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Mazda 323



  • testtest1234testtest1234 Posts: 1
    edited June 2010
    Try replacing the camshaft sensor in the distributor. As a test you can take the distributor off the engine, turn on the ignition key, spin the distributor and you should hear a click noise as it rotates, if not you probably need to replace it. You will see a cable coming out of the distributor with 3 wires, one ground, one 12V, and one 5V, use a voltmeter/multimeter to see if the 5 volt line gets pulled down to 0 as you rotate, you will probably need an analog voltmeter to see the pulse, but a digital may work.

    Mark the distributor location before you pull it off otherwise you'll need to adjust the timing once you put it back on.

    You may be able to just replace the sensor but I'm not sure. Replacing the entire distributor may be the only possibility.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    edited June 2010
    If that shaft does not turn, it is much more likely you have a timing belt that has lost a few teeth and the cam shaft will not turn either!

    Guys, heads up. This is a very old problem on these cars. Do a search on distributor at the top of this section. I have written a lot on it. Everything from removal, cleaning to controlling excessive oil flow is there. Oh, excessive oil flow is the number one reason for no spark!

    Good luck. You master this problem, you have mastered one of the biggest pains in the 323 line up!
  • It was a hot day in the bay over heated on the freeway. I could feel the car depowering before I noticed the gauge pegged above the Hot end of the meter.

    I turned the car off and coasted off the freeway and tried twice to reignite the engine in third gear going about 40 mph. The car sputtered but little or no power. Steam started rising out of the hood as I slowed down. Water appeared all over the engine when I raised the hood.

    It took the car an hour to cool off.

    Oil looks OK and the electrical is fine but it will not start. Starter tuns over but there is no sign of ignition at all. The tow truck driver suggested checking to see if the distributor is dry. I don't know how to even begin taking off the cap and my manual for the Mazda 323 is very limited in description.

    Is it easy to just take off the distributor cap and allow any moisture to dry out? Any thing else I should check?
  • Hi,
    1987, 323, DX.
    How are the front rotors removed from this vehicle. I'm getting conflicting instructions from my Chilton manual. One part says to remove caliper and then just slip the rotors off. Another section is telling me that I have to remove the whole knuckle assembly along with the hub, and bearings, and rotor and bring it in to a machine shop because it involves a bunch of specialized tools. Very confusing!
    Anyone done this job?
    Thank you,
  • I have the same car and problem. I checked and its not getting spark. The plugs are good, the alternator is new, and the cap and wires are new. It did it last year when the weather started to get cold, then this year at the same time. First I replaced the ignition switch and it worked fine through the year for a while. But now its doing it again, just dies for no reason. If I wait for ten minutes it will start back up but then die again. Sometimes I can get to school and back without it dying. Did you ever figure out the problem on yours?
  • I think the problem I had with my 323 was the distributor cap. I think I had it replace. I hope this helps. I no longer have my 323 but it is still out there running. Great Cars. :)
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    edited December 2011
    December 26th, 2011 310,000 mileage report. "89 Mazda 323 hatchback.

    Still in service. Now currently is being alternated in and out of service every 6 months with the newer cars. Service period is during the winter months. Running 10-15K a year presently.

    Overall, it has been a good unit but with higher than normal for Japanese vehicle requirements for service. Problem areas recently have been a poor connection that developed in the primary starter system. Negative battery terminal cable to transmission. Added another cable from negative on battery right to a starter motor bolt. It is also difficult to get a decent starter from the supply house. Had to make my own terminals for cable. No big deal there. Fires right up now.

    Earlier posts show that this car is on second engine and tranny. Engine changed at 140K and tranny at 250K. Swapped tranny for a five speed. That is still the same status. Still on synthetic oil, and next to no oil leaks from engine. Tranny tends to have to have output shafts seals replaced. I still have one on my to do list. 2nd A/c is an aftermarket unit from It has to be gassed each beginning of when the heat comes in. A little slime in the older tires....rolling right along. Every else is regular maintenance.

    Current materials being tested on this vehicle. Slime in one tire. Silicone spray on cv boots.

    No, I would not buy another Mazda at this point.

    Other than that, just trying to suck the last good mile out of it.
  • Still going strong on my end, passed the car onto a friend and they have another 50k plus. Purchased for $550. in 2000 and found this board & girlcarbuilder should be passed on as well. Initially ran fine but, thought I would shop for parts, on the & cheap over time. Some front end parts, timing belt, water pump, wheel bearings, ect knew the starter was a bit weak but, did not like choices locally.Starter only recently died & changed out after a near 100,000 and new radiator-Only probs for new owner. Says tranny seems weak and will not do 75-80 mph freeways...60mph is about comfort top speed where no strain is felt. Auto tranny.
    Mainly safety was an issue for myself. :)
  • I have considered a sporty little newer Mazda 3 hatch. Too bad the ford focus has such a lame interior & string wheel set up, or would consider that route as a much cheaper find. No footwork yet as a GEO Prizm aka toyota corolla is top notch current
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    I spent 3 years watching the Toyota Yaris hatchback. Engine has a timing timing belt changes! WE currently have two in service at 30K. I would suggest reading my remarks on it. It is still high on my list as a purchase.
  • My problem is that the car is not starting any more.

    The security light is not flashing; it is off. It should be flashing to indicate that the immobilizer system is activated.

    When the key is turned and the ignition is ON, the security light is flashing - strong light. Turning the key further on to START does not start the engine.

    According to the alternative procedure for deactivating the immobilizer, the key shall in short be turned on for ignition five time. Herein after one should wait for a number of flashes on the security light. The problem is that the security light is not flashing at all.

    Have any experienced a similar problem? Any tips & tricks are welcome.

    Thank you.
    Kind regards,

  • What a great little car this was. But sadly rust has beated it. It will no longer pass inspection. We tried several stations! The engine is as peppy as the day we got it 8 year and 100K ago. In those 8 years it went back and forth from NY to Fla.3 times with my son to college. Other than normal tune-ups and breaks and a new clutch it never gave us any trouble. We were sorry to have to drive it to the scrap yard where they gave us $275 for it. We bought this car hoping to have it last till my son graduated and got a job and a newer car that he could afford. He ended up getting 2 degrees while driving it an now can buy a new one. RIP lil blue mazda.
  • Hi,--I'm new to the site, so please..bare with me. I have a 1989 323 hatchback 1.6 (base). My problem is that the vehicle never had backup lights since i bought it, but now I went and bought a switch because the old switch someone had cut the wires right at the switch.. so My problem is that I can not see in the engine compartment where the switch gets connected to. they are no connectors to match the connector on the switch. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you and happy holidays to all--with a very fruitfull new years.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Okay, I do not know what transmission you have! I am not sure on the automatic, because we have a manual trans here. Most auto trans have the reverse light and the neutral shift switch right on the shifter assembly. That could be on top or front side of the unit. The manual is accessible from front below of car on drivers side.

    Now, according to the factory wiring manual, it appears to have a wiring harness going to the front lower part of the transmission. I walked out and looked at the spare unit here. There is a switch there that you can reach from under neath. Also there is another switch near the shifter, I suspect it may be the netraul safety switch? Odd. Never had to deal with it in 314K miles.

    Anyway, I checked the circuit layout. It has fuse, switch and light bulbs...period and simple enough! So if you can light the bulbs with a jumper and have 12 volts at the cut wire from underneath, good. Two conductors involved. You may have to come up with some kind of tab connectors, male/female as it applies. I recommend you soldier it and cover with heat shrink tubing. Before applying 12 volts to the back lights, you may want to be sure with an ohm meter that nothing is shorted out in the back.
  • ">This has been an incredible little car! I originally purchased it to get me by after I totalled a nice Acura (my fault) after 25 years of no accidents. I didn't want to make payments and could just pay cash for this car. That was several years ago. I really did plan on selling it shortly afterwards. However, it is the best little city car I could have ever asked for. I fill it up every other week, the insurance is $32 a month, and it keeps on going and going and going. It's great in the snow and great for getting around the city. Yes, it's a Go-Cart.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    yup.....we still have an 89 in service at 316K miles with 5 speed. Second driveline. The maintenance is touchy, but as long as it is carefully done it serves well. The little 323 comes out to play in winter time while the newer Toyota's go into storage for a rest.

    Every time I bring her out she is happy to hit the bricks and run. When I put the cruise on.....she just purrs right along just fine. I expect she will easily hit 30 years of age and still be very serviceable. The only reason she has a local service restriction is because of her age and parts availability. She is very capable of hitting open interstate.

    I met one of her sisters recently in Midwest City, OK. Just like her at 189K on original engine. Also a 5 speed. We have been sold on that driveline compliment for years now. 1.5/1.6 liter with a five speed. Even looking in junkyards, that is what i see that lasts and lasts. I would be surprised if you told me you had an automatic after all of these years without a major overhaul of the tranny.

    Keep her.....check my old posts. I have factory manuals. You will find a lot written about the 86-89 years. A lot applies to the newer years as well. I still respond at times.

    RIP to the above author car, "Little Blue" Our gray one now sports a blue hood after it took a deer out to lunch! I would rather use a smaller bullet next time!

  • thevinethevine Posts: 12
    Ditto-passed my car onto a friend. He had to replace flywheel, his falt for bad starter job. A few months rest back on the road! Serves him well.
    It does have auto tranny, but, not much over 110k and very tight. Temp sensitive to shift into overdrive when cold...and maybe some little periods on freeway. Infrequent, yet reoccurring.
    Must be 15 yrs since purchase @$500. I found some parts auction years back and stocked up slowly and installed for $200. and then the common distributor (sensor?) I forget but, only problems. 86,000 @ purchase.
    Funny as I just noted post in e-mail as I was talking to him about the car...
  • 93_32393_323 Posts: 6
    after replacing the ignitor and ignition coil, car still won't start. We even swapped out the battery and nothing.

    It was working fine went to the store, came back 3 hours later wouldn't start. We've checked all the wires to ensure nothing was not connected. Any ideas?
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Okay.....back to basics. Takes four things for that engine to run. Fuel, air, spark and timing. Have you checked for spark first before pulling the coil and ignitor. When was the plugs, wires and cap/rotor replaced last? If I recall correctly there is on the 4 cylinder engine a plastic cover over the electronics in the distributor under the rotor. Is that part in place. Does it have any cracks in it. Short of lack of info from you I have little to suggest, but the basics. What engine, trans and mileage are you dealing with.

    Also, try putting into the search engine in this forum.....distributor, no start, no spark if you know for sure there is no spark. To test for spark, take a plug wire off, install on a new plug and lay near something metal that is grounded. Do not hold or touch while cranking, it could be the very last thing you do! Look closely at the plug end for a spark. If it sparks, ignition system is not your problem.
  • 93_32393_323 Posts: 6
    edited October 2013
    The car has 165k miles it has the 1.6L L4 engine, manual.

    I took it to a mechanic (that had a high rating on Yelp) who after 1 1/2 weeks, basically did everything I did and is charging me 130 for diagnosis. He said there are 4 things that could be causing the no spark the ignition coil , pickup coil, ECU, or distributor.

    We both swapped out the ignition coil box and pick up coil he did swap out the distributor still nothing. He's now sending me home with my car still not working , 130 bill and suggestion to go to local Pick and pull and get an ECU.

    Does this sound accurate to you? BTW we did the spark plug test and it had a spark. Think the ECU is behind the dash, he told me it was under the carpet on passenger side. Thank you for any help to get my lil zippy back on the road.

    Oh one more thing, the Mechanic stated, if it were the timing we'd hear this loud sound when turning the key.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    You had a spark at the spark plug? How can this be a no spark issue? If you are getting a consistent spark firing while cranking at that plug, you DO NOT HAVE a spark issue. I would check the fuel pump system next.

    Not necessarily. The sound he is referring to is pistons hitting valves. If engine damage has happened, you may not hear it any more. Hopefully the timing is not an issue. If it is, hopefully just jumped a tooth or so. Not enough to start, but not enough to do major engine damage. This is the last thing to look at.

    Do this next......Verify consistent spark at plug. If it is there, then check the fuel pump. If it is original, it is a very good candidate for a problem.
  • 93_32393_323 Posts: 6
    ok thanks so much. I'll check the spark plugs again first thing in AM. What are your thoughts about the ECU being the cause?
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    If you have that spark, you can forget the ECU from that aspect. When I began learning electronics on old tube technology, repair diagrams used "block diagrams. That helped to see where signal began and was amplified to each stage. So if you have any electronics experience like in the old stereo equipment, it will help a lot here. So in the 89 Mazda here and in your 93 similar design the "tuner" would be the pickup coil in the distributor. If it is not timed correctly, then "you are not on the station and you get a lot of static!" The signal leaves the distributor and goes to the ECU which is the "amplifier" and basically that is exactly what it is! Now some cars and maybe this one as well may have an intermediate final drive chip, "power amp". Our 89 here does not. The coil, "speaker coil" does its thing. The spark plugs are the "speaker diaphragm." So instead of sound, you are looking for spark. If you have spark you can forget the ECU.....but being an old car nut, it never hurts to have another one. Which reminds me, I may need to move the one on the self into service before it goes bad on the self. Another thing I got told while learning electronics was to quit chasing my tail or chasing ghosts. AKA know as wasting time once I had confirmed something worked. Confirm your spark then move onto fuel question.

    Next time you go to crank the car, remove whatever needed to get to fuel pump. If a sedan, most likely rear seat. Have some one turn the key on while your ear is very close to fuel tank. Listen for the pump to pressurize. If you can not hear it....hello you may very well have your problem! Hopefully the "mechanic" set your timing back. Not likely since he did not get it running. Oh, well, one step at a time. Some of us old timers scribe line up marks on distributor cars to avoid that fun.
  • 93_32393_323 Posts: 6
    I'm in the process of having the car towed back from the mechanic's shop. I asked him if he tested the plugs and his reply was

    "The spark isn't getting created to get to the plugs. Besides the wiring and the ECU, we've replaced everything that controls/creates spark" Your Thoughts...

    He continues with telling me where to find an ECU. I told him to recheck the plugs. Though I've checked him out on a local ratings website, I'm begining to think he wrote his own reviews.
  • _Well, Girlcarbuilder, I'm bout ready to throw in the towel. I've replaced the ECU, still no start; tried a new Fuse for Fuel pump/injector, still no start; Fuel pump can be heard humming sound, per my son and we've rechecked the spark plugs...spark. Battery fine. Not sure what else I could check as to why it's Turns but doesn't start. Any more thoughts?

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770

    @93_323 said:
    _Well, Girlcarbuilder, I'm bout ready to throw in the towel. I've replaced the ECU, still no start; tried a new Fuse for Fuel pump/injector, still no start; Fuel pump can be heard humming sound, per my son and we've rechecked the spark plugs...spark. Battery fine. Not sure what else I could check as to why it's Turns but doesn't start. Any more thoughts?

    Fuel pump running, engine turns, spark is fine. Maybe some kind of fuel blockage in the line? I know it sounds too simple, but you're running out of things it could be.

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  • 93_32393_323 Posts: 6

    how does one check for a fuel blockage?

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770

    I'd want a manual in my hands to be sure of what I was looking at (either the Mazda service manual or Chilton or Haynes

    The basic concept (at least how I did it with my truck) is that turning the key to the On position will start the fuel pump. With the fuel line disconnected at the tank, if fuel comes out, then the pump is functioning. Then reconnect that end of the line and disconnect at the engine and turn the pump on again. If the line is blocked/kinked/filter clogged, you'd get no fuel or noticeably less fuel coming out.

    Again, I'd definitely want a manual/diagrams at my disposal.

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  • jangsongjangsong Posts: 1
    Hey, i just bought a 1988 Mazda 323. it has 294k miles but still in very good condition. i was wondering if anyone knows a good exhaust system that fits and sounds good for my 323. I've been doing a lot of work on her and was thinking of replacing the exhaust.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    I'd start with a Google search for Exhaust 1988 Mazda 323, and I'm sure that some of our 323 enthusiast might have some suggestions as well.

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