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Mazda Protege Maintenance and Repair



  • My 98 Protege's air conditioner stinks...literally. After turning it on I notice an unpleasant odor for about two minutes. The dealer used some kind of fungicide spray and said that should take care of it, but after a few weeks it has returned. Anyone else have this problem, or a fix? Thanks.
  • carlrjrcarlrjr Posts: 35
    I'm not aware of the specifics of an A/C system, as I am not a mechanic; however, I have heard that the odor problem of which you speak can be caused by condensation from the A/C system not draining properly. Something may be plugged -- that's why the smell went away only for a few days when they hit it with the fungicide.
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    Welcome to Town Hall!

    We have discussed problems similar to yours in two other topics here. You might want to read through the posts to see if you can find anything helpful. Here are links:

    smelly vent (Topic #561)

    airconditioning (Topic #194)

    Good luck. If you figure out something that helps, be sure to let us know.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    Notice how few posts in this topic? Could it be there just aren't that many problems with this car? Probably so. Take a gander at some of the other car problem boards and you can get a real good idea of where quality lies-zoom zoom.
  • I've just inherited a '94 Protege DX with the SOHC 1.8L engine which has had a valve 'clicking' noise almost similar to what a diesel engine might sound like. The car's had this problem since ~50k miles and also shakes a lot at idle when in Drive. Does anybody know what this problem is and has anybody else had this problem? Does this problem still exist on the current Proteges?
  • I'm not that familiar with the 94 1.8. But assuming it has hydraulic lifters, it sounds like you have one or more that are "stuck". They most likely need replacement. If this occured at 50,000 miles the engine was most likely not maintained properly the first 50,000. If the engine has solid lifters, then the valves sound like they need adjusting. I had an 87 Corolla with solid lifters. The valves required adjusting every 35,000 miles.

  • lgblgb Posts: 30
    Valve sounds- Before you replace anything, you might try an oil and filter change and running the right fuel (87 octane) see if that helps. Its a pretty common syndrome with Mazdas.
  • Thanks for the advice. I've actually had the car into several mechanics including the dealer and they mentioned that there isn't anything that they could find wrong with the valves. However, they all mentioned to me that many of the the Proteges from this era had similar 'clicking' problems. The oil and filter has always been changed at regular intervals (I got the car from my brother) and has always used regular (87 octane) fuel. This car is I believe the first generation protege (squarish body) from ~'89-'94 before Mazda had switched to the 1.5 liter as the base engine. It's a pretty good car, but I'm not so sure about getting a new one if they still have these sorts of engine problems.
  • lgblgb Posts: 30
    Well, my '92 is still clicking and ticking at 118,000 miles, so although it sounds bad, if they've looked it over, and it runs okay, it may be an annoyance rather than a real problem. It's a characteristic of the hydraulic lifters when there's a build up of gunk, they get a little sticky and clicky. But there's a lot of first generation Proteges out there that keep going and going!
  • According to the canonical list compiled by the Gates Rubber Company, the '94 Protegé does have a belt, and Mazda recommends that you change it out every 60,000 miles. And if Gates is correct, this engine is free-running (as opposed to an interference fit), which means that if the belt breaks, the engine will stop, but actual damage is unlikely. The procedure, as I understand it, doesn't require any special tools, but it is a bit on the complicated side.
  • I have a '99 Mazda Protege and I have taken it
    into the dealer three times to get it fixed and
    they either tell me nothing is wrong with my car
    or they tell me that it is normal in my car. First, I want to say that this has been happening since about two weeks after I got the car. The problem is that sometimes when I am driving the car will jerk/hesitate as if it isn't getting any gas (Usually happens in the lower gears). The first time I took the car in they said it needed a tune-up/spark plugs changed and the air filter changed. They did that and I figured everything was going to be okay. I started to drive the car home and it started to do it again after driving it awhile. So, I took it to the dealer, again, and I told him to keep it for the weekend and to call me when they figured out what the problem was. The dealer finally called and said it was because the car had to warm-up, that this was
    normal for the Protege, and there was nothing they could do to fix it. So, before I left the
    dealer I sat there for about 5 minutes just to
    make sure the car had warmed up and proceeded to drive home. It did not do it immediately, but after about 15 minutes on the highway and pulling off the freeway to a stop at a light, as I was taking off it started to do it again. Now I don't know much about cars, but I think that 5 minutes of warming up and 15 minutes on the highway is plenty of time for the car to warm-up. Could someone please help me with this so I can see what I need to do. I have taken the car in 3 times within the year and a half that I have had the car and need to know if I have a lemon. If I do what are the steps that I need to take to fix this problem. If I don't and it can be fixed, can anyone give me some suggestions that I can go to the dealer with.
  • I have a '92 Protege 5 speed with 198 000 k's.

    3 times in the last month I have started from a stop light but the motor speeds up as usual and the car barely moves. Problem remains for about 5-10 seconds and seems like an hour as the traffic behind me suddenly jams on their brakes. Going into dealer tomorow am. He says it is highly unlikely to be a slipping clutch and more likely a sensor/sparkplug/motor probelm. Any one else experiece this or can it explain it better than Mr. Service Manager could.
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    is a no-brainer...your clutch is shot!
    or your gears are broke(unlikely)
  • Actually they said it was a bit "weak". No talk of sensors this time but no charge for the diagnosis.
  • I have a 99 5spd ES
    I have had a problem somewhat similar. In my case
    the engine after 10 min or so driving gets loud
    and loses power. I took it to 2 mazda dealers
    and they both said there was nothing wrong with
    it. They said they checked the engine computer
    and there were no errors reported.
    This doesnt happen everytime though, only about
    a couple of times a week. Also I have discovered
    by accident that the proper way to warm up is NOT
    by letting the engine run continuously for 10 or 15 min
    after which you would expect it to perform better.
    Rather, drive it for about 10min.

    *Then give it a 20 -30 min break(engine shut off)*
    The engine sounds a lot smoother after that, and
    pulls strongly
  • brajabraja Posts: 25

    regretably, I have to join the club of
    soft clunking 5 speed (ES) proteges. Mine
    is barely a week old, with 700 miles on it.
    I hear distinct clunks during normal clutch
    release (1, 2, 3 and sometimes 4th gear, usually
    not 5th). I haven't noticed serious power loss,
    though I do feel that the car sometimes
    takes a while to pick up (from lower RPMs)
    in 2nd.

    May or may not be related, sometimes I hear
    humming or rumbling sounds at idle and also
    when moving from standstill in 1st. May
    be I'm being too sensitive, but there are
    times when this sounds unnatural.

    Question is, any new story from folks
    who reported the clunking earlier? Should
    this be cheked out by the dealer?
  • I have not had the problem for about 10 days. Last 2 times it was after long highway runs and in the warmest weather this summer so I suspect the clutch is slipping when everything is hot. I also assume that it will slip at cooler and cooler temps until it has to be replaced. So its a $500-600 more invested in this '92 in about a month.

    Can anyone comment on the relative noise levels in a 2000-1 Protege versus a '92. Noise is my only source of dissatisfaction even after 8 years and 200 000 ks.
  • This clunking thing is curious. I've had my "99es 5speed for over a year and it's smooth as silk. Maybe some of the reports are due to change in driving style or hypercritcality. Of course, some of you may be experiencing a real problem [like a bad differential.]
  • I drove to work this morning with my windows up, no stereo, and no a/c or fan. After my ES was very warm (15 miles) I could hear a faint but noticable clunk when I would let the clutch out fairly rapidly. This would not occur if I engaged the clutch slowly. It would also not do it all the time. I could also hear the faint but noticable clunk on the 1/2, and 3/4 shift at slow to moderate upshifts. I noticed no loss in power. The sound would not be noticeable on my ES if the windows were open. I'll update if anything comes of this. I'll drive another ES 5-Speed later this week to compare.

  • lgblgb Posts: 30
    I find that you have to let the clutch out more slowly, and also wait until 3000 rpm to shift, even out of first. I heard the clunking also when I first had the car. I'm over 6,200 now. I have not noticed the sound recently, but I will also do a "clunk test" on the way home.

    Noise level in 2000 ES: definitely less noisy than my 92 LX, but still there is a lot of tire noise on rough concrete roads- not a car for those who want to be isolated from the road. It's smooth & refined on new asphalt, even at high speeds. (Only 95 mph so far for me).
  • I have a 2k ES 5 sp. and I can make mine clunk anytime I want. Just let the clutch out fast and not keep the rpm.s up. I think smoother engagement of the clutch after a shift will eliminate this clunk. But then, I can make mine clunk when I let the clutch out backing up. Once again, a smoother release of the clutch pedal remedies this.
    I don't know if this clunk should be there or not, but it seems reasonable to associate it with the speed that the clutch pedal is released.
    If there's anyone with technical knowledge of why this phenomenon happens please let us know.
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    ... has anyone determined that this so-called "clunk" isn't just a normal sound coming from the transmission?

    (I have a 2000 Protege ES 5-speed, and yes, I think I can hear what you guys are talking about. I've heard it since day one. My Protege now has 7,000 miles on it and we're just clunking right along, happy as a clam ...)

  • brajabraja Posts: 25
    The service dept. today said that they
    cannot even hear the clunking. (I can
    clearly hear it). They also said that
    even if there is any clunking, it's normal
    (I don't know how they can say this if
    they "cannot hear it"). Anyway, as long as
    this is not symptomatic of a bigger problem,
    got to live with it!

    Another question: any idea on the 1000 mile
    oil change? I was told by the service dept.
    that it's not necessary. They asked me to
    come back at 3000 miles.
  • Drove a 00 ES 5-speed today at the dealer. Had 3,200 miles. Made the same sound as mine. The service manager said it is a normal sound of abrupt clutch engagement, or shifting at too low an rpm. Who knows. It does seem like all ES 5 -Speeds can create this under the right situations. Looks like our sensitivity training from work may extend into our Zoom, Zoom!

  • I have driven in other cars (not Mazda) that make a clunking noise when shifting gears.

    This is coming from absolutely no knowledge of cars, but it seems to me that higher performance engines seem to make the clunk more than other engines.

    Oh well, I have the 2000 Pro-ES auto. No clunking, pretty smooth for an auto tranny.
  • Hello,
    This is my first time posting a message at Town Hall. I was relieved and also disturbed to see that other people were experiencing a clunking noise when shifting the 2000 protege. I own a 2000 protege LX with about 3,500 miles on it. The clunking is most noticeable when shifting at low speeds between 1st and 2nd gears. One service manager said he couldn't hear the sound. Big surprise! They never do. I went to another Mazda dealer and the technician said he heard it, and it was ok/normal. He said it was the design of the transmission, something to do with "back lash". As several other people mentioned, if you shift at higher rpms, or engage the clutch more smoothely, the clunking noise usually vanishes.

    A more frustrating problem I have had since the day my wife and I bought the 2000 Protege is an unacceptable pulling, mainly to the right. After about 4 trips to the dealer, I finally convinced them to look at the allignment, which was found to be out of specks. However, even after that, I noticed that the car will drift down the crown of the road, and become more pronounced when passengers are in the car. I know that most cars will drift down a crown, but you should be able to correct the steering, and it will track staight again. At least that was how my last 6 small cars behaved.

    I consider it to be a safety issue, since the car can pull/drift so rapidly. I am in the process of filing the Lemon Law. I feel this is a defect with the suspension of the Protege. I drove many other Proteges, and they all had the same pull. My theory is that the suspension is too stiff for the weight/size of the car, causing it to not sit properly on the road surface.

    Has anyone else experienced this. I would really appreciate a response.
  • Sorry, never heard of the pulling issue with Protege's. My ES tracks like it's on rails. Must be unique to your vehicle, IMO.

  • Hi
    This is my first time
    I was looking for a used
    japanese car for the last
    3 weeks, and found a Mazda
    Protege 96.The price is
    around 4000$.
    Its is manual
    transmission, has a/c, cassette, and
    has all power.
    But it HAS 100K MILES!
    Is this model and make
    good? Do proteges' have
    problems? Is the price
    PLEASE give me your
    input. I am new in the car
    buying scene.
    Thank you
  • makes it tempting to steer with my knee or not steer at all going down a straight My understanding of the lemon law is it can only be used if the dealer or Mazda was unwilling to fix the problem, or if the problem could not be fixed. Also, did you not notice the pulling when you test drove the car?

    As for this clunking issue, it sounds like if you rev to 3000rpm and or engage the clutch smoothly the problem is not a problem. I have driven many a manual car: Mazda RX3, VW Rabbit Diesel, Honda Accord, Ford Fiesta, Ford Ranger, and Mazda B2200. Every one of these cars/trucks shifted differently and had their own "feel". Part of driving a stick shift is learning how the car responds best, and adapting to that style. I am not discounting the clunk problem, just my feelings after driving a manual for over 20 years.
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    I've dealt with the Lemon Law and the Breach of Warranty Act before on a pickup truck I bought in 1994. So I guess that makes me an expert. Here goes.

    Although the Lemon Law differs from state to state, the general theme is if you take the car in for service and have it repaired at least three times for the same problem and the problem remains unresolved in a specified amount of time (here in Virginia it's the first 18 months of ownership), then you're entitled to a new vehicle.

    The problem in your case is that a problem has not been identified and no attempt at repair has been made. If this "pulling" you're talking about (my 2000 ES has no noticeable pull) is something you say is common to all the Proteges you've driven, and yours and all others are within specs and therefore meet federal safety requirements, you're going to have a tough time proving your case in court. The dealer (and the judge) may tell you that since you test drove a bunch of other Proteges and found the same "problem", you just don't like the handling characteristics of the car. Also, there's no PROOF that what you're describing is a defect and/or dangerous -- I haven't heard of any accidents in the 2000 Proteges caused by alleged pulling. (In fact, I haven't heard of ANY accidents to date.)

    I think you're wasting your time trying to get this to apply to the Lemon Law.

    Have you had your dealer (or a reputable private shop) check to see if your right front or rear brake could be causing this?

  • I don't know about anyone else here, but both my 1999 LX and my father's 00 DX needed to have a front and rear alignment because they didn't track straight. My theory is that they get misaligned after taking them off the shipping truck and don't fix it! I think it's your reluctant dealer...tell him to fix it because a car is NOT supposed to do that!
  • I guess I forgot to mention in my first letter that I had taken my 2000 Protege Lx to two different Mazda dealers more than 5 times to attempt a correction to the pulling problem. I am well aware of the rules of the Florida Lemon Law, and must admit am too bit concerned that I will have trouble with my case. I wouldn't bother going through this mess if I really didn't feel something was wrong.

    I noticed that the people that responded to my question drove Protege LS's, which I believe have wider tires/wheels. Maybe this makes a difference???
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    but in your description a few posts ago you said it simply drifted off the crown of a road. There's a difference. When you're in the LEFT lane of a highway and the crown's sloping to the left, does the car still PULL to the right when you let go of the wheel? Or does it simply drift to the left in that case?

    If so, I wouldn't call that a problem. Of course, a lot of this depends on the slope of the road itself. Five years ago I had a road near me that was crowned so high that my Mazda B2300 pickup slid SIDEWAYS into the ditch while traveling 20 mph in the snow. That wasn't a fault of the truck -- it's called GRAVITY! Any vehicle traveling sideways on an incline will have a natural tendency to follow the incline downhill -- which I remember well from my teenage years, trying to keep the lawn mower straight as I cut the grass on the hill in front of my dad's house!


  • lgblgb Posts: 30
    You might try a tire rotation, it's cheap and sometimes it helps. If you were driving an out of alignment car for a while, it can affect your tread.
  • brajabraja Posts: 25

    I'm very careful with the ES, and shift
    as recommended, etc. But still, the
    clunking is very audible. Sometimes, it
    occurs not just when releasing the clutch,
    but also while the clutch is just depressed
    (coasting). What bothers me is the random
    nature of this. I too have been driving
    a stick for 10 years now. As you say, each
    car is different. In my 1000 miles with the
    protege, unfortunately, I'm not too thrilled
    with the constant stick vibration, the shifting
    smoothness (sometimes it sticks) or this
    clunking. On the other hand, I'm pleased
    with the suspension and general feel of the
  • lgblgb Posts: 30
    I sometimes heard clunks when I clutched in and clutched out. But not after the gear was engaged. The tightness and clunking have diminished with mileage (I would say after 2500 miles it had loosened up). I have about 6500 miles now. I don't have any problem with the amount of vibration I feel on the shifter =very minor. I'm not crazy about the drop in umph after the shift at the lower gears- but I now shift at higher rpms. I have driven 4 sticks (20 years worth) and this one is the tetchiest at the lower gears. Have you asked the dealer about your issues yet?.
  • brajabraja Posts: 25

    The dealer finds nothing wrong. But
    I do find shifting to be difficult at times,
    especially from 2nd to 3rd. This is also
    where the clunking is heard during clutch-in
    as well as out. I'm going to wait to see
    if this gets any worse, and more tangible
    so that I can show to the dealer. Anyway,
    the problem I find in accepting these
    irritants is my expectation after
    the great build-up this car
    has gotten in the press and in edmund's
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    I've owned Proteges since 1992, and even back then, Car and Driver magazine said this was an engine that lives to rev and loves high RPMs. I used to shift my 1992 LX (top of the line back then) 5-speed at 4,000 to 5,000 RPM all the time, and when I traded in the car at 82,000 miles, it was running like a top and never had had a problem of any kind. I've been treating my 2000 ES 5-speed the same way. I heard that "clunking" noise you're describing at first, and I still hear it once in a while -- I'd describe it more as a "click" -- but it never does it when I shift above, say, 4,000 RPMs, and I don't seem to hear it as much lately -- I've got 7,200 miles on the car now. Besides, it's not very loud. I have to listen pretty hard to hear it.

    My advice? Don't shift at 3,000 RPMs and lug the transmission. Every piece of literature I've read on this transmission says this is a high-redline engine that loves to rev!!! Let it!!!

  • if you hear the clunk while the clutch is engaged there could be more to it. I was in no way discounting the clunking problem, nor should I since I bought the automatic. I did test drive the 5sp and found that it responded better to higher revving as Meade has suggested. I do find it interesting that after test driving the 5sp and the automatic I chose the automatic. I was leaning towards getting an auto this purchase due to my "lethargic" paced commute to work each morning.

    Speaking of the automatic, I am very pleased with the Mazda tranny. I feel like I have more control over when it upshifts and downshifts (by manipulating the amount of acceleration I give it) than with other automatics I have driven. I would not recommend the auto in the DX or LX, and still miss shifting at times. But not in stop and crawl traffic every am and pm.
  • I also have the ES and it tracks straight as an arrow. I drove the LX before I bought the ES and didn't notice any real differences in the steering (pulling or lack of). My car will follow the slope of the road if there is any, but every car I've driven does that. I would say they are missing something at both of the dealerships with your car. Were the other Protege's that you drove as bad as yours?


  • Has anyone else noticed a rust colored stain where the rubber stops for the fuel filler door meet the body? My car is a 2K ES with less than 1500 miles and this sure seems early to develop rust. It could be just a stain from the rubber but if anyone else notices it, let me know what you think please.
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007

    Just got my own protege back from the local Mazda
    dealership, and returned the nice LX loaner they
    gave me.
    The mechanic noticed that the auto CV boots on the
    front axle were both slightly ripped and suggested
    I change them. The quote - whopping 172 each plus
    tax! For two little pockets of grease - most of
    the cost is for the approximately 4 hours of
    labour, I'm told!

    I checked around a bit at other repair shops - and
    was wondering if anyone had any suggestions about
    where I should get this done. is this a car-specific and complicated enough job to justify
    the higher cost at the dealership?

    A few of the places I called told me that its
    possible that I would be looking at an axle
    replacement too, if the grease has been all lost
    and dust has gotten in - adding approximately $100
    to the average quote for 250 - for both axles.
    Anyone have any experience in this matter?

    And this after spending 550 on the basic 60K mile
    service :-(
    Its a pity that car expenses come in large bundles
    (of joy. Not!)

    Also, does anyone know if I should notice any
    difference in the drive characteristics/performance/gas mileage etc of the
    car after the 60K service?
    This included timing belt replacement, fuel and
    air filters, new spark plugs, gaskets in a few
    places, and all fluids, except automatic
    transmission and coolant/antifreeze.

  • That price for the service sounds high to me. Someone on one of the pro boards said a timing belt replacement should run @ $180 and I don't think the minor additional work done should cost what , another $370. What were those gaskets to ? That's the only thing I would think could make this service so expensive.
  • lgblgb Posts: 30
    If you have a DOHC engine, your timing belt replacement is probably going to cost more than $180. Just my experience. I did see those brown dots where the gas fill door is - but I haven't looked closely at them yet- guess I will tonight!
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007
    Well, as it turns out - I did look at non-mazda repair shops. the cheapest deal I could find on the timing belt replacement was 259 plus tax (7% here in Utah)

    So I think I got a reasonable deal on the 60K service when I paid 540 including tax
    1. Its an official Mazda dealership
    2. barely $50 more than the next most expensive (which was about the same rate as the couple of other places that did the 60K service)

  • Yes, the misinformation I had about the cost of the timing belt replacement would seem to bring the cost to a reasonable amount. And considering a dealership did the work, the peace of mind knowing the work was probably done right is well worth any small difference in prices.
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    Is this clunk felt by anyone having a auto tranny protege?
  • Hi,

    I am trying to make a decision between the Mazda Protege vs. the Nissan Sentra. Does anyone have an opinion on this choice ? I had a Toyota Corolla for ten years. My only complaint was the defrost system. It used to really annoy me. The windows never seem to clear. I don't want similar problems with either car. I will probably buy within the next two weeks. Any advice will be gratefully appreciated.
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    Welcome to Town Hall.

    Actually, our Sedans conference will be of more assistance to you in your decision. Here is a link to a topic over there that could be helpful to you:

    Mazda Protege vs. Honda Civic vs. Nissan Sentra

    I also suggest you use the Topic Search feature on the left side of the page, once for Sentra and once again for Protege. You should find lots of other topics in Sedans that will be interesting to you.

    Good luck and again, welcome!

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • I test drove both cars before buying my Pro-ES. I thought both cars were great, and it came down to a matter of personal preference. The Sentra seemed to have a bit more acceleration. I liked the styling and handling better in the Protege, and it had plenty of acceleration for me (I got the Pro-ES with 1.8L engine). I don't think you can go wrong with either car. There are 2 forums in the Sedans conference that debate this class of car, including the Protege and Sentra.

    Good luck with your selection > GIC
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