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Mazda Protege Maintenance and Repair



  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421

    87. Only 87. Nothing but 87! After going through this problem with a truck I had, I learned a lot about octane and the myths associated with it.


  • mazdafunmazdafun Posts: 2,329
    It shouldn't foul anything and shouldn't be messing with your car's computers either.

    So far as feeling the engine while idling, I can feel a slight vibration too. But I think it's normal, especially for a 4-cylinder engine w/o any counterbalance measures. I'd have to get a "seat of the pants" feel of your car's vibration to judge whether it's normal or not.

    Now, my '89 323 idles roughly after they tightened the bands in the AT. They claim it's within spec (even though it was way worse after they jiggered with it). Oh well, I shift into N when at stops. It's not the engine, I think, since it idles smoothly enough when I'm not idling in a drive gear. I think it's in the engine/transmission interface.
  • compensatecompensate Posts: 212
    Well, I must say that Mazda timed their warranty pretty wisely from a financial standpoint.

    My wife's 1999 ES 5-speed did fine through 60,000 miles (except for need for new water pump at 3,000 miles). However, the alternator just died (and it took the stock battery with it). The only alternator I could find was an original Mazda remanufactured one that cost me $196. A factory new Mazda alternator would have cost about $270, so I opted for the Mazda reman. Labor was $75/hour at dealer for a 2-hour job, so I found another shop that did it for $60/hour and it took them 1.5 hours. I ended up spending $305 for parts and labor - ouch!!!

    Now, the water pump bearings have locked-up (the second water pump), which destroyed the alternator belt and caused the car to begin to overheat just as my wife arrived home from work. Hope it didn't cause any engine damage, but no way to tell yet. I supposed I will go ahead and get the timing belt replaced now, although I wanted to squeeze it to 70,000 miles.

    Sure hope this isn't the start of a rapid deterioration of the car - we had hoped to keep it past 100,000 miles.

    I guess CV joints will need replacing within the next 20,000 miles or less (based on previous Mazda ownership of a 1986 626 and 1992 Protege).

    At least the brakes are great. I still have all original front and rear brake pads at 63,000 miles (knock on wood).

    Keep a close eye on your alternators folks!
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    I think the weak(est) link in the 99-00 ES is the alternator.
  • dsm6dsm6 Posts: 813
    The original octane rating is all well and good, but these folks aren't using higher octane willy-nilly, they're doing it in order to avoid damage from pinging engines. Here one dealer is saying I can't fix the pinging, but at the same time you can't use the fix of running with higher octane fuel. I can see how that would be very frustrating.

    Chrysler for a few years engineered an engine that pinginged as part of its normal operation. They called it "the sound of economy", or something like that, because it was due in part to how lean the engine ran. The Pro ain't supposed to do that, though, and it can quite damaging to the engine. Here's some reading on the topic FYI:

  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    running higher octane fuel should not damage anything.
    Owners-manual recommend running 87 octane minimum, not maximum.
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    My '92 went 83,000 miles and had nary a problem. Second water pump? At what mileage did the first one go? And btw, the timing belt on the 2000 engine (same as the '99) doesn't get replaced until 105,000 miles. All they call for is a CHECK at 60,000 miles. Check your owner's manual ... isn't it the same for the '99, since they have the same engine?


    P.S. Even though my past experiences have been very positive (i.e. never any unscheduled maintenance with FOUR Proteges), I also don't believe in LUCK. I purchased the 6-year, 100,000 mile extended warranty for my car for around $800. With all those things you just experienced at 63,000 miles, you just about paid that much right there. Maybe my '92 was an exception -- most cars tend to start shedding things like alternators and water pumps around 60,000 to 80,000 miles. Hell, my wife's 1995 Cavalier was on its second alternator, second valve cover gasket, and was in need of its FOURTH head gasket ($600 parts & labor each time) when we sold the car this past January with only *53,000* miles on it -- so it could be worse, MUCH worse!
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    I'm confused...

    Pinging doesn't occur at idle. Pinging would occur when the PCM(powertrain control module) advances the timing upwards of 1500rpm. your rough idle should have nothing to do with what octane rating your fuel has.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    Remember, both of these are belt driven and contain bearings. Simple, I know. But there is a good reason that all manufacturers specify belt tensions: People love to over tighten belts, even seasoned technicians.

    It's not just coincidence that after the alternator was replaced, the water pump went.

    As far as it being the Pro's weak spot, I don't know. Japanese cars use 1 of 3 alternator suppliers: Hitachi, NipponDenso or Mitsubishi. In the Protege's case, it's Mitsubishi and the only thing different from a handful of other cars out there would be placement of the alternator on the engine.
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    'cause during idle(as discussed eons ago), if you have your defroster ON, radiator ON and the lights ON and the A/C compressor kicks ON, the 1.8L almost STALLS, gives a nice hearty jerk(KICK) into the passenger compartment.

    Shut off all the other items and if the A/C kicks ON, no problems.

    So what is common?
    The electric supply?
    Where does it come from?
    The alternator.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    When the A/C is on, the PCM kicks the idle up. Not so for all the other accessories. I think maybe they should have programed the PCM to not allow the idle to drop below a specified RPM. The alternator is just doing it's job trying to make more power while the engine isn't supplying it.
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    the PCM is tooo slow to react.
    The engine speed picks up, that is why I said it ALMOST stalls. If the PCM did not pick it up, it would have stalled for sure.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    You need to hack the PCM with your laptop and start changing a few parameters. I bet you could even fix your 2nd->1st clunk.
  • just had the alternator replaced at ~20,000mi, luckily still under warranty. Will pick it up tomorrow, one day before my 500+ mile move to Nashville TN. Hope that fixes the electrical gremlins that were happening and they did a good job putting everything back together. I won't really have time to give it a good test before my trip.

    An alternator failing at 20,000mi is a "weak point" IMO.

    BTW Mead, I bought the extra warranty too. I think I paid a tick under 800.00, but I wasn't going to buy it so the guy lowered the price to "cost", heh. I figured one major repair during the extended warranty and it pays for itself.
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    any guidelines on how to connect the laptop to the PCM? ;)

    JFYI, i had a desktop connected all by myself to a huge CNC machine having a Fanuc Controller....
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    Sorry about your alternator. My 2000 ES just passed 38,300 today -- almost twice your mileage -- and no alternator or other problems. Yet.

  • mazdafunmazdafun Posts: 2,329
    ..if the belts are tensioned too high. As maltb mentioned, you can easily ruin the bearings in the alternator or any belt/pulley-run device by putting too much force onto the bearings.
  • This has been the first problem I have had with my Pro so I am still happy with my car. I still think the problem was the voltage regulator, but since I am moving tomorrow and making that long drive (and they could never reproduce the problem at the dealership) they were nice enough to replace the alternator as a precaution. Hopefully this will take care of the problem.
  • curt3curt3 Posts: 101
    Mazdafun, Chikoo,
    I agree with you in regard to the high octane fuel. My 2000 LX will not ping on high octane fuel. So what does the damage--high octane fuel, or letting it ping?
  • So far so good...knock on wood!

    Driving from Raleigh to Nashville tomorrow. How's that for a test drive to see if the problem is fixed?

    What have I learned from this entire ordeal:

    If the dealer tells you nothing is wrong with your car and you know there is, be persistent.

    BTW, the Mazda dealership was very professional, and in the end they took care of me very well.
  • protege_fanprotege_fan Posts: 2,405
    Good to hear all worked out (so far??). I hope your drive goes well for you.

    Also good to hear that the dealership took care of you. :D
  • mazdafunmazdafun Posts: 2,329
    Good luck. And good for you being persistent.
  • mazdafunmazdafun Posts: 2,329
    Between pinging and paying a bit more for premium, I'd buy the premium gas.

    Those pings are likely the sound of your valves being slammed back into their seats by premature combustion. Probably not a problem when intermittent, but will lead to much shorter life spans and an earlier head job (valve head cover and likely your own too).
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    i'd rather go with premium than with engine damage.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Pinging, also referred to as spark knock, is caused by 2 flame fronts colliding in the combustion chamber instead of one front expanding across the chamber as designed. In severe cases it will eventually blow holes through the piston crowns.
  • I had no reoccurance of the battery light coming on or other strange electrical happenings.

    I wonder if someone can explain this? Ever since I started having the alternator problem my car is idling lower than normal, ~300rpm when stopped in D (auto tranny) and ~500rpn in Park (both of these numbers are ~100rpm higher with AC on). Accelarating from a stop when the car is idling that low sometimes causes a jerky hesitation. If my memory serves me correctly the car normally idles ~800rpm. This is causing me a bit of concern that maybe there is still some underlying problem yet to be diagnosed. Maybe I'm just paranoid from the recent problems. Any thoughts?
  • protege_fanprotege_fan Posts: 2,405
    If you lift up the hood, there's a sticker in the middle of the hood. I was just looking at mine today when I was detailing the engine bay. It said that 700 rpm was normal for a MT in idle in neutral and for an AT in P (Park).

    Your number of 500 seems low, but maybe it's within specs?

    Maybe you just need the idle adjusted by the techs?
  • number42number42 Posts: 67
    About that a/t timing. Mine says 750 for auto.
  • kaiserheadkaiserhead Posts: 166
    I've been putting 89 octane fuel in my 2000 SE 1.6L, no pinging or rattling.
  • rinny16rinny16 Posts: 2
    Hi! I just found this site and group. I've been struggling with my 97 Protege's check engine light. It seems to come on for any and all reasons. In response to the computer messages, I've changed both the oxygen sensor, the speed sensor, and I've had the wire, etc all checked/tuned-up. Now when it comes on, it's kicking me out of overdrive for varying periods of time. Help! Has anyone else had a similar experience? Any suggestions on what is the base cause of the problem?
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