard no help? Get ready to whip out the plastic. Try internet searches for it with Google or, call a dealer that will get it for you if you are really serious enough to pay the money. My dealer here digs stuff up for me, I pay the price as well. Diamond Mazda, 1-800-527-0499.
  • Hi everyone... glad to see so many 323 lovers here!

    Maybe someone can clue me in as to where the oxygen sensor is on the 323? Mine poor car lost all power (torque really I guess) on the way home before the summer and after managing to replace the fuel filter and even the fuel pump myself (no small feat given my lack of skills) it didn't solve anything.

    So now I'm being told to try disconnecting the o2 sensor temporarily as it may be that or a "clogged cat" since it doesn't want to run in the morning (it will barely run once a day, refuse to restart after it stalls and still has no "power" to get over 20mph)

    Here's an old manual picture - any clues?
    http://img88.imageshack.us/img88/2041/mazda32316xg2.png

    Thanks for any help!
  • 1st....PARK IT: DO NOT RUN IT until you check the following! Sudden loss of power is a very good indicator of the belt jumping off one tooth. Yes, this engine will still run one tooth off without causing damage, but it will hardly move the car. But if you keep trying to push it and the belt breaks, it will be valve job time! AKA valves dancing on the piston heads. Also check your distubutor wires to make sure they are correct. I had someone pull a prank on me years ago by switching two opposing wires to be 180 out. They must have thought this girl would not figure it out!

    As I have said in previous posts get a service manual for the next part Inspect timing belt and timing to see if it has jumped time. If so, proceed with replacement of belt, crank and cam seals. Also, if you are at a 120K interval, change out the tensioner and water pump as well. Why, because they are going to fail soon if they have not been changed yet! They are also a pain to go back for.

    When you check the top timing mark, lay a pocket screwdriver point on the mark and across the belt to see if the cam gear notch lines up with the back mark. Do not count on your eyes for this. I have seen way too many gears off a tooth when sighted before! Done it wrong myself as well!

    I lay a good 75% bet on this one that is your problem if it appeared suddenly and your foot is much heavier than mine! Sudden loss of power is rare on these cars if well maintained! Ours is now at 260K miles. It is an 89, a very close sister to your 88! Almost identical. She has behaved well since the last headache at 200K.

    2nd, get back to me if number 1 fails, I have copies of pro repair manuals and check flow chart lists. Let me know how it goes, good or bad also look at my earlier posts for more info.

    O2 sensor is located in the front on the exhaust pipe just behind the radiator fan. It rarely causes what you are talking about. A mild run rich yes, but not detectable to your nose, not this kind of loss of power!
  • I greatly appreciate your advice (especially as another woman - my neighbor walked over to gawk yesterday in the apartment parking lot and said "gee you don't see too many women working on their cars"! LOL :surprise: )

    However the timing belt is going to be way outside my skill range. I don't have tools or knowledge like that (and no manuals). I am amazed enough I managed to change the fuel pump without endangering myself (envisioning electricity inside the gasoline tank as not a good thing, although the jury is still out on that one as I haven't gotten it running since.)

    It may be "too late" now given what you are saying - and to be honest, with all the calls I've done for service price checks, you are the first to give me such advice about the timing belt, everyone else is saying other things. The car was indeed parked all summer after I managed to make it back home at 20mph when it lost power but after I changed the fuel filter last month I did take it out for a two block run when I was thrilled to see it startup (only to find it still had no "power" :sick: )

    A few more details:

    1. Found the O2 sensor and yes it changed nothing when disconnected :(

    2. I just realized I didn't mentioned the mileage? It's over 200k now. It's been around and I am probably the fourth owner if not more

    3. Did I mention the one time when I do get it to start I have to pump the accelerator pedal continuously for a minute to get it to eventually idle? I've only successfully made that happen twice over the summer.

    The last repair shop I got a quote from this morning warns me the car has so many miles "it may have lost all compression". Does that mean the engine is at an end?

    Oh, I did replace the distributor wires myself this past week after I broke the old set trying to check them for contact/corrosion when pulling them off. But since I only replaced one wire at a time I am fairly certain I put them back in the right order. How do I check if it's the factory-correct order in the first place?

    Last but not least I'd never put in a waterpump at this point as the car is just not worth it - suspension is shot and I only use it for local travel 3-4 miles out, park, and 3-4 miles back twice a week (and obviously lived without it all summer). I am a "poor student" so I can't put more than another $100 or so before I call it quits. Just trying to eek out another year (7000 miles) out of it somehow...

    (sorry I don't know any proper terminology so tell me if I am being confusing...)
  • I just re-read what you said carefully.

    I guess the next logical step is for me to examine the belt in the first place to see if it did finally break by me trying to restart it - do you agree?

    I don't even know where this mysterious belt is and how to look at it to see if it's broken (let alone if it's off a notch). Is this something fairly straightforward or is it hard to get to?
  • If you can bear children, you can do this!!!! Patience and less than nine months will do this job! Ability to follow a cook book is a must! Realize that you are learning along the way. Once you have learned it on one car, you just have to learn the differences on the next one! Theory is very much the same. First time like having the first kid. It takes the longest. The next time you do it, will be much quicker. Replacement interval is every 60K miles. That assumes no problems have occurred though.

    Keep the following in mind when ever you work on a car, it takes four things for one to run. 1) gas, 2) air 3) fire and 4)timing. Take one away and it does not want to run. On this one, we are concerned from what I have heard with timing. I am assuming distributor and wires have not be bothered, so we are looking first at timing belt.

    Understood about the guys, when hubby goes to junk yard with me to pull major parts like a transmission, it blows guys minds to find out who heads up the shop between us!

    Try this first. I just recalled that hubby told me how this particular vehicle can act just like a timing belt if the cap and rotor are bad. This is cheap and easy to do. Follow directions below for where the distributor is. It usually takes a cross point or Phillips screw driver to remove them. Keep the wires on the cap. You may remove the center one carefully. Try not to break it or you will have to replace the entire set. Each wire has to go back to the same exact place it came from. Be sure not to mix them up. Masking tape helps here. Mark the tape and wrap it around the wire so you know where it goes from which tower on the cap to which spark plug. At this point you only need to be concerned with the distributor cap end.

    Once you remove the cap, it should be oil free, which it will not be if it is high mileage car. There should be next to no trash on the inside metal parts on the rotor and cap. The rotor is held on by a small screw in the side of it. If the parts look questionable replace them both. Service manual will help with this as well.

    Okay, many auto parts stores carry or have Haynes or Chiltons' repair manuals. If they do not have this one, they can order it. I also have a dealer manual for ours as well. Been into the wiring and fuel injection on it as well. The Chiltons' we have is "Mazda 323/626/929/GLC/MX-6/RX-7 1978-89 Repair Manual. Number (8581) 46800." If you can not find this exact book, check your local library for a copy. Amazon.com should have a few as well. If you can get this particular book, I can walk you into and out of this project more easily. If you have no tools, Harbor Freight is your best source. They do sell some trash tools, but I can help you with that as well. Review the section on tools, then I can tell you what you may need as you proceed with checks/repairs.

    Back to book, page 3-50 starts for the 86-89 non turbo 323 engine timing belt procedure. I assume you have a non turbo engine which is what most of the units out there are. Now face the car. Look at the top of the engine. The very top silver part is the valve cover. On the left hand is your oil fill. Opposite end to your left is the big black round plastic cover is the timing belt cover. To your right with the smaller usual black round thing with wires sticking out of it is the distributor and cap! Point I am making here is that I can walk you right into and out of where you need to go. Chances are you may have found or came close to the oxygen sensor from the last message post. If not, turn to page 4-15. There it is! Oh, forget that wrench they are talking about. It will not work! I have come up with methods that do!

    Note that this book covers several different vehicles and engines. So when ever you read a procedure, make sure you are following the one for your car. Be aware, I have caught mistakes in repair manuals. So I use to have some guy I could ask years ago. Now I am the one who knows it all and the guys are scared to ask me! You can bet though, one of them will be looking at these posts down the road convincing wife that he knows his stuff! Yeah right!

    Just confirmed with hubby, distributor cap and rotor on this car will do the same thing. Lets start with that first.
  • Oh, I forgot to add, if that timing belt breaks, the engine will not run and will most likely have serious damage.
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