Mazda 323

nowondernowonder Member Posts: 1
I got a used '93 Mazda two years ago, stick shift
w/ air condition. It has been the most economical
yet reliable little commuter car I have ever own.
Compare to my wife's Sienna minivan it cost almost
nothing to buy and operate. It's got 100000 miles
on it now, leaks a little of oil from the value
cover gasket and the camshaft oil seal, but still
it starts everytime at the first crank, no matter
how hot or cold the climate it is.

It just keep running and running ! And it's seat
is more comfortable than any vehicle I have ever

I wonder if there is any 323 owner in this town
hall who also loves their car ?


  • jcorbettjcorbett Member Posts: 2
    Yes, I also loved my 323, a 1986 model. It ran like a top, got terrific gas mileage and had incredible pep. Sadly a tree fell on my car this summer, otherwise I am sure I would have driven it for 100k more miles.
  • pine3pine3 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1990 323 that I bought 5 yrs ago. It has been the most reliable small car I've had. 263000 kms on it now and the only thing i've replaced is the alternator and exhaust. Bad on brakes, though and a few minor complaints. But the car just drives and drives and drives....
  • careenercareener Member Posts: 2
    Positive experiences with the car (91 323 dx)
    --good headroom/visibility
    --confortable seats
    --enough power for highway
    --good stability for a small car
    --excellent price
    --Good standard features (60/40 rear seats etc.)

    Negative points
    -on its 3rd head gasket
    -on its 4th driveshaft (have replaced both twice..only last 2 yrs each)
  • leomortleomort Member Posts: 453
    hello, I seen this used 1990 Mazada 323 automatic not sure if it has A/C with 110,000 miles on it. asking price 4 grand! I think this is step. I think it's only worth $1200-1500. Perhaps start with an offer of $1,000. What's a fair price for a car of this age and mileage?

  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    You can get a 1995 ! These cars cost nothing on the used car market, and they represent a very good value if you are looking for cheap but good transportation.

    You are right, don't pay more than $1500 for a 1990. And get youself a 5 speed one if you could drive one, it is much more nimble than the automatic version.
  • leomortleomort Member Posts: 453
    Hi 5spd,

    The car is going to be used to teach my wife to drive. So we need something reliable. She'll probably only put 4-5,000 miles a year on the car. She wants an automatic. Thanks for the help. I'll see if I can get him down in price.

  • climbdudeclimbdude Member Posts: 7
    hey dudes, i got this mazda 323 and its been
    great except for one thing when its cold and wet
    it doesn't start, it just cranks and cranks, but doesn't start, its a 1992 323 with 104K and a five speed, can anyone help me out? my spanish
    teacher, who's a car enthusiast, and has owned around twenty mazda's, says its probably the distributor cap getting moisture in it, can anyone corroborate this? i'm also looking into mazda RX-7's, anyone know about em?
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    Sounds like that is exactly the problem. If the distributor cap cracks, it can allow either moisture to get in or sparks to come out. Both cause problems. If moisture gets in, it will cause the car to be difficult to start until the cap dries. If spark gets out, it will cause the engine to sputter. The cap only costs maybe $20 at your local part store and is very easy to replace. You should also replace the rotor at the same time as the cap. It is the small triangular shaped object that rotates around inside the cap. Anyway, replace the cap and your car should run as good as new again. As far as the RX-7, what years were you looking at? Each generation has their own unique problems, but overall they are fun cars to drive. I own an 84 RX-7, so I can try to answer some general questions about them.
  • climbdudeclimbdude Member Posts: 7
    i'm looking at an 86 RX 7, its a second gen, got a new tranny and motor, looks great, runs good, been kept up really well, its got a high performance exhaust system, it makes it really loud,
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    If it has a completely rebuilt engine, than it may be a pretty good car. Avoid the turbo, as they put more stress on the rotary engine and are less reliable. My 84 has been very reliable over the past year, despite the fact I bought it for $200. All it has needed was a new starter, left front rotor, caliper and a set of pads, and a clutch slave cylinder. It always starts up first time and runs really good. However, you MUST be religious in changing the oil every 3000 miles max. Rotary engines actually burn oil by design so you must also get in the habit of checking the oil level at least once every 2 weeks if not more. I recommend using Catrol 20W-50 oil as that is what is recommended by numerous places. Rotary engines run hotter than a piston engine, so the thicker weight oil is better for it. DO NOT USE SYNTHETIC OIL! It can cause major problems with the rotor seals and lead to an engine failure. I can't think of anything else to tell you. Was there any specific questions you had about it? Hope my advice helps.
  • climbdudeclimbdude Member Posts: 7
    thanks for the info
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    are two totally different cars. Can't even imagine these two cars owned by the same person. RX7 is a purist sports car for someone who has the skill to drive it right and who has the mechanical knowledge to fix it when it breaks down, which is not at all infrequent .

    The 323, especially the strip version, on the other hand, is the car for cheap guys like myself, who is constantly looking for good reliable transportation for the least money. :)
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    If you are a cheap guy, than you would have loved my 84 RX7. It was amazingly dependable and has never left me stranded in the year I have owned it. It always starts up first try and never stalls. Total amount of money I have put into it in a year, including the $200 purchase price, is a paltry $500. And we are not talking about a beater rusted out piece of junk that only a mother could love. This car is still gorgeous after all these years and constantly gets admiring looks. The paint is in good condition, the body has no dents, scratches, or rust, and the interior is in excellent condition considering its age. Granted, the AC doesn't work, and it has its quirks (carbureator hesitates some, clutch is not the easiest to engage smoothly, the exhaust has a few leaks which causes some stinky smells to get into the car, and it burns oil by design so you must check it often, though it does not visibly smoke). Anyway, sorry for blabbing about the RX7 in the 323 forum, but I thought you might be interested in how cheap to operate some RX7s really are. It has been the cheapest car to operate that I have ever owned!!
  • climbdudeclimbdude Member Posts: 7
    i gotta say that i love my 323, but i'm longing for something faster, i just started a job at a car dealership and am learning a lot about cars lately, i'm trying to decide whether to put money into my 323 or if i should save up for something faster and more fun, from what i understand, my 323 will run forever as long as i change the oil every 3000mi, but, if i get something like an rx7, i'll have to spend a lot more time to take care of it, well we'll see what i've got money for!!
  • ny10ny10 Member Posts: 4
    Hi, I really need some help. I've got a 1992 MAZDA 323 that has a recurring stalling problem
    that no one has been able to solve. If you have advice about how to solve it, or if you know
    where I can get good advice (via another web-posting or some other source), I'd really appreciate
    hearing from you.

    The pattern of stall-outs is seemingly indecipherable. It will stall on the highway or just going
    around the block. It usually gives a hesitation or two, and the accelerator becomes useless for
    10-60 seconds before it stalls completely. It's a standard transmission, and if necessary while
    driving I can turn the car turn the car off as the stall threatens and then turn it back on–and it then runs fine again. Likewise, if it stalls out completely, I can turn off the car and then start it
    immediately with no problem. The interval between stall-outs is usually at least a day and
    sometimes weeks. Go figure.

    This problem first occurred in about 1993. No one could solve it, but it disappeared. Then it
    returned a few years after that. And now it's back again, off and on since the fall of 2000.

    Here's a record of what my latest mechanic has tried:

    –Tried to duplicate problem but couldn't.
    –Completed tuneup: sparkplugs, cap, rotor, air filter, fuel filter, oil change.
    –Checked for computer fault codes. Found code 17. This code refers to the oxygen sensor, the fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump, and the computer itself.
    –Fuel-pressure test showed fuel pressure to be just a touch above normal (if it was lower than
    normal it would have been a good chance that it was source of the stalling problem). This test
    was done with the car hooked to a gas analyzer which registers the fuel/air ratio.
    –Replaced oxygen sensor and fuel pressure regulator, and checked these new parts with the car hooked to the gas analyzer. The car was run for quite a while and monitored throughout the day but never stalled, nor did the fuel/air ratio change at anytime. Car stalled out several days later, and a few more times after that.
    –With no facts to condemn the fuel pump or computer (which are the only items left that the fault code refers to), the mechanic feels there is not much else to do except replace the fuel pump and/or computer. But these items are not cheap and there is no guarantee that they will fix the problem.

    Please help. Thanks!

  • leomortleomort Member Posts: 453
    I had a similar problem with a used 81 buick skylark. turn out to be something as simple as the vacuum hose being old and craked. Replace the old hoses and no more problem.

  • ny10ny10 Member Posts: 4
    Leo, thanks for your suggestion. I'll have my mechanic check out the hoses. Because the car had the stalling probably not just late in life but also early, I wouldn't think a recently-cracked hose would be responsible, but perhaps there's a bizarre crack that's been there years and only acts up occasionally. I'll let you know. --ny10
  • browntrout1browntrout1 Member Posts: 72
    We had the excaact same problem with our 323. It seemed to happen more when it was hot out I found. Anyways, I used to get so good at predicting when it would happend that I would just turn the ignition off while driving down the highway and then starting the car again. That usually resets what ever is causing the problem and you are good to go.

    Anyways, we took our car to a mechanic and he changed or cleaned something...which seemed to work for about a week but then it started up again. I decided I should change the PCV valve becuase it blocks up and supposedly can cuause that problem...and it seems to have worked. It's only like 5 or 10 bucks so I'd try it. You can get it at any auto parts store. It's a little black thing on the top of the engine with a 90 degree turn to side is in the engine, the other side has a small hose attached to it. Actually you can take it off and try to clean it, you should be able to feel something moving around innside.

    Hope it helps, not sure if you already tried it. I agree, this is one of the best little cars you can buy. Way better than a honda civic of the same year...more power and quite nimble this car.
  • bigsubigsu Member Posts: 2
    I just bought a 1994 Mazda 323 hatchback for CA$3800. The car has 147000km, which is about 91000 miles. I've heard that this is the most reliable car that Mazda ever built and that it is very easy on gas. Was this a good buy?
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    whether you deal was a good one really depends on the condition of the car. Is yours an automatic or stick shift ?
  • bigsubigsu Member Posts: 2
    It's good condition. No rust, there's a small dent on the side but I bought it from a dealer so they'll fix the dent and clean up the car before I get it. They'll also service the car and get it certified. It's automatic.
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    for an automatic in good condition. Try to flush and refill the radiator every year. The cooling systems of 323s tend to rust after 6 or 7 years of age. And I would change the thermostat every other year too. They have a history of failing if left unchanged.

    Other than these little things it is a solid small car.
  • rubysuerubysue Member Posts: 2
    Got an absolutely mint 94 323 hatchback, not a mark on it. Only problem, hatch seems to be leaking in to trunk. Is the hatch fit adjustable? Can I tighten it against the seal? Is this in fact a seal leak. Also, right rear tailight seems to have water in it. Any ideas??????
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    Not sure about the trunk leak but the moisture-in-tailight is a common problem for this car. If I were you I will just ignore it...

    Regarding the trunk leak you can find it with the help of a garden hose. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out where the leak is.
  • rubysuerubysue Member Posts: 2
    I just washed the car and turned a hose on tailgate, hard to determine where water comes in. But I don't think it's the hatch seal. I have the cover for the hatch /trunk area, that is dry above, water coming in below. I suspect it is getting in through the tail light assy, how would water get in there? I have seen several 323's with moisture in the tail light. I appreciate your help 5 speed.
  • skibskib Member Posts: 1
    how many km's on a 1990 Mazda 323 would be too many ?? im trying to weigh my chances on a 173K for a 1990 std 323 against 167K for an auto 1989.
    seemingly most cars die in the 200K range which gives me abt a year and a half on both cars..wondering if anyone has more info.
  • sydney77sydney77 Member Posts: 2
    Well I am not sure about that 200K is the limit of a 323. I drive a 1987 Mazda323 and I have over 270k's on my car and it still drives like a beauty.
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    would you mind telling me whether your car has an automatic or manual transmission, and have you had any problem with the tranny ?
  • sydney77sydney77 Member Posts: 2
    My 323 is a 5spd manual. I haven't had any work done on the transmission, just the oil being changed every so often.
  • dbulter1dbulter1 Member Posts: 1
    I badly need a new (inexpensive) car and I'm looking at a '92 Mazda 323 with 140K on it. It's in mint condition and has been driven by a widow since '92. (Honest. I've met her.)I can probably get it for $3,500 Canadian.

    The thing is, I've heard a lot about Mazda's bad reputation for transmission problems. Someone I know who had a '99 Protege has already had his replaced and he told me his mechanic regularly deals with Mazda transmission.

    Has anyone had these problems with 323's? I need to know whether I should buy the car or look for a similar model by Honda or Toyota.
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    140K is nothing for this car *IF* the car has been maintained. (I am assuming you are quoting kilometer since you have a Canadian flag) If you have doubt about the transmission spend some money and have a professional take a look at it.
    And btw i think the price is a bit steep.
  • wordartistwordartist Member Posts: 6
    I'm looking at a 91 Mazda 323 (AT, PS, PB) in one of the local lots here. It's got about 150k on it, and the record checks clean, but I'm wondering if this isn't a little much for a twelve year old car? I've checked TMV and the Blue, and they concur, but still...

    Also, as this will be my first car (I'm 28. I was a late bloomer.) I'm trying to figure out if they're really as low-maintenance as rumour has it. I understand the parts are a little dear, but oh well.

    Mostly the car is destined for city driving with a fair amount of time on freeways and the highway out of town. I'm capable of doing basic maintenance myself (filters, fluids) but I'm wondering what major items are prone to dying on these models so I know what to budget for a slush fund. :)

    Thanks in advance from the newbie!

  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    Have you tried plugging this vehicle into Edmunds' Used Vehicle Appraiser? While you're waiting here for more feedback, you may also want to check out Edmunds' Maintenance Guide where you can look up recall, TSBs, as well as the manufacturer recommended service schedule for the 91 Mazda 323. This may give you an idea of what kind of issues to look out for. Good luck.

    Hatchbacks & Station Wagons Boards
  • wordartistwordartist Member Posts: 6
    Thanks, Revka

    Oh I did that already. I walked into the dealer's office with about 15 pages of Edmunds and Carpoint data, a Carfax report and a lengthy checklist of stuff to look at before I took her out. I demanded a safety, title documents... the whole enchilada.

    Car dealers hate girls like me. :) I know. I've been reading about how much they hate us in one of the sales person forums. *giggle*

    The asking price was in line with LemonAid and the Edmunds prices (after conversion) so I didn't haggle too hard, but I tried for the sake of appearances. The Forms Must Be Obeyed.

    Of course, I STILL managed to have problems. *lol* Apparently I have magical invisible power steering on my model - I can't find a resevoir, even with a Haynes manual. :) (And yes, it's supposed to have it, dammit, I PAID for it...) So I have to send her back to the doctor for a few days to get it reinstalled - they took it out when they were working on the engine. Bah. *G* I was really cheesed last night, but now I'm just laughing that I didn't notice it sooner. I only noticed her fighting when it got dark and the temp dropped below -20c... then I had to stand on the wheel to make her turn.

    At the moment, she's undergoing a vehicle check at Canadian Tire so that if anything ELSE is wrong, I can specifically ask that it be fixed. (She idles high, she whines a bit when changing gears, and the one that worries me - she wanders all over the damned place... I think the wheels need to be aligned.)

    I bought her, and she runs like a kitten when she's *warm*. It's mostly aggrivating little things. And for those who don't think little things matter, sleep through a leaky kitchen faucet sometime. :) Small drops, big irritable.

    I'll keep you posted. Thanks for the help.
  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    and thanks for sharing the details. Hope you get all the problems/issues... resolved soon, so you are able to enjoy your new vehicle. Good luck, and thanks for keeping us posted. We look forward to hearing more.... ;-)

    Hatchbacks & Station Wagons Boards
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    It would be unrealistic to expect no repair for a twelve year old car with 150k (km?) on it, agree ? So, here are some common problem areas of your car as far as I know :

    1. gas tank leak (~$300 canadian to replace with a brand new one)
    2. exhaust (cost varies depends on OEM or not)
    3. radiator leak from the plastic top (~$200 canadian to get a brand new metal one)
    4. timing belt water pump (maintanence item, $400 canadian parts and labour)

    Once these big items are taken care of you might have a few years of trouble free (well, almost) driving.

    Good luck.
  • johnbigbootejohnbigboote Member Posts: 1
    I own a 1990 323 Hatchback 5-speed with about 210,000 miles. I've been the only owner. For about a year, when I step hard on the gas in fourth and fifth gear, the engine races but the car doesn't accelerate. Am I correct that this means the clutch is slipping? If so, I have several follow-up questions:

    A) Is this dangerous (i.e. am I risking my own or others' safety by not fixing it immediately) or merely annoying?
    B) What will eventually need to be replaced or repaired?
    C) How much will this type of repair cost (I live in Missouri, FWIW), and what's your experience with having it done at a dealer vs. at a private shop or transmission-only repair shop?

    I've seen some helpful posts on this forum and would like to thank those who've helped keep it going. Good job, everyone.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    Yes, it sounds like your clutch is slipping. At 210k, I would say your clutch has about had it. For the most part, the slipping is an annoyance, but it can get dangerous if you pull out in front of someone and need to get going quickly. Eventually, the slipping will get so bad, you might not be able to get the car moving and then you are left stranded (worst case scenario). You will need to replace the clutch disk, pressure plate, throwout release bearing, and possibly the flywheel (only if the clutch has damaged the flywheel). While you are in there, you might as well have the rear main crankshaft oil seal replaced, as I'm sure it's leaking from there or going to very soon. Total repair costs should range between $400-600. I would have a private shop that you trust do it rather then the dealer. They will be cheaper and probably know what they are doing more. Hope this helps you some.
  • 5spd5spd Member Posts: 38
    Wow. 210 k miles on your 323. Very impressive. It is even more impressive that your clutch just started showing signs of giving out. You must have been a good driver. Mind if I ask whether those are mainly highway miles ?

    If is quite amazing how durable these small mazdas are. Too bad this kind of quality are not shown in the 626 or MX6.
  • mazdafunmazdafun Member Posts: 2,329
    Anyway, anyone have to clean out the ventilation system? I think I've got mold or something in mine. How difficult was it? If you had a garage do it, how much did they charge?
  • nachiketajoshinachiketajoshi Member Posts: 3
    210K on a 323 - cool! I have 130K on my 323(No a/c, has a manual drive, baught for $1000 in 1997 at 95K miles) and thought enough is enough (though the car is alright except clutch probably slips a bit). Anyway, I went out and baught a mercedes thinking I earned it for driving this "shopping cart with engine" for 5 years! But you guys reporting 200K plus on this little trouper are spoiling my party ;-)
  • nmayottenmayotte Member Posts: 1
    Yea I have a 1991 323. I bought it from my dad last yea at 180k, he bought it new. Now its at 211k, I swear these cars just keep going. I have noticed the clutch slipping, same as with Johnbigboote. Other than that its running good considering the abuse, having 4 kids learn to drive a stick on it can't help too much. I'm not really expecting it to last much more after this winter. I've been putting off replacing the timing belt for 10k or so, I'm hoping it will hold together a few more months.
  • mx5mx5 Member Posts: 2
    We bought our daughter a '94 323 2 years ago. Had 107,000 kms., now has 152,000. Mostly normal maintenance (brakes, exhaust, plugs etc.) but also had to replace the distributor (~$400). Strut replacement wasn't cheap but really tightened the handling.
    We just put snow tires mounted on Miata rims on the car. Looks great.
  • gnuboarder2002gnuboarder2002 Member Posts: 1
    I'm just posting this out there to see if anyone has any information about the next generation of 323(94-98 323F), this car does not get imported to the USA. i saw it in Bermuda when i went on vacation there but could never seem to find any info about this car. i know one thing though this car has much more style then the old 323 ever could have. its also a Four door. if anyone has anything, let me know....thanks -AKD
  • lawman1967lawman1967 Member Posts: 314
    I miss my 94 323 Hatchback. Despite the automatic, it was the best car I've ever had. Not the nicest, but certainly the best.
  • columbiabencolumbiaben Member Posts: 1
    I'm considering buying a 1990 323 hatchback without air conditioning. How difficult and expensive would it be to add to this car. Should I try to find a factory unit at a wrecking yard, or take the car to an aftermarket air conditioning shop?
  • brianhiebertbrianhiebert Member Posts: 1
    I have a '94 323 with 200,000 kms on it. The heat hardly works, last winter I froze!! It also needs around 1,700 Canadian dollars to fix a bunch of leaks, brakes, and broken axle. My brother says the dealer is trying to rip me off so I might take it to a private repair shop so it may not cost as much as 1,700. Resale is not much it has a couple dents.

    Should I get rid of it?? Or is it worth keeping??
  • dinu01dinu01 Member Posts: 2,586
    I would not fix it - not for anything more than $400 - the car has 200K kms on it and it won't last forever (although if you fix it it could very well run to 250-280Kms). Resale is $1500 - $2500 max. However, whatever ppl say here, it ALL depends on your financial situation - don;t get a new car if you can't afford it. 48mths is a LONG commitment to $500+/mth (car+ins)

    If you have some spare change (like $20-25K CAD), you can get a new PRO LX/ES for 48mths/0% interest and get a great new car. The PRO is turning into the 3 next year so I think dealers will be glad to sell you one for a good price.

    If you can't you gotta look at used cars...

  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
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