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Mazda 626



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There are probably regional incentives in your area, and the 2001s are right around the corner. Still, it sounds like a great deal.

    ABS is a must, IMHO. If not now, try reselling a car without it. Same with the newer, less forcefull air bags.

    The 626 is FWD with an open diffy, so traction control is a huge plus. It does more than just control wheel spin - it makes sure that both wheels are getting power.

    Ours does not have it, and the wife has twice driven the car off the edge of the driveway, high-centered with one wheel off the ground, and she was stuck. Kind of pitiful, I know. The wheel in the air leaks all the power and you simply can't move. Same could happen on ice or snow, too.

    Get it, everything on there is useful.

  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    Traction control definitely helps, but I don't think it's such a big plus. As far as I know, the traction control on the 626 (and most cars these days anyways) uses the ABS to control slipping. Basically if the logic detects wheel slipping when the accelerator is depressed, it'd apply ABS to re-gain traction .... it's most useful in launching (it *MAY* even be a feature that is only effective during launching, like VW's ASR) the car in slippery surface like snow or rain. But any experienced driver should know better than to slam on the gas when launching from slushy / wet surface. IMO, though it helps, it's not a big deal and learning how to drive in bad weather is more effective ...

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    How you feel about traction control may depend on where you live. In snow, our 626's V6 power, V-rated tires and the open diffy means a lot of slipping, even if you are careful.

    There isn't an expert driver in the world that can overcome a frictionless surface, and all it takes is a single tire on ice for that to happen.

    If you think about it, it makes more of a difference than ABS. Brakes work on all four wheels already, ABS just prevents slipping. But there is still stopping power being sent to all four wheels.

    An open diffy puts power to two wheels only if both have traction. On ice, it's 1 wheel slipping, 1 wheel with no power (because of the open diffy), zero traction. Traction control means 2 wheels get power and neither will slip.

    Too bad Mazda doesn't offer a limited slip differential. It's the mechanical alternative.

    OK, if you live in SoCal where there never seems to be bad weather, it may be overkill.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Heck, your profile says your shopping for an A4 Quattro - now I'm confused!

    The A4's Quattro uses a Torsen center diffy, and both front and rear axles limit slip (i.e. they are not open). That's the ideal - if any single wheel (out of four, not two) on the A4 gets any traction whatsoever, you can pull forward.

  • hebenstrhebenstr Posts: 11
    I just found out, that in order to get the light color I want (Sand Mica), I'll have to live without the ABS/Traction control package. But, living in SE Texas, it's probably not that big of a deal. Thanks for the feedback!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587

    Unless you're going to South Padre Island, on the sand ;)

  • hebenstrhebenstr Posts: 11
    Since I just spent over $20K on a 626 ES V6, is it worth a few more $'s for some "front-end" protection? Any opinions out there?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think bras are largely cosmetic. Whatever protection you get is offset by the paint fading at different rates.

    If you like the way they look, though, it's a small investment.

  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    Being a Canadian who live in Toronto, you'd think I know a thing or 2 about driving in snow = )

    Anyways, first of all, V-rated tires should not be used in winter. Good all season or winter tires are way better choices for snow / slush, and will prove to have more effects than TC w/ V rated tires ...

    True that no driver can launch a car in a completely frictionless surface, but neither can TC do anything in a frictionless surface. : )

    To get to the root of the problem - why do tires slip? IN physics termsthere are two kinds of frictional forces - kinetic friction, and there's static friction. Kinetic friction is the frictional force between 2 surfaces when the surfaces are moving relative to each other, which is the case when the tires are skidding. Static friction, OTOH, is the frictional force between 2 surfaces when the surfaces are not moving relatively, which is when the tires are not slipping (contacting tire is static relative to the road. Thus the tire is pushing the car forward. The moving part relative to the road surface is the car, not the tire surface). Static friction is much greater than kinetic friction, thus the car can launch much faster when the tires are not slipping.

    What causes tires to slip, is when the friction required exceed the maximum static friction threshold that can be supplied by the 2 surfaces. Obviously that depends on the 2 surfaces - tire surface (i.e. gripper tire have higher threshold and are tougher to slip), and the road surface (slippery surface such as ice or rain, which has a low frictional coefficient). When you slam on the gas on a slippery surface / when the tires are not grippy, you are exerting a force on the tire that exceeds the maximum static friction threshold that can be supplied by the contact surfaces, turning the frictional force to be kinetic friction, and causing the tires to slip.

    At this moment, if your car has TC system, it'd electronically apply ABS to 'pump' the brake, thus retarding the power to the road, lowering the required frictional force, and trying to re-establish the static friction. Some systems will also retard the gas, thus lowering the force you can exert on the tires, until the tires do not slip anymore.

    Without TC system, if you keep your foot on the pedal, you'll launch under kinetic friction, which is lower and will cause your tires to slip, and car to accelerate slower. Worse, if one driving tire slips while the other doesn't, or doesn't slip with the same amplitude, your car will move toward one direction, could utlimately cause you to go off the road ...

    Can that be avoided without TC system? Yes. As you can see, slipping is caused when maximum static friction threshold is exceeded. If you do not exceed that, then your tires will not slip. There are 2 ways to accomplish that- 1/ be easy on the gas! And in the case you sense slipping, stop applying the gas for a sec for the tires to re-acquire static friction, then slowly apply the gas again. 2/ Increase that maximum static friction threshold - since you can't do anything to the road (that's government's job, by spraying sand and salt over road surface), get better tires!

    So all in all, traction control helps, but by the same token that knowing how to brake safely on slippery surface is more effective than an ABS system, the same applies to sensible winter driving and traction control. Obviously, if you can have both then that'd be ideal. But if I am to choose either one, I'd rather sit in the car with a sensible winter driver w/o TC.

  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    You my find the best ABS traction control system is one which has a switch to shut it off.When starting off on slippery surfaces(under both wheels)ABS TC can make it impossible.On detecting slip the ABS brakes the slipping wheel and in doing so sends the power to the opposite drive wheel (not talking 4wd here).With ABS this can be abrupt, there by spinning the other wheel,evan with a power manage system you go no where ,the car just ratchets both wheels In sand it is worse it will spin one then the other until the car is sitting on the housing.In these situations it is better to shut the tc off , use as little power as necessary and start out in 2nd gear if available.Once running (on icey or snow covered surfaces) I have found TC to be very effective in controling wheelslip and a valuable option.
  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    Mazda's TC system can be turned off by a switch behind the steering wheel.... it's a big asset for 'spirited driving' that involves some tires slipping ...

    I don't believe Mazda's system can transfer power to the non-slipping wheel though. It simply retards the power on the slipping wheel and apply ABS.

  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    btw, my 2 cents on car bra - don't go for it. Most owners who have used them over a few years find that salt during the winter deposit inside the bra and rust the hood / side panel metals under the bra.

  • jgard1jgard1 Posts: 19
    "Good all season or winter tires are way better choices for snow / slush, and will prove to have more effects than TC w/ V rated tires"

    Precisely the reason my 97 ES (w/o TC) gets 4 winter shoes come November. Wheelspin on snow and slush: negligible. Unless you are really trying ;) I have had the ABS kick in during quick stops, but (as designed) that good old static friction was always there.

    Just some observations from another crazy Canuck.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    BTW, our V-rated tires are all-season and M+S rated, though they still stink in the white stuff. We have an AWD vehicle in our fleet so snow tires aren't necessary, but I agree with your recommendation.

    Your post was well put and very eloquent, however you still never touched on the open differential, and for that reason there was one mistake.

    You said TC can't do anything on a frictionless surface, but actually that depends. If one front tire is on ice, the other on dry pavement, the TC can actually shift power to the side on pavement and will effectively make a difference.

    Perhaps stating it will "shift power" is improper. It actually stops the leak of power to the side with ice that an open diffy allows. So TC will move forward, open diffy will not.

    Of course the driver is always the primary factor, but that's the case with or without TC, and a skilled driver will be able to make use of the TC even more than a novice.

    Including in some cases the defeat button ;)

  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    "Your post was well put and very eloquent, however
    you still never touched on the open differential,
    and for that reason there was one mistake."

    I agree. Unfortunately most cars have open differentials ... Maxima SE (and Sentra SE... though it's not in this class) is one of the few exceptions that has LSD. But LSD is useful for launching in slippering surface when only 1 wheel is slipping. If both driving wheels are slipping, then it is as bad as an open diff =(

    Obviously, there's also AWD, which pretty much guarantee your car will never get stuck unless you're in a extreme condition, or your tires are REALLY slippery so that all 4 tires slip. But then again, AWD is a pricey feature, and you face the question of how often do you drive in the boonies where AWD makes a great difference. In the cities where the road get salted and shoveled, FWD and some driving techniques will do in most cases IMO ... Then again, if $$ is not an issue, AWD is a nice to have feature .... Thus A4 Quattro is still on my list for my next car = )


    btw, V-rated all-season tires make compromise towards performance rather than winter driving capability .... to handle the high speed, and typical requirement for performance from V-rated tire drivers, the rubber used in V-rated tires are stiffer, and softer H-rated all season or snow tires will prove to be more grippy in snow and slush.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Paragraph 2 - exactly.

    Miata also offers an LSD. Not many others besides 4WD/AWD vehicles.

    I got a feeling someone like you will be able to appreciate AWD in dry conditions too. No torque steer (that V6 is peppy!), less understeer, distributes the load, etc.

    Sure it weighs more but that's why there are choices out there, so you can pick what suits your needs.

  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    Yes AWD is not only useful in bad weather conditions, but it helps on dry surfaces as well - more forgiving during 'spirited drivings' and gives you more confidence under hard cornering... I came VERY close to buying a Subaru Impreza 2.5RS. But the car is underpowered, especially when AWD system introduces more losses to the drive-train, so the 2.5L 165 hp engine that feels more like 140hp is overburdened for the 3000lbs car. The (lack of)power, together with cheapo interior, high price, lack of features, and lack of dealer incentive package eventually wrote it off my list. For the $$, I'd rather sacrifice AWD for more power and performance in the 626 V6....

    If Subaru had the H6 (212hp) available to the Impreza I probably would've bought it. But then, it probably would cost even more, and even harder to justify.

    A4 1.8T Quattro is a nice car for the $$. It's not as fast as the 2.8, but a chip mod can easily boost power to exceed 200hp (though it also voids the warranty) ... the 2.8L V6 engine is also heavy, making the car kind of head-heavy. Also the A4 2.8 Quattro costs quite a lot more than the 1.8T, which has better ratio of "Fun to Drive Factor" / $$.

    Otherwise the choices of AWD cars in the relative price range is scarce. Subaru Legacy is even more expensive than the Impreza, and even leather and wood interior cannot hide the fact the car is heavier underpowered. 330ix is out of the price range or else it can be a good alternative to the A4 2.8 Quattro.

    AWD is a nice feature, but the lack of AWD cars and the price premium can easily steer me back to 2WD cars with better snow tires and sensible driving for bad weather days....

  • johnlwjohnlw Posts: 28
    I posted this in a Maintenance topic, thought I'd add it here. With all the posts on this transmission, I wonder if my final assumption is good?

    Bad News--our 1998 626 (4 cyl. auto) with 24,000 miles on it has to have its' transmission replaced. It was shifting poorly, starting in 2nd gear,just not working right.

    Good News--The dealership (Russell in Ellicott
    City, Maryland)gave us no hassle, told us they
    would do it under warranty no problem, and they got us a Protege to use while the repairs are being made.

    I feel that the new transmission should be
    bulletproof under the theory of lightning not striking the same car twice. Hope I'm right, I
    like the car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    More power is on the way. They'll have turbo Imprezas in the Spring, with serious power, for less than the A4 would cost you.

    The H6 engine should trickle down the line, and I imagine a GT-H6 would be worthy of a test drive once you're ready to buy.

  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    John - The Mazda 4cyc auto tranny used on the 626 is actually a Ford part. It's known to be problematic .... Some people have had it replaced more than once, colleague of mine here has had it replaced once on his 94 626, and his car has not had a single problem since .... so it depends on your luck I guess.

    I can't believe Mazda / Ford has not got around to fix this problem yet ...

    juice - on off topic rants, I wonder if the turbo is really going to make it to NA. Subaru's promised they'll bring the turbo engine over and that is a promise they made years ago - I'll believe it when I see it. I look forward to the next Impreza (supposingly 2001 models coming out this fall) regardless. The Legacy GT is pretty expensive as is if decently equipped, and it can easily cost more than the A4 1.8T Quattro with the H6 engine option, and it still lacks class, prestige and sportiness of an A4. I love subie's, but I find them generally overpriced.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Like Mazda, though, Subaru dealers discount heavily and eventually offer rebates. VW charges near list for 4Motion, imagine Audi.

    Plus, Audi charges extra for the moonroof, sport package w/ 16" alloys, not to mention Quattro. Those alone add almost $4 grand to the price, and that's before you chip the engine.

    The A4 is also much more compact, almost Protoge/Impreza size really. Plus, it's a lame duck model - the new one is around the corner.

    Again, Subaru and Mazda tend to equip their models in the $20k+ price range with much of what you want standard. That's the nice thing about a high-end car from either of these, vs. an entry level Audi.

  • number17number17 Posts: 69
    VW charges near list on EVERYTHING, partially due to their poor ordering process. They never seem to have enough demand of cars that people want, but too much stock of cars that nobody buys. 4Motion is kind of an extreme case, as it is a new feature on the Passat and there is a big demand for it right now... But it's true you never get as good a deal on a luxury vehicle like Audi than a Subaru.

    I was waiting for an incentive pacakge from Subaru for quite a while, and I would have bought the RS if any kind of incentive was offered on it (like I said, I love the car, and came VERY close to buying it). But Subaru has not offered any "real" incentive package on the RS in the last 1.5 years. They offered 6.9% finance for up to 24 months on the base Impreza's and that is it. I got my 626 for 2.9% finance, 48 months. Mazda Canada is even offering 0% finance right now on ALL Mazda's up to 36 months!! That'd never come out from Subaru. Maybe it's a little different in the states.

    Anyways, for A4 1.8T Quattro fully loaded, the MSRP is Cdn$39k. Legacy GT with 2.5L H4 engine has MSRP of Cdn$35k. A H6 option, if it becomes available is going to cost $3k at least, if not more, bumping its MSRP to within $1k of a fully loaded A4 1.8T Quattro!! It becomes an easy decision at that point.

    I do agree the Audi has a cramped backseat, and is inhumane for bigger dogs to sit back there. But it depends if passenger carrying capacity is on your priorities .... for me, it's not ... my last car was a 2seater = ) The A4 is also more sporty than the Legacy ... maybe that is the reason why Subaru is limiting the H6 engine to the Outback - they don't see too many people going for a Legacy that costs as much as an A4.

    But if Subaru can bring over the turbo engine, or put the H6 engine in the Impreza, make the interior less plasticky, keep its current driving dynamics, and offer more civilized features, and get rid of all those cut-corner moves (like removing the light from the trunk area, making the rear seat a non-folding seat instead of very useful 60/40, using metal sunroof instead of glass moonroof..... etc etc), and offer the car at the proximity of price of a Prelude +/- $1-2k, I'd be gladly trading in my 626 next year and getting one of those = )

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    True, Subaru's incentives are small for the Impreza, generally $500 or less. Mazda has huge rebates to help get a heck of a bargain.

    Pricing here is different, at least transactions prices are. You can get a GT Limited (leather, roof, AWD, ABS, 16" alloys, even auto) for under $24k.

    I want the turbo as a 3rd car. The 626 is a loyal old friend, it would be a waste to sell it for next to nothing.

  • johnlwjohnlw Posts: 28
    In post #298 I wrote about having my transmission replaced at 24,000 miles. The dealer called yesterday and said it will take at least a week as they are changing quite a few pc boards and other components as advised by Mazda. I have a free rental, so I am not too inconvenienced, the dealer has been up and up.

    My question is should I unload this car now? I see where quite a few folks have had recurring transmission problems. I cannot believe Mazda would not fix this if it is bad design, but it seems possible.

    Since they just overhauled the car, they should give me top dollar on the trade in, and they just got a bunch of Tributes in.....Is the 626 safe to keep? I need reliable transportation.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Are they offering you a warranty on the new tranny?

    Even if they don't, you should be able to milk it for a year at least. Then you could get the Tribute at a discount. When new, they'll demand near MSRP.

  • skibry1skibry1 Posts: 174
    Yes, the wife I are pleased with the improvements
    also.Best 16K we ever spent.The 2.0 with a clutch
    has been such a fun time.We are looking forward to
    putting 6 digits worth of mileage on our sweetie!
    Thumbs Up
  • I am thinking of purchasing a rental fleet Mazda 626 LX from Hertz. For $12,795 I can get all the options that I need in a car plus a 4 yr./48,000 extended warranty to tack on to the existing factory warranty from when the car was new (what is it, 3/36,000 ?). The car I am considering has just over 25,000 and everything seems to work great and look great.

    --It is a V4 auto. I have read that there have been some transmission problems with these; especially with the '94-'97 models. It should be covered under warranty should something happen, but is the transmission still considered a major problem in the '99's?

    --How is the gas mileage?

    --What should I look out for if I buy this car?

    --Is this car a good buy or am I getting ripped off?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm not sure I'd trust an ex-rental car with a history of tranny problems.

    Just my 2 cents'.

  • markz2kmarkz2k Posts: 112
    I bought a '95 626 LX back in October '95, and it too was a former rental car. (Also came from Hertz) It was a 4cyl Auto, and had 10,600 miles when I got it. I just sold it in June with 39,000 miles on it. Never had any transmission trouble. Only problems I had were it started misfiring earlier this year, needed new plug wires. And, when I had the 30,000 mi service done around 3/99, the dealer said the rear struts were leaking. I complained to the dealer and Mazda saying the struts should last longer than 30K, and VERY reluctantly they covered it as a one-time goodwill repair. I'd consider another Mazda in the future because they did that, otherwise I wouldn't have.

    I bought a new Accord V6 when I sold the 626, as I wanted more power than the 626 had. I was also concerned I'd have to replace a tranny someday if I kept it. I tried a '00 626 V6, wasn't that much better than my '95 in performance.
  • I had a 96 Mazda 626 and loved it. We started having problems with the trans and decided to trade it. We bought a Camry mostly for the reliable name. We are looking for a second car now and I would love to get another 626. How are the 99 and 00 with trans?
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