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Mazda Protege Maintenance and Repair



  • 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?


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