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Mazda 626 Troubles



  • This is my first post in the town hall, although I've been following the Mazda 6 boards since they started. I have a 1986 Mazda 626 LX 4dr Sedan. Its a manual with a 116,000 miles on it. I'm Just out of high school and this car was my Trainer. Now going into college, My parents say I shouldn't put all my trust into this car for transportation to and from school.

    This car has only had one major failure while I've been using it. The thermostat went out and it was severely over heating, causing me to head home in small go/cooldown/go sessions. As far as anybody knows, thats the first time the thermo was ever replaced. It has a new clutch and I do the usual oil and filter changes. Mechanically it seem very reliable. the Muffler been replaced due to rusting, and I've seen a few batteries and alternators go into this thing. I've never seen it go out of service due to a major failure.

    Most of the problems are electrical. A/C system is dead. the front power windows don't work. Reverse lights no longer turn on. Some problems are mechanical. the motor mounts need to be replaced and the keys don't work on the doors any more.

    I was wondering if I should pursue replacing the broken components or begin looking for something else. I can't really afford a payment at this time and I do like the car. Would it be foolish of me to replace components on such an old car?
  • You're looking at around a grand worth of fix-'ems. Of course, $1000 won't buy you much of a car, either, so you're probably better off fixing them and getting it over with.
  • hink2hink2 Posts: 4
    If you like working on cars and hanging around junk yards and part stores, and you must absolutely have a car, then you might consider keeping what you have. However,I suspect your college time will be worth more to you in the short (and hopefully long run) then working on a car. That's high school stuff. If your commuting, then get a later model Honda. Check the web car sites or one of the many used car review periodicals to select a good year for a Civic or Accord, or any top rated used car. Get one that you won't need to pay collision insurance on, just liability. Also, you can check these resources to see how your current car is rated, and whether it's worth trying to keep. Good luck.
  • I expect it to be about a 25 min commute every day. About getting a different car, I don't really know what my financial situation will be like in the future. I might get a part time job, might not. scholarships come and go, affecting the situation further. Also, I don't want to change cars and end up having similar problems. from what I seem to gather, A/C systems, power controled systems and such seem to go out over time anyways. I find it difficult to change because, lets say a car has working systems, and they break a year from now. i probably would have been better off fixing them right in the first car maybing saving some money in the process.

    I dont mind working on cars as a hobby. I think it would be worth picking up. I don't plan to spend any more time than I have to though. School is and should be the number one priority.

    Also, I find it hard to gather online info about this car. most online databases go back to the 90's, and get exponinentially worse about lacking information after that... know any auto site that have good stuff about imports from the mid 80's?
  • hink2hink2 Posts: 4
    You seem to have made up your mind. That's good. Not really worth too much effort worrying about it. Your Mazda will either continue to run on or it won't. Your current investment is nill, so you really can't lose. However, although your logic to keep the car is faultless, I suspect you wouldn't have minded some irrefutable counter logic that absolutely required you to seek its replacement. When I was in high school,a member of our class over and over again bought used cars from a local high volume new car dealer, paying not over $50- $100 each. The cars always came with a current inspection and lasted anywhere from several months to a year or more. He never did anything to them except for putting in gasoline. When they quit he sold them to a junk yard for $10 or $20 (if they towed them off for free) and just bought another. So, while the rest of us were polishing, hot rodding and repairing, he was out and about. Moral to this? There is an end to cars life, use it and end it. When its time to replace it, you will know it. As a practical suggestion, if a repair for your current car is quoted at over 2/3rds its current market value, seriously consider putting it permanently in the "Great Parking Lot". Usually, good used cars, aka pre-loved cars, can be had from relatives or parents of a friend. Usually they are too honest or would be too embarrassed to sell you a lemon.
  • mtsaimtsai Posts: 1
    My 626 es shudders in the speed range of 20-40 miles/hr, especially after driving for some distance. It occurs intermittently but more often now. Any idea on what causes the shaking? Could it be the transmission, brake, or cv joint and shaft? Thanks in advance for any explanation of the possible cause.
  • I´ve changed the radiator cap and the problem disappeared.
    Thank you again qbrozen and maltb, you´ve been very kind sharing with me your thoughts.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    that it was a cheap fix.
  • 34423442 Posts: 7
    Changed oil and filter this evening and found out I have oil in the the front spark plug hole. Head gasket was changed by last owner at 60K due to oil in plug hole.Car now has 110K Anyone had that problem, and what was the cost to fix? I also have a suspicion that I might be losing anti- freeze due to the same problem, as it was alittle low. Thanks
  • jskhojskho Posts: 107
    It is the valve cover gasket.
    It is quite common on the V6s.
    Is it the center plug? If it is you may want to check the bolts to see if they are tight enough.
    If it is not torqued to specs, it may leak.
    It is not really a big problem even if you leave it like that, just that it will shorten the life of your plug wires.
    I think replacing the front side is not too bad, but if the rear side needs replacement, prepare to pay big bucks because the entire intake has to be removed. I paid $145 for parts and $245 for labor 4 years ago to replace both front and rear.
  • 34423442 Posts: 7
    Your right, the more I thought about it, it isn't the head gasket. Its the front bank and the end plug, so lookes like a lot less labor than the back bank. Stopped at the Mazda shop and he said it would run around $200.00. Thanks for the info.
  • freds5freds5 Posts: 5
    I have a 98 626 LX 4 Cyl, auto trans. I'm coming up on my 90k servicing. A local mechanic, who is very reliable and honest, said I should change the transmission fluid. I 've heard different things about getting it changed, whether to do it only at regular intervals - 2 yrs or 24k miles - or just drain it when it starts getting darker and dirtier. I'm not sure what to do, since some people have told me that new transmission fluid, not changed at regular intervals, will act as a varnish and strip the gears, while others say letting the fluid get old and dirty will lead to transmission failure. Anybody have any suggestions on which way to go. The car has been running fine, without any problems.
  • The real question is "How does it look?" If your current fluid is fairly indistinguishable from new fluid - clear, red, doesn't smell like it's been scraped off a grill - you're probably not on the Path to Destruction, but you still need to get on a schedule for changing it out. mrdetailer, a regular in these parts, thinks 15k is a more reasonable interval for this transmission, and I'm following his lead on my 2000.

    My own personal belief - this and $3.99 will get you a Combo Meal at participating locations for a limited time only - is that if a transmission fails right after a fluid change, it probably also would have failed had you not changed the fluid. Until Mr Peabody gets the WABAC machine working, though, I can't say for sure.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    for this reason like Windophobe mentioned I feel strongly about changing the tranny fluid regularly on the 4Cyl CD4E. Yours is one of the newer versions and should be stronger, but don't play with fate. My Son's 1977 had the first Solenoid fail to shift from first to second at 62K. A simple drain and fill with adding Lubegard stopped all problems in a week. I personally credit Lubegard with improving 3 of my transmissions over the years, and at least 3 others of friends as well.

    If you can't prove that it has been changed at least every 30K, then I would also drain and refill again in a year with Lubegard and every 15K after that. I checked out the TSB notices that Lubegard sent me, and they are real.

    We have transmission places that run specials where a drain and fill with a filter change costs about $50.00. Lubegard another $10-15. That maintenance cost every year or 2 sure beats a replacement.
  • I am considering buying a 97' Mazda 626 LX, V6, 58K car, I am really scared by reading the posts that were talking about the transmission problems with Mazda 626. I had terrible experience on having my transmission rebuilt (92', Corolla, DX, auto, 88K). I know it is expensive. I don't want to see this happen to me again. Here I am asking for your advice on this Mazda 626. Do you have any idea about the liability of this model? Though I have paid the deposit, I know to rebuilt the transmission costs much more.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    You are purchasing a V6 model. The vast majority of the tranny problems are on the CD4E transmission which ONLY occurs on the 4 cyl models. The V6 transmission is much stronger.

    In particular, however I would ask when the fluid was changed, and check it yourself for color or smell. I would also do the drain/fill/Lubegard regimen twice, a year apart, then go every 30K between drain and fills and you will stand a much better chance of avoiding problems.

    While they don't have the largest motors, or do well off road (Tribute excepted) Mazdas are really a drivers car and a joy to take either at good speeds on the flat, or through twisty canyons.

    Have a mechanic review it for conditions and if good enjoy. It will be a good car for many years to come.
  • jskhojskho Posts: 107
    Check out this site for common problems for the V6.

    Valve cover gasket is one of the common problems with the V6. Also, you need timing belt at 60k and it is an expensive job.

  • carbonnicarbonni Posts: 33
    My '96 Mazda 626 (4 cyl. auto) is doing something weird. When I turn on the (cold) engine and drive the car, the coolant indicator "climbs" to the normal operating level (half-way between cold and hot) really fast. Specifically, it takes less than 1 mile (or 3-4 minutes) to reach that level. Then it stays there (the engine is never overheated I guess, as the indicator stays at its mid-level). Has anyone experienced similar problems? Could this be an indication of a malfunction (like a bad radiator, thermostat, or even engine troubles)?

    The second issue is a combination of car mild vibration when in drive at stop lights and rpm fluctuation when the AC is cycling (noticeable only when the car is in drive at stop lights). Possible bad mounts may explain the car's vibration, but what about the rpm fluctuation which seems to be AC related?

    While I am here I would like to mention that I experienced many problems presented by others in this forum: rebuilt tranny, changed front struts, replaced cat. converter (warranty), CV-joints three times - as they did not fit well, valve cover gasket, fuel tank(!). Sad is that I did all these repairs in the last 18 months (I bought this car used)... Now my car has 72,000 miles, and I am very concerned about it.
  • Did it do this in February? In August, I'd expect the engine to get up to close to operating temperature rather quickly. Then again, oil temperature doesn't rise as quickly as coolant temperature, and the gauge, of course, is reading the latter.

    Any heavy electrical load will cause RPM fluctuation. If it's more than about 150 off (the spec on the '96 with automatic is 700), it might be worrisome, but a one-second flutter of the tach is just electrical compensation at work.

    It should be noted that the engine mounts have been substantially revised since the first appearance of this engine in 1993; I don't know exactly when they cut over to the new ones - I'd guess model year 1998 - but they're a whole lot beefier now.
  • carbonnicarbonni Posts: 33
    Thank you! As usual, your input is much appreciated. The AC-related rpm fluctuation does not exceed 150 units. The tach goes up and down once and that's it. What bothers me is the change in car vibration that occurs when this happens. It feels like the car's source of vibration moves within the engine compartment. The effect: the vibration moves from (let's say) the steering wheel to the driver's seat. I should probably have the mounts checked.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    I think it's a great feature.
  • Dear All,

    I'm back after a while (a 2 month old baby does not leave much free time to tinker with the car...). Anyway, after driving for 20 minutes in city traffic the other day and finding a place to park, I started backing-and-forthing into the spot, and suddenly a good smaritan yelled 'Yo, your car's steaming!'. After my customary curse to the Mazda Gods, I finished parking, popped the hood, and yeah, coolant all over. So I started looking for a leak. Found drips from the splash, but no holes or cracks in the hoses. Everything was OK. Then I saw it. The little hose going from the radiator neck to the overflow tank had popped out. "Easy!", I thought. But my paranoia started right away - "Why did it pop?". Answer: The overflow tank is plugged. I pulled the hose, and sure enough, I blew air and the thing was shut. After I drove back, a friend of mine helped me to suck some of the stuff thorugh the hose - Man! There was so much crap in there!!! Dirt and sediment from the past 7 years!!! Anyhow, we got it to 'flow', but it's kind of touch-and-go. This weekend I'll have to clean the thing.

    The question after all this rambling: How do you get the overflow tank out (95 626, L4, auto)? It looks like the car is built around it!


  • jskhojskho Posts: 107
    In msg# 1193, it was mentioned that the 5sp on the V6 has a fill plug.
    When I was at the dealer today trying to get some oil filters and the crush washers for the drain and fill plugs, the parts guy showed me a drawing which indicates that there is no fill plug and I have to remove the speed sensor to fill up the transmission.
    I wonder if the parts guy is showing the wrong drawing.
    Any idea?
  • Well, did it this morning. FYI, the reservoir can come out through the wheel-well, after taking a small dust-shield towards the outside of the car (fastened to the left-bottom side of the body - Driver's side). Then, there are three screws, all #10's; two that go on to the engine bay (mounted vertically, one above the other), and the other one that appears right to the left of the battery (Driver's side). After that, just wiggle the whole thing downwards (making sure the you diconnected the hose to the overflow pipe), and that's it - 30 minutes to come out, including the time to figure it out.

    The tank was FULL of grit and grime!!! It's hard to open, and I did not wanted to break it, so I just washed it with soapy water until the water came out clean, then rinsed it several times with clean water, then distilled water, and that's it. A lot of 'marks' and blotches remain, but they are sort of permanent stuff that just make it look ugly (a lot of it can be even mold...). Then cleaned the tube, and then bolted everything back on. Easy.

  • Now why didn't I think of that?
  • okmomokmom Posts: 37
    I'm thinking to buy a used car for my two teenage girls.
    '99 Mazda 626 LX has 56K miles already. But comes w/ one year warranty by the dealer. (It was the rental car, so we assume it's good condition.)
    Other car we are considering is '01 Toyota Corolla LE. 33K miles on it and it's 2k$$ more than "99 mazda626.
    Which one is better deal if we like to keep it for next 5 years?
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    The Toyota is 2 years newer with only 33K (barely broken in) and only costs 2K more. If the price stays the same on the Mazda you will of course be much farther ahead with the Toyota. Of course it won't be as fun to drive as a Mazda.

    On a Mazda, baby the tranny if it's a 4cyl auto by changing oil at least every 2 years.

    On the Toyota of that age I would recommend an oil change every 3K to avoid potential sludging issues. (not common, but require a 5-7 thousand dollar overhaul if it occurs.)

    The truth every vehicle has strengths and weaknesses.
  • okmomokmom Posts: 37
    Thanks, mrdetailer.
    Corolla is smaller and doesn't have ABS.
    Our other cars have ABS.
    Kids are used to drive cars w/ABS.
    I don't know how much ABS makes different for safety, but I think it's better to have.
  • jskhojskho Posts: 107
    Did it over the weekend.
    There is actually a fill plug, but it is facing slightly downwards. Took me a while to figure that out.
    Put in Redline MT-90. No difference in shift quality though, which has always been good.
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